Today’s rock bottom Bill DesBarres moment is brought to you the letters “B and S.” Yes, since this is a post about DesBarres there is always going to be some conventional “BS” involved, but coincidentally or not, that’s the name given to Bill’s appaloosa breeding operation in Alberta – “BS Appaloosa Partners. “ Looking at this page is like looking at the interwebs circa 1995 via the Wayback Machine – it’s that outdated. Bill asks “where did 2008 go?” I too can’t believe it has come and gone. So have 2009, 2010, and 2011.
I know nothing about appy lines, but Bill is probably another one of those breeders who needs a “floor” in order to move his merchandise. Oh wait, we in Canada have a “floor,” and the current meat prices at OLEX (Ontario Livestock Exchange) the week this blog post was written varied from $.05 per pound to $.58 per pound. So that means your average 1,000 lb horse is currently selling for anywhere from $50 to $580.
If you’re selling a horse you bred for less than $1,000, you’re probably not recovering what you spent on breeding and raising that horse to a young age, excluding any training you’ve put on your animal, and therefore your “operation” is unsustainable. Pro-slaughter proponents in the US conveniently forget that everything costs more in Canada too – it costs more to produce, pay for supplies, pay for veterinary services, etc. Few breeders calculate in advance what it will cost them to breed and raise a yearling. As a result, even yearlings are often sold at a substantial loss or, at best, at a very modest profit. So while this will give you some beer money for the short term, it hardly represents this “wonderful option” Bill keeps regurgitating for our listening and reading pleasure.
Anyway, circling back to DesBarres – that same Equine Resource publication that was the focus of the previous blog has
offered up an article on the slaughter debate deeper within the magazine. In this article, Bill makes it seem as though happy horses trot directly into the slaughterhouse, all while complaining that the influx of American horses is hurting our meat prices due to oversupply. Now while more horses were slaughtered in Canada since the cessation of slaughter in the US, we have to ask – has the price for horses gone up? Have irresponsible owners, animal cruelty, or abandonment disappeared? And most importantly, have the prices for Bill’s appys also gone up during that time? We know he slaughters them too, because he told us so in the Spooning and Forking radio show.
He claims that a result of the US ban, more Canadians are eating horsemeat, which is available in specialty stores. Of course this is just something he pulled out of the air, since he doesn’t offer any independent source for his claims – why would Canadians eat more horsemeat BECAUSE OF the cessation of slaughter in the US?. Bill, you’ve got some s’plaining to do here. The vast majority of Canadians don’t consume horsemeat anyway – it’s a regional specialty in Quebec and some other small markets. He’s also butt-hurt since some of the major chain stores in Canada also attempted to provide horsemeat but were discouraged from continuing due to the reaction from the animal activist element. What about the consumers at the stores? Is there a chance they just weren’t interested in eating horses? Gotta blame everything on activists though.
I’m tired of Bill DesBarres attempting to demonize welfare advocates anyway. Most people who advocate for animals aren’t actually “activists” as he claims. Activism is associated with taking a vigorous stand, and surely Bill and Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis would like to convince everyone that activists are also anarchists. This is not the roll of most activists, and generally most people would describe activisim of any sort as being synonymous with positive attributes rather than lawlessness. Without activism, many people would have lost their rights or been marginalized; as it is there are not enough activists to uphold all of our current rights. As a testament to his paranoia, Bill has his Linkedin profile locked down tight to avoid all those animal activists getting any classified info out of it. I guess he wouldn’t accept my invitation to connect either. No worries, he’s only got two connections, one is probably Sue Wallis and the other is Olivier Kemseke. Rather surprising for someone involved in an “international” equine business association. So that you don’t all rush to look at Bill’s profile and overwhelm him into believing that the animal activists are storming the LinkedIn castle, I’ve included a snapshot of it here.
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. Alex Atamanenko, MP for BC Southern Interior, and author of Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada, has said that “It is irresponsible for Canada to allow the sale of meat from horses as a food item when they have never been raised in accordance with the food safety practices required for all other animals.”
Bill DesBarres never mentions drugs in this article. Why would he? Both he and Sue Wallis don’t want anything to impinge on their slaughter empire. In the article, Bill writes that:
- “The slaughter business for the purpose of producing meat for human consumption has been subject to increasing regulations, scrutiny, technical development, improved humane handling, and increased logistical costs since the commencement of the industry.”
In practice however, little of this is enforced, so as to make DesBarres claims almost meaningless. The Federal Health of Animals Act is not enforced, which would protect sick, pregnant and unfit horses, and prohibit overcrowding; the Recommended Code of Practice for Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation of Horses. is not enforced. The CFIA does not enforce their own weak rules that slaughter bound horses must not be transported for longer than 36 hours straight and must be provided with feed, water and rest at required intervals. Double-decker trailers are still allowed in Canada. Horses are shipped in crowded trailers over long distances, and often arrive injured, sometimes fatally. Horses, unlike most livestock, do not travel well. So, suffice it to say, they don’t always respond well when being transported from kill auctions in the U.S. to federally licensed slaughterhouses in Quebec and Alberta. Since 2007, inspectors have been banned from the kill floor for their own safety, since the adoption of firearms has been implemented to stun animals, so their role is basically an administrative one now. So how could inspectors intervene when humane incidents have occurred, as revealed by a CBC probe?
I am sure most readers of this blog and other writings on abuse of horses in slaughterhouses have been made aware of the
undercover investigations inside horse slaughterhouses in Canada, revealing serious food safety and horse welfare concerns. These GRAPHIC videos all prove that the requirements set out by the government for food safety and horse welfare ALL failed disgracefully. This raises several concerns:
- Has the worker who stuns horses multiple times in these videos received proper training to render the horses insensible?
- If he is properly trained and using these international humane assessments then has the employee realized that he needs to administer one or several more stuns to achieve the correct degree of unconsciousness that he has been trained to look for?
- If this is the case, it would strongly suggest that there is a problem with the captive bolt gun or this method is not meeting international humane standards.
- If he has been trained properly to administer the stun and the horse is indeed unconscious then does he just continues to stun the already unconscious horse for some sort of personal pleasure?
None of these scenarios are acceptable, and the position of the camera has no relevance, as claimed by the CFIA. It is quite clear that horses are stunned more than once with one horse stunned ELEVEN times making this facility NON-COMPLIANT, no matter what angle you view it from.
DesBarres also offers this:
- “In 2011, the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) introduced the first industry audit for horse processing plants. The meat industry is subject to audits by the government for food safety, humane transport and handling, and audits by buyers to assure product quality for their customers. “
I’ve never heard of this audit, and he doesn’t tell us where it can be found either. Is this really the first industry audit? If so, I have to ask what the $^@)%*& has the CFIA being doing before DesBarres came up with his own document? More importantly, who, if anyone, is using it? The CFIA do have their own audits, which don’t seem to accomplish anything, although recently they acted responsibly by playing a role in admonishing a kill buyer from the US who sent a Phenylbutazone/Clenbuterol contaminated horse through the food supply. Doesn’t matter, because the reality is that the humanity of slaughter and transport haven’t improved. To me, it’s like asking if you can create a more humane rape, as a transition to “humane rape” (please no one write that I’m trivializing rape either). There is quite a bit of evidence available that refutes these naive claims.
European Union inspectors will be coming to Canada for an audit of horsemeat facilities if they have not already come and gone. They will be primarily concerned with dangerous levels of Phenylbutazone (PBZ/Bute), an anti-inflammatory commonly used for pain relief on horses, which has shown up in a series of tests over a five-year period. Phenylbutazone is of course banned from use in animals intended for human consumption in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and the EU. The drug is referenced in the CFIA’s E.5 List of Veterinary Drugs Not Permitted For Use in Equine Slaughtered for Food with Canadian Brand Name Examples (10 March, 2010). All of the products listed carry an indication for use in equine (but not equine intended to be slaughtered for food).
Of course, that hasn’t stopped Canada from exporting it and relying on the EU to catch our testing errors and omissions. Additionally, a recent Toronto Star Investigation revealed that:
“A 2010 U.S. study on animals sent to slaughter found the presence of a particularly troubling drug commonly administered to horses — Phenylbutazone (PBZ), an anti-inflammatory used for pain relief. The drug is banned for human consumption by the U.S., Canada, U.K. and European Union because of documented health hazards, sometimes fatal, including a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells and a condition that triggers chronic bacterial infections. The study’s researchers found 9,000 pounds of meat from horses “with known exposure to PBZ sent for human consumption over the five-year study period.”
“There appears to be inadequate testing to ensure that horses given banned substances such as PBZ do not enter the slaughter pipeline,” the study concludes. “The lack of oversight to prevent horses given PBZ from being sent to slaughter for human consumption … indicates a serious gap in food safety and constitutes a significant public health risk.”’ The EU also confirms that even a miniscule amount of the metabolites of PBZ can cause disease, including aplastic anemia - I wonder how HWAC’s “audit” deals with the shipping of drug-laden horsemeat to the EU?
There is no disputing the fact that horses are purchased at auction and often end up at slaughter with in a week’s time, many direct from race tracks. The race horse industry spends upwards of $50 million dollars a year to ensure horses are not over the accepted drug limits on race day the same way they do with human athletes. It is well known that race horses receive drugs banned from the human food chain, including Phenylbutazone, Viagra, Lasix, and even “frog juice” – Dermorphin. Why is the Canadian government risking the health of humans by accepting these horses for slaughter? Race horses can easily be identified by their lip tattoos. Yet the government turns a blind eye to this tainted meat being sold for human consumption. However, everyone else is catching up to the fact that we are shipping tainted meat.
From the article:
- “In reality, horse slaughter is an option that could potentially put an end to much abuse and neglect of horses, and solve the problem of what to do with the unwanted horse.”
Horse Welfare Organizations wonder why breed associations continue to reward millions of dollars in breed incentives each year, while refusing to use some of that money as funds for horse rescues, funds for gelding, and funds for humane euthanasia. To me, that would be a logical place to start reducing the numbers of those “unwanted horses. The public is fed up with the lack of action by those in office who could stop this. Pro-slaughters generally do not want to discuss this, as it infringes on their right to do what the hell they want. Their toolbag is full of dirty tricks, doing a total disservice instead of focusing on true solutions. They do not want to draw attention to the never-ending vicious cycle of over-breeding and they generally have no input regarding the imminent litigation due to the immoral implementation of toxic meat posing a public health risk.
Bill now winds up the article with a peppering of paranoia for anyone who isn’t yet convinced that activists are going to ban animals in Canada:
- “We are very fortunate in Canada that our citizens have the opportunity and the right to own animals”
Is he serious? Who does he think is working to remove the rights of Canadians to own animals? This is more of that “don’t infringe on my right to abuse animals” and “property rights paranoia.” Canada is a world-leader in equal rights, and I’m justifiably proud of the constitutional framework we have created to protect equality. But I’m truly embarrassed to be Canadian when it becomes apparent that we do not have the ability or desire to protect animals from abuse and cruelty. Animal cruelty elicits a strong response from most Canadians, and it is time to extend that response to the protection of Canadian and American horses, who should never be part of the food chain.
HWAC has no real horse welfare programs, if they were genuinely concerned about horse welfare, DesBarres would not try to discredit video evidence. That speaks volumes. What they and the International Equine Business Association (with Sue Wallis) ARE trying to make happen is a form of permanent identification and traceability for horses and to that end, has contracted with Animal ID Solutions Inc., a Canadian company with operations in the United States.They also plan to utilize Animal ID Solution’s Global Animal Identification Network.
Microchipping for horses was to be the next step after the EID system. The chip is supposed to integrate with other national and international traceability programs. Of course, Animal ID Solutions are going to have global contacts internationally with other RFID-type programs, which certainly suggests that the IEBA, HWAC, Equine Canada, and DesBarres have got to keep this slaughter machine moving full-speed ahead so they can take it all global and find replacement markets for the EU, if they are no longer interested in our “product” after 2013. For United Horsemen’s part, I wonder where they think they will get the money to do this? Weren’t they having trouble refunding registration fees for the cancelled Summit of the Horse and the truck raffle for a truck that never existed?
More on the topic of Equine Canada, export markets, ID programs in a subsequent blog post……..