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 >>