The large majority of Canadians are opposed to horse slaughter, yet it’s still a thriving industry in Canada. Here’s why it’s more important than ever to take a stand against this deplorable practice.
Three steps forward, two steps back
Fortunately, thanks to the initiatives of individuals and organizations such as the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition to raise awareness for the Canadian horse slaughter industry, small strides are being made. Since 2016, the amount of horse meat exported by Canada has decreased from 10.3 million kg in 2016 to 5.3 million kg in 2018. Revenue from horse meat exports decreased from $76 million in 2016 to $31 million in 2018. The number of horses slaughtered in Canada also dropped from 113, 334 in 2008 (when the US defunded meat inspectors at horse slaughter plants) to 54,100 in 2016. However, as of 2017, the Canadian government refuses to release horse slaughter statistics citing privacy concerns as one family, Bouvry, owns the remaining two slaughter plants in Canada.
Poor traceability makes horse meat dangerous for human consumption
Horse slaughter isn’t just antiquated and cruel – the meat that’s produced is also dangerous for human consumption. Canadian horse meat is exported mainly to Japan, Belgium and other overseas countries, but it’s also consumed in Canada. Unfortunately, horses are the only large animals slaughtered at Canadian plants with extremely low traceability. Several inquiries to the Canadian Meat Council regarding how much horse meat is consumed in Canada reveals that they do not keep track, whereas statistics on how much beef is consumed are readily available.
Not only is traceability low in terms of where the meat is sold in Canada, but so is the tracking of medications administered to horses. While traceability policies and practices for beef, dairy, and sheep are improving, traceability in the Canadian horse meat industry remains problematic as horse owners routinely administer drugs such as phenylbutazone (Bute), and dewormers marked with the strict warning ‘not to be administer to animals for slaughter.’
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) insists it tests horsemeat for chemical residues but admits to testing only .5% of horsemeat since 2010. While every horse sold at slaughter must have a completed Equine Identification Document (EID) in which the owner attests that the horse has been drug-free for a minimum of six months, Global News reports that kill buyers admit that the document can easily be tampered with. Furthermore, a recent ATI reveals that the CFIA and auditors have documented horses at Bouvry’s with incomplete EID’s. A CFIA inspection report reads:
The information in EID documents is based purely on the horse owner’s declarations. The CFIA verification of authenticity of declarations on the EID documents, as provided in the CFIA’s National Equine Identification and Traceability Program and related CBS tasks, does not constitute a strong government control.
Treatment of slaughter horses is deplorable
In 2019 investigators from the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), Animals’ Angels, and Tierschutzbund Zurich (TSB) documented conditions at three Bouvry-owned feedlots, one in Montana, and two in Alberta. The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines requires that horses in feedlots receive adequate shelter, veterinary and hoof care – but these are clearly lacking in the Bouvry feedlots, where horses are lame and unable to rise from recumbent positions. A recent Access to Information request by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition revealed that the CFIA has routinely documented filthy and empty water troughs at Bouvry’s slaughter plant in holding areas.
Canada’s horse meat industry is in a deplorable state in which human health may be at risk due to poor traceability and horses suffer from CFIA documented inadequacies at feedlots and slaughter establishments. For more information, please visit: defendhorsescanada.org.
Source: Equine Wellness
The treatment of horses transported overseas for slaughter and human consumption is at the heart of a two-day Federal Court trial which kicked off in Vancouver Wednesday. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition claims the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is not following rules that require horses to be segregated and given ample head room during long-haul overseas flight to Japan.
The coalition is seeking a judicial review of the agency's pre-flight inspection practices along with an order that would compel the CFIA to comply with the Health of Animals Regulations in approving horse transport.
"To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that an animal protection organization has challenged the Canadian federal government over the transportation of animals in Canada," coalition lawyer Rebeka Breder said in her opening statement. "This case, in my submission, can have significant implications on future government decisions and the CFIA specifically, where their ongoing practice or policy is in direct contravention to existing law."
Compatibility of animals in question
The coalition filed the suit last year, claiming the inspection agency is following the guidelines of an interim policy introduced in 2017, instead of the sections of the Health of Animals Regulations which govern the transport of horses.
CFIA inspector-veterinarians have to ensure that all legal requirements are met before the horses can be shipped off to Asia. But Breder says the agency is side-stepping the regulations by claiming horses don't need to be segregated if they are "compatible" animals and that a horse's head or ears can touch the cargo netting above its head during air transport.
In its defence, the CFIA rejects the coalition's allegations. The agency also claims that new rules set to kick in next year make the case "moot." "The CFIA's role, on the facts of this case, is to determine whether the horses are healthy for export and are being safely transported," the agency said in a filing with the court. "There is no requirement on the CFIA to obtain a particular enforcement result, and it is well recognized that perfection in enforcement can never be more than an unattainable goal.
No agency above the law
Breder said the animals in question are mostly large Belgian draft horses, and they require room. "We're not talking about little ponies," she said. "We're talking about big strong animals." She also claimed that while draft horses may appear compatible with each other before being shipped overseas, they may become incompatible under the stress of a long flight.
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition is dedicated to banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Canada and the export of live horses for the same purpose. But Breder said their aim in the Federal Court case is limited to ensuring that the horses are transported humanely.
"No government agency is above the law," coalition executive director Sinnika Crosland said outside the courtroom. Crosland said her group doesn't want to see horses "crammed" into crates. "If they're going to ship them, they should put them singly in a crate," she said. "What they would need to do is make the crates high enough so the horses' heads aren't touching the ceiling, so they can comfortably raise their heads and not bang their heads or their ears up against the ceiling."
Source: CBC News
The conditions for breeding and slaughtering horses in Uruguay, Argentina and Canada, from which a large part of the horse meat marketed in supermarkets in Europe, are denounced Wednesday in videos broadcast by German, Swiss NGOs and French.
Agonizing horses, foals dead from cold on the ground at a Bouvry-Export company center near Calgary, "the biggest horse slaughterhouse in Canada", are shown in a video relayed in France by the Welfarm Association of protection of farm animals, which castigates in a statement "the true face of horse meat".
The images filmed in January and February 2019, showing animals trembling, sick, lying on frozen ground, were filmed by the Swiss associations Tierschutzbund Zurich and German Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF).
In Uruguay and Argentina, the images show lean animals, or parked in thousands without care in front of slaughterhouses.
The Americas is the world's leading producer of equine meat. Of the approximately 4.8 million equines slaughtered worldwide in 2012, 41% were in North America, 11% in South America, 11% in Central America and only 8% in Europe (24% in Asia, 2% in Oceania and 3% in Africa), according to FAO statistics.
In France, where 10,200 equines were slaughtered in 2017, or 2800 tons carcass equivalent, the consumption of horse meat is very marginal. It represents only 0.2% of the quantities of meat that are bought by households in 2018, according to the statistics of the interprofessional meat Interbev.
Nevertheless, according to Welfarm, in 2018 France imported more than 4,300 tons of horse meat from the three countries mentioned in the NGO survey (Argentina, Uruguay, Canada), and 77% of the horse meat sold in hypermarkets came from that country.
Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Bouvry-Export said his company was "strictly controlled by the Canadian health inspection agency."
"Everyone can come to see for themselves," said the spokesperson on condition of anonymity, saying that "activism is out of control at the moment, that's all." that I can say.
On Wednesday morning, the French horse meat import companies such as SNVC (Normandy meat and brokerage company) that imports meat from Uruguay, or Equus, which imports directly from Bouvry-Export in Canada, were unreachable.
New investigations from Winter 2019 show that cruel conditions remain unchanged, at US auctions and in Canadian feedlots, as well as during transport and at the Bouvry slaughterhouse in Alberta.
Every year, tens of thousands of horses from USA are live-exported to Canada and Mexico for the sole purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption. If passed into federal law, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prohibit slaughtering American equines on U.S. soil or abroad. Help pass the SAFE Act by contacting your member of Congress >>
A majority of Canadians say they have a problem with the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption and are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption. Over two thirds of Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue.
The poll was conducted by Nanos Research for the Parliamentary Group, June 2019
A majority of Canadians have a problem with the slaughter of Canadian horses for
Nearly seven in ten Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue the policy – Asked which path they would support most for Canada, a majority of Canadians (69%) say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing it, while just under two in ten (17%) say they would support Canada continuing the policy of slaughtering horses for human consumption. Fourteen per cent are unsure. Residents of Ontario (74%), the Atlantic region (73%) and British Columbia (72%) were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing to allow it, while Quebec residents (62%) were less likely to say so. Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption (75%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (64%).
Just over two thirds of Canadians say they are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption
Just over two in three Canadians say they are uncomfortable (51%) or somewhat uncomfortable (17%) with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption, while just under one in four say they are comfortable (11%) or somewhat comfortable (12%) with this. Nine per cent are unsure. Women were more likely to say they feel uncomfortable (65%) with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption compared to men (36%). Residents of the Atlantic region (59%) were more likely to report being uncomfortable while residents of Quebec (45%) and the Prairies (46%) were less likely to report being uncomfortable.
Nearly seven in ten Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering
of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue the policy
Asked which path they would support most for Canada, a majority of Canadians (69%) say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing it, while just under two in ten (17%) say they would support Canada continuing the policy of slaughtering horses for human consumption. Fourteen per cent are unsure. Residents of Ontario (74%), the Atlantic region (73%) and British Columbia (72%) were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continuing to allow it, while Quebec residents (62%) were less likely to say so. Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would support Canada stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption (75%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (64%).
Canadians are over four times more likely to say they would have a more positive impression rather than a more negative impression of a politician that supported a ban
in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption
Asked what kind of impact it would have on their impression of a politician if that politician supported a ban in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, over one in two (52%) say they would have a more positive impression of that politician, while just under one in four (23%) say it would have no impact , and over one in ten (11%) say they would have a more negative impression of that politician. Thirteen per cent are unsure. Women (60%) were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician than men (44%). Canadians that say they would consider voting for the Liberals were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician (59%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the Liberals (47%). Canadians that say they would consider voting for the NDP were more likely to say they would have a more positive impression of that politician (62%) than those who said they would not consider voting for the NDP (45%).
Views on the slaughter of horses
QUESTION: Government statistics show that in 2016 more than 54,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada for human consumption or shipped out of the country for the same purpose. Which of the following two viewpoints more closely reflects your own regarding the slaughter of Canadian horses for meat?
Views on the slaughter of horses exported for human consumption
QUESTION: The business of slaughtering horses for human consumption also includes exporting the meat to other countries. Are you comfortable, somewhat comfortable, somewhat uncomfortable or uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption?
Direction for policies on the slaughter of horses
QUESTION: As you may know, some countries slaughter horses for human consumption and other countries, such as the United States, do not allow the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Thinking of Canada which of the following paths forward would you support most?
Impression of politician that would support a ban on the slaughter of horse for human consumption
QUESTION: If a politician supported a ban in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, would you have a more positive impression of that politician, a more negative impression of that politician or would it have no impact on your impression of that politician?
Click here to read the full results of the poll.
Thousands of American horses are live-exported to Canada each year just to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would make this illegal.
Help Pass The SAFE Act by contacting your U.S. legislators >>
The federal government is trying to quash a lawsuit launched by animal welfare advocates who want to end the export of Canadian horses for slaughter and human consumption in Japan and South Korea.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is defending its equine transportation and enforcement policies against claims that it's failing to meet legal obligations to ensure humane and safe shipments. In its June 17 court filing, the CFIA also said that revised regulations set to kick in next year make the case "moot."
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), the group behind the legal challenge, insists the new rules slated for February 2020 could put horses on long-haul overseas flights to Asia at even greater risk. CHDC lawyer Rebeka Breder said the conditions the horses experience during transport cause distress and danger. Large, flighty animals are often crammed together without the adequate headroom required by law, the group claims.
"They're exhibiting signs of stress. There have also been injuries, there have been deaths over the last several years," Breder told CBC News. "Generally speaking, the shipments are not safe for horses. We know that for a fact."
Canada exports thousands of horses each year to Japan, a market where some consumers enjoy the meat as a raw delicacy. In 2018, Canada also began shipping live horses to South Korea. In its recent court filing, CFIA said the lawsuit is based on "cultural norms" and CHDC's interpretation of what is, and is not, an appropriate food animal.
"However, the inevitable reality is that the CFIA's role, on the facts of this case, is to determine whether the horses are healthy for export and are being safely transported," the filing said. "There is no requirement on the CFIA to obtain a particular enforcement result and it is well recognized that perfection in enforcement can never be more than an unattainable goal."
The rules for shipping horses:
The existing Health of Animals Regulations say larger horses must be segregated from each other and set minimum requirements for headroom clearance. The CHDC lawsuit said the CFIA is not always in compliance with the regulations. New 2020 rules will eliminate the segregation requirement, with a stated goal of giving shippers greater flexibility so that compatible horses can travel together with less anxiety. Maureen Harper, a retired veterinarian who worked for CFIA for 30 years, said "compatibility" is difficult for an inspector to assess at the airport.
Larger, stronger horses should be segregated to avoid injuries from kicking, biting, toppling or trampling, she said. Horses also need space to maintain their balance in transit, especially during take-off or landing. Harper said the public knows little about Canada's horse export and slaughter industry and she believes most Canadians see horses as companions like dogs and cats — not as food.
"Everybody that I speak to, they're just totally horrified when I tell them what's happening and I think the CFIA has a huge role to play here and unfortunately, in my view, they've dropped the ball," she said.
Horse welfare 'top priority':
Eliot Bouvry of Alberta-based Bouvry Exports — which produces horse meat for export, among other products — said the welfare of horses and other livestock is a "top priority" for his company and the CFIA. Horses are inspected by CFIA vets at the airport before departure for cuts, bruises, limps or sickness. Animals are transported on single-deck trailers that have been sanitized and layered with fresh shavings according to Canada's livestock transport regulations, he said.
"Other species/livestock are transported long distances for slaughter and it's not a topic of discussion," he said in a statement to CBC News. "Although activists keep the industry accountable, we do not consider it truthful that it is an animal welfare issue. For (some) people it is an ethical problem, which is another debate."
Business vs. animal welfare?:
Breder accuses the CFIA is putting business interests ahead of animal welfare. "There's a lot of money at stake, and it's quite clear to the CHDC that what is really at issue here are industry interests, not the interest and the welfare of animals and the way that they're transported," she said. "It is simply the bottom line to make as much profit as possible."
The CFIA rejects the claim that industry sales are driving policy and enforcement, and maintains that all animals, including horses, are "properly certified, fit to travel and transported humanely in a way that does not cause injury or undue suffering." The agency said new rules will strengthen safety regulations for horse transport.
Online petition calls on Minister MacAulay to stop the exporting of live horses for slaughter "The updated regulations establish clear and science-informed requirements and thus better reflect the needs of animals and improve overall animal welfare in Canada," CFIA said in a statement.
Last year, 3,871 horses worth $26.5 million were shipped to Japan. Exports were fewer in number than during the previous year, but had a significantly higher value. Canada also ships fresh, chilled and frozen horse meat to Japan worth about $29 million annually, and millions of dollars more to European countries, including France and Switzerland.
While it's considered a food taboo in most parts of North America, horse meat is sold and served in some grocery stores and restaurants in Canada.
Source: CBC News
Thousands of American horses are live-exported to Canada each year just to be slaughtered for human consumption. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would make this illegal.
The European Commission has implemented a conditional ban of the import of horsemeat from Mexico following a series of audits by the Food and Veterinary Office.
The audits consistently identified serious problems with the lack of traceability of horses slaughtered for EU export with origins in the United States and Mexico, particularly regarding veterinary medical treatment records. The most recent audit published on 4th December is a damning indictment of the horse slaughter industry and the Mexican authorities’ failure to rectify previously identified problems.
Although the ban has been introduced due to food safety concerns, animal protection group Humane Society International/Europe says the decision could potentially have a positive animal welfare impact in reducing the number of horses suffering in the Mexican slaughter pipeline. Dr. Joanna Swabe, HSI’s European Union executive director, welcomed the decision:
“Banning horsemeat imports from Mexico is long overdue. For years Humane Society International has repeatedly sounded the alarm about horsemeat entering the food chain that does not fully meet EU safety standards. As well as safeguarding EU consumer safety, closing our borders to horsemeat from these countries is important for animal welfare, too. Horse slaughter, regardless of which country it is in, is fraught with inherent cruelty.”
Currently 87 percent of the eligible horses slaughtered in Mexico for meat export to the EU originate from the U.S.; horses are not bred to be eaten in either the U.S. or Mexico. Additionally, the use of veterinary drugs such as phenylbutazone, banned for use in food animals, is widespread; mandatory lifetime medical record-keeping is non-existent in both countries.
As confirmed by the latest audit, the FVO has consistently found questionable the reliability and veracity of vendor statements about U.S. and Mexican horses’ treatment records, meaning such meat entering the EU could contain banned veterinary drugs. The FVO also confirmed HSI’s particular concerns regarding the very poor welfare conditions at export facilities located in the U.S., during transport from the U.S. to Mexico and at the slaughterhouses.
HSI acknowledges that the Commission is at last taking rigorous steps to protect EU consumer safety, but would like to see a moratorium covering Canada, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay where similar traceability problems with horsemeat exports persist.
Source: Humane Society International
HSI’s EU Executive Director Dr. Joanna Swabe is available for interview and comment by contacting:
Raul Arce-Contreras, email@example.com +1 301.721.6440
A group advocating for Alberta’s free-roaming horses has entered into an agreement with the province to “humanely manage” the population by starting both contraception and adoption programs.
The memorandum of understanding between Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and the Wild Horses of Alberta Society will allow the group to help manage horses in the Sundre area.
“It’s a five-year agreement,” said Duncan MacDonnell, spokesman for Alberta Environment. “The agreement allows Wild Horses of Alberta Society to undertake two experimental programs to help control the wild horse populations.” But it doesn’t necessarily preclude another capture season this spring, he said, noting that decision is still pending.
Provincial officials have maintained the horse population needs to be balanced with the health of the grasslands — a position that led to controversy last spring as the province allowed a six-week capture season for up to 196 horses that could be kept for personal use or sent for slaughter. Only 15 animals were rounded up by two ranchers, but it led to protests by wild horse advocates, who suggested there were fewer animals than the province reported.
The official 2014 count showed there were 880 horses in the foothills between Kananaskis Country and Sundre, down about 100 horses from the previous year. It led activists and conservationists to suggest last spring’s capture season was unnecessary.Throughout the debate, others suggested the province try other methods to manage the population.
The agreement between the province and the Wild Horses of Alberta Society includes a contraception program targeting female horses and an adoption program allowing the organization to take in and adopt out any young horses.
Bob Henderson, president of the society, couldn’t be reached for comment, but a news release issued by the group said it’s excited about the opportunity to help manage the horse population. It noted that the contraception program will select a limited number of mares to receive a vaccine to prevent pregnancy for up to three years without disrupting the herd structure and dynamics.
The adoption program will allow the group to take in any young foals that have been abandoned or injured. It also allows rescue of any horses that stray onto private land or roadways. The programs will all be run on donations from the public, including eight hectares of land, where a safe handling facility will be built.
Officials with the province said the Wild Horses of Alberta Society will be required to show results from both programs over the five-year period.
Source: Calgary Herald by Colette Derworiz
Four years after strict import requirements for products of animal origin entered into force in the European Union, Humane Society International is renewing its call to the European Commission to halt the import of horsemeat from outside the EU.
Joanna Swabe, HSI EU director, said “These EU import requirements look great on paper, but the implementation thereof by non-EU countries has been farcical. Humane Society International has repeatedly warned that the measures implemented by Canada and Mexico to prevent meat from horses treated with banned substances, such as phenylbutazone, from entering the EU food system are fundamentally flawed and highly susceptible to fraud. Even the European Commission’s own audits have highlighted this, which makes it all the more outrageous that they have failed to take action to suspend the import of horsemeat products that do not meet EU food safety standards.”
Mounting evidence suggests that this issue is not restricted to horsemeat from North America. Food and Veterinary Office audits in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay  indicate that the measures implemented in these countries to prevent meat from horses treated with substances banned for use in food animals are also vulnerable to fraud. The drug treatment histories of horses slaughtered for export to the EU may also have traceability issues.
An investigative report on horsemeat imports recently produced by a coalition of European animal protection groups  corroborates HSI’s own findings, lending additional weight to our calls for the Commission to uphold its own import requirements for products of animal origin and to take urgent action to ensure that meat from horses that do not qualify for slaughter for export no longer ends up on EU consumers’ plates.
1. All FVO audit reports can be accessed here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/index_en.cfm
Source: Humane Society International
Media contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440, firstname.lastname@example.org