Tracking Canada’s horse slaughter trade from Alberta to Japan

'Breakway' by Robert Spaith was previously situated in the Domestic Terminal Building, but now graces the Arrivals Level in the new terminal. Image source: Calgary International Airport.
‘Breakway’ by Robert Spaith was previously situated in the Domestic Terminal Building, but now graces the Arrivals Level in the new terminal. Image source: Calgary International Airport.

HORSE SLAUGHTER. Source Article: VICE. By Anna Brooks (June 15, 2017) — Walking through the Calgary International Airport, you’ll pass a bronze statue of wild horses running.

Entitled “Breakaway,” the immortalized horses were intended to be a metaphor for Calgary’s spirit and strength.

But there’s another story of horses at the Calgary airport, a story some veterinarians are calling a “huge animal welfare issue.”

For years, animal advocacy groups like the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) have opposed the transport of live draft horses to Japan for slaughter. In Canada, alongside Mexico and parts of Europe, this practice is legal, unlike countries like the US where horse slaughterhouses are banned.

According to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by the CHDC and provided to VICE, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned shipping draft horses—a breed that can weigh more than a thousand pounds. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.
According to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents obtained by the CHDC and provided to VICE, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) banned shipping draft horses—a breed that can weigh more than a thousand pounds. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.

Horse meat is a delicacy in Japan, and places like Kumamoto specialize in fresh dishes like basashi—horse sashimi. Horse oil is also a sought after beauty product in Hokkaido, where it’s used to treat wrinkles, acne, and sunburns.

Slaughtering and selling horse meat has been outlawed in the US, whereas in Canada, there are four active federal slaughterhouses producing horse meat for human consumption—two of which are in Alberta.

While most of Canada’s horse meat is exported to countries around the world, horse meat is still locally available, especially in Quebec.

While groups like the CHDC had hoped to see horse exports decline over the years, recent data from Statistics Canada show 1,350 live horses exported as a commodity to Japan between January and March 2017, a batch valued at more than $2.6 million.

The number of live horses shipped from Canada to Japan has dropped since January, but prices per horse have increased; according to Statistics Canada, the average price per horse in February 2017 was $1,451, compared to March’s average of $4,136.

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Take Action Canada

Prime Minister

Contact the Canadian Prime Minister and include in your personal message that (1) you are opposed to the live shipment of horses for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption and (2) to please see that existing regulations against the live transport of draft horses are enforced.

Health Minister

Contact the Health Minister who oversees the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and politely deliver the same message as above.

Please share everywhere. Let’s do this in numbers on behalf of these horses. Thank you.

Related Reading

Horses are still being shipped live from Canada to Japan to make specialty sashimi; Tuesday’s Horse; April 2017