Canadian Horse Defense Coalition Presses for Investigation
Into Animal Welfare Violations at Saskatchewan Horse Slaughter Plant
By SINIKKA CROSLAND
Canadian Horse Defense Coalition
October 20, 2008
Natural Valley Farms in Neudorf, Saskatchewan went into receivership on September 22/08, yet horses continue to be slaughtered at the facility by Velda Group, an international Belgian-based company, as recently reported by the Western Producer. Velda is also reported to be a potential buyer.
We find it astounding that Natural Valley Farms (NVF), a company that recently received nearly $4 million in federal grants would be in financial trouble. Natural Valley also defaulted on a loan from Farm Credit Canada, and received a grant worth nearly $500,000 from the Province of Saskatchewan.
We are further alarmed that Velda appears to be taking over the business at NVF, now known as Natural Meat Company. Velda is infamous in Illinois for numerous environmental charges and convictions at their Cavel International horse slaughter plant that closed business in September 2007. To read a summary of Cavel’s list of over 100 food & safety and protocol non-compliance issues, please go here: http://www.defendhorsescanada.org/pdf/cavelviolations.pdf .
Natural Meat Company continues to slaughter horses uninterrupted, when only 4 months ago the CHDC released its highly critical report on operations at the facility.
Frequent occurrences of cruel handling, abusive and inadequate slaughter practices translate into brutal suffering to horses every day at this plant. According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, upwards of 30% of horses stunned at the plant were not rendered unconscious, meaning that approximately 61 horses were butchered alive every day at the plant. Dr. Dodman concluded this after viewing undercover footage taken at Natural Valley Farms in late spring 2008.
Velda has a long history of animal welfare violations while operating Cavel in DeKalb, Illinois. The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC) has no reason to believe that there will be less suffering for horses now that Velda is running a Canadian plant. We are greatly concerned for all horses destined there, as the numbers rise dramatically and new operators do not adhere to humane handling and slaughter practices.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has yet to respond to the evidence provided in our June report. Citizens are appalled at the conditions at the slaughterhouse, and the CFIA’s disregard of our report is a slap in the face of concerned Canadians.
After analyzing the June report, the CHDC opened a police file at the Broadview, Saskatchewan RCMP detachment. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is an offence to willfully cause unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal. Film evidence obtained for the June report provides proof that an investigation is in order, as several horses were beaten willfully at Natural Valley while in the kill box and five different Acts covering everything from animal welfare, transport of horses, humane slaughtering and environmental regulations, were violated.
Statistics for September 2008 show that a record 12,190 horses were slaughtered in Canada. So far this year, 84,288 horses have died in Canadian slaughterhouses, already 4,873 more than last year. We will easily surpass 100,000 horses in 2008. This number will double from just two years ago!
Given the vast, systemic problems within the CFIA that have been recently exposed, the CHDC has called on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a performance review of the Agency. The CFIA is acting with callous disregard to the basic welfare of farm animals, and is refusing to investigate these well-documented cases of animal suffering.
In a democratically elected government, this is simply unacceptable!
We urge Canadians to send their messages to the Auditor General, expressing their concerns regarding the CFIA’s lack of enforcement at horse slaughter plants.
Office of the Auditor General of Canada
240 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6
Telephone: 1-613-952-0213 (Staff directory press 27)
Auditor General – Sheila Fraser Ext. 6316
Deputy Auditor General – John Wiersema Ext. 5242
Commissioner of the Environment – Scott Vaughan Ext. 6400
CANADIAN HORSE DEFENSE COALITION