Torture for Profit – The Business Model of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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red tape

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

As if there wasn’t enough misery in the lives of farm animals…….

By now you’ve probably read about the “Canadian Food Inspection Agency sanctioned” abuse at federally licensed Western Hog Exchange in Alberta, filmed by undercover investigator. The undercover video shows the arrival oftop hat tip dead pigs, lame pigs, pigs being hit with electric prods, and jammed with metal gates. In some instances, CFIA inspectors are present and are videoed providing staff with electric prods which are in violation of Western Hog regulations. All this serves to raise questions about CFIA oversight and investigation and enforcement of anti-cruelty regulations.  Why does it always take an undercover operation to expose something terrible happening on the CFIA’s watch?

The footage, filmed by Mercy For Animals, was given to W5, CTV’s investigative program, as part of their “These Little Piggies” expose. W5 made multiple attempts to interview either Dr. Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, or failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, for this segment. In an incredible feat of bureaucratic idiocy and exasperating obfuscation, the CFIA, who claim to be intolerant of farm animal abuse, side-steps the issue and refuses an interview at least until W5 ambushes Archibald in the parking lot. Too bad the media types at the CFIA never understood the phrase “when you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.”

W5’s negotiation process with the CFIA looks like this:

September 3, 2014 – W5 e-mails CFIA providing a synopsis of the video, our initial questions, and seeking an interview with CFIA President Bruce Archibald

W5 is producing a story about the transportation of and handling of pigs in Canada. As part of this investigation, W5 has been provided with hidden camera video inside the Red Deer location of the Western Hog Exchange.

September 11, 2014 – CFIA responds to W5’s request for an interview and responds to some of W5’s written questions

I am responding to your recent requests for an interview with Dr. Bruce Archibald. Dr. Archibald is unavailable for an interview however the information you requested is below. Please contact me if you have further questions.

Thank you,

CFIA Media Relations

Question 1: What are Canada’s animal transport and welfare regulations?

Answer: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not condone or tolerate any abusive behaviour towards animals and investigates all allegations of animal mistreatment.

The CFIA enforces the humane treatment of animals in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations. Broadly speaking, these regulations aim to prevent the undue suffering of animals during transport and during slaughter at federally registered facilities. These regulations are enforced through inspections at various locations such as border entry points, livestock auction markets and slaughter plants.

Most Canadian producers, transporters and processors are strongly committed to treating animals humanely. In the cases of non-compliance, the Agency works closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community to encourage immediate reporting of any animal welfare concerns to the appropriate regulatory authority. Rapid, detailed reporting places us in the best possible position to take appropriate enforcement actions.

Question 2: What are the current regulations on transport times, limits for feed, water and rest, andtruck conditions on animal welfare, and animal handling during the transportation process?

Answer: Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport. The Health of Animals Regulations require that animals be in good physical condition to travel and that the trip be made under suitable conditions (ventilation, duration, loading density, and proper construction of trailers and conveyances

Question 3: Can the CFIA provide their records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange from May 1,2014 to August 31, 2014?

Answer: There have been no issues of non-compliance identified by the CFIA against the Western Hog Exchange in the past year and, therefore, no enforcement actions taken by the CFIA.

September 12, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

If Dr. Archibald is unavailable, we request an on-camera interview with the person who oversees CFIA inspectors or someone else from the CFIA who can speak to these issues.

September 12, 2014 – CFIA responds and requests a copy of the hidden camera footage, while not agreeing to any interview

The CFIA takes any allegations of animal mistreatment seriously. In order for us to conduct an appropriate investigation, we request that you forward us the video footage.

September 12, 2014 – W5 responds offering to bring the video to the CFIA office and screen it for them prior to any on-camera interview

We propose the following: our reporter, Victor Malarek, will bring a copy of the video to your offices and show it to the person designated to be interviewed (off-camera). Immediately after he or she has viewed the video, we would expect an on-camera interview.

We have previously enumerated the instances contained in the video in advance of its showing to provide an idea of what the interviewee will see:

  1. a)      Pigs being transported in extreme heat;
  2. b)      Pigs dead on arrival;
  3. c)       Pigs coming off trucks that are too injured to stand or move on their own being forced to move with bats, feet, prodded with electric prods, or pushed with heavy gates;
  1. d)      Boars de-tusked to the gum level,
  2. e)      Questionable euthanasia practices;
  3. f)       Overcrowding.

In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present.

September 17, 2014 – CFIA responds saying an interview is not feasible and responds more of W5’s initial questions

In order for us to initiate a proper and detailed investigation, it is essential that several CFIA animal welfare experts thoroughly view the footage. Typically, this process requires multiple viewings and consultation with other officials in the CFIA. Therefore, it would not be feasible to conduct an interview under the scenario you have proposed.

The CFIA takes allegations of animal mistreatment during transport or slaughter seriously and investigates reports of mistreatment. It is important to re-emphasize that we cannot proceed with a full investigation of this situation until we are provided and can appropriately examine the video footage.

Question 1: Can you provide information on the CFIA records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange (WHE) from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 including inspector compliance verification records and non-compliance reports?

Answer: At this facility, WHE employees identify and exclude from slaughter suspect or unsatisfactory animals. CFIA inspectors then verify that the remaining animals are suitable for slaughter and that proper procedures are followed to produce safe meat. There were379,769 animals presented for CFIA inspection during this period. No animals were condemned based on these inspections.

CFIA inspectors also verify that animals arriving at this facility have been transported in a humane manner. It is important to note that CFIA inspectors are not on site for all arrivals; however, the CFIA did conduct 84 humane transport verifications during this period. No non-compliance reports were issued.

Question 2: Were there any “letters of warning” written to the Western Hog Exchange by the CFIA from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014? If so, how many? Can we get copies?

Answer: No letters of warning were issued during this period.

September 17, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

As we continue our reporting, today we interviewed a representative of Western Hog Exchange who agreed to be interviewed immediately after screening the video with his colleagues. We are prepared to do the same for CFIA.

i.e. to screen the video to as many people as you like, and the opportunity to screen the footage multiple times, in order to allow you to thoroughly view and examine the footage, provided that an interview is granted immediately afterward.

October 1, 2014 – W5’s Senior Reporter Victor Malarek approaches CFIA president Bruce Archibald directly to seek answers and to request an interview. (The exchange is recorded by W5’s cameras and can be seen in our report.)

October 2, 2014 – Following the approach to Archibald, CFIA’s Executive Director of Strategic Communications, James Stott, calls W5:

We are prepared to offer an interview. Our spokesperson is in Western Canada, we would have him available in Calgary.

There would be a condition to the interview, and that is that the footage that was taken today and yesterday at our headquarters not be used. … We’d like an opportunity to be part of a fair and balanced story and I don’t think that’s possible with that footage being used.

October 2, 2014 – W5 responds, accepting their offer of an interview, but declining the CFIA’s conditions

According to CTV News Policy, we cannot undertake to withhold any video that has already been shot.

We have been asking for an interview for more than 4 weeks. We find it very interesting that you come to us now with an offer, after we approached Dr. Archibald yesterday. That said, in the interests of fairness we remain interested in an on-camera interview.

Victor and our crew are available to tape an on-camera interview with a spokesperson or representative from CFIA in Ottawa tomorrow, Friday, October 3, 2014, until 5 pm Eastern Time.

October 3, 2014There is no response from CFIA

mediocrityIt’s hardly surprising that there are so many lame pigs in the video – pigs fed ractopamine are at increased risk for exhibiting downer pig syndrome. Ractopamine, a growth promoter, has been banned in 160 countries as a suspected carcinogen. The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and a protruding tongue. In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals. There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug. Inexplicably, the FDA approved the drug, although other countries certainly paid attention to the scandal.

The CFIA, in their hatred of both animals and humans, has also simply ignored research that clearly warns of the danger represented by this drug to humans and the inhumanity to pigs. Even China, home of infant formula contamination, aluminum-contaminated dumplings, and glow-in-the-dark pork, has banned ractopamine, which is given to pigs in their last 4 weeks.

Animal abuse by agri-business does not appear to be a blip on CFIA radar, but they have no problem using extreme prejudice against small farmers and businesses. In 2012 the agency notified Wholearth Farm that they intended to destroy an entire herd of rare Shropshire sheep. The order was made under a federal program to eradicate scrapie, an illness that affects the productivity and longevity of sheep but can’t be transmitted to humans. The CFIA went on to waste more taxpayer money in the sheep-napping investigation that followed. The Wholearth farm was raided multiple times by the CFIA, who threatened the farmer with up to 12 years in jail and fines of up to $1.5 million, even though none of the sheep were determined to have scrapie. It is fascinating how a very simple act of civil disobedience (refusing to hand over the rare sheep to be killed) unleashed an investigation worthy of searching for a mass murderer or a drug cartel.

Contrast the decision to eradicate the healthy sheep to one by the CFIA to declare fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia – a disease it says poses no risk to human heath. Because the U.S. won’t import fish with the virus, the salmon will have to find dinner plates to land on somewhere in Canada. A marine biologist says infectious salmon anemia is an influenza-type virus and can mutate in unpredictable ways, especially if it comes into contact with another flu virus in a human being.LIPSTICKONAPIG

While allowing infected fish in the marketplace, the shallow talent pool at the CFIA have chosen to target Field Roast vegetarian “meat” products, for labelling compliance issues, forcing the vegan company to halt Canadian distribution. It looks like we will need a special act of parliament to allow the Field Roast product into the Canadian marketplace, thanks to this misguided ruling by the CFIA. Virus-infected fish = OK , but vegetarian meat replacements = NON-COMPLIANT WITH CFIA LABELLING REGULATIONS.

It’s simply astonishing that industries that torture and abuse animals have been left relatively untouched by the CFIA while they persecute both a small sheep farmer and the manufacturer of a vegan meat replacement product.  The CFIA has set something of a national record for blundering in a single government agency – an agency where lying and bullshitting have also become part of its business model.

In his classic 1986 essay “On Bullshit,” Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt makes an important distinction between lying and mere “bullshit.” The liar knows and cares about the truth but deliberately sets out to deny or disguise it; the bullshitter doesn’t care about the truth, he is simply trying to impress us or sell us something. The honest man and the liar really care about the facts but the bullshitter isn’t concerned with the facts except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says:  He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them up, or makes them up, to suit his purposes.

Please sign the Mercy for Animals petition.

Please also see Canadian Horse Defence Coalition blog posts about CFIA misfeasance.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – Bowmanville Zoo Exotic Cats Get A Reprieve From Declawing

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declawing2

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Captive tigers and lions, among other zoo animals, are often exploited for gimmicky photoshoots and photo-ops. The Bowmanville Zoos star tiger Jonas (who was featured in the movie Life of Pi) would go home with the zoo staff and play with their dogs – of course he couldn’t do this unless he was declawed. He passed away in 2011 as a result of a birth defect, and Limba the asian elephant was euthanized at the zoo in December 2013.

declawing is tortureNow the focus has shifted onto the youngest exotic cats, who were born in the summer, as a replacement revenue stream for Jonas and Limba. In the past, all of the exotic cats at the Zoo had been declawed, to make them “safe” to interact with the public and the Zoo staff. But after an announcement about the inevitable declaw for the young exotic cats was posted on the zoos Facebook page, the Paw Project, a group working to end the inhumane practice of declawing through education and legislation, called on the Zoo to renounce the operation on the grounds that it was inhumane. Declawing, or onchyectomy, is the amputation of the last digital bone, including the nail bed and claw, on each front toe. An amputation is the removal of a part of the body from the rest of the body. The cat’s claw is not a nail as is a human fingernail, it is part of the last bone (distal phalanx) in the cat’s toe and this region must be removed completely, or regrowth of a vestigial claw and abscess-formation result. To remove the claw: the bone, nerve, joint capsule, ligaments, and the tendons must all be amputated. Thus declawing is not a simple single surgery but ten separate, painful amputations of the third phalanx up to the last joint of each toe. If the surgery is performed correctly and the entire nail bed is removed, the claw cannot regrow.  It is not without risks, including anaesthetic complications, haemorrhaging, and extreme pain. In terms of seriousness it is not comparable to soft-tissue surgeries suAnimals Belong in the wildch as spay/neuter, where recovery time is much quicker.

AVMA, CVMA, and USDA all oppose declawing big cats. And it was only in the last few days that CAZA – Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums issued a statement that they were going to develop a policy on declawing – a decision that may have resulted in the Zoo losing its accreditation if they did not comply with any resulting opposition to declawing.

At a protest on September 28th, the Zoo tried various strategies to stifle the protesters’ free speech, including glaring at us from across the street, calling the cops in an attempt to stop our educational and limited use of the megaphone, and encouraging two of the “Real Housewives of the Bowmanville Trailer Park Community” to complain to the police that our megapohone use, at 12 pm in the afternoon from across a busy highway, was too disruptive to both them and the Zoo animals. The megaphone use was even more disruptive apparently than the non-stop carnival music emanating from Funland at the same time. The police however, were unconvinced and we were allowed to continue, also due to the fact that there are no bylaws against megaphone use in the town. Furthermore, last year we did our due diligence – I paid my way into the Zoo to digitally record the noise level from megaphone use from inside the zoo where it was claimed that the giraffes were disturbed. While chatting with Zoo Director Michael Hackenberger while the megaphone was in use and asking him about his concerns for the young giraffes in the enclosure, he never once mentioned that the megaphone was disruptive to them. In fact, the animals did not react to it as it could barely be heard at all.  Of course it hardly helped the Zoos’ claim that the giraffes were frightened when we could see them from across the street poking their heads out at us curiously from inside their enclosure,  appearing utterly unruffled by the megaphone. work by Nicholas Wilvert.

When none of these strategies served to deter our peaceful protest, the head zookeeper crossed the road to rather contritely state that no one in the Zoo had any idea from where the “rumour” about declawing originated, so I assume that after the protest, the creative writing intern managing their Facebook page probably got some sort of dressing-down for confirming the declaw procedure not once but several times.

Bowmanville zoo declaw

Bread and circuses…

The combined protest across from the Zoo property and the social media backlash, even by many of their own regular patrons, led to the Zoo issuing a statement abandoning the declawing plan a few days later. In their manicure or mutilationunique way, Zoo management always manages to backtrack by claiming that the idea was for the safety of the animals and never for the handlers or the public, even though this was not the message point that was posted on Facebook.

Michael Hackenberger was adamant he had not made a final decision on whether to declaw the cats and called the reaction by some in the animal rights community “uninformed and knee-jerk.”  However, it was hardly reactionary since the Zoo’s own Facebook page advised visitors that it was policy to declaw the cats since it’s safer for handlers to work with them. In the end, Hackenberger himself appeared to take credit for ending declawing at the Zoo, and that’s fine – however the Zoo arrives at the conclusion that they need to stop declawing matters little so long as they do.

In the US, declawing is done by circuses to prevent human injury but is no longer popular – and it is in violation of USDA regulations. Various circus acts have been cited by the USDA for mistreatment of their big cats, including acts featured at casinos, which were named for declawing lions and tigers. It is alleged that even the Make a Wish Foundation arranges for adults and children to meet and closely interact with declawed tigers.

Experts say that working with dangerous animals like tigers is a bad idea both for the trainers and for the animals, citing the fact that tigers, along with elephants, are the main causes of occupational fatalities for circus workers and zoo keepers.  But still,  not everyone’s happy,  even though the outcome is a win for both the Zoo and the cats.  The Supporters of Bowmanville Zoo Facebook page,  which is certainly not a support page for the animals but a page to complain about zoo protests,  is determined to try to take down a Facebook page dedicated to ending declawing in Canada as “harassment” of the Zoo.  And those people are proof that just because you got the monkey off your back it doesn’t mean the circus has left town.

"nicholas wilvert"

 

 

 

In Memoriam: The Renowned Windfields Farm

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Northern Dancer Monument

Artist: David Yeatman, of Aylmer, Quebec. Both the 1964 Kentucky Derby, the Queen’s Plate, and Preakness winner, Northern Dancer is pictured after his historic Kentucky Derby win with Jockey Bill Hartack and E. P. Taylor, owner of Windfields Farm. (Notice the 3D effect as Northern Dancer appears to gallop off the mural!)

For several years now,  housing developments have threatened the Windfields Farm property in Oshawa, Ontario.  Previously owned by entrepreneur E.P. Taylor,  the entire operation gradually dwindled after his death in 1989,  after which his journalist son Charles began shutting down the business and selling off the remainder of the horses. “Though everybody in the family loved the horses and loved to go see them, nobody was prepared to run the show,” said E.P. Taylor’s daughter and Windfields president Judith Taylor Mappin.  Fans of the heritage site watched with dismay as the famous gates at the end of the driveway were dismantled and the property fell into a state of ruin – Oshawa’s beloved landmark has fallen victim to nature, vandals, and appalling post-closure disrespect.

On Saturday September 27th,  the City of Oshawa held an open-house which featured numerous interesting places and spaces in the City,  including Windfields Farm.  During the doors open event it was shared that the new owner,  the University of Ontario, has begun exploratory meetings and discussions with regards to fundraising to allow further repairs to the buildings, barns, and the arena. The roadmap ahead with regards to the intended usage of the core of the farm remains somewhat unclear, but it appears efforts to make the property more publicly accessible in the future were underway, a great step towards allowing the public more routine access to visit the farm and revere in its history.

Access to the farm and the famous gravesite has been restricted by the University of Ontario and it’s rarely accessible to anyone.  It’s far off the main road and unless you remember what the imposing stone gates looked like,  you probably wouldn’t find it.  We’re shuttled onto the property and have the opportunity to meet several fascinating people and veterinarians who lived and worked on the property and recall all the personality quirks of the individual racehorses.  The following was part of our informational session, and the originals are available in PDF format here.

Northern Dancer Cemetery – University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)

Graves and new stallion barn

Overview of the New Stallion Barn and the Gravesites. There are many other horses buried on the farm in unmarked graves.

Windfields Farm was a 1,500 acre thoroughbred breeding farm founded by businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, E.P. Taylor. In 1950 he purchased what was then named Parkwood Stables, from Col. R. S. McLaughlin.

A number of stallions stood at Windfields Farm. They servied Windfields Farm’s broodmares as well as broodmares owned by other thoroughbred owners, through a commercial breeding operation. From the late 1960’s to the mid-1980’s, Windfields Farm was North America’s top breeder – leading breeder in purses, winning nine times; leading breeder of stakes winners thirteen times. Taylor’s thoroughbred operation grew to be the most successful in North America (Unterman McPhail, 2002).

Overview of Graves

Not eerie, but very nostalgic…

Horses of international fame were bred at Windfields Farm including Nearctic, Victoria Park, Nijinsky, The Minstrel, and Vice Regent.

After Mr. Taylor’s death in 1989, downsizing of the farm began with large parts of the property being sold. Windfields Farm ceased operations entirely in 2009. The “core” of the farm includes the Northern Dancer Cemetery, the Arena and the Old Stud Barn, Barn 2, Barn 6, and the New Stallion Barn. The land that these buildings and the cemetery are situated on is now owned by UOIT and will be incorporated into the Campus Master Plan, which is currently being developed.

The Northern Dancer Cemetery

Windfields Farm was the birthplace of numerous outstanding thoroughbred racehorses, including the great Northern Dancer. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Northern Dancer winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Queen’s Plate. Northern Dancer retired from racing after his 1964 racing season but went on to have an unbelievable stud career, becoming the most influential sire of the 20th century. Northern Dancer spent the majority of his stud career at the Windfields Farm, Maryland division, and was returned home to his birthplace upon his death in 1990. (Unterman McPhail, 2002).

The other horses buried in The Northern Dancer Cemetery include: Archers Bay, Ascot Knight, Ballade, Canadiana, Cats At Home, New Providence, South Ocean, Vice Regent, Victoria Park and Windfields.

 

Parkwood Stables Era – the Arena (Breeding Shed) and Barn 2

Arena Gate and clock

Arena/Breeding Shed,  its forlorn clock permanently stopped @ 5:40

Windfields Farm has a rich and exciting history, linked to two very affluent Canadian families who built their businesses in Oshawa, Ontario.

Parkwood Stables was established in 1927 by the first important family to own the property. Colonel R. S. McLaughlin, the founding President of General Motors of Canada. Later, in 1950, Parkwood Stables was purchased by E.P. Taylor

Colonel R.S. McLaughlin was one of Canada’s most successful businessmen of all time. He initially established Parkwood Stables to house his daughter’s show horses and then later, his thoroughbred racehorses. Parkwood Stable’s thoroughbreds won The Queen’s Plate three times, The King’s Plate once, and many other high profile races (Unterman McPhail, 2002).

Arena

Arena/Breeding Shed

Two of the barns that are now located at Windfields Farm were originally built between 1914 and 1917 on Parkwood Estate, located at 270 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario. The barn we refer to as Barn 2, as well as the large indoor arena and attached stable (the old stud barn), were dismanted in 1935; in some cases, stone by stone; marked and rebuilt at the property on Simcoe Street North, now known as Windfields Farm. These buildings were moved from Parkwood Estate to make room for the addition of the reflecting pool and fountain of the Formal Garden area.

The Arena/Breeding Shed, the Laboratory and the Old Stud Barn

The arena was primarily used as a breeding shed. It was also used as a place to break difficult yearlings;the horse could be contained within the arena if it unseated its rider

Windfields Farm hosted many tremendous parties within the arena. One such occasion was when Windfields Farm won the Canadian International Race. E.P. Taylor is the only owner to have won the International on four occasions. He won with Nephisto in 1950; Bull Page in 1951, Navy Page in 1953 and Snow Knight in 1975.

Stallion showings would also take place in this building. It would be transformed with tapestries and seating.

arena breeding shed

Inside of abandoned Arena

Due to the short stature of Northern Dancer, it was believed to be beneficial to breed him to larger mares so that together they would produce larger offspring. Lacking in height, Northern Dancer required help reaching a mare for breeding. Therefore, a pit was dug in the dirt floor of the arena, lined with outdoor carpet to aid in traction (this was later changed to rubberized carpet). Then the mare would be positioned at the lowest point in the pit. This was the only way he was able to reach to breed the mares. There was no artificial insemination in thoroughbred breeding, only natural cover is allowed.

Northern Dancer’s stud fee near the end of his career was $250,000 – $1,000,000 with no guarantee of a foal.

After the New Stallion Barn was built, the Old Stallion Barn would house the overflow stallions (there were only 8 stalls built in the New Stallion Barn).Arena turret

There was also a lower laboratory attached ot the Arena and the Old Stallion Barn. This lab was used to collect dismount specimen from the stallions at stud. This would be checked for sperm count and mobility. It would be collected and passed through a window where it would be checked and recorded.

The Laboratory was located above the Old Stud Barn and occupied three rooms. The rooms were used for Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Haematology.

Mares, stallions, foals, weanlings, yearlings and racehorses received first rate care at Windfields Farm. Prevention was the key to having a healthy population of thoroughbreds. The highly trained staff, combined with a well-equipped and modern laboratory, helped to keep the horses monitored on a constant basis. Many tests were done routinely on the population, which often exceeded 500 horses.

Barn 2

Originally Barn 2 was used for breaking yearlings within the barn itself. The barn is shaped in an oval, with the stalls being located in the middle of the barn. The yearlings would jog around the corridor, until they were ready to jog on the track outdoors or within the arena.

Later Barn 2 was used as a transient barn for outside mares being brought in to be bred by Windfields Farm’s stallions. Quarantining the mares would ensure that Windfields horses were not at risk.

There were also offices attached to the south side of Barn 2. The lower level office was for the manager, while the offices located on the second floor were for the secretaries of Windfields Farm.

Barn 6

Also known as the Foaling Barn, this building was built during the Parkwood Stables period, probably in the 1930’s. The north two-thirds of the building appear to have been constructed first and then the south one being a later addition (Underman McPhail 2002). Numerous greats such as Northern Dancer, The Minstrel, Bridle Path and Vice Regent were born in this barn.

The New Stallion Barn

New stallion barn

New Stallion Barn

The New Stallion Barn was built in the 1960’s. It housed many successful stallions during the Windfields Farm era. The stallions would travel a short distance across a path to the breeding shed (Arena) to breed the mares.

There were once beautiful paddocks north of the barn, where horses were turned out to play and graze daily

There was a sitting room located on the east side of this barn.

Heritage Impact Study Report, Windfields Farm Limited, City of Oshawa, Ontario.

Presented to Windfields Farm Limited, November 2002. Prepared by Unterman McPhail Associates, Heritage Resource Management Consultants

 

Feral British Columbia Horses Are Pawns In Battle With Penticton Indian Band

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

A mix of nearly 600 feral and privately owned horses were counted on Penticton Indian Band (PIB) lands in March during an aerial survey that’s expected to feature in the development of a new plan to manage their numbers. The horses that roam the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia have become a safety risk and a burden to local homeowners, and the problem is multiplying. The PIB is embroiled in a debate with both government, animal advocates and residents in the area who are seeing more branded horses venturing onto roads and residences. Many are in horrific conditions – virtually walking skeletons.

The concerns by other horse owners and residents are numerous.  People riding their horses in the Penticton area are afraid because feral stallions chase them. On the occasion that privately owned horses have gotten loose and mingled with the feral herds, it’s been difficult to retrieve them because some band members claim people are stealing band horses. In winter many are simply being allowed to starve to death. Adding to the problem is the issue of many newborn foals that are being abandoned and must be fostered by various caring advocates. But helping the horses has been difficult mostly due to issues arising from their ownership. Most area residents claim that about 2/3rd’s of the horses are branded by Two Buck Pierre of the PIB, who, according to them, either lacks the ability or the will to keep them penned and appropriately fed.

The provincial BC government won’t offer the feral horses any sort of protection due to their status as feral, and the native band takes the curious position that they are both simultaneously owned and un-owned. The provincial Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection does not have a policy on free-roaming horses because their jurisdiction is under the Wildlife Act, which does not recognize these horses as wildlife and therefore deems them to be undeserving of consideration. Because they were once domesticated, they are not considered wild in the way that bears, wolves, deer and cougars are wild.

Band Brand

This “JP” branded horse has ventured onto a private lawn in search of food. Notice also that the horse is unafraid of the homeowner taking the photo = not a truly wild horse.

In the past, the PIB seems to have little incentive to change their approach to managing the horses. When there are problems with horses venturing down onto the roads then the band has claimed they are feral. The band does not like to lay claim to the horses (unless it benefits them to do so in the case of slaughter or selling them as rodeo stock) so that is why they call them free roaming or feral, in order that they are not held responsible. Yet the majority are branded with the initials “JP” for Two Buck Pierre and are owned primarily by a few families on the reserve. The band knows exactly who the owners are but they deliberately downplay the numbers in an effort to get the taxpayer to pay for managing them. PIB Councillor Dolly Kruger lists herself as having 10 horses in the report included below, but privately acknowledges having about 40.

One can only wonder how the band can therefore legally round up horses for slaughter that they normally claim not to own (despite most being branded). In 2009 there was a mass slaughter, which is income to the band. The Bouvry plant was paying up to 45 cents per pound in June of this year. So, an average 1,000 pound per horse equates to about $400 at slaughter, and if the band culls 300, that would average $120,000 in each year of a cull. To add insult to injury, the band also wants the taxpayer to pay them wages to round up their own branded horses so they can benefit from the proceeds of slaughter. This being the case, there seems to be little justification for asking taxpayers to pay for fencing the horses when the band could pay for it themselves with the proceeds from slaughter.

band brand1This study (below) by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) is the closest anyone has ever come to having Chief and Council admit to the fact that the majority of these horses are owned by band members. Currently proposed options to manage herd sizes range from rounding up animals for slaughter to sterilizing them with contraceptive PZP, then erecting fencing to keep them out of populated areas. PIB Chief Kruger and the chief before him want a fence that will keep people out of the reservation. They have been trying to get the provincial government to pay for one for at least 20 years. While this will keep the horses off private property and out of traffic, it will not improve their standard of living unless their numbers are humanely reduced or more food is available. Advocates including Theresa Nolet of O.A.T.S (One At Time Success) Horse Rescue have offered to raise funds for PZP and its administration, however the Chief and Council apparently want to work with RDOS and horse owners only.

The RDOS has estimated a cost of $1,000 dollars per horse for the PZP with wages etc. They have not independently fact-checked these costs. Theresa Nolet has researched the costs involved in using PZP and was quoted approximately $300 to $400 for individual wild horses, which most of these are not. The prevailing belief amongst horse advocates is that the cost estimates are on the extravagant side in order to “persuade” the public that the slaughter cull is the only appropriate path to take.

It is hoped that a cost-effective, permanent fix can be agreed-upon that does not include slaughtering the horses. Councillor Dolly Kruger has acknowledged that “…there are so many studs out there and because there is so much inbreeding going on out there right now… they’re not healthy,” Kruger suggested the most prudent course of action would see one or two round-ups of horses for slaughter, followed by regular sterilization of mares using dart guns that deliver contraceptive drugs. Members of the project team expect to produce a draft plan later this year and implementation in early 2015 if everything goes as hoped. The plan is expected to include a call for fencing, corrals, feeding stations and/or a cull but a vaccination program for contraception is favoured.

The areas the horses reside in is not a wild range and these horses are not truly wild. Therefore, it is unacceptable to simply stand back and do nothing while observing the horses, who are not thriving in this environment, venture onto private property to find food, get hit by cars, only to ultimately starve to death in the winter. The band uses them for profit when it is convenient and leaves them to suffer when it is felt that there is no financial return to be made.

If a horse is branded it is traceable back to its owner, and in a just world that person would be found, charged with a criminal offence, fined heavily or jailed, and prohibited from future animal possession. If private individuals allowed their horses to wander the roadways, the SPCA would certainly act upon it, but they take no action whatsoever when PIB branded horses are observed to be starving or injured.

 

Why Do Animal Abusers Hate The HSUS?

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humanewatchWritten by:  John Doppler Schiff and reprinted with permission

The HSUS is under attack by animal abusing industries. These industries claim the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States)  is inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent.

But if this was true, why would animal abusers spend tens of millions of dollars annually on dishonest smear campaigns to attack the HSUS?  If the HSUS was truly ineffective, wouldn’t animal abusers be perfectly happy to have such an incompetent opponent?

The truth is that the HSUS is the nation’s largest and most effective animal welfare organization, with a staggeringly long list of accomplishments — and animal abusers are terrified of what they’ve accomplished on behalf of the animals.

Here’s a small, incomplete sampling of what the HSUS does:

 

  • HSUS donated $3000 to the first non-lethal deer population management program in Virginia.
  • HSUS played a pivotal role in securing the defunding of horse slaughter for 2014.
  • HSUS exposed Kenneth Schroeder, a “random source” dealer selling dogs to laboratories for cruel experiements.  Schroeder’s license was subsequently revoked by the USDA.
  • Two endangered tortoises were rescued and rehomed by the HSUS.
  • Cheesecake Factory commenced the phase-out of gestation crates from its suppliers.
  • Humane Society of Charlotte and the HSUS teamed up to rescue 23 dogs from a North Carolina puppy mill.
  • Glee star Lea Michele and the HSUS ask NY legislature to regulate puppy mills more aggressively.  In January of 2014, Gov. Cuomo signs the bill into law.
  • An HSUS investigation exposed 116 Horse Protection Act citations assessed against the board of Tennessee’s Walking Horse Trainers Association.
  • HSUS filed a formal complaint with the USDA demanding enforcement action against more than 50 commercial dog breeders operating illegally.
  • Aubrey Organics joined the HSUS’ Be Cruelty Free campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics.
  • Safeway pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • HSUS launched a successful PSA campaign urging citizens to report animal abuse.
  • HSUS provided the USDA with evidence of AWA violations by a research facility in Georgia, culminating in a $26,000 fine.
  • HSUS investigation exposed disease, neglect, and cruelty at unregulated flea markets.
  • Business Ethics Network bestowed two awards on the HSUS for its campaign to reform factory farm cruelty.
  • HSUS successfully presented testimony to prevent the return of a puppy to the pet store owner who abused him.
  • HSUS’ Duchess Sanctuary completed construction on a new hospital barn.
  • HSUS reports exposed inhumane and unsafe conditions in three Maryland roadside zoos exhibiting dangerous exotic animals.
  • Binghamton University joined the Meatless Monday campaign, with great success.
  • HSUS warned consumers about falsely labeled “faux fur” garments containing rabbit fur, sold at Kohl’s.
  • Infamous Chino slaughterhouse and Westland Meat Packing Co. slapped with $155,684,827.00 judgment — the largest animal cruelty penalty ever assessed — following HSUS investigation that revealed abuse of downer cattle at the facility.
  • 40 dogs and 75 cats, miniature ponies, rabbits, and chickens rescued from NC pet mill.
  • HSUS and Red Barn launch a leash and collar drive for pet owners in underserved communities.
  • HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue filed suits to block horse slaughter plants from opening.
  • 31 dogs seized from dogfighting operations in Alabama thanks to a joint effort between law enforcement, HSUS, and local humane societies.
  • Cracker Barrel shareholders voted to support the HSUS proposal to eliminate gestation crates from the company’s supply chain.
  • Papa John’s pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • Prop 204 passed in Arizona, eliminating veal and gestation crates.
  • Prop 2 passed in CA, ensuring that poultry will not suffer in cages smaller than a sheet of letter sized paper their entire lives.
  • 200 pit bulls rescued from the largest recorded dog fighting ring.
  • 43 horses rescued from neglect in Lindale, TX.
  • $600,000 grant from HSUS used to build a shelter in Jackson, LA.
  • Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 recriminalized crush videos.
  • 5,700 fighting dogs and roosters rescued from animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • Over forty emergency deployments for large-scale rescue of animals in 2009.
  • More than 10,000 animals rescued in emergency deployments in 2009.
  • 1800 tortoises saved from being buried alive in Florida construction.
  • 1.8 million cows in California will NOT have their tails cruelly amputated without anesthetic this year thanks to the HSUS.bullshit
  • 3,000+ puppies rescued from mass breeding facilities in 2009.
  • 461 more pet stores agree to not sell puppy mill dogs in 2009.
  • 50th reward paid for information leading to the arrest of animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • 14 laws to protect wildlife passed in 2009.
  • Cockfighting now illegal in all 50 states.
  • 150+ retailers and fashion designers have agreed to go fur-free.
  • Criminal abuse of cows at Conklin Dairy exposed and stopped.
  • Chino slaughterhouse putting dying “downer” cattle into schools’ food supply, exposed and stopped.
  • 8,057 animals treated for free in under-served areas in 2009.
  • 4,300 homeowners advised on the humane removal of wildlife in 2009.
  • 23,000+ low-cost spay and neuter surgeries in the Gulf Coast in 2009.
  • 120 cats rescued from a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010.
  • 40,000+ pets spayed and a quarter million dollars raised for spay/neuter programs during Spay Day 2009.
  • 90 dogs rescued from a New Jersey puppy mill in 2010.
  • 89 state laws protecting pets passed in 2009.
  • HSUS sends relief personnel to Haiti for disaster assistance in 2009.
  • 1300 animals have found refuge in HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch.
  • Maine phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • Michigan phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • 49 starving horses rescued in West Virginia in 2010.
  • 8,320 animals treated by HSUS veterinarians in 2010.
  • Kraft switched one million eggs to cage-free.
  • Hellman’s adopted cage-free eggs.
  • Subway phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Ohio’s agriculture industry agreed to phase out veal crates and gestation crates by 2015.
  • HSUS transported 100+ dogs from overwhelmed Gulf Coast shelters to NJ and DC.
  • HSUS holds Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales accountable for mislabeling fur garments.
  • 2000 pet rats rescued from a hoarder in Southern California.
  • Truth in Fur Labeling Act signed into law.
  • HSUS information leads to seizure of 100 roosters from a cockfight ring in Dallas, TX.
  • Undercover video reveals horrific conditions at Smithfield Farms.
  • HSUS distributes 30+ grants to equine rescues as part of American Competitive Trail Horse Association’s fundraiser.
  • HSUS exposes Neiman Marcus sale of dog fur labeled as “raccoon”.
  • D.C. Superior Court rules that Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act by falsely labeling fur garments.
  • Pepsi fans overwhelmingly vote to award HSUS a $250,000 grant to provide veterinary assistance to animals in underserved communities.
  • After years of friction, the USDA agrees to appoint an ombudsman and improve oversight of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
  • 1,000th pet store joins HSUS’ Puppy Friendly Pet Store campaign, agreeing not to sell puppies.
  • HSUS exposes sale of dog fur labeled as “fake fur” at Barney’s, in NY.
  • Shark Conservation Act signed into law, prohibiting fishermen from cutting the fins off sharks and throwing them back into the water to die horribly.
  • Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman adopts cage-free egg policy.
  • Federal Court of Appeals upholds an HSUS request to stop the slaughter of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Oregon/Washington border.
  • HSUS exposes inhumane conditions at Willmar Poultry Company, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery.
  • HSUS and Multnomah County Animal Services provide 40 animal crates to the American Red Cross’ Emergency Warming Center in Portland, OR.
  • HSUS rescues 2500 rats as part of a hoarder intervention in San Jose, CA.  The rescue was featured on Season Three of A&E’s documentary, “Hoarders”.
  • On behalf of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, HSUS coordinates a national symposium on modernizing the testing of chemicals in laboratories and reducing the role of animal testing.
  • HSUS town hall in Lincoln, NE opens meaningful discussion of agricultural issues with Nebraska farmers.
  • Wheaton, IL adopts non-lethal coyote deterrents instead of trapping and killing.
  • HSUS investigation of Bushway Packing leads to conviction on charges of animal cruelty.
  • 550 prairie dogs resettled, rescued from poisoning in Thunder Basin, WY.
  • 14 turkeys find sanctuary at HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch in TX.
  • BermansVerminPhotographer Robbie Bellon photographs 25 adopted and rescued dogs of 25 celebrities to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, WI switches to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS and the Kislak Family Fund present a $25,000 grant to the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for a program to benefit injured and ill shelter animals.
  • HSUS and Ellen Degeneres celebrate and raise awareness of shelters with the annual Shelter Appreciation Week, held the first week of each November.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center expands with the addition of a new animal hospital for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Prop 109, an anti-animal, anti-voter initiative, is defeated in Arizona.
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers creates the Pawsitively Yours line of jewelry to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • HSUS grants help Second Chance Animal Shelter of Brookfield, MA finish renovations after thieves steal building materials.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center releases a harrier back into the wild after 8 weeks of care and rehabilitation.
  • The Coats for Cubs program repurposes old fur coats to aid and comfort wildlife.
  • Wal-Mart’s private label eggs are now cage-free.
  • HSUS helps persuade Sara Lee to switch to cage-free eggs.
  • Orphaned raccoons raised and rehabilitated by HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center are released into the wild.
  • Medford, OR bakery, Harry & David, joins the growing cage-free movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes the Greenspring Wildlife Sanctuary, a permanent,  protected, 154-acre wildlife habitat in Ashland, OR.
  • Minnesota cat killer’s felony conviction on animal cruelty is upheld in State of Minnesota v. Ajalon Thomas Corcoran.
  • Virgin America airlines switch to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS exposes the worst puppy mills in the “Missouri Dirty Dozen” report.
  • HSUS teams up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, donating forensic investigation equipment to crack down on poaching.
  • Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, NJ joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes a 30-acre permanent wildlife habitat, the Ogden Wildlife Sanctuary, in Leon County, TX.
  • Pennsylvania joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a nationwide law enforcement network of 36 states to prevent criminal poachers from hunting in other states.
  • Pennsylvania signs HSUS-supported HB1859 into law, introducing felony penalties for poachers who are repeat offenders.
  • HSUS transports 10 pit bulls rescued from Ohio fighting rings to the Washington Animal Rescue League.
  • Barilla becomes the first pasta manufacturer to join the cage-free egg movement, switching 45% of its supply to cage-free in 2011.
  • HSUS investigates and exposes bear baiting in South Carolina, the only state to tolerate this cruelty.
  • Thanks to the efforts of HSUS, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jane Goodall, Gov. Bill Richardson, and more, 186 chimpanzees were saved from further invasive medical testing in New Mexico.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission votes unanimously to ban fox penning.
  • HSUS rescued more than 90 dogs from a Montana hoarder.
  • HSUS assisted in the rescue of 118 dogs from a breeder in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  • On behalf of local residents, HSUS took legal action against the Olivera Egg Ranch for noxious pollution emanating from that factory farm.
  • HSUS and Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue took custody of 17 horses formerly destined for slaughter.
  • HSVMA launched a petition urging Congress to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
  • Loyola Marymount University switched all eggs on campus to cage-free eggs
  • 36 Pet Food Express stores took the “Puppy Friendly Pet Store” pledge.
  • HSUS rescues 170 cats rescued from hoarders in Powell, WY; no reimbursement is requested for the capture, processing, treatment, and transport of the cats.

And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

Don’t fall for misinformation from the ignorant and the cruel.  

Get the facts from a reputable source.

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Vegan Pets: An Unscientific Dogma?

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Cat looks intently at goldfishWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

When meat-eaters ask vegetarians or vegans how we get our protein or nourish ourselves without meat, we can confidently refer them to the Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada on Vegetarian Diets“Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life-cycle including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence.”

But pet cats and dogs share a common ancestry and belong to the order Carnivora. The very definition of a carnivore is an animal that consumes a diet consisting wholly or almost exclusively of meat. Carnivora includes domestic cats and dogs, ferrets, lions, raccoons and even the giant panda, which is herbivorous. Carnivores are well-suited to a hunting lifestyle. Most members of Carnivora are superb hunters possessing sharp teeth and eyesight, a well-developed sense of smell, and sharp claws. Dogs differ from cats in that they are not strict (obligate) carnivores but are more omnivorous. One of the most complete studies of the daily nutrient requirements for dogs and cats currently available is the 424-page Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. When considering whether to feed a cat or dog a vegan diet, that reference is especially useful. It acknowledges that there is far greater latitude in ingredient selection for dog foods and quite feasible that they contain no animal products. However, the same is not true for cats, since strict vegan diets, when fed alone, are not nutritionally adequate even though it’s possible that cats will find them palatable. All commercial dog and cat foods should also adhere to the AFFCO nutrient profiles for cats and dogs.Prey drive

Vegans and vegetarians naturally want to refrain from contributing to animal cruelty by feeding pets meat-based diets. But the pet food industry exists as a by-product of the meat industry itself, and that industry shows no signs of discontinuation. Some people feel that the term “by-product” used as an ingredient in pet foods means that it is of low value or garbage that is not fit for human consumption. It is true that much of the content of pet foods comes from the “4-D Animals” – downers, the dead, the diseased, and dying animals. Pet foods also contain less palatable parts of animals that people do not want to eat. This includes some organ meats, intestines, lungs stomachs, legs, limbs, and sinewy parts etc. What makes “human grade meat” is in large part a culturally based aesthetic rather than anything practical. In other words, we choose not to eat many perfectly edible organ meats or other body parts simply because they gross us out.

Mystery meat close-up shotAs repugnant as we may find all these things, the reality is that cats, dogs, and ferrets can handle greater microbe burdens in their food, most of which is killed by the cooking process. In any case, carnivores or scavenging carnivores (like dogs) would all eat these same body parts in the wild, but probably in less hygienic conditions than those found in a cooked food.

So the question to feed vegan diets to cats, dogs, and ferrets really becomes an ethical concern. We want to have carnivores as pets, so should those carnivores be compelled to eat a diet without animal products even though making one that is nutritionally appropriate is difficult, and some of them may have to subsist on an inadequate diet? We domesticated them, invited them into our homes, and are now faced with the decision – are we trading one kind of animal welfare for another?

Observations About Dogs, Cats, and Other Carnivores In General

Domestic dogs (canis lupus familiaris) diverged from wolves (canus lupus)about 100,000 years ago. Their diets are predominantly meat, but they will eat non-meat foods such as vegetables and fruits. They do however, have some issues breaking down carbohydrates and cellulose in their guts.

Neither dogs, cats, nor ferrets produce amylase in their saliva, which starts the break-down process for carbohydrates and starches. Amylase is something that omnivores and herbivores produce, but not carnivorous animals. This places the burden entirely on the pancreas, forcing it to produce large amounts of amylase to cope with the cellulose and carbs in the plant material. The carnivore’s pancreas does not secrete cellulase to split the cellulose into glucose moleculFerret dentitiones, nor have dogs become efficient at digesting, assimilating and utilizing plant material as a source of high quality protein. Herbivores do those sorts of things.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets have the internal anatomy and physiology of a carnivore.   They have impressive, sharp teeth designed for grabbing, ripping, tearing or shearing meat – all adaptations for a prey-based diet. They do not have large flat molars for grinding up plant material. They have a short gut and smooth colon, which means that food passes through quickly. Plant matter though, needs time to sit and ferment, which translates to having a longer colon, as humans possess.

The carnivorous nature of the cats’ (felus catus) diet has lead to very specific metabolic differences that show up in their nutrient requirements. These differences make cats (and ferrets) “obligate” carnivores, meaning that they rely on nutrients in animal tissues to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements and that some level of animal meat is required in their diet for survival. Specific nutritional idiosyncrasies of the cat includes increased protein requirements, as well as the inclusion of arginine, B12, vitamin A, methionine, lysine, taurine, carnitine, choline, and arachidonic acid. Taurine, arginine, arachidonic acid, along with vitamin A and other nutrients, are all found in animal meat and are either completely absent or found at much lower levels in plant material. The reality is that while dogs can utilize plant material and eat vegan diets, neither dogs,  cats,  nor ferrets bodies are designed to eat only plants as are herbivores.

Studies and Articles on Vegan Pet Foods

There aren’t a lot of studies on the long term health effects or appropriateness of vegan foods for pets. There are no long term studies that I could find (10+ years or the life of the pet). Therefore, feeding pets vegan diets amounts to in-home animal testing.  There are however,  shorter term studies and articles available,  authored by veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists:

  • Veterinarian Lorelei Wakefield’s peer-reviewed study, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association “Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers,” found that taurine levels were low in all the cats, but not critcally so. Dr. Wakefield is a vegan who owns a cat who eats meat-based prescription food.
  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says: “The nutritional needs of dogs and cats are very different. Dogs are omnivores and can do well on either meat-containPrey drive 2ing or vegetarian diets, while cats are strict carnivores with very precise nutritional needs.”
  • The US National Research Council released dietary guidelines for Cats and Dogs in 2003 “Cats are descended from carnivores, and their gastrointestinal system is well-suited to digesting and absorbing nutrients from animal-based proteins and fats. They should not be fed a vegetarian diet because it could result in harmful deficiencies of certain amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins.. Although dogs may prefer animal-based food, they can survive on a vegetarian diet as long as it contains sufficient protein and other nutrients..”
  • Vegan vet Armaiti May advises having a vet monitor your cat’s urine pH, rather than doing it yourself.
    Animal Voices (Toronto) covered this topic in 2006 with a round table discussion, involving two local activists whose cats fell seriously ill on a vegan diet
  • Gray, et. al., published in JAVMA (Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association)Nutritional Adequacy of Two Vegan Diets for Cats. The study showed two commercially available vegetarian cat foods (Vegecat KibbleMix and Evolution canned diet for adult cats) to be deficient in several key nutrients.
  • Veterinary nutritionist Dr. Julie Churchill says a vegan diet can eventually cause eye lesions and heart valve problems in cats.
  • One survey conducted by PETA found that 82 percent of dogs that had been vegan for five years or more were in good to excellent health and that the longer a dog remained on a vegetarian or vegan diet, the greater the likelihood that the dog would have overall good to excellent health. The study, however, also found that vegetarian dogs may be more prone to urinary tract infections as well as a form of heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be caused by a deficiency of the amino acids L-carnitine or taurine.
  • Cats tend to form struvite crystals and stones if their urine pH is too low as a result of lower than required protein.  Urinary blockage risk is increased.  Male cats are especially at risk due to having a narrow urethra.

Dinner is servedFrom these studies I can see that vegan food for pets must be supplemented, which begs the question – how natural can it possibly be? The logic behind claiming that an obligate carnivore like a cat or ferret is healthiest if fed a vegan diet seems rather indefensible to me. And it’s certainly not without some degree or risk for dogs either. While a manufacturer’s statement that thousands of healthy and long-living animals are on their diets is interesting, additional information is needed to support the diets’ nutritional adequacy.

Highly Questionable Claims by Vegan Pet Food Manufacturers

Unfortunately, some pet owners seem to be endorsing what former chiropractor and Evolution Diet pet food CEO Eric Weisman regurgitates about vegan cats. He is often touted as an expert in nutrition even though he was not, as far as I could determine, a medical doctor or veterinarian of any sort. Some of his more outrageous claims about vegan foods and pets are found variously on the internet, where he is prone to making many unsubstantiated claims, including the following (in reference to the Evolution diet):

  • “Dogs Live to be 21”
  • “Cars live to be 22”
  • “Ferrets live to be 13 ½”
  • “Evolution Pet Food reverses late stage cancer in dogs and cats, even in those near death.”
  • “Vegan diets reverse organ failure”
  • “We are observing up to a 40% increase in life expectancy with Dogs and Cats in Human Family Homes.”
  • “Wild animals are ground up in pet food”
  • “…treats joint, vascular, autoimmune diseases, liver – kidney disorders, cancers, and other internal diseases in sick animals”
  • “Meat, poultry, and fish contain radioactive ingredients”
  • “Evolution pet food will clear any opacities from a cat’s corneas”
  • “Cats are kinder and more loving on a vegan diet” (I suspect that a cat with a conscience would probably not be a cat)

Weisman’s biography describes him as a “former human physician” and a physician in private practice. Instead, he appears to have been a Dr. of Chiropractic, which is not a medical doctor. Along with his education at Ryerson, University of Wheres the beefToronto, and McMaster, he cites 2 Diplomas including a “Doctorate in post-graduate Health Sciences” at what is now Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota. I have no idea how a diploma is also a doctorate. Northwestern Health Sciences U is a chiropractic and massage therapy school. According to news reports, he faced 58 charges, including practicing human and veterinary medicine without a license and animal cruelty and plead out to some of those charges.

Weisman has made this food for approximately 2 decades but hasn’t yet published any proof of his claims. By Weisman’s account, there is no “national test data” either.  I could not locate any veterinarian testimonials on any of his sites. Of course, any “studies” Mr. Weisman refers to don’t actually exist, or are simply anecdotal comments from purchasers of his pet food. Where he ran in to trouble with the chiropractic board is when he started reviewing his client’s pets blood chemistries, analysis upon which he’s not qualified to render any opinion. The chiropractic board was hearing complaints that Weisman was keeping his pets in the office, and sometimes did his chiropractic treatments covered in animal hair and without washing his hands. Further compounding his problems with the board, Weisman’s website began offering $50 packages to treat cancer, kidney failure, and dementia, not including the price of up to $275 worth of vitamins and supplements. For $100, pet owners could buy a “Heart Disease Emergency Treatment Plan” that included a 24-hour emergency pager number for Weisman. For one client, Weisman recommended a dog receive caffeine enemas for lymphoma.

Ferret instinctListening to the various podcasts he appears in, he does give a lot of veterinary advice even after being reprimanded for doing exactly that. His soundbites are filed with “woo” from start to finish. On his own site – www.weismannutrition.com, he still claims he is a Dr. of Health Sciences. He cites such terminology as “The World’s Most Advanced Nutrient-Metabolite Procedures for Cancers, Organ Failure, and Systemic Infectious Diseases.”  Seriously? What’s a “nutrient-metabolite procedure” and how does it cure or treat infectious diseases?  Weisman can’t seen to stop practicing medicine without a license.

In a very revealing and highly entertaining exchange, Eric Weisman runs up against a vegan interviewer with a PhD in Biochemistry, who also isn’t sure what a “nutrient-metabolite procedure” is either,  and isn’t afraid to ask him hard questions about his convictions or his claims about his pet food. Weisman doesn’t respond to the really difficult questions, and sends the interviewer, Ian McDonald,  a vegan himself,  a nastygram after claiming that he is merely a misunderstood visionary, which is an oft-repeated claim by people selling quackery.

In addition to all the above, in 2003 a recall of Go! Natural pet food was conducted due to a number of cases of acute liver failure associated with the food. The underlying cause was never found, but the company manufacturing the food continues to tout it as healthier based on claims about “good” and “bad” ingredients very similar to those made on the Evolution Diet site. Simply claiming something is healthy and natural provides no assurance that it is safe or healthy.

Vegan pet food promoters often sell their food with fear, vague or even fantastical claims. It is the most egregious kind of unfounded fear mongering with no evidence provided to support it.

Even without the unsupportable claims, it’s hard to justify feeding vegan foods to these animals as a mainstay diet. Since I eat mostly vegan, it’s an understatement for me to say that I don’t care for industrial meat production. However, I find inner fishit almost as offensive when any food is marketed by misrepresentation. Since Weisman has made a career out of embellishing the benefits of his food and violating the law, I can’t imagine why anyone would think that a properly balanced commercial meat-based food is a worse alternative than what is being promoted.

In one of the MP3s featuring Weisman, he suggests with-holding food from cats if they don’t want to go vegan. Refraining from feeding cats anything else to eat other than their products in order to force them to eat vegan is cruel, IMO. I can’t personally comprehend how we can stop animal cruelty by feeding a carnivore plant matter – we’re really only substituting one form of cruelty for another by imposing our own ethical principles on a species dependant upon us for their welfare.

Even if we can justify feeding dogs an entirely vegan diet, why would we necessarily want to since it cannot be said that vegetable matter is natural for them. And it isn’t clear yet whether a nutritionally adequate vegan food can be made for cats. It may be possible, but there are reasons to doubt it and there is no evidence that cats can be healthy for long periods of time on such a diet. It amounts to deciding which of your conflicting ethical principles take precedence. Do you do more harm supporting the meat industry or take a chance with an animal companion’s health? It seems to me the most ethically straightforward option for vegans is to choose herbivorous or omnivorous pets.

cat looking at goldfish

Half-Baked – BARF Diets For Dogs And Cats

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Wolf KillWritten by Heather Clemenceau

The provision of food to our pets is an expression of affection and a symbol of the duty of care we owe to them. One thing I’ve learned from interactions on forums and Facebook groups is that you cannot ever underestimate the relationship between pets and their people. Kids, sure. But pets? Just don’t go down that path. People often react fiercely (and illogically) when it comes to discussing food for their pets. At one time, the majority of dogs and cats were fed commercially prepared foods without question. However, some pet owners have moved away from feeding commercial pet food products exclusively and more are asking questions and looking for alternatives. The 2007 pet food recall due to melamine contamination brought the issue of pet food safety to the forefront. As in any market-driven economy, there are many more alternative diets and food products available, but the dietary appropriateness, adequacy, and safety may be in question with alternative diets, especially those consisting primarily of raw meat.

BARF stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet. It’s also occasionally referred to as RMBD (raw meat based diet). These diets usually include uncooked ingredients derived from domesticated or wild-caught food animal species and that are fed to dogs or cats. These ingredients can include skeletal muscles, internal organs, and bones from mammals, fish, or poultry as well as uncooked eggs. The vast majority of pet foods are by-products of the human food industry.

Dogs Are Not Wolves

Adherents of BARF tell us that raw meat is an appropriate diet to feed our dogs because dogs are essentially wolves. Raw meat and bones are the major part of a wolf’s diet, along with offal such as organs, eggs, decaying material, birds with feathers – whatever they eat is obviously going to be raw. They may eat vegetables or foods left behind by humans if they are particularly hungry, but for the most part, the vegetables they consume come from the guts of the prey animals they eat. Taxonomically and phylogenetically, dogs, like wolves, are carnivores and they all belong to the order Carnivora, aptly named since most members are primarily meat consumers. Functionally however, dogs are scavenging carnivores, not obligate carnivores, and they can usually adapt quite easily to an omnivorous diet regardless of their taxonomic classification. Therefore, we could say that the concept of “evolutionary nutrition” ignores the simple fact that taxonomy and phylogeny are not necessarily destiny, nor do they predict the precise details of a species’ nutritional needs. A good example of this exception is with the giant panda, who, while possessing the same digestive system of a carnivore, is almost completely herbivorous.

The domestic dog is the most phenotypically diverse mammal on earth. Domestic dogs branched off from their wolf ancestor approximately 100,000 years ago, and artificial selection has shaped modern breeds and has been an important dog and bonesource of the extreme phenotypic variation present in modern-day dogs. Since then numerous anatomic and behavioural changes that have occurred as a result of dogs living with humans and sharing our food. In contrast, the modern wolf has not been exposed to 100,000 years of eating alongside humans, and therefore its nutritional needs were not altered in the same manner as dogs. To expect these different species to have the same nutritional needs is simply not substantiated via biology.

Domestic dogs exhibit many features of neoteny, which has occurred as a result of humans selecting dogs for “cute” characteristics such as large eyes, soft hair, rounder heads, smaller teeth, and floppy rather than upright ears. So their refined anatomical structures are significantly different from wolves. Of course, even if BARF advocates could demonstrate that dogs were the modern day equivalent to wolves in terms of diet, the evolutionary nutrition argument would still fail because at its heart it is nothing but a form of the naturalistic fallacy. It’s a fallacy that just because wolves get their nutrition from carcasses that raw meat is the appropriate source of food for domesticated dogs – “natural” cannot necessarily be equated with “optimal.”

Unsubstantiated Claims….

BARF advocates claim that dogs have better health and less disease on these diets. Claims are even made that bones boost the immune system. Proponents of raw meat diets also claim that other benefits consist of improvement in coat and skin; elimination of breath and fecal odour; improvement in energy, behaviour, and a reduction in medical conditions including allergies, arthritis, pancreatitis, dental disease, and oddly enough, parasitism. Once again, anecdotes are not evidence, and these claimed health benefits have not undergone scientific evaluation. Dr. Mark Crislip, an infectious disease specialist with a very listenable podcast on iTunes, repeatedly reminds his listeners that the phrase “in my experience” is a dangerous expression!

dogbreedtree1Sometimes the commercial pet food industry is demonized in the same way that the Complementary Alternative Medicine industry (CAM) attacks Big Pharma. CAM veterinarians frequently attack traditional veterinary medicine with often irrational and unfounded criticisms. In addition to suggesting that conventional medicine is misguided and ineffective, CAM practitioners frequently assert that it is actively harmful, particularly vaccines and medicines. The same arguments and logical fallacies are often used to promote alternative feeding methods. For instance, homeopathic veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who claims medicine is “unscientific,” and is obsessed with “toxins,” describes a mystical “life energy” that dogs cannot, in his opinion, get from processed food. Why is it that so many followers of homeopathy claim to be able to detect “life energy” that other people cannot? And I wonder if Pitcairn eats all his food raw as well? Dr. Pitcairn also claims that euthanized cats and dogs are routinely disposed of by veterinary hospitals to be recycled into pet food. This simply isn’t true. Veterinarian Dr. Dan Scott claims that commercial pet foods are responsible for the majority of pet diseases. So where is the proof? Where is the evidence of widespread disease that can be attributed to commercial pet food? Scott doesn’t seem to provide any but his followers are expected to take him at his word. There is no evidence that manufactured pet foods cause disease (obviously this precludes foods made in China, which have caused the death of thousands of pets). Dr. Tom Lonsdale (who was kicked out of the Australian Veterinary Association) claims that fake animal rights activists conspire with veterinarians and the commercial food industry to keep pet owners in the dark about “junk food” for pets.

Benefits Vs. Risks

There is some evidence that raw diets afforded higher levels of protein for certain species of exotic and domesticated animals, but that this is offset by other specific risks. Furthermore, nutrients that are lost during the cooking process for manufactured pet foods are supplemented to account for this.

The FDA has warned against feeding bones to dogs, as they can cause fractured teeth, intestinal perforations leading to peritonitis, and obstipation/impactions in the GI dog swalowling bonetract. Dogs can die without veterinary intervention if they cannot pass an obstruction without help. And if a dog fractures a tooth, it is likely to be a “chewing tooth” such as a large molar and not a small pre-molar. Softer bones are also great for lodging themselves in the narrow spaces between teeth and becoming food for anaerobic bacteria, thus generating periodontal disease. Cats can also choke on bones,  particularly chicken bones.

There is mounting evidence of other potential harm as a result of BARF feeding. Renal failure is a common cause of death in older dogs and cats – protein is poorly metabolized by dogs with kidney failure. Most veterinary hospitals are unable to detect kidney failure until it is quite advanced, and in any case it is irreversible. Proponents of raw diets seem to ignore this common cause of death in older pets. Commercial pet foods are available for animals with renal failure or allergies to certain proteins.

We cook meat for a reason and most of us know that we have to take precautions when handling it. While dogs and cats can usually handle a larger burden of microbes in their food than humans, BARF feeders have no way of knowing whether their pets are acquiring parasites or infectious disease. The digestive systems of dogs and cats are short, acidic, and handle bacteria well. This is why they are not susceptible to Salmonella, parasites, or E.coli from tainted meat as humans are. Humans have very long digestive tracks which allow food to linger for 24 hours or more, thus allowing more time for parasites to get into their bloodstreams. The majority of dogs and cats with E.coli or Salmonella organisms may not even exhibit symptoms.

Dogs and cats will periodically shed parasites and this is a risk to children and owners who have compromised immune systems. In one study, approximately half the dogs fed a single meal of contaminated raw food shed Salmonella in their feces for up to 7 days  Other bacteria that have been found in raw meat diets include E. coli and Clostridium. Dogs also shed Salmonella in their saliva, so if your dog eats raw foods with Salmonella bacteria and then licks your hands or face, the dog may be transferring bacteria to you.

raw foodIn a large study conducted on 200 hundred healthy therapy dogs from Ontario and Alberta, some of whom were fed raw meat during the year, it was observed that the incidence rate of Salmonella shedding in the raw meat-fed dogs was 0.61 cases/dog-year, compared with 0.08 cases/dog-year in dogs that were not fed raw meat. Raw meat consumption was also significantly associated with shedding E. coli. One of the conclusions of the study was that dogs fed raw meat may be a risk to humans whose immune systems are not fully functioning, and should be excluded from AAI (animal assisted intervention) programmes, particularly when the programmes involve interaction with humans at high risk of infection.

An article from Phys.org entitled “Raw Meat May Not Be Enough for Cats or Tigers” found that:

“… raw meat diets met many nutrient requirements for (captive wild) cats, but there were some gaps. None of the diets contained the recommended levels of linoleic acid, the horsemeat did not provide the levels of arachidonic acid recommended for kittens, gestating females and lactating females.”

These same researchers were:

“…a bit wary” of pet owners feeding homemade raw diets. … pet owners risk exposing (domestic) cats to increased pathogens and nutrient imbalances. Pet owners often feed trimmed cuts of meat. These cuts lack fat,educated dog which is crucial in feline diets. According to the researchers, if pet owners feed raw meat diets, they will likely have to supplement it with other nutrients, including appropriate sources of fat and essential fatty acids. A high-protein diet can also change the types of microbes in the gut. The researchers write that increased protein fermentation in the bowel may lead to more “odiferous” feces, depending on the digestibility of the protein.”

Another study found that dogs fed raw chicken may be a source of contamination.

There don’t appear to be any measurable demonstrated benefits from a BARF diet, only theoretical benefits that are often based on erroneous assumptions or anecdotal observations, while there are documented risks, potential nutritional inadequacy and possible injury from raw bones. On the other hand, cooking food comes with advantages. Basically, cooking is just a method of doing some of the digesting beforehand. Ruminants ferment their food in their stomachs, and we cook ours. Do people eat raw eggs and raw meat? Yes, we do, but just because we occasionally eat raw meat doesn’t mean that it’s a particularly good idea.

The most common forms of commercial BARF diets consist of are fresh, frozen, and freeze-dried meats intended to be nutritionally complete and balanced. These diets are often formulated to meet values listed in the AAFCO Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profiles. However, some of these foods may be labelled as intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only, which means that they are not nutritionally complete and balanced. Traditional pet food manufacturers are regulated in that they must use ingredients that are “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS. At the very minimum, canned food must contain minimum percentages of crude fat and crude protein. Commercial feeds often provide ingredients that BARF diets cannot possibly provide, such as foods for dogs or cats with renadoggie researchl failure and allergies. If you feed dry food it is very easily measured for consistent feeding and dogs and cats usually have solid poops that are easy to pick up. Dry food cleans teeth better than either soft or BARF food too. I wouldn’t give a dog rawhide either, because I have never been able to verify the country of origin for these products – for all I know they may originate in China as well.

The key factor is risk reduction and BARF is not exactly a low risk diet given the potential for contamination for both pets and humans. Given that dogs and cats do get foodborne illnesses there is all the more reason to cook their food beforehand. When I do give my dog and cat meat instead of commercial food, it is always pre-cooked.

Horse Killer Finds God, Makes Apology

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Don CorleoneWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Canadian horse advocates will almost certainly recall the bizarre case of horse-decapitator Darrell Mowat. In 2012, in a scene straight out of “The Godfather,” the Niagara Falls, Canada man went full-out Don Corleone when he killed and decapitated a draft horse and left its head in the pickup bed of an acquaintance. The remains of the two-year old Percheron, known as “Joe” were later found by Niagara Regional police on a hobby farm in rural Niagara Falls, where Mowat volunteered as a farm hand.

Mowat, now 30, was charged with killing cattle contrary to section 444 of the Criminal Code of Canada, willfully causing unnecessary pain and suffering to an animal, and mischief under $5,000. Under the Criminal Code, “killing cattle” also refers to killing horses. His arrest and later publicity were followed by petitions to ensure that he served actual jail time, which he ultimately did – for six months. Originally police phrased the crime as a “prank gone wrong,” because nothing says practical joke quite like cutting off a horse’s head and putting it in someone’s truck in their driveway.

Probably most inmates become familiar with the jailhouse conversion. Even Paris Hilton, who served a 45 day jail sentence (she served only 3 days) for reckless driving, had a jailhouse conversion. Whatever you think of Mowat’s apology and new found religion, you must admit that the whole “Thou shalt not kill” part of the Ten Commandments seems pretty clear, even if you’re not actually religious…..

Apology – Happy Earth Day!

Darrell MowatAn apology to all animal lovers – Happy Mother Earth Day!

To whom it may concern,

My name is Darrell Mowat. Although most of my life, I had lived not quite understanding the greater purpose to everything here on earth, it has become more apparent to me as of late. A couple of years ago I made a hasty decision that would change the course of the rest of my life, first for the worse and then ultimately for the better. This decision caused me to serve 6 months in a local detention centre where I received a black eye and some bruises from a beating, Thank God (Proverbs 20:30)! And where I started the development of plans and writing a book, that I hope maintain the majority of the rest of my physical life here on earth.

Although I never contemplated never mind considered going to jail in the past, it was inevitable. I committed an act, killed a horse, and caused mischief which led to my jail sentence. Now although I will not justify what I had done, I will defend myself to death, in that I was not cruel in how it happened. As a young child I had a bb gun and although I played with it in the backyard and thought about lifting it to target a bird, I could never gather up the strength to do it. That’s just the way my mind thinks. On this farm where the incident took place it was the same  circumstances. I learned how to take care of animals, namely, horses, sheep and lambs. I spent sometime during lambing season, caring for these young lambs and successfully nursing those who were being rejected by their mothers, then turning them back out into their pens. I also learned the grimmer part of life’s realities on the farm which is death.

Horse like Joe

Not Joe, but a similar Percheron horse…

With regards to all that happened, I am happy, as I have had the chance to meet some wonderful people throughout the process (both in jail and out) and I’ve worked out some issues I had held with me since a young child. All of this has allowed me to begin to move on to greener pastures. Mind the pun.

One of the reasons I believe this entire experience took place was so that I could see for my own eyes the problems plaguing the “lower” echelons of our society. This is the way I have been able to take positive out of the situation. I had experienced much of this during that 6 month period. And although these men are no different than anyone else, they had had some trying experiences in their life and they made wrong choices, just like me, to try and rectify them.

It is my hope that those who were negatively affected by this situation forgive me and that in the end their lives are also better off.

Thank you all for your support and love for animals and those who care for them!

Kind regards,

Darrell Mowat

www.darrellmowat.com

In addition to his apology, Mowat has registered his own top-level domain. (Note that he didn’t apologize specifically to Joe, the horse). As part of his apparent jailhouse conversion, Mowat is shilling a book, which is available thorough the godfathervarious christian publishers and even Amazon. He also has a Facebook page and blog where he rather compulsively quotes biblical passages and even provides his definition of marriage, courtesy of Isaiah, Corinthians, among other passages in the bible, and makes repeated references to Yahweh, Allah, God, and Krishna. In reading most of his blog entries and the intro to his book, it seems apparent that he’s not being very forthcoming about what led to this so-called conversion – namely, his bizarre crime and subsequent arrest and conviction.

I must admit I don’t want him to find solace in religion – I want him to seek understanding and treatment via psychiatric care, of which he is clearly in need (in my opinion,  at least).  In various news reports his father is quoted as describing him as “troubled” in his youth.  I also believe that his access to animals should be restricted.  I’m angry that he chose to downplay and marginalize his crime, which he refers to as merely having made “wrong choices.” Animal abuse is a predictor of other crimes – it’s like a crystal ball into the future of the abusers.  The statistics supporting the animal abuse to other crimes connection are overwhelming. “For instance, in one twenty-year study, 70% of animal abusers committed other crimes, and 44% went on to harm people. In another recent study, 99% of animal abusers had convictions for other crimes, 100% of people who committed sexual homicide  had abused animals, and 61.5% of animal abusers had assaulted a human as well. A 1997 study showed that when comparing 153 animal abusers to neighbors of similar age and gender, animal abusers were five times more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, three times more likely to commit drug-related crimes, even three times more likely to get traffic tickets.

Many people already know that animal abusers go on to abuse others in their household. There are many statistics out there as well but to summarize, 80-90% of victims of domestic abuse state that their abuser started by abusing pets. Then, an additional vicious cycle often begins because the abused kids, at least 1/3 of the time, according to various studies, abuse animals themselves.”

Miracle

 

To Market, To Market…..

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To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme

peaceable-kingdom-edward-hicks

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.

On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.

Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills,  which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
When the Cows Come HomeWe think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses,  many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.

Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.

While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.

What the Tourists See…

 

The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone

 

 

And a Happy Epiloque for Two OLEX Mares…

Sold to a kill buyer,  they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine).  There are no words to describe groups like NYNE,  who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense,  but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit.  Nevertheless,  these two mares,  bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August,  are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece.  Finally,  an update was posted on Facebook advising that they have evaded slaughter and were placed into a new home.

 

 

It’s Not Horseback Riding – It’s Exploitation!

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Royal Lippizaners

© Heather Clemenceau – taken in Toronto where the Lipizzaners were on tour.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Last night I read the “Death to Carnism” blog on Tumblr – “Horseback Riding: Is it Vegan?” The main premise of the blog is that horses are cruelly treated and oppressed by riding,  a viewpoint I struggled to comprehend. The author is also adamant that animals should not be possessed by anyone who benefits from such ownership in ANY way, or if their presence in our lives gives us any sort of personal pleasure or happiness.   So obviously, I think the themes presented in the blog are spurious, because, even though I don’t eat meat, I can hardly equate riding horses with eating a factory-farmed animal. Nor do I believe that pet ownership (a legal construct) implies that we are guilty of imprisonment, commodification, oppression, or cruelty to animals. For someone so intensely passionate about treating animals well, the author of the blog seems to have no issue treating human beings like crap. I realize that some extremist vegans don’t think there is anything special about those who are blind or confined to a wheelchair, but it probably isn’t feasible for those people to hire humans to perform the same tasks that many animals perform. Or worse, go without a therapy animal altogether just because someone believed that the disabled person ought not to have derived any convenience from the pet.

The author also believes that horse owners should be persuaded to simply turn their companion horses loose as a means of liberating them from the confines of

Hapsburg eagles on the Lipizzaner bits

Hapsburg eagles on the Lipizzaner bits

enslavement. This ownership = enslavement meme is consistent with Rutgers University Professor Gary Francione’s extremist abolitionist movement, which does not justify the keeping of any domesticated animals or pets no matter how well they are treated. “Vegangelicals” such as the blog author mistakenly believe that horses (and by extension, household pets, therapy dogs, guide dogs or even goats used to maintain pastures and provide manure for the garden) are subjugated in a comparable manner to the confinement of farm, laboratory, marine, or circus animals.

Of course, activities that are too risky for horses (such as  abusive rodeos, chuckwagon races, and some other activities where the degree of risk is unacceptably high) should be eliminated or the welfare impacts minimized. Any invasive training or riding techniques that involve punishment or extreme control or chronic injury should certainly be avoided. Horse owners are always ethically responsible for all the activities and actions they conduct on horses, and  we must always be prepared to justify them ourselves.  Most horse activities, while they are primarily carried out for the “happiness” of horse owners, are non-injurious to horses.  Healthy horses can easily carry 25% of their own body weight or slightly more for shorter duration activities without negative effect.

Another issue for the top hat tip to Nicblog author is whether we can ever be justified in asking horses to do something they might not enjoy, or something they might enjoy less than standing in a paddock socializing with other horses. Most horses would choose to stand in a paddock eating grass with other horses because they are bound to other members of their herd. However, while asking a horse to carry us in for a lesson or trail ride might impose upon the horse for an hour or slightly longer, but it is hardly an example of abuse. Most horses have a pleasant, tractable nature about them and don’t begrudge us riding them at all. Asking a domesticated, trained horse to participate in an activity that is within the scope of its training and physical/mental ability is not abusive to the animal.

And by what stretch of arrogance can anyone believe that we should ever turn horses loose?  There are infinite examples of horses starving to death after being abandoned by uncaring owners. Abandonment of an animal is usually considered a criminal behaviour, and yet,  some followers of the “Carnism” blog were praising this as admirable – it’s not. The author clearly does not comprehend that wild horses are being systematically exterminated in their natural environments. Agencies in both the US and Canada consistently bungle efforts to manage the population of wild horses on public lands (that’s a nice way of saying how to cull them, which is a nice way of saying how to kill them). If one wants an example of inhumane treatment of wild horses, they need look no further than helicopter roundups and corralling horses into traps, often followed by slaughter not long thereafter.  And only a deluded person believes that companion dogs and cats (or other animals) used to being cared for as “oppressed” pets are better off being suddenly turned out to become strays.  One only has to look at the condition of former pets brought into shelters to know that they don’t usually thrive. Caring owners don’t abandon animals.

tack room for the lippizaners 4

The tack shown here (for the Lipizzaner stallions) is leather, but all horse tack is available in biothane, a synthetic. It is generally a rule in most show classes that you must use leather saddles, bridles and harnesses however.

I chose not to eat animal products out of a love for animals, passion for conservation, and concern for our diminishing global resources. Avoiding meat and other animal products seemed to be a kinder, gentler, and more ecological choice. Yet via direct experience, I’ve found that many vegans are quick to point out what they think are unjustifiable uses of companion animals while being unwilling to acknowledge that even their own meals include death. Growing fields of soy beans means removing habitat from thousands of wild animals, killing them through deforestation and loss of their home. Songbirds and insects are killed by pesticides. Fertilizers are often made from petroleum, and fields of tofu seeds are literally being sprayed with oil. If we’re not using oil to fertilize crops then we are using organic material: manure, blood, bone, and fish.  We exist,  and therefore it’s impossible to entirely avoid harming animals.

There are reasons why many potential vegans refuse to self-identify as vegan. Sadly, the movement has become more about angry rhetoric and less about common sense. Veganism should be an ideal and not a cult. If vegans proceed to lambast thoughtful and pragmatic people with the view that they cannot ride horses or own animals then they must also accept that their philosophical position will never appeal to people who have the motivation to live life without unnecessarily and intentionally harming animals. Most companion animals live extremely comfortable lives compared with factory-farmed or even wild animals. We must of course always treat animals in a manner that invokes respect.   The “Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” was one clear expression of this consensus. That animals can consciously suffer needs no discussion.

Tack room for the lipizzaners

The Lipizzaner is the breed of horse most closely associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, where they demonstrate the haute école or “high school” movements of classical dressage, including the highly controlled, stylized jumps and other movements known as the “airs above the ground – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipizzan

Even PeTA is not opposed to horseback riding:

“When there is a respectful, loving bond between horse and human, then horseback riding can be as much an act of companionship and exercise as walking one’s dog. However, just as we oppose the use of choke collars on dogs, we also oppose the use of whips, spurs, and other devices that cause discomfort and pain to horses.

With domesticated horses, PETA supports humane, interactive training. Horses are not equipment and can suffer from the heat, humidity, and overexertion. Horses don’t enjoy constant work any more than a human being enjoys being forced to do manual labor all day long. Just as a dog can be housetrained in a positive manner, gentle methods can be employed to teach a horse to tolerate a rider on his or her back. PETA does not support training methods based on punishment.

We do not support keeping horses in isolation and believe that they are happiest when kept in social groups.”