This Is Horse Slaughter In Canada

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bouvry protest

October 2013 protest at the Bouvry horse slaughter plant just outside of Fort Macleod, Alberta

Written by: Brian

I’m not sure which horse is haunting me the most. There was Jack. Big part draft gelding, 23 years old. Skinny as skinny, with large white saddle sore scars. Someone used him hard and threw him away.

Ginger was 26, from the same place as Jack. Friendly and gentle. She came to the fence to say hello.

The Percheron filly was a black beauty. After her trip to Alberta she might be one of the chosen ones to be shipped live from the Calgary airport. If she survives the trip (sometimes all the horses arrive dead), she’ll be slaughtered in Japan and served up raw as a high priced delicacy.

Twenty year old Copper won’t be as tender. He had some hard miles on him.

The dunn mare was in her prime, eleven years old, trained to pull a cart. She came into the sale ring with a rider on her back for the very first time, and handled it like a pro. It wasn’t enough.

The sturdy paint horses and the chunky six year old sorrel were typical slaughter horses, with their whole lives ahead of them. Not any more.

Usually it’s the young ones the kill buyers go for, not the old and feeble, despite what the industry tells you about horse slaughter being a “humane end of life option.” The kill buyers didn’t get as many as usual, but this auction was especially brutal, because most of the ones they did get were older.

Thin horse at OLEX

A thin horse stands alone in the kill pen at OLEX in St. Jacob’s Ontario – even the sweltering July heat cannot dry out the permanent muck

Bucky was the most memorable. His hip bones jutted out from his emaciated body, and a swollen wound on his cannon bone was heading towards proud flesh. He’d spent his 25 years teaching children to ride. But why put him down humanely when you can make a few bucks?

Bucky nickered softly to us as we left the yard after the sale. He was probably hoping we’d give him some hay and water after hours of going without. He’d have to wait for that.

The meat horses would be shunted into a pen together, and Bucky would take a few kicks before being chased from his scrap of hay. If anyone bothered to feed them. Regulations say horses can go 36 hours without food or water.

Who knows how many doses of bute Bucky had in his long life. Like all the horses, he was dropped off with no questions asked. One dose of bute carries a lifetime ban for human consumption.

But Bucky ain’t never had no bute! Even though that festering wound was fresh and he was a jumping horse, Bucky never had no drugs! No wormers, no pain killers, no bute…

He arrived at Bouvry with a fresh, clean EID, filled out by the kill buyer stating that “to the best of my knowledge” Bucky was drug free. Him and all them others that came with no medical information. Hell! They ain’t never had nothin!

Gerry Ritz Flag

Failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture – bureaucratic idiot and exasperating obfuscator. Activists exist largely because our civil servants, who are responsible for safeguarding animals and supervising the inputs into the food chain, do so in a questionable or disrespectful manner towards their own citizens and those of countries to whom we export foodstuffs.

That’s the CFIA’s story and they’re sticking to it. Once at the slaughterhouse the EIDs become the plant’s property and go into cold storage where even a Freedom of Information Request can’t get them out.

I’ve been thinking about Bucky and the others all week. And I still remember Sky from 11 years ago. Pretty young Arab. She was a playful thing, jousting with her pasture mate in the stock pen. After the sale her lifetime friend was led away by a new owner, and Sky was left standing alone in the cold rain, confused. They always know when something’s not right.

The two sleek four year old geldings hid their heads in the corner. The bidding didn’t last long for them. Next.

A teenage girl came in proudly leading her childhood love, and left with a stunned look on her face when he sold for $100. She probably preferred boys now and her parents said, “That horse has to go!”

The sick mare with firehose diarrhea could barely walk. She’d be a downer for sure, but even trampled to death she’d be worth a case of beer.

Of course I’ll never forget the load of full term pregnant wild mares being prodded onto a double decker with 50 other horses, falling and thrashing and banging. The noise was something else! The CFIA sure wanted to shut me up about that illegal shipment.

The auction claims there are no kill buyers at their sales. Only “horse brokers,” who train them ponies up for resale. Ask for yourself. The guy who sits up in the corner with a calculator will tell you where they’re going. “To a friend in Alberta.”

OLEX horses

The horses are healthy, as are over 90% of all slaughter-bound horses, contrary to statements made by Equine Canada

Arriving at Bouvry with their squeaky clean EIDs, the horses were probably unloaded right into the kill line. So much for the six month holding period required by law. They don’t even pretend to follow the rules. I sure wish the EU was paying attention.

I wonder if Bucky’s had his turn yet? I imagine him smelling the fear as he’s driven closer to the stun box, his ears flickering back and forth, the smell of blood overpowering and the noise deafening. Saws whining and a radio blaring. The humans Bucky grew up trusting shouting and laughing, prodding him with a white stick that sends a jolt through his old bones as he stumbles forward into a blood soaked metal cage, looking frantically for a way out.

He’s a big horse. Maybe the first few shots glanced off his high head, taking out an eye or hitting him in the ear as the shooter casually took his time reloading his gun. I wonder if Bucky has figured out yet that humans are no longer his friend?

Horse “welfare” advocate, Bill DesBarres (HWAC), claims that without slaughter Canada would be overrun with unwanted horses. But almost 70% come from the US. They trickle into the system, one by one, like Bucky and Jack, from owners who are not desperate but just want an easy way out. (By the way, Bill and Claude Bouvry go way back.)

The biggest misconception of all is that banning horse slaughter in the US caused a surge of neglect. The crashed economy, drought and skyrocketed hay prices caused the neglect, not the slaughter ban. The number of horses slaughtered never changed. Owners could ditch them at an auction same as always.

You won’t hear that from Equine Canada. They’ve latched onto the neglect myth and people believe it. They pushed it hard on MPs too, trying to get them to vote against Bill C-571.

Kill Pens at OLEX

The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada’s formation began in response to Canada’s anti-slaughter movement, prompted by the CHDC’s first investigative report, “Black Beauty Betrayed” in 2008. The true purpose of HWAC, headed by Bill DesBarres, is not horse welfare, but the promotion and support of North America’s horse slaughter industry.

If people would quit breeding so many the numbers would drop pretty quick. Even the responsible breeders don’t break even, driven out of business by everyone who has a mare thinking she should be bred.

All those beautiful babies, in every colour of the rainbow, selling for as little as $100. The breeder brought them from Alberta, knowing that if he sold them there they’d all go for meat. But how many years before they end up back at the auction?

Yesterday a slaughter bound semi carrying 27 horses crashed in Saskatchewan, killing the driver of an SUV and 12 of the horses. How many Jacks and Buckys were on that load?

The CFIA chased reporters away and won’t divulge what happened to the surviving horses. But there are rumors of a Clyde and a pony being reloaded onto a fresh slaughter truck. No matter their terror and broken bones. The production line was waiting.

The ones that died in the crash were the lucky ones. At least their death was kinder than the one they were headed for at Bouvry.

Back at the riding school there’s probably a new horse. The children will stroke him and feed him carrots, and never forget him. Like I’ll never forget Bucky.

Why do I torture myself by going? Because knowledge is power, and maybe when enough people find out the truth about horse slaughter, they’ll care. I hope someone who once knew Bucky sees this post. Or someone in the EU.

Please share.

famous rescues copy

We Will Remember Them…

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Good-bye, Old Man

“Good-Bye, Old Man.” This image of a soldier bidding farewell to his fatally injured horse is in the Board Room at Victoria Hospital, London. It was commissioned by the Blue Cross in 1916 to raise money to help horses on active service. The artist is Fortunino Matania and it is one of the most famous war-time illustrations. The artist played an important role in defining people’s mental image of what Great War battlefield scenes looked like. http://www.edinburghs-war.ed.ac.uk/system/files/PDF_horses.pdf

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

Along with horses, the types of animals employed in war is extensive, from birds and rodents sent into tunnels to detect poisonous gas, to donkeys, mules, dogs, carrier pigeons, camels, reindeer and elephants used to carry heavy loads. Even animals as small as glow worms have been used in war. In World War 1 alone, approximately eight million horses, mules, and donkeys were killed and another 2.5 million were injured transporting soldiers, arms and supplies into battle.  It is estimated that there were twenty million animal casualties during this dark period of human history.

The demise of most equines in the war was largely due to the modern invention of the machine gun that cut them down unmercifully. Many died from disease, starvation, or exposure; horses were often reduced to shivering bags of skin and bones, even resorting to chewing on their own blankets for food. Exploding mortars, barbed wire, mange, thirst, wounds, and parasite infestation, were all contributing factors to injury and death. Exhaustion and disease such as Grass Sickness and bouts of colic claimed many victims. To add insult to injury, unwanted warhorses were auctioned off and sold to butchers at the war’s conclusion.

The war had seriously depleted all horse stocks around the world, claiming some of the finest horses of its time.   Farmers and families on the home front endured great hardship when their best horses were taken for use in the war. Generations of “blue blood” stock would be lost.

Since World War II there’s been a huge desire to recognize the role animals played in conflict. The Dickin medal, the equivalent of the military’s Victoria Cross, was established in 1943 to honour the work of animals in war.  Canadians taking part in Remembrance Day now have a memorial in Ottawa that recognizes the wartime sacrifices of animals. Located at the foot of the South African War monument in Confederation Park, the Canadian Animals in War Dedication was unveiled on November 3, 2012.

The concept and funding of the memorial can largely be attributed to Lloyd Swick, a spry, kayaking, golfing, piano-playing senior who

Lloyd Swick,  now in his 90s,  was inspired by the memorial for war animals in Hyde Park.  Some panels of the eventual memorial are on display at the Ottawa School of Art.

Lloyd Swick, now in his 90s, was inspired by the memorial for war animals in Hyde Park. Some panels of the eventual memorial are on display at the Ottawa School of Art.

campaigned to raise the $100,000 needed to launch the project. Swick is a veteran of the Korean War, serving 30 years with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. His inspiration came from the memorial to war animals in London’s Hyde Park as well as the mule train that brought ammo to Canadians on the front line in the Battle of Passchendaele.

Of course, everyone loved both the idea and Lloyd Swick. In short order, local artist David Clendining, of Summit Studios in Wakefield, was commissioned to create the memorial. One plaque is based off of the wartime artwork of Fortunino Matania entitled “Good-Bye, Old Man.”

All these animals, great and small, chosen for their natural instincts, contributed their strength, endurance, energy, and ultimately their lives in times of war and conflict to the Allied forces. This Memorial is a fitting tribute to them all.  Well done Lloyd Swick.

 

Horse Slaughter Trends Across Borders – Google Trends Analysis

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Magnifying GlassWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

As a result of their market domination, Google has become more of an institution than a search engine. Therefore, Google’s search data is incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. Google Trends is an application that’s particularly useful as a timely, robust, and sensitive surveillance system. While it is useful to advertisers looking to create keywords to market their products, we can also use it to create charts that show how often horse slaughter issues and phrases are searched for over time by all Google users interested in acquiring more information on this subject.

An analysis of the term “horse slaughter” in Google Trends shows us how popular the search term is currently as well as in the recent past. I’ve compared the stats from 2004 to 2014 year-to-date for the United States (blue), Canada (gold), and the United Kingdom (red).  Initially I compared these countries to France, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and China, expecting to see some tangible increase over time yet Google Trends yielded no measurable activity.

From the chart we can see that horse slaughter in the US was trending long before the United Kingdom or Canada, which began trending mid-2007 and 2008 respectively. The uptick in slaughter keyword trending activity in Canada began a few years after the launch of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2004, and seems to be linked to that group’s 2008 publication of Black Beauty Betrayed, an Early Investigation at Natural Valley Farms, and the issue of Illegal Dumping of Horse Blood at Natural Valley Farms.

horse slaughter stats

Click on the graph for a link to the live data

 

Key points in the graph also register the heightened activity in the US and Canada due to:

  • House votes on horse slaughter in the US (2006)
  • Anti-horse slaughter bills advancing in Congress (2007)

There was a huge spike in late 2011 likely due to:

  • The US “ban” on domestic horse slaughter being lifted when Congress passed, when Obama signed into law a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption
  • Developing interest in Rick De Los Santos horse slaughter plant in New Mexico
  • Valley Meats first application for a grant of inspection with the USDA in December
  • The CHDC releasing footage and photos obtained by an anonymous source at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation in St. Andre-Avellin Quebec (Pasture to Plate)

Also note the increased interest in horse slaughter search terms as a result of the horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU (January – March 2013)

Currently we see that horse slaughter as a keyword search appears to be tapering off in 2013 and 2014 YTD, perhaps due to the cessation of slaughter in the US, the subsiding interest in the horse meat adulteration in Great Britain, and the failure of the anti-slaughter bills in Canada.  At the present time,  interest in “horse slaughter” as a keyword appears to be in decline relative to the heightened activity from 2006 – early 2013.

 

 

The Flower Of Remembrance…….

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Remembrance Day2-5

Written by:  Catherine Sampson – Trillium Equine Complex

THE POPPY SYMBOL MADE FAMOUS BY DR. JOHN MCCRAE’S poem “In Flanders Fields” was written as he sat on the step of a horse drawn ambulance wagon after performing a burial service for his good friend and former student, 22 year old Alexis Helmer.  Helmer died the previous day during the Second Battle of Ypres. Dr. McCrae, the Canadian soldier and surgeon whose love of animals and his dedication to medicine, evokes strong emotion from those words written so long ago on the battlefield while honouring the sacrifice of his fallen friend.

Dr. McCrae was born in Guelph, Ontario on November 30, 1872 and served in the Second Boer War in South Africa and subsequently World War I. His letters home to nieces and nephews were signed using his faithful mount’s hoof print and written in his horse’s name. Bonfire, the grand chestnut, carried him throughout the war; a gift to Dr. McCrae by his friend John Todd.

John McCrae died on January 28, 1918 from a combination of pneumonia and meningitis. His funeral was led by his steed Bonfire in the traditional manner of fallen mounted soldiers. Dr. McCrae’s boots were placed in the stirrups backwards.

So next time you place that poppy on your lapel, think of John McCrae whose poem inspired its symbol of remembrance worldwide.

*Of interest, read the story of Bonfire in the book “Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman” by Susan Raby-Dunne

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields 

When Animal Advocates Fall Victim To Disinformation….

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hoaxWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Twice within a few days, the otherwise exemplary Facebook advocacy group “In Defense of Animals” succumbed to sensationalism and posted two articles sourced from satirical websites believing them to be factual. The Empire News article, which saw over 2,000 shares on the IDA Facebook page, claimed that “the gambling industry has been quietly seeking a controversial betting offshoot – legalized and industry regulated dog fighting.” Of course this is carefully tailored nonsense since dog-fighting is a felony across the United States. Wonkette is a online magazine of topical satire and political gossip, and the IDA mistakenly posted this article entitled “The National Rifle Association Paves The Way For Dogs and Cats To Be Eaten.” The article actually discusses the NRAs vested interest in the continuation of pigeon shoots, which is true, but they add a layer of falsity to their writing by suggesting that the failure of House Bill 1750, which opposes dog/cat consumption as well as pigeon shoots, now paves the way to eating these animals, courtesy of the NRA. The Wonkette article was not really wrong, but it rather stretched the truth until it was elliptical. There are so many credible descriptive sources of information that could have been used to highlight the fact that the extremist NRA came out in full force against the Bill, which sought to stop birds from being launched out of traps in front of awaiting shooters.

In Defense of Animals finally took down the Empire News post about dog fighting, but it was up for at least 12 hours, during which time thousands of posts were publish it on the webmade by outraged people who were planning to start petitions and cancel travel plans to Vegas. Unfortunately, IDA did not issue a retraction or clarification for either article, which means that some, if not most of  these people, will be left with the belief that dogs and cats are about to be put on the menu in Pennsylvania and that dog fighting is imminent in Las Vegas.

Had these topics not been so serious, the internet would have erupted in laughter. But instead, some of the 270,000 followers of the IDA page erupted in sheer rage or utter sadness. The dog fighting article was not remotely funny, certainly not in a way that The Onion is funny, and was easily mistaken for an actual news article. With such a huge number of followers, the group had a duty to fact-check articles from unknown or relatively unknown sources. Even more aggravating is the fact that some people posted to IDAs timeline imploring them to remove the dog fighting story, and instead saw their posts removed while the sharing continued without abatement, making it appear as though the IDA was engaged in some sort of traffic grab.

Both Wonkette and Empire News (among other satirical sites) are loaded with click-bait generating links and stories that suck in those persons with a keen immunity to irony. I’ve occasionally been caught forwarding some of these articles, albeit rarely, but I don’t feel so badly (and others shouldn’t either) when we find out that The Washington Post fell for a report that Sarah Palin was joining Al Jazeera America. How many people were taken in by an article reported via The National Report: America’s #1 Independent News Team, (sounds official,  right?) that Cliven Bundy is being considered as a GOP candidate for president in 2016? And if you see an article claiming North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was pronounced the “sexiest man alive” you would probably question the source, amirite?

instructions for internet useThe imitation of The Onion, The Daily Show, or The Colbert Report has spawned a legion of poor facsimiles – websites which are devoid of entertainment value or are even harmful as we’ve just seen. Most of these websites are stuffed with high trending keywords associated with current news stories. The way they make money is all in the headlines— they’re designed to be inflammatory but just believable enough to entice readers to click on them and share them without thinking too much about the content. Some of these satirical sites also publish real news alongside outright fabrications, which has the obvious effect of making all their stories seem real, thus confusing the reader. The internet’s viral bullshit culture actually rewards the creators of these bogus articles if they have an ad-saturated website, which most do. But would you repeat a story you heard from a random person on the subway without independently corroborating it elsewhere?

To avoid becoming a victim of satire news, be sure to read the “about” section of the news site you’re visiting. Or check out the comprehensive list of satirical news sites on Wikipedia. Both Empire News and Wonkette make such acknowledgements on their websites, probably for legal reasons. Sadly these disclaimers were missed and the posts in question negatively impacted the reputation of the group who are on the front lines trying to make the world a better place for animals.

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of animals by raising the status of animals beyond that of mere property, and by defending their rights, welfare and habitat. IDA’s efforts include educational events, cruelty investigations, boycotts, grassroots activism, and hands-on rescue through sanctuaries in Mississippi and Cameroon, Africa.

IDA India - displaced rescue dogs

Pictured here are well-disciplined rescue dogs at In Defense of Animals (India) at meal time.

 

Slippery Is The Slope: A Reader And I Debate The Ethics of Horseback Riding

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dressageOnce in a while I get a response to a blog post that really merits its own stand-alone blog. Lauren sent me a response to my blog addressing the ethics of horseback riding, and while she doesn’t agree with my conclusion, I think she raises some interesting points and introduces several new arguments. So I wanted to present her post, which she took a lot of time to compose, along with my rebuttal arguments.

LAUREN’S POST:

“This is long so please bare with me:

Hi Heather, my name is Lauren and I came across your blog post today while doing some research. I am a soon-to-be graduate of Purdue University, am a vegetarian for multiple reasons, and rode horses for 15 years before changing my entire viewpoint on riding.

I have ridden in both English and Western disciplines and was once a rated member of the United States Pony Club. I have raced barrels, hacked Saddlebreds, ridden in Western pleasure classes, ridden trails, competed in dressage, and jumped cross-country. I have probably ridden over 100 horses (I am not joking) from ponies to ex-racehorses. I have also had many different riding instructors over the years including so-called professional riders. I used to attend the Rolex Three Day event in Kentucky every Spring and thought that somehow my poor (seriously) self would find an opportunity to become a professional eventer with some off-the-track-Thoroughbred I’d bought for $300. Then one day I literally walked away from it all and I have not looked back since.

Eventing extremes

The cross country portion of the “triathlon” is the most extreme equestrian sport, pushing horses and riders often beyond their physical and mental limits.

Last September, I saw an article pop up on my Facebook about the organizers of a three day event changing part of a cross-country course half way through the order-of-go. Apparently many of the horses and riders had been having problems at particular jumps due to poor weather conditions. So I posted the article to my feed with a statement that this was unfair because most of the professional riders at the event were at the end of the running order and would now be riding a different if not easier course than the novice riders that went before them. I got some backlash from fellow riders who said the organizers were correct to look out for the “safety” of the other riders once they realized there were too many problems. I insisted that this still wasn’t fair because the riders at the end were more experienced and should know how to “handle” the poor conditions. Still, there were arguments that this change of course was proper for safety. A little angered, this time I pointed out that the whole sport of eventing is dangerous and horses can die. They do die. I was at Rolex just across the field in 2008 when Lainey Ashker’s Frodo Baggins went down over the now-infamous Flower Basket jump. Horses die in this sport all the time and yet we never once ask the horse if he’d rather not go out there and risk his neck for it.

Britain Grand National Jumps Racing

Jumps Racing is obviously reckless with multiple horse and rider fatalities every year.

So I began to think about this some more. I’m no physicist, but I realized that any time a mistake is made at a jump it is always the rider’s fault. This is due to the fact that the horse is in no way “designed” to carry a rider (living organisms do not have a defined purpose and neither do their parts; see Diamond v. Chakrabarty which alludes to this legally, and check out the NIH’s stance on this). Any minimal shift in the rider’s weight (which is going to happen), shift of the tack (which is also going to happen) or otherwise (a random act of nature, i.e. shifting of wind or terrain) can and will throw the horse off-balance. In addition, any perceived “wrong” move taken by the horse in response to the shifting of his balance or active response to shifts in the rider’s weight are often punished by use of the crop and/or spurs. Typically, what the horse is really doing is making an active judgment of the situation to account for rider error (i.e. the shifting of the rider’s weight). Again, I don’t have science to back me up here, but I would hypothesize that the movement the horse would make on a cross-country course, such as an approach to a jump, would almost always be different from the movements made by the horse with a rider on its back. To complete the example, if you have a horse and rider approach a jump and he suddenly refuses or lunges to the side to go around the jump, he has made a judgment call that he could not safely make the effort without injuring himself. And for this the horse often receives a whack with the whip, a jab of the rider’s spurs, and/or a nasty yank of the reins. The horse made an effort to protect himself – to survive – and he received punishment.

I don’t believe any horse on this planet would go out and run an XC course of his own accord in the absence of a rider. Horses can certainly jump, but I would like to think that they do so out of necessity rather than finding joy in it (I’m not talking about a horse jumping a random log in the middle of the field on his gallop back to the barn for evening chow, which is still technically necessity anyway – jumping the log might be the fastest way to the barn). I know horses a little bit and I had ridden them for many years – I just don’t think they would jump an entire cross-country course without the guidance of a rider for what humans call “fun.”

bounding out of the gate

An average of 24 racehorse deaths every year in the US – approximately 2,000 horses break-down and have to be vanned-off at tracks.

Further, if these event riders have such great partnerships with their horses, why exactly do they need whips, spurs, and/or bits? Some go “nice in a snaffle,” but I’ve seen gags, pelhams, and elevators on the cross-country horse, as well as different lengths of spurs on the rider’s boots and different types of crops in the rider’s hands. I have been to many upper level and lower level cross-country events and at least once I have seen a rider “get rough” with these “aids” in some manner. It isn’t acceptable. We could argue about “good” contact all day, but my question still stands: what are the spurs, whips/crops, and bits for if you have such a good partnership with your horse?

Why would you ever need those things to “communicate” “jump this massive fence at a gallop with me on your back?” Perhaps it’s because in the absence of these “aids” the horse would have a much easier time of saying “no” and there goes the “connection” between man and horse.

I watched the video and read the Tumblr entry you discussed in your post. Based on the definition of “vegan,” a person who follows this philosophy does not consume any animal products for any reason in any manner whether that is strictly for ethical, health, or other reasons. Hence, riding is not vegan because a human being would be taking something from the horse (energy, a place to sit, engaging the horse as a vehicle for transportation, etc.) and the horse rarely gets anything positive from the experience of being ridden. The viewpoint is clear and there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it either. If there is something inherently wrong with not riding a horse because it is unnecessary or unethical or whatever, please enlighten me.

I am not vegan and though I do not ride anymore for the reason that it is harmful to the horse’s well-being, believe me when I say I miss riding horses. I grew up riding and it is something that’s ingrained in my soul for better or for worse. But I have learned that to ride a horse is selfish on my part. I don’t need to ride a horse for any other reason than enjoyment. And when there is overwhelming research to show that riding can harm the horse physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically what reason is there that justifies riding? I do not believe that the research snippets in the video are incorrect even if they may need some more fleshing-out and additional research.

I am vegetarian and I do not necessarily equate not eating meat with not riding. However, I think that equestrian competition is exploitation of the horse for human gain at the cost of prohibiting the horse from expressing free will to not participate (and not be punished for the refusal). Competition impacts the horse negatively in many respects and should not be supported. Absolutely any equestrian competition is harmful to the horse.

British Eventing Horsetrials

There should never be a situation where, if a fence is not ridden or jumped perfectly, the horse does a rotational fall.

Let me take your pet or dog ownership thoughts into account as well. So we say our animals love us, yeah? So same thing as above with the spurs, whips and bits on horses, why do we need leashes and collars for dogs? (I would concede that typically the leash and collar aren’t used in the same manner as the bit and spurs, but that they can be used with severity.) If humans had true partnerships with their dogs (and some do) then we shouldn’t need leashes or collars. When you get down to the bare minimum of the uses for the items used on a horse and the items used on a dog they are each used in a manner consistent with control of the animal. The leash and collar keep the dog from running off and the bit, whip and spurs force the horse to do our bidding when we get on his back.

Further, just because horses could carry 25% of their bodyweight on their back (by what study by the way?) does not mean it is designed to do so. Again, living beings are not designed for a purpose. Do you even know exactly why you exist on earth? I can’t even pretend to know that. Studies have also shown that when a horse bares a rider on its back for more than 15 minutes of work this can cause the horse immediate soft tissue damage and pain. If you know of a study that cleanly refutes this please post it. Please refer to the Nevzorov Haute Ecole’s website for information on the study I noted here.

While “going for a trail ride” hardly sounds like abuse, if the horse doesn’t have a choice in the matter then this doesn’t make it ok. Just because you don’t think you’re harming the horse does not mean that you aren’t. If you love and cherish your horse why would you take this risk?

In the “death to carnism” blog, the author does not advocate turning horses loose in the wild. The author states that this would be irresponsible. That is another discussion for another time as well.

You’re right about humans harming other animals no matter what considering the world we live in, but this is not a free pass to just hop on a horse and ride it. That’s a hypocritical point Cavalia Odysseo Horseof view. If you know you are harming the horse, why would you ride it? If you don’t know, you shouldn’t ride, and you should study-up.

Just because PETA thinks it’s ok to ride horses does not make it suddenly ok to do so. This organization has been discredited on many fronts for many different reasons. Take a look at this Huffington Post opinion piece from 2013 if you are certain you support them: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-j-winograd/peta-kills-puppies-kittens_b_2979220.html. (I am not saying they are entirely horrible because I really just don’t know. But I’m willing to bet since the Huffington Post still has this up on their website they haven’t lost a lawsuit on facts.)

Finally, if we humans must abide by “consent,” as in, “no, means no,” but we do not afford this to other animals for one reason or another than as humans we are taking a step backwards. No one being is superior to others – they all need to exist for this planet to be whole. In addition, though I am not a representative for Alexander Nevzorov’s Haute Ecole, I understand that while he did ride horses for a while he did so without the use of any restraint of the horse’s head. Since that time he has expressed that he feels riding is unethical altogether and does not teach riding or condone it. Instead he teaches a way to have a meaningful relationship with the horse on the ground without pain or force at all.”

Tack room for the lippizaners 2MY RESPONSE:

First I think we need to define what veganism is – the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products. Some vegans have taken to extending their philosophy in all manner of ways in which the originator cannot have foreseen.  I can’t imagine how we can consider the “energy” of a horse as a product of that animal unless that is what one understands to be covered by “ethical veganism.” Vegetarians on the other hand, still consume some animals products, including dairy, eggs, cheese, gelatin, honey, etc. I have to say honestly that I am baffled as to why taking “energy” from a horse seems to be so objectionable to you while consuming dairy or eggs is apparently less so. The demand for dairy has very tangible effects on the cows and calves in that industry, and chickens suffer immensely to produce eggs, much more easily measurable and quantifiable than any presumptive abuse to horses resulting  from conventional riding.

I do want to affirm a lot of what you’ve written about various horse sports being cruel or inhumane to horses. I do agree that the cross-country phase of eventing at both the international level or at Pony Club are highly dangerous, along with other “sports” such as racing, rodeo, chuckwagon races, jumps racing, and numerous cultural events are all either blatantly cruel to horses or stretch them beyond their reasonable capabilities. I wrote more about the broad abuses of horses in another blog post.  Cross-country courses challenge horses with drop fences, where the horse can’t anticipate that he has to leap straight down, and water jumps compel horses to jump then while not knowing the depth. Until recently, obstacles did not break-away, causing serious falls and injuries (if not death) to both horse and rider. Courses are, IMO far too long and even when horses are matched to an ideal course, they can only run and jump for so long before they are exhausted or injured. Any event where you have significantly less than 100% of the participants fail to complete a course is too strenuous and risky.

We know that not all high-level riders in all disciplines ride with empathy, as shown in the following video:

I don’t agree with you that whenever a mistake is made on a course it is rider’s error. Even a correctly balanced rider’s weight causes the horse to strain to overcome gravity. The horse needs greater impulsion to clear the weight over the fence, possibly over-extending himself on the other side of the jump. A tired horse builds up lactic acid in his muscles and is more likely to sustain injury. Horses can also dehydrate and tie-up even with the most competent riders. I did actually link to a study in the original blog post that concluded that healthy, fit horses could comfortably carry up to 25% of their body weight (saddle and rider) which supports my contention that horses are not physically compromised by the weight of most riders. The ability of an animal to lift weight (whether ant, cockroach, or horse) is determined by the relationship between surface area and body mass. Ants can also lift 50 times their own weight even though they might not need to. Obviously, other factors to consider in matching the horse to the sport are size and weight, condition, fitness, conformation, attitude, ability of a saddle to distribute weight properly, ability and weight of the rider, distance travelled while riding, type of terrain, and temperature/weather conditions.

lipizzaner in stall with marble basinWhips, spurs and bits are not automatically torturous. I don’t use spurs and I don’t think most riders do either.  I don’t use a whip except in driving where it must be carried in case the horse backs up into a hazard such as a car, child, or edge or a ravine. The driving whip is used to take the place of the leg aid and is used to signal that a bend is asked for or a change of direction is forthcoming. The floppy end of a driving whip taps the horse with the same pressure as flicking a shoelace on your arm. And if you’re going to have a bit there is a range that are considered good and humane by most riders and clinicians. I don’t believe that halters cause a horse any pain. Most higher level dressage riders use spurs subtly, but their use by less skilled riders is apt to be punitive or abusive.

You claim that there is overwhelming research that riding harms horses “physically, physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and/or psychologically?” You didn’t provide any evidence for this to prove your point. I have seen some vegan sites post a link to research that consisted of evaluating a horse’s back for Kissing Spine, otherwise known as impinging spinal processes in the back, which is largely congenital. One vegan blogger cited it as a condition she assumed was directly caused by riding. I tried to correct the assumption, but it seems she was too cowardly to moderate my post. Impinging spinal processes need to be evaluated to determine whether a horse can be ridden, and as you know, horses will absolutely tell you when they are in pain.

Humans are self-legislative, morally autonomous beings. It does not follow from this that we are morally free to do anything we please to animals. However, if we required permission from Cavalia carouselan animal to take any action on their behalf then we could not spay or neuter them, walk them on leashes for their own safety, nor could we anaesthetize them to clean their teeth, vaccinate them, keep them on leashes safe from traffic, trim their hooves, or euthanize them when terminally ill. If we choose not to do any of these things because we don’t have permission, then we’re missing the point of being ethical and compassionate human beings.

Alexander Nevzorov is simply another clinician, one who has attracted a cult following. Quite frankly, he makes my head explode. Because he has attracted extremists, he thrives in that environment and turns off people who are interested in his methods but not the extremist attitude. He and his followers won’t allow discussion of other methods. He is in favour of abolishing equine use (and equines) period. There are a number of other things that Nevzorov is also quite strident about that do not fit with my concept of good and ethical horse welfare. His videos depict all the worst aspects of riding that many horse people would like to abolish – racing, rollkur, over-horsed riders balancing themselves on the bit, sometimes with nervous, perhaps improperly trained horses, rodeo, etc. The videos imply that this is the norm.

Nevzorov and his wife are even opposed to improvements in horse sport because to them it means they won’t be able to abolish it as soon as they would like. This is rather comparable to being opposed to the discontinuation of gestation crates for pigs while waiting and hoping that people will stop eating meat. They are opposed to the use of the Dr. Cook bitless bridle. They also have no interest in rescuing horses, possibly since they feel that the sooner horses become extinct as a species, the better. They are opposed to any breeding of horses at all, which again means in their world the domesticated horse is an extinct horse.

You make the assumption that before he stopped riding horses he rode without confining the horse’s head with a bridle. This is not true. Nevzorov rode horses in the traditional manner with saddle and double bridle. There are numerous pictures of him on the web using traditional horse tack which often included whip and spurs. What most of his followers don’t know is that the horses you see him performing with were all trained traditionally under saddle and with a double bridle, whip, and spurs.   If he can accomplish the same level of training with a totally green horse and without resorting to any other methods but what he’s condoning now, I’d be impressed. While I agree with many of his statements about whips, harsh bits, rough handling, etc. he claims to have taught his horses to understand Latin (which is really a written rather than spoken language). This is crackpottery of the highest order.

Horse with RibbonsFew if any people will listen to him and quit riding horses to work exclusively in hand with them. No one will pay to board a horse only to walk it on a lead, thinking they can teach it Latin. No one is going to build an arena and house horses in it to watch them self-collect. Amazingly though, Nevzorov, his wife and their followers all believe that the equine industry would continue on and develop in the same way, but with non-ridden horses. He also claims that it is “legally acceptable to claim moral damage which is caused to children, who’s mental health is endangered while participating in “sport activities” which considers the cruel treatment of a living being to be normal.”

PeTA’s endorsement of horse riding is relevant since they are probably the most radical of the major animal rights/welfare groups (ASPCA/HSUS/MFA etc). Some of Nathan Winograd’s Huffington Post pieces have been shared over 100,000 times by many people who never question the veracity of his claims about PeTA. The “PeTA Kills Animals” phenomenon was a hoax perpetrated by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a deceitful outfit that protects the interests of animal enterprise industries. They created the hoax to mitigate PeTA’s impact on their meat and biomedical industry clients’ profit margins. Not so admirably, others have jumped on the “PeTA Kills Animals” bandwagon to mitigate that organization’s impact on their agendas. Nathan Winograd falls into this category. Rather than address head-on PeTA’s concerns about dangerous and ineffective “No Kill” initiatives, Winograd uses the “PeTA Kills Animals” meme to change the conversation. Unfortunately, for animals in many “No Kill” shelters and rescues, PeTA’s concerns that the “No Kill” movement is causing them harm appear to be valid.

Nezvorov

Alexander Nevzorov back in the day when he rode horses, using a bridle, dressage crop, and spurs.

The “Why PeTA Euthanizes” website has compiled detailed information on PeTA euthanization and exposes Nathan Winograd as someone who takes liberty with the truth. Indeed, Winograd spends far more time critiquing other animal welfare organizations than he does in promoting No Kill. It’s a fact that nearly every animal PeTA has euthanized was admitted into their care by their owner. Virginia (home of PeTA’s shelter) shelter stats are public information. PETA’s shelter reporting data is freely available online, despite Winograd’s classification of these records as “secret.” This shelter is one of last resort and they offer no-cost euthanasia in the impoverished area their shelter serves. This video, produced by PETA last year, goes into quite some detail about the animals they served in their shelter in 2013. Mary Tully, the curator of the “Why PeTA Euthanizes,” site, writes:

“The small, hands-on facility at PeTA’s Norfolk headquarters isn’t a traditional animal shelter, but by comparing it to one, PeTA’s detractors are able to make it seem like PeTA’s euthanasia “numbers” are very high and somehow very bad. PeTA’s shelter operates for the primary purpose of providing no-cost, humane, veterinarian-supervised, medical euthanasia to suffering community animals who require it. This service is offered on an emergency on-call basis only, and it’s not advertised in any way.

PeTA’s Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services animal reporting data and shelter inspection reports confirm that nearly every animal PeTA receives for euthanasia is received from his or her guardian for this service. There is no indication that these guardians aren’t acting in their animals’ best interests by requesting this service from PeTA’s shelter, or that it’s in any of their best interests not to be immediately euthanized.

Though Virginia veterinarians may offer the service of owner-requested euthanasia to the public, the fees are simply out of reach for many Hampton Roads citizens. The average cost of veterinarian-provided euthanasia in the area, as of this writing, is $25 per pound of animal body weight, not including additional costs for cremation services. Affordable Veterinarian Services of Virginia’s fees start at $295 for the procedure itself, with an additional fee of $132 for their cremation service.

Prince Harry excessive spur use

Polo is another extreme sport – here, Prince Harry draws blood with his spurs.

Virginia’s State Veterinarian, Dr. Dan Kovich, DVM, MPH, acknowledged the gap, during our recent interview. “There are several communities that are underserved by veterinarians, or don’t have access to a veterinarian at all,” Kovich stated. “Shelters that offer owner-requested euthanasia are providing a valuable service to the community,” he further explained.

Most of PeTA’s community work involves helping to improve the quality of life for outdoor dogs and keeping community animals who are in good homes, in those good homes. PeTA served over 6,000 outdoor dogs last year in ways that were meaningful to them. Because PeTA never takes custody of those animals, they aren’t accounted for in their state animal reporting data. Neither are the over 11,000 community animals PeTA spayed and neutered last year in their free and low-cost mobile clinics. PeTA served over 17,000 animals in 2013 who went on to have happy, healthy lives, but because they don’t appear on the animal reporting summaries, they’re unfairly absent from conversations about the work PeTA does.”

Winograd was so deceptive in his HuffPo articles on PeTA, that he was served with a Cease and Desist letter. Similarly, another Huff Po Blogger who wrote extensively and critically of PeTA, Douglas giant shire horsesAnthony Cooper, also acknowledges receiving a C&D. PeTA also took action against posters hiding behind anonymous profiles libelling them on HuffPo, which may have contributed to HuffPo’s decision to abandon anonymous commenting on their site in favour of the Facebook social plug-in. In short, there is little reliable information about PeTAs practices to be found on the Huffington Post at all.

So Lauren,  my belief is that one should ride lightly, cue as lightly as possible, less is more, and critical thinking needs to be employed when reading these articles. When people specialize in extremism, they expend massive energy in conflict with other groups who are quite close to their ethical position: they are fighting over the little things, and losing the battle against the rest of the world. This is true for both Nevzorov and Winograd. I don’t know about Nevzorov,  but try politely disagreeing with Winograd on his Facebook page and he will lecture and then ban you immediately.  That’s one reason Parelli and Rashid and other clinicians are so successful – we may not like all of their teachings but they preach to the middle of the roadists. Whoever captures the middle ground will have the greatest support base and opportunity to improve conditions for horses. The extreme groups are left to fight over the margins. Nevzorov and Winograd both have valid points, but I’m not interested in personality cults.

Cheers,  He@ther

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

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red tape

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

CFIA Media Relations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 12, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 17, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 3, 2014There is no response from CFIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please sign the Mercy for Animals petition.

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

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

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declawing2

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

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

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

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

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

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

Bowmanville zoo declaw

Bread and circuses…

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

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

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

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

"nicholas wilvert"

 

 

 

In Memoriam: The Renowned Windfields Farm

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Northern Dancer Monument

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

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

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

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

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

Graves and new stallion barn

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

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

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

Overview of Graves

Not eerie, but very nostalgic…

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

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

The Northern Dancer Cemetery

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

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

 

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

Arena Gate and clock

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

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

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

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

Arena

Arena/Breeding Shed

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

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

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

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

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

arena breeding shed

Inside of abandoned Arena

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barn 2

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

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

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

Barn 6

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

The New Stallion Barn

New stallion barn

New Stallion Barn

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

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

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

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

Band Brand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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