Short Hills Deer Hunt – Remains Of The Day

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Short Hills Deer Hunt – Remains Of The Day

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos: Short Hills Wildlife Alliance

I’m not sure what enrages me the most, the MNRF’s ongoing assault on wildlife or the flagrant hypocrisy of doing it under the cover of something called either a “herd reduction” or “traditional hunt.”  The hunters and their supporters continue to make broad pronouncements and allegations about anti-hunt demonstrators when in fact all people should be free to express themselves without fear of being labelled in a derogatory fashion.  The disconnects seen in much of the reasoning by the pro-hunt cause are so enormous that it feels like climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen.  (Please note that in order to depict the visceral nature of the hunt,  photos included herein are GRAPHIC and DISTURBING).

With the 2017 hunt now concluded, the MNRF has tallied up the kill numbers for this year.  On at least one day their tally does not even agree with number counted by the police, so how transparent or honest/accurate is the reporting?  These numbers do not include the 4 deer that were found either abandoned or wounded outside the hunt zone and found dressed on private property, awaiting delivery by the MNRF to the staging area.  This year, vehicles with license plates from Quebec and even Florida were observed entering the park to kill deer.  I guess we should assume that there are no raw forests in either Quebec or Florida that can host deer hunting anywhere other than in a NO HUNT park in environmentally significant area?

 

Day 1 (November 11)  17 deer were killed – 8 male and 9 female, two of which were fawns

Day 2 (November 12)  – 6 deer were killed – 2 male and 4 female deer were killed (The Ministry refused to tell us how many were fawns)

Day 3 (November 25) – 15 deer were killed (although protesters and police counted 21 by visual confirmation)

Day 4 (November 26)  –  4 deer were killed – MNRF won’t disclose, but 6 deer were counted in a single truck

Day 5 (December 4)   MNRF won’t disclose, but 6 deer were counted in a single truck

Day 6 (December 5)   1 deer was killed

 

Unpacking the hypocrisy of the hunt and its proponents:

The hunters have long maintained that hunting in the park is a food sovereignty issue and they use all parts of the deer. So why are there so many skins, heads, and gut piles strewn throughout the park well after the hunt?  Why was a disembodied deer head shuttled in and out of the park over several days – why has the body apparently been abandoned in a food sustenance hunt? And why was a deer carcass abandoned at the foot of Swayze Falls, where it has remained for several days and is possibly still there?  For many people, the type of sporting contest apparently taking place in Short Hills (the “Big Buck Competition”) is representative of an anthropocentric philosophical perspective – the antithesis of what we are told is indigenous hunting.  Paradoxically, the taking of trophies is a product of the colonial/capitalist forces that the pro-hunt groups claim they despise.   An animal trophy reminds us, on a subliminal level, of the wealthy hunters depleting the landscapes on foreign lands in order to assert their ascendancy and control.

In another ironic exchange,  the (satirical but unintentionally accurate) Walking Eagle News makes the point that anyone taking hunting selfies puts ego over responsibility.  The number of “selfies” taken for the Big Buck Competition held in Short Hills suggests that many participants are more interested in obtaining trophies than in adhering  to “cultural traditions.” I doubt that most people who truly engage in subsistence hunting spend a lot of time on Facebook.

 

 

Once again this year, the pro-hunt camp complained that our signage is somehow racist (any kind of trigger that makes a hunt support angry or defensive is considered racist – even our last names evoke feelings of distrust, prejudice, and blame).  However,  unlike a person’s name or place of birth, beliefs can be argued for, tested, criticized, and changed. The more pugnacious hunt supporters turned their attention to our clothing – we should all expect a turn in the cage with someone from this group either online or IRL.  On this day, the supports are affronted by a protester wearing a “skull” face shield.  A complaint was received by police on the scene November 25th, asking that the protester be removed because of his attire.  Why is a face shield commonly sold in outdoor stores considered to be objectionable when worn by an anti-hunt demonstrator?   It seems perfectly acceptable however, when donned by a hunter.

 

 

The deer in the album below were found both in the park and well beyond the park boundary and buffer zone on private property, further evidence that the hunt is not safe and that boundaries simply aren’t respected.  All images are from the current 2017 hunt.  The dead deer at Swayze Falls was abandoned with an obvious hunting-related injury.  The MNRF appears to frown on the killing and abandonment of deer when it occurs in provincial parks that are not Short Hills. How many  other deer suffered and died on their own, undiscovered by anyone?

Some hunt supports have claimed that whenever injured deer are found,  it can only be due to poachers.  If so, then the poachers were hunting in the park at the same time as the Haudensaunee hunters,  in which case the MNRF is unable to effectively close the park to people who are not permitted to be there.

 

 

All photos below were captured within Short Hills Park or the Hydro corridor over several hunts.  The doe with the neatly assembled entrails and head was tracked by her blood trail from the park to the Hydro corridor.  All the rest of the entrails and various remains were found within the park on a main hiking trail about an 8 minute hike from the Wiley Rd. parking lot, a designated entrance into the park, some heavily predated by the time they were found.

To those pro-hunters who claim the remains found in the park have been “staged” by animal rights activists,  we can only ask,  where would AR activists obtain the remains of deer?  I suggest that the conspiracy-minded become acquainted with William of Ockham’s most famous quote: “With all things being equal, the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.” 

 

 

The prevailing monologue we hear about the Short Hills hunt is that it’s an issue of a right to hunt and that the hunt is based on subsistence needs/food sovereignty etc., but commentary and photos by the hunters themselves suggests otherwise.  Since the hunt began in 2013,  almost 200 deer have been killed according to the MNRF’s own records, and even if we assume that’s accurate,  it doesn’t account for deer that escaped with fatal injuries,  to die later elsewhere.   The rate of extermination of deer,  the level of depreciative use, and damage to the park during the days of the hunt is far greater than the ability of the resource to conserve itself.

The pre-ecological thinkers at the MNRF continue to take the road of junk-science in furthering their agenda – greenwashing the hunt as a “herd reduction” of “overpopulated deer,” which coats this violence with a respectable veener for public consumption. But by the Ministry’s own account not a single deer examined by the biologist during the hunt showed signs of starvation or illness, measures of overabundance.  How long do they think this NO HUNT Short Hills  Game Farm  park can sustain the killing of 30-50 deer each and every year?  Not only that, but why should any hunter anywhere have the exclusive “right” to kill any animal that the rest of society might value alive?  Killing a sentient being is the ultimate oppression, no matter what the reason or who is carrying it out.

 

“Kill Everything”

 

 

 

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Access-To-Information Docs Reveal Auctions and Feedlots are “Bad at Paperwork”

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…all horse meat producers must obtain the health and medical history – complete with information on all drugs and vaccines used – of each horse for the 180 day period before consumption.”

– standard form letter response from Conservative MPs – 2016.

Whenever I read documents obtained through an Access-To-Information request, I think the bar for this industry cannot go lower. The ATI documents included here covered all Equine Lot Inspection Audits for the years 2015-2017 year-to-date, and captured conversations between CFIA veterinarians and feedlot/auction staff.  These Lot Inspections are audits that are carried out approximately once a year, although it appears that our favourite Farmville operators, Bouvry Exports’/Prime lot is being audited more frequently. When you read the audit reports, you’ll understand why – the CFIA appears to be doing a fair bit of manual checking of their record-keeping.

It should really come as no surprise that feedlots and auctions have a perpetual struggle with the paperwork required to track horses from receipt to slaughter.  Kill buyers are bottom level feeders who travel from auction to auction picking up horses. They have no idea where these horses come from, nor do they care.  Auctions and feedlots typically will complete just enough paperwork so that can scrape by, and they’re going to fill it out in the way that it needs to be filled out so that it meets the CFIA criteria. Sometimes though, they can’t even meet the minimum standard and even the CFIA has to write them up when uncomplicated record management tasks are turned into Sisyphean clusterfucks.

So what is the Lot Program and how does it work?

The lot program is used by high volume accumulators of horses for the purpose of slaughter.  It’s really a sort of “express lane” in that these producers use a group declaration (the Lot-EID or LEID) in lieu of individual EIDs. The program requires at least a 180 day recorded history prior to slaughter. Lot inspections review the procedures maintained in Lot Programs for equine feedlots – this covers the control of EIDs (Equine Information Documents), vaccines, medications, movement of horses in and out of each lot and a few other criteria.  Please note that the lot program does not verify the health of any equines or the condition of the feedlot itself. The CFIA describes the process in more detail if you need it.

If you’re new to the horse slaughter issue, here’s a bit of history on the EID – its implementation  was announced by then-Director of the Meat Programs Division of the CFIA, Dr. Richard Arsenault, in a response letter to the European Commission on October 23, 2009.  Arsenault announced that, in order to meet EC requirements for exporting horsemeat, every equine presented for slaughter as of July 31, 2010 would be accompanied by an Equine Information Document.

Fast forward to 2014 when the European Commission’s Food and veterinary Office released an audit in 2014 that raised concerns about the tracking process.  In 2011 the same issues were raised, so you could say there’s little evidence of improvement. You can read the final reportthe response, and the CFIA proposed changes.

The audits reveal that, shockingly, Bouvry Exports/Prime Feedlot holds anywhere from 7,000 – 10,000 horses at any given time.  According to the audit reports,  a total of 52 lots of horses are sent to their deaths each year (1 lot per week).  Additionally, horses who receive any medication while on the lot are subjected to painful branding and re-branding as part of the record-keeping process.

Forms Are So Hard And Confusing!

The February 2016 audit of Bouvry’s Prime Feedlot (where the report indicated 10,000+ horses were on-hand) contained some findings flagged as “unacceptable” by the Veterinarian-in-Charge:

Finding #6 and #7 (see pages 31 and 35): – “…drug list was changed in August but not updated.  CFIA wasn’t informed.  Instead of Derapen (penicillin G Procain) which is no longer available, Biomycin is used since August 2015.  Biomycin is not authorized to be used yet.“ At the time of writing, Biomycin is not even listed on the Meat Hygiene manual for equines.  The manufacturer of Biomycin states that is has a withdrawal time of 28 days (for cattle).

Finding #20 (see page 32 and 36): – “One of the records reviewed was not transferred from daily vaccine application records (lot records) to a Lot Equine Information Document.  Fluvac vaccine application was missing.  All other records verified during the audit were accurately transcribed.”

Finding #25 (see page 33 and 36): – “No EIDS on file, none reviewed.  [Redacted] said the horse [kill] buyers did not supply any of EIDS [SIC] along with horses purchased.  This issue was discussed at the previous audit and Prime Equine Lot.”

So there were no EIDs on file for an entire lot of horses?  What happened to slaughter-bound horses without them?  There is no mention of what became of them, or whether anyone attempted to locate the missing paperwork, although I presume the horses were slaughtered anyway, no matter how laughably incomplete or non-compliant the paperwork was.

“It is the responsibility of the Lot Program management to request EIDS and verify for non-permitted drugs.”

Supplemental Export Reports for a May 2016 visit that summarizes communications with regards to an Operational Guidance protocol distributed in February 2016. (page 45-47)

Perlich Bros. Auction  gets called out for not collecting EIDs:

“[Redacted] contacted [redacted] of Perlich auction market over the phone in April 2016 (specific date unknown). The purpose of the call was explained, and [redacted] was asked about the creation of EIDs at his auction market.  [Redacted’s] response was that, while [redacted] staff were happy to handle any EIDS that are submitted with equines for sale, no effort is made to ensure that horses enter auction with complete EIDS, that is is [SIC] “not their job,” and that the responsibility for obtaining valid EIDS lies with the buying agent.  Very few are thus processed at [redacted] auction.”  At this late stage (7 years after the implementation of the EID), how is it that the incomprehensibly stubborn auction staff can give the standard disclaimer, “that’s not my department?”

CFIA resorts to googling kill buyers/plant management for follow-up information:

“On 12 April [redacted] received a list of buying agents for the Bouvry plant from [redacted] who was, at the time, a CFIA meat hygiene inspector at the plant. When contact information was requested for these individuals, so that upcoming verifications could be discussed, it was requested that an explanation/reasoning for the request be sent directly to plant management.  This was done by [redacted] on 13 April.  Having not received a response by early the next week, a Google search was conducted to find a contact number for [redacted] spoke to [redacted] over the phone on 18 or 19 April.  The potential for CFIA presence at upcoming horse auctions was discussed, as was the method with which he goes about obtaining EIDS for slaughter horses.  [Redacted] reply was that [redacted] no longer buys horses for this purpose (slaughter) at Perlich auction because of the difficulty of obtaining EIDs.  [Redacted] rather focuses on the Innisfail Auction Market (IAM) where all horses enter auction with EID unless explicitly declared by the owner that the animal is not for meat sale. There [redacted] is able to enter the ring and verify that the EID is acceptable before bidding on the horse.”

So who is “redacted” in this scenario?  Clearly there is more than one person whose name has been concealed.  Either this person is a kill buyer(s) or plant management, in which case, if they didn’t respond to the CFIA enquiry,  that’s pretty inexcusable.

“[Redacted] encouraged the CFIA to audit [redacted] activities at the IAM.”

CFIA to Bouvry – EIDs must accompany all horses to the feedlot:

“It was felt that in order to conduct the verification task correctly, the district needed to be clear on whether or not it was permissible for horses bought in Canada to enter the feedlot system without an EID…”  “The response was that unless there was some other auditable means (on file) of ensuring a history of no non-permitted substances in the horse(s) no horse without a valid EID is allowed to enter the feedlot, despite a six-month waiting period.”

The CFIA’s attempt to enforce what must seem like an unfathomable bureaucracy apparently perturbed staff at Bouvry’s, who sent an inquiry to the CFIA asking why [redacted] was “asking so many questions.” Due to the difficulties with paperwork at the Perlich auction, the CFIA discussed attending their auction on overtime and it was decided that this was not a valuable use of CFIA resources. Recommendations were passed to the Red Deer CFIA office for a vet inspector presence at Innisfail.

The confusion that continues to this day over the EID and other paperwork is evidence that inputs into the food chain are not something to be taken casually, yet that is exactly what is happening.  The doubts highlighted in these reports leave another cloud over the already sordid industry – something policymakers need to pay attention to.

Despite this, Dr. Richard Arsenault, former director of the meat programs division for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), thinks that the regulations are working“It’s extremely well respected in terms of compliance” – a statement that he has continually championed throughout the years. This is basically the same feeble confirmation that is echoed by anyone in charge of any aspect of the meat program at the CFIA. Downstream, MPs may take months before they reply to our complaints about horse slaughter, and if they do it’s usually nothing more than the standard form letter that doesn’t even address the concerns raised by the constituent.  Instead, the response parrots the same impotent reassurances put out by the CFIA.

The horse slaughter pipeline is one of the most unregulated livestock venues in North America. There is absolutely no desire or motivation on the US side to enforce EID authenticity because Americans do not eat horsemeat. There is no resolve on the Canadian side because they are importing horses for the purpose of (primarily) exporting the meat. Regulating this paperwork would cost everyone money, and no one wants to do that.

You may also download these documents here.

New ASPCA Study Examines The Availability Of Homes for Unwanted Horses in the United States

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Simply offering a horse for sale is no guarantee of finding a suitable home for that animal,  even if young and sound.  The process is even more challenging if the horse is older, untrained, or has behavioural or physical issues, or if the economy is poor.  While most shelters and rescues are likely at capacity,  a study conducted by the Research and Development/Community Outreach arm of the ASPCA found that there do appear to be untapped resources that could be called upon to re-home horses within the general public.

The question posed by the study is whether there are enough private homes to accommodate the number of unwanted American horses currently being sent to slaughter.  Using Edge Research to conduct a telephone survey, the researchers attempted to pre-qualify people who would be willing to adopt unwanted horses, determine what characteristics were required of horses to be considered “adoptable” in the respondent’s opinion, and whether potential adopters thought they had adequate resources to keep a horse. The criteria for establishing initial interest was that the respondent currently owns a horse,  has owned a horse in the past 5 years, or is interested in acquiring a horse in the near future.

From the Abstract: “Estimating the Availability of Potential Homes for Unwanted Horses in the United States”

 

“There are approximately 200,000 unwanted horses annually in the United States. This study aimed to better understand the potential homes for horses that need to be re-homed. Using an independent survey company through an Omnibus telephone (land and cell) survey, we interviewed a nationally projectable sample of 3036 adults (using both landline and cellular phone numbers) to learn of their interest and capacity to adopt a horse.

Potential adopters with interest in horses with medical and/or behavioral problems and self-assessed perceived capacity to adopt, constituted 0.92% of the total sample. Extrapolating the results of this survey using U.S. Census data, suggests there could be an estimated 1.25 million households who have both the self-reported and perceived resources and desire to house an unwanted horse. This number exceeds the estimated number of unwanted horses living each year in the United States.

This study points to opportunities and need to increase communication and support between individuals and organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with people in their community willing to adopt them.”

 

The ASPCA estimates that a more realistic, true count is more likely to be about .72 million households. Still, these numbers may not reflect an objective set of adopters though, since people often overstate or overestimate their ability or available resources to care for a horse properly, or their circumstances change after the survey.  Nevertheless, the study results suggest that new channels of communication between potential horse owners and organizations/rescues are needed to grow the horse industry by engaging new audiences and creatively promoting horse adoption.

 

Animals Without Borders

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The construction of barriers along borders is a hardly a new practice, from the Great Wall of China and Hadrian’s Wall to the present day. Aside from the existing 580 miles of wall between the US and Mexico, North and South Korea, and Israel and the West Bank are also separated by borders. Fences also separate Malaysia and Thailand, India and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, China and Mongolia, and Botswana and Zimbabwe. These border walls do not merely impact people, but also have unintended consequences for wildlife by curtailing their movements.

Trump’s megalithic construction project will require an enormous staging area complete with access roads, heavy equipment, and supporting structures even before the wall is completed.

Up until very recently Donald Trump’s idea for a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border has existed as little more than a psychosocial framework – a chest-pounding display for bully boys. There were certainly many clues that the totally unscripted, unrehearsed, and unedited Trump was hostile to animal rights and animal welfare issues prior to the election. He and his sons spoke negatively about animal rights advocates and he has affiliated himself with supporters of agricultural gag laws. Proving that not only people will suffer from “Trumpism,” the House Appropriations Committee has approved a 1.6 billion down payment on a wall that will help ensure that endangered animals are endangered right into extinction.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers has begun preliminary preparations for the construction of segments of a wall in several places along the border with Mexico. Immediately impacted is the 2,088 acre Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  The federally owned refuge, established in 1943, is often referred to as the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system,” and could see construction begin as early as January 2018. This will destroy the refuge, one of the top birding destinations in North America. In addition, the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the project will potentially impact 111 endangered species, 108 species of migratory bird, four wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries, and an unknown number of protected wetlands.

A voyage across the US-Mexico border, stitched together from 200,000 satellite images, criss-crossing through private land, native territories, and the Rio Grande.

 

 

It’s certainly true that highways, railroads, canals, and other types of human-created infrastructures already harm wildlife. Knowing that, you may ask why border walls are different. While human developments continue to encroach on animal territories, most projects are constructed as part of an overall planning process where there is usually an attempt to minimize the impacts by federal or state laws. A border is designed to be impenetrable – for people certainly, but also for wildlife. International law doesn’t prelude the US from constructing a border fence, except when such construction would violate federal or international wildlife laws. The Sierra Club maintains that multiple Federal laws will need to be waived by Department of Homeland Security, in order to construct the remaining 1,400 or so miles of border wall.

National Environmental Policy Act
Endangered Species Act
National Historic Preservation Act
Archaeological Resources Protection Act
Safe Drinking Water Act
Noise Control Act
Solid Waste Disposal Act
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
Historic Sites, Buildings, and Antiquities Act
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
Farmland Protection Policy Act
Coastal Zone Management Act
Wilderness Act
Federal Land Policy and Management Act
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act
Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act
Administrative Procedure Act
Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999
California Desert Protection Act
National Park Service Organic Act
National Park Service General Authorities Act
National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978
Arizona Desert Wilderness Act
Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899
Eagle Protection Act
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
American Indian Religious Freedom Act
Religious Freedom Restoration Act
National Forest Management Act of 1976
Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960
Federal Grants and Cooperative Agreements Act of 1977

Existing border fences include (combinations of) chain link, barbed or razor wire fences, electrified fences, steel fences, concrete walls, sand walls (e.g., Morocco/Western Sahara), mud walls (e.g., Pakistan/Afghanistan), trenches and even underground metal walls (e.g., Egypt/Gaza Strip). Common accessories include roads, floodlights, human guards, dogs and landmines.

In order for a species to survive, populations need move about, travelling to various food and water sources and for seasonal migration. Climate change has made this mobility imperative for wildlife.  There are many unintended consequences that result from preventing the natural movements of animals. Impenetrable fences impede this mobility and fragment habitats, isolate populations, cause genetic isolation and alter behaviours that may be important to the long-term survival of the populations or species involved. When populations are small, species need as much intermixing as possible in order to survive – smaller populations of already endangered animals will suffer without access to the varied genetics of animals blocked by the wall. Nocturnal animals can also be disrupted by floodlighting on walls, which interfere with their normal routines for feeding etc.  Additionally, both poachers and predators can take unfair advantage of animals whose escape is prevented by border walls – some wily predators have learned to chase prey into fences. Since large carnivores and herbivores play particularly influential roles in the food chain, this can have a profound effect by cascading through the ecosystem.

Even fences that were created for the purpose of safeguarding one species usually harm others. Consider for instance, the consequences of the so-called dingo and rabbit-proof fences in Australia.

Photo Credit: Graeme Chapman. Western Australia’s State Barrier Fence represents a continuation of colonial era attitudes that separated or blocked the movements of kangaroos, emus, rabbits, and dingoes.

Designed to prevent dingos from predating sheep and keep other wild animals off farmland, the fences also separated the dingos from kangaroos, so there was a massive increase in the kangaroo population, whose expanded populations went on to compete with the sheep for forage. Like the proposed US border wall, the rabbit-proof fence basically cuts the continent in half. These Australian fences also affected the dispersion of plant seeds by preventing Emus (who eat the fruits of native plants) from travelling long distances, resulting in a loss of biodiversity of plant life.

Fencing to prevent disease transference from wild animals and livestock often resulted in devastating consequences as well. In the 1950s, fence construction in Kruger National Park restricted wildebeest to half of their original range, obstructing their migration to seasonal water sources and contributing to a population drop of 90%.

Two recent studies have shed even more light on the effects walls have on wildlife.  A 2016 study published in the Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law found that “border fences can cause declines and even local disappearance of species.”  Authors of another study in the journal PloS Biology found that border fences erected to prevent refugee migration “were erected as emergency measures with no environmental impact assessments.” and the authors went on to suggest that a “wide range of high-tech monitoring methods are now available that would allow selected sections of a border to remain unfenced, while still providing security.”  the latter study focused on Slovenia where over 100 miles of barbed and razor-wire fencing have been erected along about one-third of the border with Croatia.  A slew of mangled animal carcasses – especially red deer have been found caught in the coils of wire.

During the Cold War, an electrified barbed-wire fence separated what was then Communist Czechoslovakia from what was then West Germany. It kept the Czechs from crossing over into Bavaria. Well, nowadays it’s the Czech Republic and the electric fence is no longer there, no longer keeping people out of what is now a united Germany. But two decades after that stretch of the Iron Curtain came down, the deer from Czech Republic’s Sumava National Park still won’t cross the area where the former electrified fence was decades ago.

Even when walls are later removed, animals are often hesitant to cross the area where the former border stood. Red deer who were formerly separated by an electric fence that divided Communist Czechoslovakia from what was then West Germany now refuse to cross the border where the fence used to stand. Even though the areas is now forest, the deer still tend to stick to either the Czech or German sides and are essentially two separate populations of animals.  This is an interesting example of social learning within the herds, since the electric fence was removed over 20 years ago and generally red deer don’t live beyond 15 years, so the currently living animals would never have encountered the electric fence

Given that the stated purpose of Trump’s wall is to keep people out, it is unlikely to include areas of passage for large herbivores or predators. So, leave it to Trump and the serially science-denying flat-earthers of the Republican party to exacerbate the current mass extinction emergency by regarding our ecosystem as merely a resource to be monetized and exploited. The wall will, if actually completed, severely undermine the Endangered Species Act and remove or block protections for imperiled species. This is one reason why Trump wants to kill off the EPA – so there is no environmental impact study on the wall.  It’s a “silver bullet” that’s a politically expedient yet inevitably, a major ecological intervention.

Don Jr.: ““Wouldn’t it be great to bring in a sportsman to run the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a conservationist (not a radical environmentalist) in to run the U.S. Forest Service? How about bringing a real farmer or rancher in to run the Department of Agriculture? What about having a farmer or rancher head the EPA? My dad will bring people into government who will be leaders, who will provide focus and direction for these departments and agencies and who will get these departments and agencies to focus on their missions rather than on advancing some political agenda.” source – http://www.outdoorlife.com/what-donald-trump-administration-says-it-would-do-to-our-wildlife-streams-and-forests

A Good Good-Bye…

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Life pulses in the countryside in the hamlet of Ancaster, Ontario. Away from the town, the meticulously maintained Ancaster Pet Cemetery (founded by Hamilton veterinarian Dudley Collins) is a peaceful, park-like setting that is filled with tiny plots, a mismatched array of graves with markers that give the visitor a clue to what decade the pets were buried here.  A stroll through a pet cemetery offers an interesting glimpse into the lives of pets and their people and at the timelessness of the human-animal bond.  The inscriptions on the headstones and plaques bear mute witness to the grief each person felt at the loss of their pet. The treed cemetery is also a veritable sanctuary for chipmunks and birds.  A visit to this three-acre park, which has been in operation nearly 50 years, will likely find you with little (human) company, so it’s also a great place to spend time with a camera.

We loved this place so much that we chose to bury our dog Coco here in June 2017.  Green burials are becoming much more popular, which is a return to old ways, if you will.  In the Toronto area, there are very few options beyond cremation for pets.  The Ancaster Pet Cemetery (zoned as a cemetery rather than farmland) allows you to bury your pet in a shroud, box, casket, or simply laid in the ground.   We preferred burial over cremation since the idea of cremation seemed violent to us and also, I liked the idea of our dog having a connection back to the earth—being connected to a place and being returned to the earth from whence she came, gradually, over time.

Without question, people do this out of love and loyalty to their beloved pets (the cemetery contains the remains of not only dogs and cats,  but horses, service animals, and even a tiger). Coco’s resting place will be a great source of comfort to me in the coming years, and the cemetery is an interesting place to visit.  Being here drives us to reflect not only on the mortality of the pets buried here and their owners who may have passed on years ago, but on our own mortality. Pet cemeteries are not creepy abandoned places but moving, provocative places, with powerful memories, full of love.  I like to think of this place as a public park that just happens to have a lot of permanent residents.

View the full photographic album of the

Ancaster Pet Cemetery on FLICKR.

Thou who passest on the path, if haply thou dost mark this monument,
Laugh not, I pray thee,
Though it is a dog’s grave; tears fell for me,
And the dust was heaped above me by a master’s hands,
Who likewise engraved these words upon my tomb. ~ Unknown

Horse and Cattle Feedlot Property For Sale – Another Sign Of The Times?

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The 170 acre property of a feedlot operator in Canada who has collected horses for the purpose of selling them for meat is now for sale.

This area is prime for redevelopment, both commercial and residential,  so hopefully trading in horses (and cattle)  here will become a thing of the past.

The Case For Breed Specific Legislation In Montreal

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The Case For Breed Specific Legislation In Montreal

In 2016 on the Toronto beaches, a woman and her pit bull/mastiff cross dog were attacked by a pit bull urged on by a man who wanted to see the two dogs fight. Technically both dogs should have been muzzled under the Dog Owners Liability Act in Ontario. The aggressor took off with his dog leaving the woman to deal with her injuries. (Photo Global News) http://globalnews.ca/news/2796014/toronto-dog-owner-randomly-attacked-by-pit-bull-at-woodbine-beach/

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the last two years,  nearly 20 people and animals were injured or killed by pit bull type dogs in the province of Quebec.  Pit bull type dogs have inflicted a disproportionate number of serious bites and maulings to people, pets and livestock.  Multiple sources – independent, retrospective and/or longitudinal studies available on National Institute of Health databases, opinions of reconstructive surgeons, epidemiologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, insurance companies, and trauma units all arrive at the same conclusions.

The debates occurring as a result of the BSL legislation passed in Montreal and Quebec might lead the casual observer to conclude that the ban (but apparently not the maulings) is the greatest social problem in the entirety of the province.  In reality, the requirements of the ban are not unreasonable; the Montreal and Quebec legislation still guarantees rights of current pit bull owners provided they adhere to the licensing, muzzling, neuter/spay, and leash regulations. Opponents to Montreal’s BSL regs usually cite the “Calgary Model” as the ideal success story of responsible dog ownership – a model they believe that Montreal councilors should have implemented instead.  Calgary may not have banned pit bulls outright, but the program is not a sweeping success. Even with a potential $10,000 fine, serious dog bites continued to increase in the city.

Rafah Bakour of Calgary in a family photo. She was attacked by a pit bull while walking. The attack is categorized as a Level 5, just below the most severe type — Level 6 — which results in death. Even if the dog owner receives a maximum fine of $10,000 under the Calgary system, that money will not go towards Bakour’s injuries and will not indemnify her.

Before his retirement, Head of Bylaw Services (which includes animal control) Bill Bruce became well known for Calgary’s pet management “success.”  Indeed, there were many positive aspects of the model and pet registration itself was phenomenally successfully relative to registration rates elsewhere.  Bruce however, maintained that in other jurisdictions breed bans did not reduce “the overall number of bites in the community.” If he were actually expecting to reduce bites, Bruce would have to ban all dogs, since all dogs of all sizes and breeds will bite and this fact is not in dispute.  Breed bans cannot stop all bites and are not designed to – the goal is to reduce the most statistically significant bites – maulings and fatalities, while balancing the rights of other people and animal owners for relative safety.

The late Dr. Sophia Yin is referenced in the Calgary SPCA Report in their 6 level bite system. You may also refer to Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale.

In 2004, the last full year before BSL was implemented in Ontario, there were 984 licensed pit bulls in the city and 168 reported bites. By comparison, in 2013 there were 501 pit bulls registered in Toronto, and just 13 bites. Yet in Calgary, the numbers show the real failure of the system – dog attacks in Calgary went from 58 in 2009 to 201 in 2014, a disproportionate number of them by pit bulls. Most concerning of all is that the severity of bites has increased – in Calgary in 2014, there were 244 dog bites of a Level 3 severity or higher. This is an increase over 2013, when 198 bites were reported at, or exceeding, Level 3.

Bill Bruce also had a serious conflict of interest while at Bylaw Services – he was an advisor to the National Canine Research Council (NCRC), an American lobby group that is funded by the Animal Farm Foundation, who promote the concept of a pit bull in every home, over and above any other breed of dog. The fact that Bruce was aligned with the NCRC means that pit bulls would very likely receive favourable and preferential treatment over people, other pets, and livestock while he was in charge.

 

Bruce’s successor, Ryan Jeslin, Calgary’s current director of Animal and Bylaw Services had a different view of the animal control model he inherited:

“I’m very concerned about pit bulls and Rottweilers. There’s a history, there’s a reason why places like the city of Toronto have banned them outright,”  After a series of attacks by pit bull type dogs in 2015,  Jeslin went on to say, “The evidence clearly here is about pit bulls. That specific breed has caused real damage over the last five days.”

Except for the focus on pit bull type dogs,  there are actually many commonalities between the Montreal/Quebec legislation and recommendations for safer communities proposed by SPCAs:

Key Points in the Montreal and Quebec  Bylaw/Bill

Montreal: By-Law 16-060

“Pit bull-type dog” is defined as being:

  • a dog belonging to the American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier or Staffordshire bull terrier race [breed];
  • a dog born of a crossbreeding between one of the races [breeds] mentioned in paragraph (1) and another dog;
  • a dog showing several morphological traits of the races [breeds] and types of crossbreeding listed in paragraphs (1) and (2)

Licenses will be issued for Pit bull-type dogs if the following conditions are met:

No it isn’t “dog racism.” This is a straw man argument. Dogs have historically been bred for different functions desired by man.
Despite the escalation of deaths and maulings, legislators are being bullied by advocacy groups into protecting the “breed” rights as opposed to public safety.
People discriminate against breeds all the time when choosing one type of dog over another.

  • the first application is filed before December 31, 2016
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has been sterilized or a written opinion from a veterinary surgeon establishing that the animal cannot be sterilized;
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has been vaccinated against rabies and  proof of follow-ups, as applicable, at the city’s request;
  • the applicant provides proof that the dog has a microchip;
  • the applicant provides a certificate of negative search of a criminal record or, in the case of a certificate of positive search of a criminal record, a certificate issued by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal confirming that the applicant has not  been declared guilty, in the five years prior to the date of filing or renewal of the licence application, of an offence under a provision listed in schedule 1 of this by-law;
  • the applicant is 18 years of age or older;
  • the applicant provides a document indicating that:
    • at the date of coming into force of this by-law, the applicant was the owner of the dog referred to in this application;
    • the applicant is a resident of a city borough where, under the by-laws applicable up until the date of coming into force of this by-law, it was possible to obtain a licence to keep a Pit bull-type dog

When outside, the dog guardians must ensure that the dogs are:

  • Muzzled at all times
  • Kept on a leash no longer than 1.25m, except in an exercise area or in an area closed off by a fence at least 2 m high
  • Under the supervision of a person 18 years of age or older
  • Displaying the tag issued by the city with the special licence

Charges for offences range from $300 to $4000.

Quebec Bill 128 – An Act to Promote the Protection of Persons by Establishing a Framework with Regard to Dogs. 

The Bill makes it obligatory for veterinarians to report dog related injuries.Veterinary surgeons are also required to report, to the municipality concerned, any dog that they have reasonable cause to believe constitutes a risk for public health or safety. In cases where a dog has inflicted injury on a person, physicians are required to report the fact to the local municipality concerned without delay, and communicate the seriousness of the injury and, if known, the breed or type of dog that inflicted it. The local municipality may also declare a dog that has bitten or attacked a person or domestic animal and inflicted injury potentially dangerous

Dangerous dogs:

In the case of a dog that has bitten or attacked a person and caused death or serious injury, the local municipality must order the dog’s owner or custodian to have the dog euthanized.

Dogs that are deemed to be potentially dangerous:

(1) pit bulls, including American pit bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers and Staffordshire bull terriers;

(2) Rottweilers;

(3) a crossbreed of a dog listed in paragraph 1 or 2 and another dog;

(4) hybrid dogs that are a cross between a dog and a canid other than a dog; and

(5) dogs trained to protect, guard, fight or attack

 

For more detail, please read:

 

Montreal BSL

 

 

Quebec Bill 128

 

 

With a few exceptions, BSL in Montreal satisfies these requirements.  The Quebec Bill 128 also makes it mandatory for veterinarians to report dog bites that are a concern for public safety. Doctors must also report appropriately. And if BSL is too expensive, why are these proposals, many of which require a level of government to administer, considered more cost-effective?

 

The catalyst for the Montreal and Quebec legislation seems to lie with Franklin Junior Frontal’s aptly named dog “Lucifer” – a dog he had owned since puppyhood – a dog who ultimately

Photo and caption from the “Muzzle-Up Project” on Facebook.
“Would you rather kill me than see me like this?
My mum had someone tell her they would rather put a bullet in their dog’s head than put a muzzle on them. That upset my mum a lot. Do I look unhappy? Do I look like I’m lacking anything in life? Wearing a muzzle allows me to experience more of life. It helps me feel more confident, it helps my mum feel less stressed, and allows people to pat and cuddle me without anyone worrying that I might bite them.
Wearing a muzzle doesn’t make a dog a bad dog. It might mean they’ve made a mistake, or they might make a mistake if others don’t listen and push them over their limits. Wearing a muzzle means they have a responsible owner who is committed to preventing accidents and worse case scenarios.
If only people were less ignorant, their dogs could live better lives.”

killed Montreal resident Christiane Vadnais in 2016.  According to his lawyer, Frontal had approached the SPCA in the past  for help in dealing with the dog’s aggression and behavior problems.  Pit bull activists have long questioned whether the dog that killed Vadnais was in fact a pit bull, because it had been registered as a boxer. Despite these claims, a veterinarian confirmed that the dog that attacked and killed the victim was indeed a pit bull and not a boxer.

Public health decisions are not always made on the basis of the number of people negatively impacted.  The population in question can be large as the inhabitants of several continents (as in the case of a pandemic) or as small as a few individuals.   For instance, over 2 million baby cribs were recalled in 2009 after “only” 4 infant deaths.  BSL demands a phase-out of breeding and importation, and the dogs must be on a short leash and muzzled when appearing in public. These are reasonable, logical and ethical measures and not entirely dissimilar from what the Montreal SPCA has proposed as an “alternative” to BSL.

People who care about dogs won’t care that they can’t import or breed more pit bulls.  They can go to the shelter, Petfinder, or many other rescues on Facebook and choose to help a dog that is sitting on death row, which is far more ethical than breeding or importing (and ultimately euthanizing) more prohibited dogs into the province.

Accused of second degree murder, this Hamilton, Ontario resident who is a self-acknowledged former dog fighter, is shown with a pit bull, a banned dog in Ontario. Under Montreal’s BSL by-law, anyone convicted of a criminal offence within the 5 year period preceeding the license application would not be granted a license for a pit bull type dog. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/hamilton-man-facing-murder-charge-held-in-custody-1.3510601
The accused was also quoted about pit bulls in this 2013 article – http://m.thespec.com/news-story/4026540-a-breed-apart-banned-pit-bulls-are-still-around

 

By The Numbers: Study Reviews 13 Years of Ontario Racing Commission “Death Registry” Data

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Barbaro is held by jockey Edgar Prado and a track worker after injuring his leg at the start of the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes, in this May 20, 2006 file photo, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Barbaro was euthanized Monday, Jan. 29, 2007, after complications from his breakdown at the Preakness last May. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby, file)

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Beneath the facade, commercial horse racing subjects horses to catastrophic injuries and sudden deaths. Young thoroughbreds, standardbreds, and quarter horses die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing. Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to an injury he sustained at the Preakness. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown after a second place win at the Kentucky Derby. And when Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.

The majority of racehorses will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race.  Approximately 70% +/- of all racehorses are thought to end their lives in a slaughterhouse.

A  new study was just published using 13 years of data from the Ontario Racing Commission Death Registry.  The ORC database was implemented on January 1, 2003; owners, trainers and veterinarians were, from that point forward, required to notify the Commission within two days of the death of any racehorse (Thoroughbred. Quarter horse, or Standardbred) where the death occurred within 60 days of the horse having been entered or qualified to race in Ontario Canada. If the death occurs within 14 days of the horse having been entered or qualified, post-mortems are mandatory and may include gross pathological examination results, histopathology, parisitology, bacteriology, mycoplasmology, virgology, and toxicology.

Of the 963 horses in the database, a postmortem was carried out on 56% of those or approximately 539 horses (presumably those horses who died within 14 days of a race or during a race).  Of these 539 horses:

68% died/were euthanized due to musculoskeletal injury (such as tendon or ligament injuries/broken legs/pelvic fractures/spinal cord injuries etc).  This represents approximately 367 horses.

16% died suddenly due primarily to cardiopulmonary lesions (possibly cardiac failure/pulmonary failure/pulmonary haemorrhage/blood vessel rupture). Approximately 86 horses examined by post-mortem died spontaneously.

4% died following an injection (possibly IV injection/performance-enhancing compound/anaphalactic shock).  Approximately 22 of the 539 horses were killed by an injection.

Of the 963 horses in the ORC database, post-mortems were not completed for about 424 of them, since presumably this was not a requirement by ORC rules.  The cause-of-death is unknown,  but they will not be forgotten.

The fact that these injuries and deaths occur are not surprising – the suffering of these and many other racehorses represents all that is detrimental to their welfare. Studies that break down the injuries and deaths are always useful for showing how healthy horses are pushed beyond their physical capabilities.  Since the profit motive is priority, horses are drugged so they can race while injured and physically compromised. Naturally,  these statistics do not include any horses who died or were euthanized outside of the 60 day window established by the ORC or were sent to slaughter at any point after their racing career ended.  The database reflects the fact that the approximately 74 horses who died each year in Ontario alone were only those that were required to be reported to the ORC according to the regulations noted above.

The racing industry promotes false imagery of race horses retiring to lives of luxury as pets, well-cared-for riding horses, or studs. While some race horses find good homes, the vast majority are slaughtered for meat even though virtually all of them contain veterinary drug residues prohibited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

 

Eight Belles suffered compound fractures of both front ankles at the 2008 Kentucky Derby and was euthanized immediately. At just over 3 years old, she was far too young to be racing.

Hitting Kill Buyers In The Pocketbook

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Death came to this horse after agony and fear. How many other horses have been subjected to this new form of “euthanasia” – injected with amphetamines until they are allegedly flipped over backwards? After all his suffering, his bladder was then cut out of his body post-mortem, likely to avoid collection of illicit substances.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Everyone knows that abuse, neglect, and disease are embedded in the trading of horses by unscrupulous buyers and flippers, beginning with the kill buyer and ending with the killing process.   But despite the number of sick or suffering feedlot and broker horses documented on Facebook, few purchasers contact authorities to report abuse, neglect, or contractual fraud.  Some people even choose to protect the kill buyer while praising him (or her) in being so kind as to offer to sell them the horse in the first place.  Quite understandably, many people may reasonably be afraid of further alienating the kill buyers and brokers and being unable to purchase more horses. But in March, two plaintiffs initiated a civil litigation against kill buyer Don Nowlin of Washington-based Outwest Livestock, alleging the torturous September 2016 death of “Brad Pitt”, an approximately 20-year-old thoroughbred stallion they purchased in August of that year.

In the Statement of Claim, the plaintiffs alleged that the conditions at the feedlot were heart-rending – horses “bore significant injuries, such as fist-sized scabby wounds, a pregnant mare bleeding from her vagina, a horse with a broken leg and overgrown hooves…”   Before the plaintiffs could collect Brad Pitt, they were told that he had broken his back leg and was “put down” via a “cocktail” and “hit the ground” within thirty seconds, all evidently without veterinarian oversight.   The plaintiffs had the forethought to insist upon taking the remains of the horse with them after being notified of his death, so he was hauled out of the bushes where he lay decomposing, and loaded into a U-Haul for a necropsy.

Above is a strictly professional, notarized message from Facebook lawyer/kill buyer Don Nowlin from 2016 (previously unnoticed by me). For some reason he objects to my screen-shotting his Facebook page showing that he was following various cock fighting groups. https://heatherclemenceau.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/kill-buyers-faux-rescues-and-cockfighters-oh-my/

The homemade amphetamine concoction (see necropsy and toxicology report) alleged to have been injected into the stallion by layperson Nowlin certainly wasn’t one of the two recommended forms of euthanasia, namely barbiturate overdose with sedation or shotgun.  Amphetamines  stimulate the nervous system – breathing and heart rate speed up and energy levels and anxiety may be increased.  Amphetamines are controlled substances in the US and are sometimes used in the manufacture of other illicit drugs.  These drugs are banned across racetracks internationally because they can excite an animal to a degree to which they are uncontrollable and are very likely to hurt either themselves or anyone near them. They certainly have no business being injected into a horse. It does not appear that the “euthanasia” drugs administered actually killed Brad Pitt outright either, since the cause-of-death was determined to be traumatic injury to the central nervous system due to fractured cervical vertebra.

The most soul-crushing aspects of this case are the injuries to Brad Pitt, which are described in Sean Tuley DVM’s report, and expanded upon by Victoria L. Smith DVM.

Findings by Tuley Equine Sports Medicine:

“Grossly, Brad Pitt, was covered in flies, as well as dried mud, he had multiple excoriations as well as impalements covering his entire body. No evidence of predation by scavengers was evident. A post mortem evisceration was most notable beginning at the left paralumbar fossa, extending ventrally, through the perineum and ending 6 cm short of the anus. The wound was deep to the pelvic floor, created via sharp dissection and showed no evidence of bleeding or bruising. This wound was created post-mortem.

The left hind pelvic limb was completely luxated and was only attached by the gluteal muscles and dorsal skin. On the ventral sagittal abdomen at intercostal 17 an eviscerating lesion of 4 cm was present. A deep puncture wound on the medial left radius of 10 cm was noted. Located on the left lateral antebrachium a sharp excision of 12 cm was noted.

The left elbow joint was completely dislocated. Blunt force trauma, with dried stained blood was present near the lateral canthus of the right eye. The gum tissue was hyperemic and a vesicular lesion on the gum tissue was consistent with aggressive use of a lip chain war bridle. On gross appearance the cervical vertebrae appear to be luxated. Upon sharp dissection, a large hematoma approximately 8 cm in diameter appeared deep to the Splenius mm. and dorsal to the longissimus mm. near the C6-C7 junction. Upon further dissection the Cervical joint between C6 and C7 was completely luxated.  This appears to be an antemortem finding.”

Dr. Tuley  continues….

“In four years of veterinary school, performing routine necropsies, and 6 years of private practice-having now euthanized over 50 cases personally, (this figure does not include my training at WSU-VTH or with Traber Bergsma Simkins inc., where significantly more euthanasias and necropsies were performed) I have yet to see an animal present so poorly, in as bad of condition as I saw Brad. Injuries stemming from the lip chain, battered right eye and broken neck, all occurred while Brad was still alive. These findings are evident by the fact that bleeding and other signs of inflammation were present. Given the presence of multiple eviscerations and leg dismemberment, even after death, Brad was not treated with much regard.”

Findings by Victoria L. Smith DVM

  • Blunt force trauma to the right side of the head and right eye. Aggressive use of lip chain
  • Left elbow completely luxated and spinal cord trauma possibly caused by a rotational fall at high speed or by the horse rearing up and falling backwards
  • “Severe intentional penetrating injuries to the horse post-mortem”
  • “An incision had been made into the abdominal cavity, eviscerating the horse, sharply luxating the left pelvic limb, and the bladder had been removed.”
  • “The horse Brad Pitt’s injuries are consistent with intentional and painful abuse by a human.”

Dr. Smith’s comments suggest that the horse may have been “drugged with intravenous amphetamines via an aggressive lip chain to restrain the head during injection.  Dr. Smith explored the possibility that, for cruel sport, someone proceeded to rope Brad Pitt’s forelimbs, “tipping the horse and causing a rotational fall which luxated the elbow and luxated the cervical vertebrae.  The horse’s eye and perioribital area could have been injured by a closed fist or by self-trauma, as a frantic, traumatized, painful horse may slam his head into the ground in terror. “

Below is a copy of the Complaint filed against Donald Nowlin and Outwest Livestock in Yakima County Superior Court concerning the torture and killing of Brad Pitt, an approximately 20-year-old thoroughbred purchased by Rebecca Thorley and Monica Baxter in August 2016. This document contains the allegations and claims made against Nowlin, et al. The plaintiffs are also suing for severe emotional distress and the recovery of actual damages and out-of-pocket expenses.

The sharing of the Amended Complaint and Tuley/Smith reports was done with the permission of  Adam P. Karp Esq,   All documents are public records. Documents originally posted on the “Justice for Brad Pitt Thoroughbred” Facebook page.

Amended Complaint filed April 4, 2017

 

 

Necropsy reports prepared by Sean Tuley, DVM and Victoria Smith, DVM.

 

 

“Did Brad experience stress and anxiety while under the influence of these illicit compounds? Did Brad experience pain and suffering while accumulating these ante mortem injuries? My visceral reaction is yes on both instances. However, I cannot conclude for how long the suffering endured.” Sean Tuley, DVM

Americans who threaten to sue Canadians will be told that they must have sufficient assets within the jurisdiction (Canada) as security for costs BEFORE proceeding with the action. The amount that would need to be posted is equal to the attorney’s fees and any awards that the defendant might receive if and when they prevail in the action.
In any case, truth is a defense against libel.

Who cannot relate to the anguish that Brad Pitt’s owners felt not only in discovering that he was dead, but how he died? Imagine collecting his body in the condition described in the necropsy report – and later reading how he was purported to have been killed. Not only was there a lack of care given to him – he is alleged to have been deliberately abused. Do any of Nowlin’s feedlot horses end up at the “horse tripping” establishment next door to him where they are “smoked” (roped by their back legs)?  What do you think?  I say,  if you can’t put them in jail, you take their money. Civil lawsuits act as an important tool because fighting them requires time and money that could be used for other purposes – like collecting horses to be killed.

I know there is a very good argument for continuing to deal with unscrupulous people in order to get horses off lots like this. All horses in peril deserve saving regardless of where they have landed, but please don’t facilitate these horrors by providing kill buyers with this lucrative revenue stream.  By making kill buyers more profitable, we are guaranteeing they will stay in business and more of them will pop up.  Save your money by buying locally and preventing a horse from ending up going to an auction in the first place; there are needy horses everywhere that you can actually lay your eyes on, and they deserve help too.  No, the truck is not coming for broker horses – it already left and they weren’t on it.  The slaughter truck came for a horse that you never saw.

 

 

If you are interested in helping and want your money to make a difference, you may donate to support the Friends of Brad Pitt.

Donations will be used for legal bills related to the civil suit.

 

The Science Is In: Exposure To Bute In Horsemeat Still A Big Problem

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Phenylbutazone or “bute” was at one time marketed for humans use under the trade name of Butazolidin.  It was a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) used for arthritis and other inflammatory ailments that worked by inhibiting an enzyme that synthesizes chemical mediators called prostaglandins.  It was ultimately withdrawn by the FDA for causing a wide range of serious side-effects.  It remains however, on the market for treatment for horses and is an effective anti-inflammatory.  It is also prohibited in the food chain as residues of bute and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone are not known to have safe limits.  None of this is new information to experienced horse advocates.  Therefore, it’s always personally surprising to me when I come across another horse advocate who takes the position that we needn’t be concerned about bute adulteration in food. It’s a pretty rare position to take, IMO, and reaffirms  to me that not all champions of the horse are on the same page when it comes to advocacy. This position not only harms our advocacy,  it’s also scientifically illiterate IMO.

Writing in a recent blog post, Founder and President of the Equine Rescue Network Janine Jacques goes all-in and on the record as being in doubt that bute is harmful to people.  Jacques also assumes that the only possible toxic result from consuming bute or metabolites can be aplastic anemia.

How did the consumption of over 16 million pounds of horsemeat impact the health of those who consumed horse meat tainted with bute? ~ If Google search deaths from phenylbutazone you will find no relevant deaths for humans.”  

While investigation and surveillance of overdoses and poisonings by phenylbutazone are available, there is a tendency to believe that, in order to be hazardous to health, only large amounts of a chemical are needed to cause poisoning. This is not necessarily so. A highly toxic chemical can have a low health hazard if it is used with proper precautions and care. On the other hand, it is possible that a chemical of low toxicity may present a high health hazard if it is used inappropriately, such as in the food supply.  The domain of published works in the field of toxicology contain many presuppositions such as this; regulators have always had difficulty establishing acceptable levels of chemicals and they are expected to show evidence that a level of exposure is harmful before they can ban its use.

Virtually all evidence we have about harmful dosages of drugs come from animals where extrapolations are made from high doses (LD50, Draize, and ADME – Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion tests for example) .  It is also said that effects found in animals in relatively short-lived species cannot necessarily be used to estimate the effects in a long-lived species such as human.  Humans live much longer than most of the species used for drug testing, so we have a longer period of time in which to manifest disease.  Compounding this, we know that much of human disease is idiopathic in nature – without known causes.  Forensic toxicology testing can detect drugs in the blood stream or urine and overdoses in the emergency room, but it can’t predict the cause of idiopathic disease.

What makes chemicals poisonous?

There are several factors which can influence the degree of poisoning caused by a chemical.

  • Route of entry into the body – orally, inhalation, etc
  • Amount or dose entering the body
  • Chemicals that are weakly toxic require large doses to cause poisoning, Strongly toxic chemicals only need small doses to cause poisoning
  • Chemicals that are broken down by the body into sub-products before being excreted may be more or less toxic than the original chemical
  • Biological variation in the person consuming the chemical/drug determines response – slow metabolizers may be affected in addition to those who have susceptibility to phenylbutazone due to different metabolic genes (polymorphisms) that encode enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of drugs.People who are poor metabolizers of a drug may overdose while taking less than the recommended dose. Altered or enhanced drug metabolisms in individuals have been known to cause fatal drug reactions.

PBZ Molecule

Another layer of complexity is added when humans are exposed to chemicals at very low doses – the chemicals may reside in certain regions of the body that are more susceptible to organ damage  which is impossible to measure directly.  Studies have shown that many chemicals impact cancer-causing pathways at low doses. Taken directly, phenylbutazone is associated with various hematologic disorders, including aplastic anemia. Bute is also a cause of agranulocytosis, which can also be fatal. Hypersensitivity reactions can include anaphylactic shock, arthralgia, fever, angiitis (polyarteritis), vasculitis, serum sickness, adenitis, hepatotoxicity, allergic alveolitis, lymphadenopathy, Lyell’s syndrome, activation of systemic lupus erythematosus, and aggravation of temporal arteritis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. Asthma may be precipitated or aggravated by phenylbutazone, especially in aspirin sensitive patients. We also know that phenylbutazone interacts with many other drugs.  When administered to lactating cows, it was found that phenylbutazone was distributed into their milk.

When the drug was used therapeutically in humans as Butazolidin, the dose rate would have been around 2 to 6 mg/kg, similar to the current dose for the horse of 4.4 mg/kg. The question is whether the presence of bute in horsemeat can present a risk to human health even in small amounts.  Around the time of the 2013 horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU, the highest amount of bute found in a horse carcass was 1.9 mg.  If a human had been taking Butazolidin in the 50s, they might have taken 200-400 mg a day in total, if we compare it to the current-day dosage of Tylenol or Advil.  Obviously, we would have to consume a significant amount of contaminated horsemeat in order to reach the level of a therapeutic drug dosage. What is not clear, despite reassurances, is the level that is necessary for the average person to consume in order to experience a toxic effect.  If a therapeutic dose of Butazolidin was once considered “safe” at 200-400 mg, then how do we know that some individuals are safe at 1.9 mg?  If Butazolidin was withdrawn from the market as being unsafe for some people at that dosage, we don’t know whether sensitive individuals may have experienced toxicity at lower levels as well.

If it still seems as though a negligible trace of bute in meat might not be enough to cause harm,  there is an analogous cautionary tale of another NSAID – diclofenac, which was also used in human medicine for decades,  and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Obviously, the dynamics are not the same, but vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses, their main food source, and this has accounted for death by renal failure of many vultures examined in a three-year study by the scientific journal Nature.  Further investigation showed tissue residues in livestock treated at the labelled dose rate were sufficient to cause death in vultures. These findings confirmed that diclofenac is the primary cause of the Asian vulture decline.

“Diclofenac is toxic to vultures even in small doses, causing kidney failure. That results in uric acid accumulating in the birds’ blood and crystallizing around their internal organs—a condition called visceral gout.”

Food safety laws are clear.  Companies that produce, trade or sell food or food ingredients are legally obligated to implement a quality assurance system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), which maximizes food safety by minimizing chemical, physical and microbiological hazards.  There is something wrong with a food system whereby the food animal must sit on a feedlot for six months in order that veterinary drugs “degrade” before it can be eaten.

For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison, which still holds true for many drugs and chemicals.  But one key message there is that source or origin of a chemical usually tells you very little if anything about its toxicity or ability to cause harm.   We now live in a time where exposure to chemicals is unavoidable and we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation.  Having said that, bute is not a chemical that is ubiquitous in the environment like other toxins we are exposed to – we can avoid it by not eating horsemeat and not killing horses for food.  In the final analysis, no one is really in a position to make broad statements about the safety of horse meat.  Conrad Brunk,  the co-chair of the 2001 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, wrote that:

“When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks;  the mere absence of evidence is not enough.”  This is the essence of the Precautionary Principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment,  precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” The toxicity of a chemical cannot be changed, but the hazard it presents can be controlled.