Dog Bites Man – Again And Again

Standard

dog-attackWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

I believe in an animal Bill of Rights, and I’m opposed to killing dogs based solely on their appearance, but none of that matters to the Pit bull Advocacy Movement. Dog bites have become one of the most emotionally charged issues that divide animal activists. For some time now, I’ve seen the Pitbull Advocacy Movement (PBAM) privileging the rights of dogs over the rights of human beings and their own pets. by accusing people who are skeptical about the aggression of fighting breeds of being “racists,” ”bigots,” and “breed bullies.”

I’ve had a special interest in this subject matter for a few years now. I’m a dog bite victim – the classic “dog bites man” story, In 2008 I was bitten by a molosser breed dog that I had known for two years. The owner was not irresponsible except in not informing me that the dog had bitten others before me. I was not playing rough with the dog, and the dog was leashed and visiting on my own property. So the hue and cry that only bad ownership or handling of a bully breed is the only possible explanation for a bite would seem to fall flat on its face.  My husband cried like a child – it was the first and only time I’d seen him cry.  This really scared me,  because I hadn’t yet looked in a mirror and had no idea what damage had been done.  The neighbour was crying.  I however,  refused to cry – I felt like someone had to keep it together.  My front teeth were loosened by the impact with the dog’s skull,  my top lip was ripped, and my nose was partially ripped off.  Bites to the face usually also result in a lot of blood loss,  due to the large number of blood vessels and capillaries located there. Later,  I developed two black eyes.  My neighbour cried whenever he saw me for weeks afterward.    Even the neighbour’s homeowner’s insurance company agreed that there’s little defensible when the bite is unprovoked, on the victim’s own property, involved a bite to the face that required plastic surgery, all by a dog had an acknowledged history of biting people. As a result, the insurance company ruled that the doctrine of scienter applied in my case, and they paid me out for pain and suffering.

The scienter doctrine was developed as, and remains, a form of strict liability. If the conditions for scienter are found, the liability is absolute and does not depend upon proof of negligence.

bred to protect children

No – they were originally bred as dogs to hold animals for slaughter, and later as fighting dogs. There are no “nanny dogs, ” and young children shouldn’t be left in the care of dogs to begin with.  What I find  especially hypocritical about PBAMers is that they will proclaim pit bull types to be “Nanny Dogs,”  but if your child is bitten by the “Nanny Dog,”  they will be the first person to call you a “bad owner.”

Unfortunately, dogs have become a real enemy for the insurance industry. According to the Insurance Information Institute, dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners’ insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, costing more than $489 million, with an average amount of $29,752 per claim. The Canada Safety Counsel estimates that about 460,000 Canadians are bitten by dogs each year. In addition, several recent high profile dog bite incidents have brought the issue to the forefront of insurers’ minds, with some insurers going so far as to refuse to underwrite insurance for homeowners with certain dog breeds. The PBAM evangelists I’ve encountered are far less concerned with dog bite victims and are more prone to screech “discrimination” when told of this latter finding with respect to their own insurance coverage.

The mandate of the PBAM evangelists has been to persuade the public that pit-bull phenotypes (for the purposes of this blog post – American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American bulldog and any other pure bred or mixed breed dog that is a combination of these dogs) are just like any other dog and any problems with temperament can be laid squarely at the feet of the owner. In order to push pit bulls into private homes, these evangelists rely on the average person’s general unfamiliarity with the heritability of dog behaviour. It is a fact that every breed of dog results from the human manipulation of inherited physical and behavioural traits, and all modern breeds of dog are what we have designed them to be via artificial selection. This blog post is not about presenting pit bulls and pit bull types as evil dogs to be destroyed at will – we know that statistically the vast majority of pit bull type dogs co-exist with people and other dogs without incident. Yet for a breed(s) that represents approximately 6% of the dog population, they commit anywhere from 70 – 90% of all dog bites. And many PBAM advocates consider these statistical truths to be nothing more than poopytalk by dog-haters. So, many of them are engaged in an all-out war to conceal information or hoodwink prospective adopters about these breeds of dog.

narrow3

PBAM’s consistently implicate dog owners as solely responsible for their dog’s misbehaviour. While this is certainly often true, we know from understanding population and bite stats that this cannot be the sole reason for bites and fatal attacks. If pit bull types account for roughly 6% of the dog population while simultaneously committing 70-90% of dog bites (depending on various sources), then there must be another explanation beyond poor dog handling skills. It’s confusing when both professional dog handlers and casual owners recognize genetically predisposed dispositions such as chasing, catching pigs or cattle, killing escaping slaves, chasing foxes down holes, and guarding farm stock, but in the same breath they will tell you that every pit bull down at the shelter is harmless unless it has been raised wrong. To even suggest that a pit bull might come with a different genetic programming than a pointer or a setter is to be accused of “racism.” Which, I might add, is impossible since there are no “races” of dogs. Yet, people will acquire a hunting dog that was bred to kill rats and are then horrified when it displays its genetic legacy by killing a squirrel while off-leash. The dog merely exhibited a behaviour it was artificially selected to do, by man.

Just as we bred pointers to point, retrievers to retrieve, and sheepdogs to herd, we bred fighting dogs. Working bulldogs and terriers were used by butchers to hold and control animals for slaughter. The morphological characteristics of these breeds also meant that they were useful in bull and bear baiting. Dogs used for such activities have a physical conformation suited to the task – including large jaw muscles, necks and shoulders, and a body mass that makes defence against an attack much more difficult.

Naturally, we expect a breed to behave in certain ways because they were or are bred for specific purposes. In the case of selective breeding, the goal for any desired offspring are physical aptitude and inclination to engage in a behaviour. Sometimes conformation is an additional goal.

The inclination to chase prey is probably the aspect of the predation sequence that is most commonly exhibited across all dog species. The complete predation sequence consists of:

  • eye
  • stalk
  • chase
  • grab-bite
  • kill-bite
  • dissect
  • consume

Community dog problemSuch behaviours fall into the ethological category – modal action patterns (MAPS) and these are behaviours that are not learned but fully expressed in the presence of triggering stimulus such as a high-pitched squeal or a sudden movement. Such behaviours can be modified by learning, but they only require a trigger to be expressed. Breeders of hounds select for search behaviours, herding dog breeders want the stalk and chase, but usually not the grab-bite and certainly not the kill-bite and dissect. A dog’s motivation for hunting is separate from his motivation to eat. The fact that optimally raised dogs of any breed can attack suddenly and without prior warning is a testament to the “trigger.”

I strongly suspect that a great many breeders of pit bll type dogs are not breeding for appearance or quiet demeanor. There are many unscrupulous breeders who have bred the most aggressive of their dogs, so other behaviours have not been significantly randomized across the breed. Therefore, we have clustering of negative behaviours in pit bull type dogs. Dogs that are bred specifically for aggressive characteristics and for use in negative functions are abusive to the dog and a nuisance to the general public.

While dogs generally engage in “ritualized” forms of aggression when they come into conflict (growling and posturing but no real damage) when pit bulls fight they engage the grab-bite/kill-bite part of the predatory sequence with often fatal or near fatal results. There is seldom time to intervene to rescue the other dog (or human) before serious damage is done. It hardly helps that pit bulls are often the most abused dogs – they are often emaciated, chained, or forced to wear prong collars. Quite often they are intact. They are occasionally kept in multiples and are often active in breeding for the financial gain of their owners. Dogs maintained in this manner often do not exhibit the same level of sociability as dogs who regularly interact with humans on a daily basis. So there are often other risk factors involved.

The ASPCA describes the characteristics of a Fighting Dog:

  • Ignores signs of submission from other dogs
  • High level of endurance, agility, aggression towards other dogs
  • No warning prior to attack
  • Fight to the death
  • Gameness
  • High pain threshold

PBAM advocates SHOULD be cognizant of these variables, but if they are, they don’t let on. If love and training are all you need, and if aggression isn’t a heritable trait, why do we have such variation amongst breeds? Why is it that we can’t use just any large breed dog as a police dog,  or any dog as a guide dog?

Better examples of PBAM “logic” are rarely seen than in the Animal Farm Foundation’s “Best Practices” Manual for placing pit-bull type dogs. (The countervailing and more commonsense opinion on pit bulls in shelters, written by the ASPCA, can be found here. The ASPCA document acknowledges that the pit bull aka Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a relatively newer breed. As such, it has a much shorter history of being bred as pets).

Eschewing all common sense and reason, the AFF makes the following inflammatory statements:

“Avoid blanket restrictions, such as: No first time owners, breed experience required, fenced yard required, no renters, no adopters under 25”   Whatever could be wrong with adopting a pit bull out to someone without no prior dog experience and without a fenced backyard?

“Like dogs, children are individuals. Let parents decide what’s right for their children and what challenges they are comfortable taking on as a family.” These vapid idiots really do not understand that the whole point of public safety measures is to protect people from themselves.

Avoid blanket adoption policies, such as extra applications, mandatory dog training classes, background checks” Because you don’t care if gangbangers adopt pits so long as it gets them out the door…

If a dog is highly aroused or reactive in his kennel, hang a sheet or other barrier on his kennel door (high enough to block his view, but low enough for adopters to see in). Hang a cheerful sign on the cage that says “I’m friendly, just enjoying some privacy” And if a dog is highly aroused or reactive in his new home, it’s no longer your problem, because you’ve allowed the parents to decide that a highly aroused or reactive dog is somehow right for their children. Pit bulls do have the tools to inflict some serious damage. Plus it seems that most dog owners don’t sufficiently train their animals so everything goes along just fine until the house is full of people and the dog reaches an unnoticed stress threshold.

“Just recently, Nevada Humane decided to partner with NASCAR’s TJ Bell to promote “pit bull” dog adoptions” So the absolute worst person to get a pit bull can get another one.

Rather than focus on why a dog wound up at the shelter, their medical history, or what behaviors they need to work on, keep the information upbeat and focused on what the dogs enjoy doing with people. Disclose all known facts to the new owner, including information received from the previous owner” This second statement seems to be contradictory to the previous statement directly above.

There is not a single reportable appellate opinion in which an animal shelter was found liable for a bite by a dog that it did not own” So, transfer ownership of the dog fully to the new owner before it has a chance to bite anyone while under the care, custody, and control of the shelter.

Dolce and Gabbana

Dolce and Gabbana were two Chihuahuas up for adoption in New Mexico; despite over 900 Facebook shares, they were euthanized due to shelter overcrowding. They had never bitten anyone.

But there will soon be a verdict, if it has not already been rendered, against the Bount County Animal Shelter – accused of not advising a family of a dog’s bite history. The dog delivered life-threatening injuries to a young child. In addition to that case, recently, the Stamford Animal Shelter announced that shelter manager Laurie Hollywood had been fired for rehoming dogs with a bite history. Essentially, she did not do her due diligence in disclosing that history to the adopters. Perhaps she was focused on rebranding the image of pit bulls and the history of the dogs she placed was merely an untidy detail that she felt she could overlook. After a dog was surrendered upon having bitten a child, Hollywood adopted him out without disclosing the bite history. He then proceeded to bite the child in the adoptive family. Not once, but twice. In another incident with a different dog, the dog went on to bite the adopter’s wife. In all these cases, Hollywood did not take a bite report nor did she impound the dogs that attacked humans and other animals over several months.

Pit Bulls represented 32% of US shelter inventory in June 2014.

In another rebranding effort gone wrong, Second Chance Rescue minimized a pit bull’s aggressive traits before handing him over to a New Jersey man for adoption. The dog ended up attacking his two young children. The dog chomped down on his daughter’s leg and nearly tore his son’s nose off just ONE DAY after they brought him home. Seems like the Animal Farm Foundation’s “Best Practice” for allowing the parent to decide prudent exposure to dogs isn’t so great after all, especially when the dog’s history is concealed. As for having your nose almost ripped off, I know what it feels like, and I can hardly wish it on anyone, especially a child.

The rebranding of the breed continues to come at a cost to innocent people. As it gains momentum, it becomes obvious that there is an unhealthy obsession in trying to preserve truly aggressive dogs. Not only pit bulls, but other dogs – a German Shepherd with a demonstrated history of aggression, found himself in a North Carolina animal shelter and was scheduled to be euthanized. Although the dog bit a shelter employee twice, the shelter agreed to adopt him out to a local trainer. Sadly, less than two weeks later, in a public park, he seriously attacked the adopter and two other people before he was fatally shot by police.

pit bull bites

Glad a child lost his ear? I didn’t even want to conceal this person’s identity – their comments are THAT loathesome.

Cesar Millan wanted to save the mastiff cross-breed that killed Diane Whipple. Fortunately he was declined. He also wanted to work with the dog who attacked a small boy in Bakersfield, California. I can only assume that in Millan’s case that ego is the predominant driving force, since most people utilizing a scintilla of reason would probably concur that the most serious of dog attacks against people should result in humane euthanasia for the dog.

And why are aggressive dogs receiving so much attention from people who want to save them, when there are thousands of friendly – or at the very least safe and rehabilitatable dogs dying in shelters every day? I admire people’s dedication to animal issues, but these types of efforts seem so misplaced to me. Mickey is a pit bull mix who first killed a puppy, and then cracked a child’s jaw, eyesocket, and cheekbone, requiring the boy to have months of reconstructive surgery, Despite this, more people were concerned with saving the dog than helping the child. There were over 60,000 people pressuring the shelter for his release. Shelters may feel that they are saving lives, but if the dog kills another animal, there is no net gain in saved lives. If the shelter re-homes a dog that they strongly suspect is dangerous, then they are in effect saying that injury or death to other pets or people is preferable to humane euthanasia.

The epidemiology of dog bites is also widely critiqued by pit bull activists.

The most recent USA survey of dog bites conducted by CDC researchers concluded that in 2001, 2002 and 2003 there were 4.5 million American dog bite victims per year. 885,000 bites per year (all breeds) – almost one out of every 5 – are serious enough to require medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day).  In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs. (Centers for Disease Control, quoting from American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report [online]. 2012. [cited 2013 Oct 24). In a study on Mortality, mauling, and maiming by vicious dogs, the authors state that: “…attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites.”

Most victims of dog bites are not intruders, but children or respectable adults. While most dog bites are not serious, pit bulls are disproportionately represented in serious mauling cases. A innocent child killed by pit bullsCDC report on dog-bite fatalities from 1978 to 1998 confirms that pit bulls are responsible for more deaths than any other breed (the CDC no longer collects breed-specific information). Merritt Clifton has also collated volumes of actuarial information on pit bull bites, and his findings reveal that attacks by pit bulls and their closest relatives still outnumber attacks by any other breed no matter how you spin the data. These are simple facts, and police, public, press, and politicians know it but PBAM elitists can’t or won’t accept statistics for pit bull damage. One of their primary defences is to claim that, unless a dog comes with pedigreed papers or is the known offspring of pedigreed dogs, it can’t possibly be assumed that all these stats reflect injuries by pit bull type dogs. They don’t want you to trust dog geneticists or dog behaviourists either. Definitely don’t trust newspapers.  Oh, and don’t even trust your own critical reasoning skills.

Backstreet Bully’s Revenge

Standard

backstreetbully

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“You can’t kill that horse,” said Stacie Clark, who works for the Adena Springs Retirement Program, as she pleaded with management at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation slaughterhouse, for the return of retired Stronach Farms racehorse Backstreet Bully. It wasn’t just small amounts of prohibited drugs that had been given to the horse and thus meant that he was prohibited from slaughter: 21 doses of nitrofurazone, according to Toronto Star journalists Mary Ormsby and Dale Brazao in their article – “Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain.”

Stacie Clark runs billionaire entrepreneur Frank Stronach’s racehorse retirement program in Aurora, Ontario, the town in which I live. In Aurora, it’s impossible to ignore the presence of Frank Stronach and Magna – as a philanthropist, he has funded many public buildings in this town, he hosts an annual hoedown on the front lawn of the Magna headquarters each year, and there are reminders of his influence everywhere. And the individual with whom Ms Clark was pleading with was  Stephane Giguere, the then-Director of Les Viandes de la Petite Nation  (LPN) in St. Andre-Avellin, Quebec.  Bully was alive when she spoke to him too.  Of course, LPN was temporarily closed after an investigation published by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) in December 2011 entitled “Pasture to Plate: The True Cost of Canada’s Horsemeat Industry.” According to his LinkedIn profile, Giguere was the Director of the plant at that time as well.stephane

Horsepeople, particularly those of us residing in York Region Ontario or those who are “hard core” rescuers of racehorses know exactly who Stronach is. But it’s a fair bet that the collective brain trust who are employed in horse slaughter itself have no clue who the influential people are, and wouldn’t attach any significance to the name of the man who is the 19th wealthiest Canadian even if it were he who called them up personally. So while the management at LPN may have savored a smug satisfaction by denying Stacie Clark (and her exceedingly wealthy employer),  it was a temporary victory.

Stephane Giguere may have been the recipient of a little `quid pro quo`by Frank Stronach. At least,  that’s what I prefer to think. He’s been vanquished for a while now, allegedly fired from LPN a few months after Bully was slaughtered.  I`m sure many people at the plant including the owners and possibly even people at the CFIA had an “oh shit“ moment after they realized what happened,  and especially after the Star article eventually appeared.

For those of us who believe in karma,  or the principal that where the intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual,  you may get particular satisfaction from believing that deferred justice was apparently visited upon Stephane Giguere.  While I personally don’t believe in either karma or ghosts, the idea of “cosmic justice” gives me some peace of mind by imagining that the ghost of Backstreet Bully (perhaps aided and abetted by the Stronach empire) waited for the right moment to exact a little schadenfreudian revenge on Stephane.  And that’s what I choose to believe. While the killing goes on, small victories like this give me strength and hope.

fake papers

Backstreet Bully was not eligible for slaughter. In any case, he was not unwanted. But fake papers ensured that he was slaughtered, despite evidence to the contrary. Omission or falsification of information on EIDs of horses presented for slaughter is an offence. It is very evident when reviewing the EIDs that a pattern emerges and it is very clear to see that some EIDs have obviously been “pre-written” across the top with “Drug-free six months”, and the appropriate boxes checked to agree with this information.

“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

[News conference, April 21 1961]
― John F. Kennedy

Gotcha – Tackling The “Journalism” Of The New York City Carriage Trade

Standard

Liam Neeson

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

I have to confess that I’d have no reason to read the soporific New York Daily News if it weren’t for their coverage of the NYC carriage horse industry.   For the past few months, the NYDN has been going into overdrive with a series of drama-loving, over-the-top articles promoting the carriage industry (when they aren’t also highlighting what Alex Rodriguez is doing in a Miami bathroom with a woman,  or the various people who have gone missing while swimming in the East River). The NYDNs’ spokesperson, Ken Frydman, is also advising the carriage industry, so I understand that they will of course take the side of the carriage drivers. What I don’t understand is how the paper can call its coverage of the issue “journalism.” I’m not sure what you can call it honestly, because you can’t exactly tease any logic out of any of the articles I’ve referenced below, which set the bar nice and low as any standard for “journalism.”

The following articles are all strongly reminiscent of The Onion-style parodies wrapped in lukewarm sarcasm. Except that they’re not parodies.   In May, the NYDN published an article claiming that, if the carriage industry in New York is abolished, the nation’s largest mushroom grower in Pennsylvania could go belly-up. This scare tactic fails the smell test however,  since there’s certainly no shortage of manure in Pennsylvania of all places. What’s next from the NYDN? Will carrots become extinct if there are no urban horses available to eat them?   Shortly afterwards, another article appeared, highly suggestive that, without the carriage trade in New York, the $7 billion dollar movie business will subsequently fail to thrive.   Rounding out the trifecta of crazy, the paper followed up with an article on the 70’s mentalist The Amazing Kreskin’s prediction that New York City Mayor De Basio’s Bill will fail (I guess the Long Island Medium wasn’t available). Somewhat shockingly, the annual predictions of Cuban Santeria priests contained no mention of the carriage horses or of Bill De Blasio’s tenure in New York. I can only assume that the paper somehow overlooked the venerable opinions of those followers of santeria….nor did they approach Miss Cleo for her opinion either…

Just a few days ago, a really well-written article on the carriage horses and the new Liam Neeson narrated pro-carriage film crossed my path. The video is here if your eyes need it. Refreshingly, the article, written by Jason Hribal, makes no attempt to anthropomorphize the horses, nor does it rely on Uri Geller-style magic tricks, flawed arguments, or unproven premises.  Also worthy of mention in the Neeson-narrated video are the warnings of imminent slaughter for deregulated carriage horses,  which is highly ironic and hypocritical considering that many proponents of the urban carriage trade in NYC are uncloseted pro-slaughter advocates.

NYC Horse Carriages vs. Carriage Horses (originally published on Counterpunch.org)

by JASON HRIBAL

Bill Maher

Bill Maher has recently been critical of the urban carriage trade.

Thirty two million dollars is a conservative estimate. This would be the annual revenue produced by the approximate 220 registered carriage horses based in Manhattan.  Rides start at $50 for a ¾ mile tour of Central Park. Reserved rides for 45 minutes begin at $165. During peak season with add-ons, expect to pay much more. Horses work nine hours a day on the line. There are 68 licensed carriages.  When you do the math, you see exactly why the carriage owners desperately want to keep their horses working for them.

The organization, Save NYC Horse Carriages, recently released a short film narrated by the actor Liam Neeson. In full support of the carriage owners and operators, what emerges from the film are essentially four themes. Each of these themes is significant and deserving of some consideration.

Neeson starts out at the very beginning of the film telling us that horses helped build the modern world. As a carriage driver later states, it was horses who built New York City. This is true. In the 19th century alone, there were tens of millions of horses working in every city, on every farm, and in every mine. They were global, everywhere you looked, and in sheer numbers that are hard to even fathom. Their work created our society and produced a level of wealth that probably can’t even be measured.

The film then goes on to describe this historical bond between humans and horses as one of companionship. This is not true.  For my dissertation, I researched a four hundred year period, roughly from 1600 to the present, examining the relationships between humans and working animals. For horses and those individuals who used them for their labor, it was very rare to find any sort of friendship or companionship. It was wonderful when I did come across such things but this was the exception to rule. Whether for farmers, loggers, wagon drivers, canal boaters, coal miners, or cotton millers, their primary relationship to horses was exploitative. The attitudes ranged from indifference to hostility to sadism. This was all about work and getting it done. These above individuals were the ones who oversaw that the horses did just that. This was the rule.

The Teamsters Union has just recently come out in vocal support of the NYC carriage drivers. This is most edifying because what you probably don’t not know is that “teamsters” originally referred the teams of horses who transported the goods across the United States. It was these teams who did the work and made the profit. The drivers were middle management and their job was to get the horses to work harder, longer, and faster. In fact, the drivers’ wages were dependent upon this arrangement. It is with a strong sense of irony that the drivers would eventually choose to take the name teamsters for themselves. Sure, two horse heads were featured on the union logo but the actual horses got nothing out of the deal.  They continued to work until they could no longer be productive. Their final job was to be made into glue. Significantly, the current Teamsters’ website contains a few historical photos of horses pulling wagons and such, but their history, their labor, and the wealth that they created are completely absent from mention.

This primary relationship has not changed. The NYC carriage horses do the work by pulling the tourists through Central Park and Times Square. The drivers manage this work. Their job, indeed their wages, come from making the horses work harder, longer, and faster. More rides equal more money, both for themselves and the carriage owners. This is not about companionship.

Keep on werking that middle finger!

Keep on werking that middle finger!

In 2007, the New York City comptroller office audited the city’s policies concerning carriage horses. It found that the city had abandoned most of its oversight duties towards the horses thus allowing the owners and drivers to maintain “substandard conditions.” The department of health, which was supposed to review and inspect the health of every horse, had not done so for a period of no less than 21 months.  The audit went on to state that the horses themselves were not being provided with enough water during working hours. At the Central Park South site, for instance, there were no designate water spigots, a general lack of shade, and no proper drainage. The horses were being forced to stand in their own waste. In addition, the audit found that the owners provided “lax veterinary care” and that they were actually falsifying certificates of health. In just over a one-year period, 57 of 135 certifications were incorrect. While the horses had the same license numbers, they differed “in age, color, breed, name, and in one instance, gender.” In other words, the owners were dumping worn-out horses furtively and switching them with fresh ones. This is exploitation. It is about keeping expenses at a minimum and production levels at a maximum in order to extract the largest profit possible.

Back to the film, it speaks of continuing a tradition. Neeson has said that horses are always “at their happiest and healthiest when working.” I have heard this a lot and from many quarters. For those of you who thought that the Protestant Ethic only applied to humans, you would be most mistaken. All working animals have to deal with this ideology. Horses, sheep, cows, and pigs have long since been domesticated. They could never survive on their own. Their very existence is predicated on them working for humans. But we have to ask, is this true?

The definition of domestication itself has undergone significant changes over the centuries. Originally it meant to make a member of a household. This would slowly over time become more defined as being attached to a home and duties. Our more modern meaning, to tame or bring under control, did not come about until 1641. Interestingly, it was first applied to the Irish people, as they were brought under British imperialist control, and only much later to sheep in 1805. None of these definitions, in fact, made any distinction between humans and other animals. All were included: men, women, children, horses, cows, and sheep. The division, wherein the word only applies to non-humans, occurred very recently.

But whatever definition we choose, none of them means the removal of agency. It has been the story of my life’s work to prove this: from discovering resistance to highlighting autonomy. It’s always been there. You just have to look for it. In the Appalachians of Kentucky, wild horses can be found. In Harlan County, they have been there for decades. More towards Pikeville, newer communities are beginning to be formed. All of these horses were domesticated and lived on farms, generation after generation. But at some point, they were let go or just left behind. After the most recent economic collapse, hundreds have been abandoned. The horses, though, figure it out. They, just like their far western counterparts once did, learn to survive. They form their own communities and develop their own culture. In the Danube delta of Romania, some 4000 horses live autonomously. When the communist regime collapsed, many farmers and villagers turned their horses loose. These working horses left their plows, wagons, and carriages behind and learned how to make it on their own. Without humans, they have thrived. Indeed, for every type of domesticated animal, there exists their counterpoint: maroon communities.

middle finger salute

Another carriage driver flashes the “digitus impudicus”

Neeson concludes the film by stating that there is honor at stake. I am not sure what he means. The carriage owners and drivers, for instance, like to point out the horses get five weeks of vacation per year, wherein they are sent out of the city to pasture. This certainly sounds decent enough but there are two major problems. First, these vacations were mandated by the city in 2010, after the scandal caused by the release of the comptroller’s audit. This decision did not come from the owners or drivers. Second, I doubt the horses are even getting such a vacation. Most of NYC carriage horses are former Amish draft horses. The Amish work them through their productive years, profiting greatly off their labor. Only then do the Amish sell, or possibly lease, them to the carriage industry. During these vacation periods, many of the horses end up being sent back to the Amish—who, I would bet, are either working them even more or subleasing them out. It has been observed that when the horses return from these supposed vacations they often look thinner and more worn out than they were before they left. When the horse’s carriage-pulling days have ended, most, if not it all, will eventually find their way to a kill buyer, who will sell them for slaughter. With an annual turnover rate at a steady 30%, this is quite a few horses per year. I don’t see any honor in this. There is only avarice.

Anthropomorphizing is a political act. We are always told not to do it and from all sorts of directions. In responding to the possible ban, Harry Werner, a former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, warned that the critics of the carriage industry are guilt of anthropomorphizing. “They see a circumstance where they wouldn’t want to work in it, and think a horse wouldn’t work in it.” I can understand this fear, for it is from such actions that class relations can develop. Carriage owners have 32 million reasons to be afraid of such a development. So to New York City Mayor de Blasio, I say stand up to the industry and its supporters like Save NYC Horse Carriages. Tell them that carriages are just instruments of labor. Instead, you’ll take the side of those who actually do the work and pull those carriages. Horses have done enough for New York City. They built it. They suffered for it. They died for it. That’s enough. Each of the registered 220 carriage horses deserves a retirement to a carefully selected sanctuary. Who will pay for it? Let the carriage owners. The horses made that money anyway. This is the definition of honor.

Jason Hribal is a historian and author of Fear of the Animal Planet: the Hidden History of Animal Resistance (CounterPunch / AK Press). He can be reached at: jasonchribal@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

From the Animal Advocate’s Toolbox – Making an Access to Information Request

Standard

Canada governmentWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

For the last few days I’ve been watching the 2014 Equine Summit held at Equine Advocates, on YouTube. Aside from the knowledge and quality of the speakers, one thing stood out for me – the sheer volume of information many of them have obtained by FOIA requests (in the US). While the information isn’t provided immediately, it’s incredibly informative, particularly when it comes to the activities of the BLM. Here in Canada, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has used the process to expose the misfeasance of government inspectors at slaughterhouses, as well as reveal to the public the dire conditions under which horses,  including pregnant mares,  are shipped for slaughter. Recently, an ATI (Access to Information) request was completed in concert with an American advocate in the US, in order to “triangulate” the transit time for a shipment of horses made by Jeron Gold, which was videotaped in November 2013 heading to Richelieu slaughterhouse at about 4pm (because we know the arrival time at slaughterhouses is often fudged to come in under the regulation 36 hours).

Some backstory on the Access to Information Act – Canada was just the eighth country in the world to guarantee citizens the right to request government records in accordance with top hat tip to lonidisclosure law, when we passed the ATIA on Canada Day, 1983. What we have is a version of free information, which is not exactly the same thing as open government. The main principles of this Act are: government information should be available to the public; exemptions to this right should be limited and specific; and decisions on disclosure of information should be reviewed independently of government. Through the ATI Act, the Canadian press has discovered that the executive office of any party in power (although particularly the Harper government) tends to be somewhat adversarial to the process,  and considers any groups involved in environmental or animal rights to be part of the “green scare.” Greenpeace, PeTA, and probably other groups in Canada (and maybe even this blog writer) are considered to be “terrorist” groups, and this was confirmed by requesting government documents. Good to know!

So this blog is all about providing some guidelines and links so that interested parties can do their own ATI requests with confidence. Obviously, if you request information, you should have a good idea in advance what you are seeking to find out. You should have a specific timeline in mind, and be specific about what you need.  Ask for information that could solve a problem or answer a question. You should have a plan in advance that will allow you to do something useful with the information, such as use it to build a case for your MP to do something, write to MPs, correct an invalid assumption, write a cover letter and send it to the newspapers, or blog it, etc. You can also request personal information about yourself too, and if it is incorrect, you have the right to have it corrected. But don’t waste your money or the government’s time (the system is under incredible strain already) just for curiosity’s sake. Make it count.

ATI requests can only be completed by Canadian citizens, permanent residents or any other person (or entity) present in Canada. An individual who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident cannot make a request from outside Canada unless it is made by a representative who is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a person present in Canada on behalf of the individual. Start by submitting a written request, which must contain the following:

  • The full name,  signature of the requester, Canadian mailing address, and if possible, a telephone number and/or e-mail address where the requester can be contacted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays
  • A $5.00 application fee. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or money order. Cheques and money orders must be made payable to the Receiver General for Canada. The fee entitles the requester to five hours of search and preparation time. If your request will take more time, you will be notified of same and will be required to pay for this time in order for the ATI to proceed. Be sure to take this into consideration if you intend to ask for records for a long period of time (or have a strict budget).

There is an additional fee schedule for supplying documents:

  • for photocopying a page with dimensions of not more than 21.5 cm by 35.5 cm, $0.20 per page,
  • for microfiche duplication, non-silver, $0.40 per fiche,
  • for 16 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $12 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for 35 mm microfilm duplication, non-silver, $14 per 30.5 m roll,
  • for microform to paper duplication, $0.25 per page
  • for magnetic tape-to-tape duplication, $25 per 731.5 m reel
  • where the record requested is a non-computerized record, the head of the government institution may require payment in the amount of $2.50 per person per quarter hour for every hour in excess of five hours that is spent by any person on search and preparation. This may be the case with certain manually completed forms from slaughterhouses which are handwritten on paper.

The legislated timeframe for responding to Access to Information or Privacy requests is 30 calendar days. The Access to Information Act permits an institution to extend the time limit to respond to a request beyond the 30 calendar days if:

  • the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records, and the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution;
  • external consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within the original time limit

In all likelihood,your request WILL take longer than 30 days to process. If you are looking only for a few documents over a short period of time, you should receive your package in a few weeks. If you want records for an entire year or an extremely high volume of records, your request may take YEARS. Unless you can afford to have a fair chunk of money tied up for years waiting for boxes of information to be delivered to you, make sure you really need to have this quantity of information!

By processing your request under the ATIA, the government tells us that they will:

  1. Process the request without regard to our identity (but they may sometimes ask if you are related to an individual you are requesting information for).
  2. Offer reasonable assistance throughout the request process.
  3. Provide information on the Access to Information Act  including information on the processing of your request and your right to complain to the appropriate Commissioner of Canada. (you have 60 days from receipt of your documents to make a complaint)
  4. Inform us as appropriate and without undue delay when our request needs to be clarified.
  5. Make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the requested records or personal information under the control of the government institution.
  6. Apply limited and specific exemption
  7. Provide accurate and complete responses.
  8. Provide timely access to the requested information.
  9. Provide records or personal information in the format and official language requested, as appropriate.

Of course, there are various checks and balances that must be examined before the various branches of government will send you anything. It’s entirely possible that there may be no records for what you are seeking, or the information will simply not be disclosed. Refer to the Lexis Nexis info-graphic for the process involved in complying with an ATI request:

LexisNexisATIRequestFlowchart

Centennial Flame on Parliament HillOnce you’ve decided exactly what you want and have determined the time period, you will need to determine which federal government institution is most likely to have the information you are seeking. Most readers of this blog will probably be interested in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency or Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Each government institution also has an Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that any Access to Information and Privacy requests received by the government institution are responded to in accordance with the Acts and also for the application of the legislation within the institution. The list of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators, along with their contact information, is available online. You can also view completed ATI requests here.

If you are requesting information relative to a specific Canadian slaughterhouse, you will need to provide the correct code in order to process your request. For convenience sake, they are included below:

076 – Viande Richelieu Inc./Richelieu Meat Inc. (Quebec)

505 – Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc. (Quebec)

506 – Bouvry Export Calgary Ltd. (Alberta)

587 – KML Meat Processors Ltd. (British Columbia)

657 – Canadian Premium Meats Inc. (Alberta)

Please bear in mind that EIDS are not “owned” or retained by the CFIA or any other government agency. No branch of government retains photocopies either. The EID was cleverly designed to be a document that is owned by the Canadian Library of Parliament Ottawarespective slaughterhouse, and has a retention period of one year. Since slaughterhouses are privately owned entities, it’s not possible to request copies of EID forms via the Access to Information Act. Also bear in mind that if you are requesting documentation from Quebec (Richelieu or LPN slaughterhouses) you will receive your paperwork in French. Subsection 12(2) of the Access to Information Act provides for scenarios where records have been requested in one particular official language. If you want to receive the records in English, you must specify this request in advance, and it WILL come at additional cost and time, since translation services must be involved. You are better off to attempt to translate the documents yourself, even though many may be handwritten. So befriend or bribe a French-speaking person, if you are completely unable to translate any French at all.

Lastly, if you want to track your ATI submission, we suggest that you pay for a registered letter from Canada Post. Good luck with your searches, and may you find something that will be deeply embarrassing to Gerry Ritz or your MP.

Not Your Neighbourhood Pet Store – the “Odd and Unusual” Exotic Animal Auction

Standard
Zebra at OLEX

Photo credit – http://www.weanimals.org/ – We Animals – Jo-Anne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

On Saturday May 3rd I attended my first exotic animal auction – The “Odd and Unusual” event run by Tiger Paw Exotics and its owner Tim Height from Arthur, Ontario. Height is the Canadian and less flash version of the US’s Joe Exotic – he sells animals to private collectors and provides creatures for film and TV productions.  The auction is not widely publicized and is certainly not found on the Tiger Paw website itself.  Obviously,  they don’t want to attract the wrong sort of people – people like me and a group of others attending the auction at the same time who will document the conditions of the animals and try to do something about it.

I’m somewhat late as usual, and when I arrive, the auction is just beginning with saddles and other animal-related products being offered at the Orangeville fairgrounds. The auction used to be held at OLEX – Ontario Livestock Exchange in St. Jacobs, Ontario, but Tiger Paw and Height were allegedly asked not to return after complaints from residents.

baby pygmy goatThe signs indoors prohibit alcohol and photography. Of course photography is not permitted because the state of the pens and the condition of many of the animals is sad or even disgusting in some cases. They know that OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – has jurisdiction over farm animal (but not exotic) animal auctions) and animal activists are present in droves and they want what happens in Orangeville to stay in Orangeville and not end up on YouTube.

I know there are other people here like me (activists) because I see sympathetic-looking women looking intently at the animals, or taking notes on pads of paper. Like my friends and I, they don’t fit in either – their hair is not dishevelled, there’s no Virginia Slims 120 dangling from their lips, nor are they missing half their teeth. Sometimes we make eye contact and they look knowingly at me and me back at them.

It also seems odd that you’d have to put a sign up to advise event-goers that they should refrain from drinking alcohol, until you realize that the crowd is a mix of trucker and cowboy hats, NASCAR jackets, and the requisite mullets, whose owners appear to be on their way to a cosplay event. The parking lot featured an assortment of barely roadworthy trailers, some almost completely rusted through in parts, or with missing floor boards. A couple were deathtraps you wouldn’t touch without a tetanus shot. There are a small number of Mennonites here too. A few parents brought their children to fawn over the animals, oblivious to the care issues that stand out.

Fortunately, there are no exotic carnivores here today, probably not a good idea considering the amount of prey animals in attendance. The smaller animals such as macaws, snakes, finches, geese, rabbits, and a peacock are housed in a room separate from the farm animals and other exotic ungulates such as Przewalski’s horses and zebras. With a few exceptions, most animals are not nearly as odd or unusual as their owners or event attendees – we see a baby bison, some highland cattle, goats and sheep, lots of mini horses, standard and mammoth donkeys and a few camels – mostly the type of animal you might see at a petting zoo.

Few if any of these animals belonged to Height himself and were offered on consignment – after being here only a few minutes it becomes apparent that there are vastly different standards of care seen auction trailerhere – from clean animals in good flesh to thin animals with horrid hooves and manure-caked long coats. I didn’t know what to expect, and was quite unprepared for the inconsiderate, and, in some instances, abusive handling and housing of animals I saw in the holding areas.

Even the clean animals were still observed to be handled roughly – pulled by twine “halters” while they occasionally trembled in fear and steadfastly refused to go forward.  In most pens there was no food or just remnants of hay, and I saw no water at all for any animal. The stalls for the zebras and Przewalski’s horses were filthy – it’s hard to believe they would have arrived in the morning that same day.

Both groups of equines seemed wary or completely over the idea of people coming to look at them. A mammoth donkey is presented for auction with a twoonie-sized raw sore on her tail. The camels are outfitted with halters several sizes too small, restricting their ability to chew and leaving embedded marks on their heads and noses. Several animals, particularly the mammoth donkeys, have long, chipped hooves or “elf boots.” And the hyacinthe macaw, protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade, has plucked out all his body feathers, a behaviour often taken to be caused by anything ranging from confinement neurosis to skin infections, hormone imbalances, and wasting disease. Plucking is virtually unknown in the wild bird population, and no other pet practices the self-destruction parrots do. Some have compared plucking to trichotillomania, the obsessive compulsive human disorder of hair pulling. Birds observed in the wild spend 50 percent of their waking time finding food, 25 percent interacting with their flock, and 25 percent preening. We put them in cages where they have no flock or social structure and put a bowl of food in front of them and wonder why some are neurotic. In any event, the macaw is really not suitable for sale or even display, and a disagreement erupts when a concerned bystander asks that the bird’s cage be covered with cardboard to prevent an excess of gawkers.  Tim Height himself is there and reluctantly complies. When it is suggested that the bird might be underweight, a helpful woman offers that there is “enough meat on him to eat.”

bald Hyacinth macawThere are few opportunities to take pictures surreptitiously. A “security” detail follows various people who have taken pictures or complained about the condition of some of the animals. Of all the farm animals, I notice a trio of alpacas and mini horses are the only really clean looking animals. You’d think that people would at least run a curry comb through their animals knowing they were going to present them for sale? Another group of donkeys and ponies are filthy – caked in manure and urine. You can only wonder what their living conditions are like. Some baby animals are here, too young to be separated from their dams, and will be unable to nurse if sold without them. Several babies are in pens with male animals while their dams are nowhere to be seen. You don’t need any experience bottle feeding a zebra or any other animal here, just enough cash to buy the animal. I suspect a lot of these people learn to care for animals by trial and error, and there are no questions asked of the prospective purchasers.

The event organizers obviously see no problem with the deplorable practice of accepting unweaned baby animals for sale. We see a pygmy goat baby who would still be nursing. He is not ambulatory, camped out and appearing to strain. He occasionally falls down. His eyes exude a purulent yellow-ish discharge, and he continually sneezes. The adult male goats in his pen are not very tolerant of the little fellow. The OMAFRA rep who is onsite declares it illegal for the owner to have transported him in this condition – non-ambulatory animals cannot be transported according to Health of Animals regulations and other regulations, although I’m sure there will be no penalties for the owner. So a rescue attempt is made and a veterinarian is called to assess him. Dr. Mallu Postens arrives and declares he may have a blockage and is unfit for sale. She administers sub-cutaneous fluids and he appears to revive somewhat – and why not? If he is still nursing no wonder he became dehydrated without anything to drink. I wish I could tell readers that he was rescued but I don’t precisely know what happened to him………

In 2010, an Ontario man was mauled to death by his pet tiger—the same animal that had attacked a ten-year-old boy several years before. A few years ago, a woman near 100 Mile House, British Columbia, was killed by her fiancé’s Siberian tiger. Even though these animals were not present today,  this auction still contributes to the Canadian illicit animal trade. So do some roadside zoos in Ontario, who also sell exotic animals to private collectors.  Overheard at the event was someone claiming to have bought a tiger from the Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, Ontario.

Animals who do survive long enough to be sold here are often subject to inadequate care afterwards, because caretakers are often unprepared or unable to provide for the needs of animals who are so far removed from their natural

These are the most basic of animal requirements,  and it's clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

These are the most basic of animal requirements, and it’s clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

habitats. Many exotic animals will likely die or be abandoned by their caretakers.  Zebras in particular are especially ornery and difficult to tame and will often fight viciously with other zebras.

The province of Ontario doesn’t require licensing to keep dangerous exotic pets. Ontario does not have province-wide regulations; instead, there is a confusing hodgepodge of municipal rules that allow monkeys in some jurisdictions while forbidding tigers in others. You could live next door to a person keeping lions in his backyard and not even know it. Toronto has banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores but we can still sell exotics north of the city. And you still need a license for a dog and maybe even a cat.

There appear to be no health guarantees offered for any of the animals either. What guarantees are there about vaccinations or zoonotic diseases? Salmonellosis, B-virus, and tuberculosis are three of the most dangerous pathogens that can be transmitted to humans from reptiles, monkeys, and cattle. If some of these animals have obviously not seen a farrier in months, can they be confidently ruled-out as vectors for disease? If all this is not yet completely off-putting, consider that next to the display of exotic animals (and just outside the washrooms) is the presence of a food concession stand . And not a bottle of hand sanitizer in sight!

Word has it that there is another exotic event to be held here in November . Assuming that the town doesn’t rise up against these types of events, I’ll have to remember to black out some of my teeth so as not to stand out too much at my next visit.

 

The Fancy Hat Veneer

Standard

Audrey HepburnLast year I was contacted by first time author Joyce Anderson,  who was researching and compiling information for her first book on horse racing.  “The Fancy Hat Veneer,” is the result of her research; it is a compilation of information proving the undeniable responsibility the racing industry and Thoroughbred breeders have for thousands of racehorses being sent to slaughter every year.  Joyce chose the  title because,  for many horse racing fans,  fancy hats have become a fashion statement by women attending famous races such as The Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.  The fine clothing of the spectators is the biggest tradition in thoroughbred horse racing,  while the brutality and horrors of the  racing world are kept from the public….well hidden by “The Fancy Hat Veneer.”   As we know, a “veneer” is a thin layer of wood that covers what is under it, so the actual commodity itself appears more refined and polished.

The book is a broad stroke collection of articles, blogs, reports, statistics, and personal stories from the world of Thoroughbreds, horse racing, and breeding. Selected articles take the reader behind the scenes to the world the racing public never has the opportunity to see and generally does not hear about – the underbelly of racing,  breeding,  and the journeys of racehorses before, during, and after their brief careers.

If you would like a bit more insight into the book please visit  www.thefancyhatveneer.com where the book can also be purchased online.

front_and_back_covers_The_Fancy_Hat_Veneer

Front and Back Cover

Synopsis By Chapter

(as written by Joyce Anderson)

 

 Chapter 1 – A Bit About Horses, A Bit About Thoroughbreds

Horses have been an integral part of our life and our survival since rehistory.  They have been warriors, workers, allies, companions, protectors, explorers and even teachers and therapists.

Horses have died on battlefields, transported goods, carried our families, moved canal barges, couriered mail, pulled fire engines, provided transportation and plowed the fields.

They have performed every task we have asked of them. They have more than earned the right to a full life.

Chapter 2 – The Story of Two

Press Exclusive’s journey and photographs are reprinted with permission of Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds who intervened and pulled her from the gates of hell to safety and Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates who provided Press Exclusive with a safe forever home. Her story is not an unusual one for Thorough­breds. However, the end of her story is unusual. She is one of the lucky ones.  The particulars of how she was discarded and the severity of the injuries she sustained are an unforgivable occurance.

Philotimo’s journey from the race track to emaciation took just six short months.  His glory days on the track were over and there was no place for him anywhere.He was “free to a good home”. He was given to a good home and starved at that “good home”. Then the “good home” tried to sell him for $2,500, which would be 100% profit. Rescued by Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, “Timo’s” story is reprinted with permission of Lynn Cross of Little Brook Farm, Old Chatham, NY

Chapter 3 – The Thoroughbred Breeding Industry

Individual Thoroughbred breeders can “produce” a few, a few dozen or few hundred foals each and every year.  This is done with the full knowledge that approximately 70% +/- will not have the opportunity to live their full life, the majority will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race. This is of no concern to the breeder. Their job is to crank out as many as they can. In fact, the Thoroughbred breeders want to increase breeding numbers and also want more funding for that purpose. They have no conscience.

Chapter 4 – The Racing Industry

Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to catastrophic injuries sustained while racing. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown while racing.

Young thoroughbreds die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing.

When Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.

Chapter 5 – Horse Racing Wrongs 2013

Horse Racing Wrongs is a blog by Patrick J. Battuello who meticulously documents deaths and injuries of thoroughbreds on America’s race tracks.  The entries are not Mr. Battuello’s opinion; he is simply documenting what occurred.  They are unalterable facts. Each death occurred on the race tracks while the crowds cheered.

This chapter contains just a few blog entries for the recent 2013 racing season.  There are several hundred additional entries you can read for yourself on www.horseracingwrongs.com. 

Patrick J Battuello has been writing on animal-related issues for several years now. His blog, “Animal Rights,” debuted in the Times Union (Albany NY area) in 2009. It was the first of its kind in a Capital Region mainstream publication. In addition, Patrick has written for both the Albany and National editions of the Examiner, and has maintained three separate independent sites.

Chapter 6 – Horse Slaughter

Before we even discuss slaughter you should know how horses are transported to the plants.  Horses are usually transported in stock trailers, which are open without compartments.  All types of horses are together; old, young, babies, sick, injured, pregnant and blind.  Thoroughbreds, work horses and miniature breeds are loaded on the same trailer.  Those that are injured, too small or too weak to withstand the long trip are trampled.  When the trailer arrives at the slaughter plant those that have been trampled or are down are dragged out with a chain wrapped around their neck or a leg.

Horse slaughter is a savage, cruel, violent and barbaric solution to a man made problem. It is horrific, excruciating and brutal.  Nothing about it is humane.

Chapter 7 – What About The Other Horses

In my opinion horses are the most brutalized, abused and mistreated animals.  Maybe it’s their size or maybe it’s their beauty that makes men need to dominate, control, brutalize, harm and torture them.  There is something very deep, very dark and very, very primitive still lingering in our un-evolved psyche.

We live in a society where people are emotionally dead.  Perhaps it’s the internet or social media which has removed us from any personal sensitivity to horror, blood, guts and gore. Thanks to all the groups within the media industry (TV, films, computer games, etc) we have become immune to violence. We can witness the most appalling atrocities first hand and there is little or no reaction.  It barely causes a ripple.

Chapter 8 – In The News

The “In the News” chapter could have been filled with a ton of recent horrific articles.  Sadly there is no lack of appalling stories related to horses.  If you are inclined to read more the internet puts every news agency in the world and their archives at your fingertips.

horse-hat

 

Updated – Canadian Horse Slaughter Influences & Enablers 2014

Standard

horsemeat-copy2Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

This infographic (downloadable here),  updated over my original 2012 version, exposes the hand-shaking and back-patting relationships, endorsements, and interconnectivity between the US and Canada. 

We can clearly see the tentacles of the Bill DesBarres’ Horse “Welfare” Association of Canada extending themselves into the breed associations,  farming groups,  Big Pharma, veterinary colleges and associations, and Equine Canada.  By way of the lobbyists in the IEBA,  we are influenced by Big Ag,  Dow and Monsanto,  Humanewatch and other organizations that not only advocate for horse slaughter,  but advocate for GMOs and against the EPA and indeed consumers in general. The Co-Chair position previously held by Sue Wallis is of course vacant, and it’s unknown whether the IEBA itself is actually a going concern., like so many of Wallis’ transitory slaughter groups. We’re unsure whether anyone has or will step into the position, as Sue Wallis was the driving force behind this group. Nevertheless, Bill DesBarres’ connections via the IEBA will no doubt continue to be exploited by HWAC and the horse slaughter industry.

While some of the associations that have been mapped out in the following Canadian infographic do not directly enable horse slaughter,  they are complicit in that they are silent against the practice.  At the very least they seem intent on preserving the status quo and ignoring the very real threats created not only by horse slaughter,  but by the power of Big-Ag lobbyists and governments who are willing to be influenced by them and their client base.

People are waking up to what is being done to horses.  Very few people condone what is being done, but the industry does everything it can to cover it up because they know it is not humane,  no matter what terminology they use.  DesBarres himself likes to refer to slaughter as “humane euthanasia,” and a “wonderful option.”    Please continue to contact the Agriculture critics, in particular – Malcolm Allen, who has endorsed Bill C-322 in the past and now rejects Bill C-571.

Please write to Equine Canada and insist that they take a more global position to promote equestrianism in Canada. Remind them that the GAO report they tout as the rationale for horse slaughter has been debunked.

Contact your breed associations. Many supporters have been lobbying the breed associations and discovering that some appear to be unaware that their names have been added to HWAC’s list of partner organizations. Let them know what they are endorsing when they associate themselves with the Horse “Welfare” Association of Canada and Bill DesBarres. Please ask them to insist that HWAC remove their names and ask them to reject any references to slaughter as “euthanasia.”

 

ieba-chart final copy

Click to Embiggen. Click here for downloadable PDF (large file)

Summary of Changes:

1)      Removed references to IEBA Co-Chair Sue Wallis

2)      Updated Agriculture Critics

3)      Updated flowchart to include KML Meats – new slaughterhouse in Westwold, British Columbia

4)      Updated Chief Food Safety Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada

5)      Removed Kill Buyer JP Soucy – left the business

6)      Added new Kill Buyers Jonathan Lalonde, Mike Swain, Mark Sneider, Richard Patenaude, and Jeff Grof

Here is the current list of provincial associations from the HWAC website. Note that the Ontario Equestrian Federation, which used to be on the list, has been removed.

Provincial Organizations

British Columbia
Horse Council
Orville Smith
President
Lisa Laycock
Executive Director
27336 Fraser Highway
Aldergrove, BC
V4W 3N5
Phone: 604-856-4304
Toll Free: 1-800-345-8055
Email
Alberta
Equestrian Federation
Tara Gamble
President
Sonia Dantu
Executive Director
100, 251 Midpark Blvd S.E.
Calgary, AB
T2X 1S3
Phone: 403-253-4411
Toll Free: 1-877-463-6233
Email
Saskatchewan
Horse Federation
Shirley Brodsky
President Executive Director
2205 Victoria Avenue
Regina, SK
S4P 0S4
Phone: 306-780-9244
Email
Quebec
Fédération équestre du Québec
Rosaire Houde
President
Richard Mongeau
Executive Director
4545 Ave Pierre de
Coubertic CP 1000
Succursale M
Montreal, PQ
H1V 3R2
Phone: 514-252-3053
Email
New Brunswick
Equestrian Association
Deanna Phalen
President
Suite 13, 900 Hanwell Rd
Fredericton, NB
E3B 6A2
Phone: 506-454-2353
Email
Nova Scotia
Equestrian Federation
Barbie Lewis
President
Heather Myrer
Executive Director
5516 Spring Garden Rd
4th Floor
Halifax, NS
B3J 1G6
Phone: 902-425-5450Ext 333
Email
PEI
Horse Council
Wendell Grasse
President
Joy MacDonald
EC Representative
POB 1887
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N5
Phone: 902-964-2379
Email
Newfoundland
Equestrian Federation
Kathie Lane
President
Chris Gallant 
Past President 
17 Seal Cove Road
CBS, NF
A1X 6S5
Phone: 709-489-6166
Email
Yukon Territory Vibeke Coates
President
P.O. Box 20165
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 7A2
Phone: 867-633-3012
Email

 

Additional HWAC “Alliance” Partners

 

HWACKY EID

 

 

The “Abolitionist Approach” Cult

Standard

horses under merlin's tree

Written by: Roland Vincent,  Lawyer, Social Justice Activist, and Presidential Campaign Strategist

Reproduced With Permission

Artwork © Heather Clemenceau

 

There are some in the Animal Rights movement who are as intellectually open minded as are cult members. They seem to believe that people will just go from eating meat and wearing leather to being vegans in one fell swoop. All that is required is posting horrific images and railing against speciesism.

If only that would work.

In the real world, it doesn’t. Introducing people to compassion and veganism is easy. Getting people to change their lifestyles is not.

The so called “abolitionist approach” may make adherents feel righteous and morally superior to others, but it does not help the animals.

Consider: People are having babies faster than we are winning people to vegan lifestyles. And the abolitionists aren’t even helping us do that. They oppose transitional diets, vegetarianism, Meatless Mondays, vegan entre additions to school lunches and restaurant menus. If one is not 100% vegan the abolitionists consider them to be the enemy. Not a smart way to make friends or influence people.

So called “abolitionists” also oppose single issue campaigns as somehow promoting speciesism. They believe that efforts to save whales, elephants, rhinos, and seals, for example, denigrates the lives of cattle, pigs, lambs, and chickens dying in slaughterhouses.

They similarly oppose fighting the dogmeat trade in Asia, bullfighting in Spain and Mexico, pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania, and canned hunting in Africa. They even think criticizing Michael Vick is wrong.

The absurdity of their positions is lost on them. Only by reaching out and kindling people’s empathy can our movement grow. As people who love dogs and elephants, dolphins and whales, come to realize that all animals have the right to live and be free of exploitation, the Animal Rights movement will attract new activists and grow.

Erecting barriers to that growth is counterproductive and ridiculous.

And hurts the animals.

farmyard animals

Have You Heard of the Yellow Dog Project?

Standard

coco in winter copyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

If you’ve ridden a horse at organized trail riding events as I have, you’re probably familiar with the coloured ribbon system on the tail for horses – red for potential kicker, white for sale, green for a horse in training, and generally yellow for a stallion. The system is pretty universally reproduced in trail riding handbooks too. The ribbons are a great visual aid that helps people following horses to know how far back they should keep their horse, to avoid sudden unexpected responses from the horse in front, and to ride safely in a large group.

Most every dog owner considers themselves astute to the moods of dogs. I’m probably no exception, since I don’t automatically reach down to pet an unknown dog, nor do I generally allow strangers to try to pet my dog, a 15 lb, “Lhasa-Shih Tzu-Peke.”  But Coco, rescued from a Quebec puppymill in 2008 and adopted in 2009, has some “issues.” Yeah, she’s got quirks. She was afflicted with dry-eye and while in the puppymill, it was never addressed. When she and other dogs were rescued in a public raid, she went to a dog rehabber, and I found her on Petfinder in 2009,  after she’d had a litter of puppies,  who were also placed by the rescue. Her eyes were severely damaged as a result of the lack of care, and looking into them is like looking into a stained glass window – they are full of strange dark “creases” and “crinkles.” We give her eye drops to prevent them from worsening, but the vet says that there is almost zero reflection back out from the retina, meaning that she is almost totally blind.

I think she navigates out on walks by smell, some light and dark sensitivity, and by feeling the change in textures under her feet. She finds her food bowl mostly by smell. She won’t get better, but hopefully she won’t get worse either. Dog Red Ribbon - Stay Backsocialization and play classes only cause her anxiety – she cowers after only a few minutes of being inundated with playful dogs, growls and snarls at them, and retreats to my lap with her head in my armpit. At these events she’s generally looked upon as the sad misfit who will never be able to mix with the cool kids.

While some adults and children are very aware of proper ways to approach a dog, many are not. Quite often, well-meaning dog owners in the community always assume that all dogs are friendly and want to play, usually without regard to the different personalities of dogs, their youth and training, and whether they’re intact or not. So I don’t think it’s safe to assume that the public will automatically respect your space; and while it shouldn’t have to take a ribbon to communicate this, it could help in the most-needed cases. Coco really needs a seeing-eye dog of her own, and as a result, she is often startled by the sudden presence of an unfamiliar dog next to her. Quite often I see a dog on a fast trajectory course for Coco, or children approaching with outstretched hands.

“Don’t worry, dogs really like me!”

Warning growls often go unheeded by young dogs and their owners. On occasion I’ve gotten quite irritated with people for opening the door of their house as we walk by to allow their dogs out to “play” with us.  When I explain she’s blind and may bite, they laugh it off and say “Oh, it’ll be a good lesson for my dog.” Well, why is it my obligation to teach your dog any lessons? And what if they come at the expense of both of our dogs if a fight develops? What kind of lesson will your dog take away from this experience? A person should have the grace to step away if the approach by either dog or human is not welcomed,  but sometimes they don’t seem to want to accept this.

Yellow Dog PosterThe Yellow Dog Project is a movement created for dogs that need space. By tying a yellow ribbon to the dog’s leash you are indicating that this dog needs space (or maybe the human walking the dog needs the space). Short of creating a harness that says “Do Not Pet,” I think this is a great idea if it can get wide acceptance and exposure. Just imagine walking in a neighborhood and rather than having to “shoo” off an approaching stranger that clearly wants to see the dog, they see the ribbon and understand. Now, for creating a wide awareness in my own community…

The movement is not intended to warn people way from dogs that may be dangerous, but the ribbon is intended to represent dogs that are scared or skittish, maybe in heat, post-surgery, learning leash manners, deaf, or recovering from an injury. The use of these ribbons – which has caught on globally – was started by Tara Palardy, a positive reinforcement dog trainer in Red Deer, Alberta. Palardy got the idea from a website launched in Sweden. Since branding her own project, people around the world have started tying bows. She launched a Facebook page for 250 of her friends and clients in September 2012 and now has almost 90,000 followers around the world. The Yellow Dog Project is a not-for-profit organization that now has its own website – http://www.theyellowdogproject.com.

The yellow ribbon is not an escape clause. It’s not an excuse not to train a dog. It does not release you from liability if your dog bites someone. Whether you have a yellow ribbon or not, when approaching an unfamiliar dog:Yellow Dog Theme

  • Follow leash laws and have your dog under control (even if friendly)
  • Ask permission before approaching an unfamiliar dog
  • Wait for the dog owner to respond to you
  • Always allow dogs enough space to pass

It is human nature to want to touch and interact with a dog. However, I don’t think that it is appropriate for any stranger to allow their dog to rush yours, or to touch or pet your dog without asking first.

The expectations we have for dogs are often a continent away from reality.  This year I vow to stop caring what other people think and stand up for my dog. I pledge to be patient and explain the yellow ribbon to anyone who approaches and asks. It takes practice to be able to say “no” over and over to the same “friendly” person who isn’t respecting our dog’s needs. But this year I hope to reinforce to my neighbours and those in my community that not all dogs are created equal.

Yellow Dog conditions

 

NYC Carriage Horse Supporters – Words and Pictures

Standard

NYC Carriage Supporters banner

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Most people who oppose urban carriages are used to being told that they have “limited horse knowledge” or that they don’t live in New York City, etc. etc. and therefore have no right to render an opinion. But much of the propaganda being churned out in favour of the urban carriage industry is written by so-called journalists who are themselves seriously limited in their understanding not only of the business they are writing about, but of horses in general. Some authors are enviable in their ability to produce 10,000 words per day attesting to the carriage horses’ overall “happiness” and love of their work,  but again, they are also not “horse people.”  This observation does not seem to lend itself to criticism by the urban carriage trade though……

A great many comments I have seen over the last few months have been made by those who support leaving the carriage horses on the streets because they are active in the industry itself. They have made it sound as if a very small minority of animal advocates are the only ones who favour a ban on horse drawn carriages, and everyone else is in it for the big “Real Estate Grab.”

In a recent, blatantly promotional article, published originally on a pro-dog breeding, pro-kennel club website, numbers and statements about the carriage trade are regularly tossed about like pennies into a fountain.  I’ve chosen some of the more unverifiable and outrageous statements from the aforementioned article and provided some real-life context to refute them.  Sometimes,  the most damning statements come from the carriage trade themselves.  So here we go…

“They also have a mandatory five weeks annual vacation that must include unlimited feed and free run of green pastures.”

You can believe in the five weeks “vacation” or not. There are many reasons why,  in my opinion, this mandated “vacation” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Especially if it isn’t actually a holiday if horses are  sent to Amish country for their R&R,  where they are, unbeknownst to the average person,  used as work horses on farms they are loaned to. And what is this ridiculous comment about “unlimited feed?” Haven’t the carriage peeps been telling us forever that horses shouldn’t be on grass or they will founder? Common sense would seem to dictate that you can’t give any horse unlimited feed either, which shows exactly how much the author of this article knows about horses (or has been spoon-fed). No one can say with any certainly that any of the horses are on a green pasture anyway – the pasture, if it exists, is just as likely to be a dirt paddock. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

If the carriage owners have farms as is claimed by this supporter,  then all the more reason to reject claims that they are all of very modest means.  Source - http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/10/31/nycs-mayor-bloomberg-doesnt-know-manure-about-carriage-horses/

If the carriage owners have farms as is claimed by this supporter, then all the more reason to reject claims that horses who are no longer employed in the NYC carriage trade will be sent to slaughter.  Also a very strong reason to reject claims that medallion owners are all of such modest means and cannot afford to provide aftercare for their horses. Source – http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/10/31/nycs-mayor-bloomberg-doesnt-know-manure-about-carriage-horses/

“Prices usually exceed $200,000 when they do. Most medallions are inherited. Families have carried on this business for generations, and no one is getting rich.”

It’s unclear what a medallion (license to operate a carriage business in NYC) is actually worth in present value terms. Some drivers said they paid $30,000 for their medallions 25 years ago. So obviously they are worth a considerable sum

Stop Lies,  See Truth indeed.  Being able to invest in real estate and other businesses implies an income that is at least middle-class or upper middle-class,  or perhaps largely tax-free?  Source - https://www.youtube.com/user/StopLiesSeeTruth/discussion

Stop Lies, See Truth indeed. Being able to invest in real estate and other businesses implies an income that is at least middle-class or upper middle-class, or perhaps largely tax-free? Source – https://www.youtube.com/user/StopLiesSeeTruth/discussion

of money, given what the average income must be for the 68 medallion holders bringing in an estimated $15-$19 million dollars to the economy – an amount that has been corroborated by the Communications Liaison for the Horse and Carriage Association of New York City.  Therefore, to determine how “working class” the industry is as a whole, a little arithmetic can be applied as follows:

$15,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $220,588 per medallion owner (low-balling the industry estimate)

$19,000,000/68 medallions = average gross income of $279,412 per medallion owner (applying the upper limit of the estimate)

The problem is that the carriage industry may be talking out of both sides of their feedbag. Perhaps they didn’t anticipate that by arriving at the estimate of $15 – $19 million “investment” into New York City, that there would be people who could do basic arithmetic and figure out what the average gross income would be for 68 medallion owners (or half-medallion owners). So now, the claim that “nobody’s getting rich” is much harder for the average reader to choke down. Especially since the vast majority of that income is cash. To further throw shade on the claim that the medallion owners are just working class people struggling to earn a living in this cash-based economy, we have the testimony of ”StopLiesSeeTruth,” a prolific YouTube videographer and carriage owner, who claims to be earning an exemplary income that affords him the opportunity to invest in “real estate and other businesses.” There seems to be a lot of variation in terms of income, depending on whether one is bragging about it, or declaring it for taxation purposes.

“Horses are kept at four stables in Manhattan. All are currently cooperatively owned and managed within the industry. Even so, expenses for each horse run about $20-$25,000 annually.”

Source - http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/10/31/nycs-mayor-bloomberg-doesnt-know-manure-about-carriage-horses/

For the average person yes,  perhaps many could not afford this type of monthly expenditure.  But it’s been pointed out elsewhere that the largely cash income derived from operating a hackline carriage is not “average.” Apples to oranges. Source – http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/10/31/nycs-mayor-bloomberg-doesnt-know-manure-about-carriage-horses/

A feature of this blog post is obviously to quote the carriage people back to themselves and point out the ridiculousness of both their overstated claims and the claims of their propagandists. So again I’m using the assertions of a NYC carriage supporter who obligingly provides estimates of the basic costs of looking after and providing stabling for an urban horse in the city. Obviously, the supporter providing these numbers has omitted many other expenses in the operation of a carriage business, such as Insurance, wages, haulage, and other potential medical expenses, but even with the addition of these other costs, the cost for caring for one urban horse in no way approaches $25,000. And these costs are gross expenses from business income (again, predominately cash) while people such as myself who have taxes deducted at source, pay for board and veterinary expenses using after tax dollars. The minimum requirements for insurance coverages are also very modest:

$25,000 for bodily injury of any one person resulting from any one accident

$50,000 for bodily injury of two or more persons resulting from any one accident

$50,000 for death of any one person resulting from any one accident

$100,000 for death of two or more persons resulting from any one accident

$10,000 for destruction of property resulting from any one accident

These are not high liability coverages by any stretch of the imagination. Coverage for only $50,000 for the death of one person is ridiculously low.   By comparison,  I have an all-perils liability policy for $5 million,  at a cost of about $200 per year in premiums.  God help any carriage owner who has the misfortune of being the cause of serious injury or death of a young, professional, high income earner in a carriage accident,  someone who has a young family or years of income earning potential curtailed by a disabling injury…..

Despite having insurance,  this carriage driver might have been worried about an insurance claim, since he apparently left the scene of an accident without providing details of his insurance coverage to the other parties in the vehicle:

From the same source, we also get an idea of the various permit fees required, which again, will not bring the total expenses anywhere near $25,000. Carriage Operators of North America – CONA also has sourced out several equine insurance providers that can cover mortality, business insurance, life insurance, excess coverages, and insurance against crime. Again, most business people pay for these (with the possible exception of equine mortality) off their pre-tax income, so the carriage trade is not really any different from most other sole-proprietor businesses or partnerships (but apparently would like most people to think their expenses are greater than other comparable businesses).

Other incidental permit fees may be referenced by viewing the  List of Permit Fees.

  • $100: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from April 1 of years that end in an even number to September 30 of years that end in an even number.
  • $75: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from October 1 of years that end in an even number to March 31 of years that end in an odd number.
  • $50: License Fee for applicants who file for a Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from April 1 of years that end in an odd number to September 30 of years that end in an odd number.
  • $25: License Fee for applicants who file for a new Horse Drawn Cab Owner License from October 1 of years that end in an odd number to March 31 of years that end in an even number.
  • 2.49% of credit card payment amount: Non-Refundable Convenience Fee for paying with a credit card
  • $100: License Renewal Fee
expenses

From the carriage supporter’s basic estimate, we can see that, per horse, basic housing and feed for a horse would be anywhere from $4,740 – $7,740, or possibly more. Neither figures are out-of-line with what horse owners pay to board their personal horses.

Some carriage operators have benefited by subsidized rents as well. In 2001, the City of New York leased a stable on W. 45th St. to a carriage operator and his partner charging him a rent of only $5,000 a month while a comparable stable could easily have brought the City $60,000 a month.   Even if you consider that the city played a role in displacing the original tenants of this stable, this is a very advantageous cost savings for the carriage operators, but not so much for the City.

“Central Park as a rare car free oasis….”I love horse shit

I wonder what tourist brochures the author is looking at? Cars are allowed in Central Park at certain times. I daresay this writer hasn’t been to New York City (the hue and cry of the carriage supporters, many of whom haven’t been there either). Not only is the park not vehicle-free, the route to and from the stables is teeming with cars, taxis, snow removal vehicles, buses, and emergency vehicles.

“Despite AR rhetoric to the contrary, these owners love their horses and dread the thought of surrendering them to a city-appointed agency for adoption. “

There is no requirement to surrender any horses to anyone. I may be wrong but I’ve never heard of a “city-appointed agency” that has been established for surrendered carriage horses. Making it so that you cannot operate a carriage in NYC is not seizing your property.  The Bill does not require that horses be sold or donated, but the Bill does define the circumstances under which sale or disposal or the horse shall be deemed humane.  While it does attempt to control what happens to the horses IF they are sold, it does not compel  them to be sold.  And since one supporter’s comment included here asserts that the carriage operators have farms, one can only wonder, if true, why they would need to rehome any horse anywhere else?

“New Yorkers, long accustomed to the horses, are horrified by the possibility of losing their only direct contact with this beloved species. “

INS?  Immigration and Naturalization Service?  Probably not a good idea to display too much braggadoccio about the IRS and the INS as it relates to the carriage trade.  Source - https://www.youtube.com/user/StopLiesSeeTruth/discussion

INS? Immigration and Naturalization Service? Probably not a good idea to display too much braggadoccio about the IRS and the INS as it relates to the carriage trade. Source – https://www.youtube.com/user/StopLiesSeeTruth/discussion

Perhaps, or perhaps not. Don’t forget that, for more than a year, until a week to 10 days before the mayoral primary, the same Quinnipiac polling had a certain former City Council speaker as a “sure thing.”

The “right” of the carriage horse operators to use any city streets is one that can be revoked. The carriage owners and drivers, who enjoy one of the last cash businesses in the city, need to wake up and smell the road apples.  Stop lies,  see truth indeed…

“It is the certainty that they possess the truth that makes men cruel.” ― Anatole France

Irish Spring horsie