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.

Read full article for more »

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

Horses are still being shipped live from Canada to Japan to make specialty sashimi

CANADA (Horse Slaughter) — The Dodo reports that horses are still being shipped live from Canada to Japan to make specialty sashimi.

Almost every week — from Edmonton and Calgary airports in Alberta and the Winnipeg airport in Manitoba — unwanted horses are packed into crates and flown across the ocean. They land in Japan, one of the leading importers of horsemeat; 6.5 million pounds of horsemeat were imported by the country in 2016 alone.

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.
Horses loaded and waiting on the tarmac in Canada for live transport to Japan for slaughter for human consumption. Canadian Horse Defence Coalition image.

But the live horses exported to Japan are used for something very specific: a kind of specialty sashimi called basashi.

An example of raw, sliced horse meat, served in Japan called Basashi.
An example of raw, sliced horse meat, served in Japan called Basashi.

“The meat needs to be consumed within three days after being slaughtered in order to be eaten as sushi,” Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for Humane Society International, told The Dodo.

Not only that, oils harvested from the horses’ bodies are also used in beauty products.

American horses are routinely shipped north just to enter the slaughter pipeline.

• Read full article at the Dodo.com »

Take Action

(1) If you oppose the live shipment of horses for slaughter and the suffering and death that goes along with it, sign this Change.org petition »

(2) Make it illegal to export American horses across U.S. borders.  There are two things you can do to make that happen.

• Endorse H.R. 113 (the SAFE Act) online any time day or night.

and

• Telephone your U.S. Representative asking him/her to co-sponsor and support the passage of H.R 113.

If you know your Representative call (202) 225-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator. Not sure? Find your Representative here. You will need your +4 zip code. Find it here.

Calls are having a major impact right now in Washington D.C. It is quick, easy and effective.

Be polite. Speak from the heart. Be sure to leave your name and address with whomever answers your legislator’s phone. Always ask them very nicely to read it back to you to make sure your call counts.

Call now!

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Belgian horses tagged for slaughter await shipment. Unattributed Google search result.

Updated 4/27/17 4:07 pm correcting replacing sushi with sashimi except in quoted text. Sashimi is typically made with fish but is also made with raw meat. See “Kinds of sashimi not made with fish“.

Horse Slaughter Year in Review 2016


(Updated 9:57 pm).

The Horse Fund’s “Horse Slaughter Year in Review 2016” has arrived.

We have sections on how slaughter is impacting the lives of the horses in North America. We have sections on regulation, legislation and what drives it all — the human appetite for horse meat, and those willing to supply it legally and illegally, making themselves enormously wealthy.

Live Export

United States

American horses are still being exported for slaughter to Canada and Mexico at roughly the same number as they were when they were butchered on US soil.

So when you hear that American horses stopped being slaughtered when State laws shut down the three remaining slaughterhouses on US soil that is a lie.

Canada

Horses continue to be exported live from Canada to Japan for their meat.

Foals and Draft horses are the most prevalent types.

Why foals? For their tender young meat to make sushi. Sushi bars abound in Japan.

Why Draft horses? Well, first of all they produce more meat because of their size. Interestingly, the horses we have seen are actually Draft — Quarter Horse crosses which means they still yield a high volume of meat but are not too large to slaughter as a standard Draft horse would be.

Belgian horses tagged for slaughter for human consumption await export. Google image.
Belgian horses tagged for slaughter for human consumption await export. Google image.

And what industry uses Draft — Quarter Horse crosses? The Premarin® industry. These horses  are prized for the size of their bladders, and as mentioned above they are not too large to slaughter in mass production plants. Perfect.

Where in North America are Pfizer still plying its loathsome menopausal drug trade? Canada.

Last year Pfizer announced that Pfizer Canada are increasing the amount of pregnant mare’s urine collected from ranches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017.

Slaughter Pipeline

Auctions

The horse slaughter process from beginning to end is referred to as entering “the slaughter pipeline”.

Entering the slaughter pipeline for a horse often begins at auction. The accounts are devastating.

A mare and foal slowly make their way down the aisle of a slaughter auction house, tagged for a brutal death. Google image. Photographer not cited.
A mare and foal slowly make their way down the aisle of a slaughter auction house, tagged for a brutal death. Google image. Photographer not cited.

Types of Horses Slaughtered

The USDA no longer keeps statistics on the types of horses sent to slaughter. Any numbers you see out there, no matter how carefully conceived, are still arrived at by a certain amount of guess work.

So who goes to slaughter? Everybody.

As a forum commenter put it, “Foals go to slaughter. Old horses go to slaughter. Riding school horses goes to slaughter. Lame horses go to slaughter. Sound horses go to slaughter. Heck, even a Kentucky Derby winner who failed in the breeding shed went to slaughter. No horse is immune from going to slaughter”.

Foals cannot be slaughtered until they reach the age of 6 months. But that is hardly adhered to.

Here is an eyewitness account from Texas:

“A couple of yrs ago I watched 35 long weanlings (purebred QH’s from a breeder nearby) get bought for slaughter at auction, chased into a stock trailer while slamming the tailgate on the leg of one that didn’t have room to get in and still had one leg on the ground”.

Pregnant mares are also ineligible for slaughter. Again, that is not adhered to.

A search on the internet yields pictures of mares being slaughtered with their stillborn foals dangling from their bodies one still attached to her umbilical cord.

Regulation

Canada

In 2016 the EU announced it is putting new import rules into place in 2017 concerning horsemeat from Canada because of traceability issues. The EU’s latest audit confirmed that Canadian horse meat may not be meeting EU food safety standards.

The new EU rules mean that from 31 March 2017, horses destined for slaughter in non-EU countries but for export to the EU, must undergo a minimum six-month residency requirement. This decision is likely to impact the horse slaughter industry in Canada and several South American countries, where horses for slaughter may be sourced from neighbouring countries.

Test samples revealed the presence of carcinogenic toxins in Canadian Horse Meat making it dangerous for humans to consume. Toxins in Horse Meat originates from the numerous banned drugs such as Bute horses are routinely given.

Bute is to horses like aspirin is to humans. There is hardly a horse in existence who does not receive this drug which automatically eliminates them from the human food chain. This in and of itself should end the slaughter of horses. But it does not.

Mexico

The EU closed the slaughter plants it regulated in Mexico because of the same traceability issue concerning them regarding Canada — toxic Horse Meat reaching the human consumer’s dinner table. However, there are still horse slaughter plants operating in Mexico overseen by its own government that are doing a brisk business.

We are working to find out who the Mexican horse slaughter plants are selling their Horse Meat to because they cannot legally export it to EU countries, who are the largest importers of horse meat.

Legislation

United States — 114th Congress (2015-2016)

HR 2029

Essentially it has been illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption on US soil since 2007 (with the exception of 2011) due to the annual defunding of the USDA inspections of horse meat intended for export.

The 2016 US Omnibus Bill (HR 2029) denied funding for the USDA to conduct these inspections once again, preventing the return of horse slaughter to US soil for another year. However, it does not prevent the export of American horses for slaughter.

HR 1942

On April 22, 2015, Reps. Frank Guinta (R-NH), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) introduced the Safeguard American Food  Exports (SAFE) Act (HR 1942).

The SAFE Act was intended to close the export to slaughter loophole as well as ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption on US soil.

Yet again the wholesale ban of the slaughter of US horses for human consumption was unsuccessful.

HR 1942 languished in Committee and failed to reach the House for a vote. It had 199 co-sponsors.

Its companion bill S 1214, the John Rainey Memorial Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, also died in Committee and failed to reach the Senate for a vote. It had 30 co-sponsors.

United States — 115th Congress (2017-2018)

HR 113

When the 115th Congress convened, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16) re-introduced the SAFE Act (under the title Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2017) on January 3, 2017.

HR 113 was referred to two Subcommittees — the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Commerce (Jan. 13, 2017) and the Subcommittee on Health (Jan. 25, 2017).

Horse slaughter is a bipartisan issue. HR 113 currently has 61 co-sponsors.

Blood Money

Let’s take a look at just how big an industry the trade in Horse Meat is taken from this media link.

Horse Meat is the 701st most internationally traded product.

The top five exporters of Horse Meat are Belgium ($92.2M), Canada ($71M), Argentina ($59.8M), Mexico ($47.6M) and Poland ($38.9M).

The top five importers of Horse Meat are Italy ($102M), Belgium ($94.3M), France ($70.4M), Russia ($62.3M) and Switzerland ($42.2M).

Equine entrails are also big business according to the same source.

Sutures are one of the many products used around the world made from the intestines of a horses. The intestines of  horses like most living beings is where nutrients and other elements are absorbed, including the chemicals from drugs.

Black Market Horse Meat

2016 saw a major decrease in the reporting of black market horse meat. Innocent horses were routinely stolen and butchered particularly in the Miami-Dade area.

This has historically been a huge problem for the State of Florida. The State enacted a stringent law to combat this horrific crime.

Then in 2015 one of the biggest busts took place involving a ring of three Loxahatchee, Florida farms, described as follows:

“In what is being described as the largest animal cruelty raid in U.S. history, on October 13, law enforcement descended on three Florida-based farms, seizing at least 750 animals, many of which were diseased and starving.

“According to WSVN, undercover investigators obtained video footage that included some of the most horrific acts of animal cruelty imaginable. Animals were drug, beaten, hung, gutted, skinned and even boiled alive.

“Authorities say that the ring of three Loxahatchee, Florida farms inhumanely slaughtered more than a million animals over a period of decades”.

Hoof from the remains of dead horse caught up in the illegal meat trade. Photographer unknown.
Hoof from the remains of dead horse caught up in the illegal meat trade. Photographer unknown.

Conclusion

The trade in horse meat is bloody, brutal and grotesque — and a huge money maker.

Yet, it is the human appetite for horse meat that ultimately drives the horse slaughter business.

No amount of regulation is ever going to completely end horse slaughter. When people no longer eat horse meat the industry will collapse and the horrific cruelties inherent to horse slaughter will finally end for the innocents whose lives it cruelly destroys.

March Against Horse Slaughter

As announced earlier this month, we are focusing on horse slaughter for the entire month of March.

March Against Horse Slaughter will take place here on Tuesday’s Horse and on Twitter and Facebook and sponsored by The Horse Fund. Please support us with a donation.

Join us in March. We need you. Most importantly, the horses need you.

It is very important that we hear from you. Please let us have your questions, ideas, suggestions and comments either here or via email.

Please share this far and wide.

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Horses intended for slaughter are driven into a holding pen. Photo by Kathy Milani for HSUS.

Ongoing Violations and CFIA Whitewash Confirmed on Air Transport of Horses for Slaughter

Belgian horses tagged for slaughter for human consumption. Google image.
Belgian horses tagged for slaughter for human consumption. Google image.

Canadian Flag

CANADIAN HORSE DEFENCE COALITION PRESS RELEASE

ORANGEVILLE, ON, June 25, 2015 /CNW/ – The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) has discovered gruelling evidence of multiple horse deaths connected to air transport to Japan, and attempts by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to cover up the truth.

Access to Information (ATI) documents reveal that three horses died as a result of a landing accident and six horses perished in flight on August 1, 2012, “due to a combination of a substantial delay, the large size of the horses, and significant stress levels in the animals”. However, a placating form letter dated November 2012, and later sent to inquiring members of the public, indicates that “the CFIA is not aware of any injury or undue suffering due to lack of segregation of horses over 14 hands in height.”

Further ATI findings include: “…horses usually go down during take off and landing”, and one horse evidently died on a trip from Calgary and was found upside down in his crate. Of ongoing concern has been breakage of the wooden crates, especially with stressed horses rearing up and falling against the crates’ wood strips covered in netting. Past instructions from the CFIA to exporters have included repairing the broken shipping containers with duct tape.

The CHDC also notes that, in spite of lengthy debate within the agency concerning overloading the crates with four heavy horses, the practice is still continuing. In fact, The Health of Animals Regulations stipulate that horses over 14 hands high (56″ high at the base of the neck) must be segregated for air transport, and they must be able to stand in a natural position, without coming into contact with a deck or roof. Both laws are being broken on an ongoing basis, with the CFIA fully aware of this and, on horse shipment formwork, noting the segregation regulation under “Description of Non-Compliance”. Further, for their own purposes, the agency has added wording to the Health of Animals Regulations that has not gone through official legal channels.

Attempts have been made by at least one agency official to install cameras in aircraft and to initiate a study regarding equine welfare associated with air transport. Both proposals were turned down. ATI findings indicate that the reason could have been “siding with exporters”.

CHDC Executive Director, Sinikka Crosland, states: “In 2014, over 7,000 large draft horses shipped from Canada to Japan under these circumstances. It is clear that international trade and profit take precedence over animal welfare, possibly even human safety, and that the CFIA is turning a blind eye, circumventing laws and misleading the public. We have strong evidence of the agency failing to follow its own regulations concerning the live transport of horses for meat, and even lying to the public to cover deviations from the law.”

The CHDC calls upon the Minister of International Trade, Hon. Edward Fast, and Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, to demand that the practice of sending horses overseas by air cargo for slaughter be stopped on humane and legal grounds.

ATI documents and video evidence can be found at this link: https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/media_page_jun_2015.pdf.


Please note that the image was not filed with this press release.