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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 February 2008, 14:00 GMT
Work starts on Hindu cow centre
Gangotri was a 13-year-old Belgian blue-jersey cross
Building work is to start on a cow and working oxen protection centre at a Hertfordshire Hindu temple.

The unit at the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple near Watford will be dedicated to Gangotri, a 13-year-old cow put down by lethal injection by RSPCA officers.

This act sparked outrage and a campaign to change the UK law on animal cruelty.

A temple spokesman said Hindus regard cows as sacred and should be exempted from cruelty laws, but the RSPCA challenges the campaign for change.

The RSPCA said the cow had been sick and was suffering.

Protecting cattle

The spokesman for the Hare Krishna temple said that some suffering was part of life and it was a outrage to kill the animal on ground the Hindus regarded as sacred.

"Followers of religions such as Islam and Judaism have immunity from the laws because their animals are killed for religious food.

"Hindus try to preserve life and are vegetarian. We want the same treatment to allow our cows and oxen to die naturally.

"Our new protection centre is designed to care for the animals from birth to death."

Regional superintendent for the RSPCA Tim Watts said: "It would be completely immoral and totally unacceptable for anyone who owned an animal to allow it to suffer unnecessarily.

"My organisation would lobby government not to put religious beliefs ahead of animal protection entrenched in UK laws."

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