Food Scientist Claims “Liquid Poured On Pigs” A Biosecurity Risk #PIGTRIAL


toronto-pig-save-transport-11Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…. the actions of these activists simply aren’t safe – not only not for themselves, the truck drivers and their pigs. But also for the consumers,”  writes Keith Warriner,  Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph.The seemingly humane gesture of feeding water to pigs can actually jeopardize the system and impact the food you serve to your family.The trial taking place in Toronto has touched upon various angles of this incident. But the key issue is the interference with food safety. For anyone who eats pork, this is a product of a food processing system. And it’s absolutely essential that it’s produced in a closed system that hasn’t been tampered with.”

Dr Warriner recently chose to write a guest column that appeared in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun papers.  Instead of providing an evidence-based opinion on any one of the prevalent food-related pathways to disease and sickness in Canada,  he chose to write about the “unknown liquid” that Anita Krajnc and other Toronto Pig Save activists had given to pigs on the day Dr. Krajnc was charged. It doesn’t appear that anyone believes that there were contaminants in the water the activists have given to the pigs before or since Anita’s arrest – apparently neither Fearman’s Pork nor Van Boekel Hog Farms believes this,  otherwise,  the animals would not have been slaughtered for food.  Neither does the CFIA apparently believe the pigs were contaminated,  since they issued no recall that I could find.  If there was the slightest belief that the water was poisoned,  the bottles would have been confiscated and the water tested.  To the best of my knowledge,  there was no economic loss resultant to the watering of the pigs and NO CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED.

The CFIA classifies recalls based on the level of health risk associated with the food product being recalled. High risk triggers include illness outbreaks,  food test results, inspection img_0560findings,  and consumer complaints.  In 2014 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued 714 recalls, following 467 recalls  in 2013 and 595 in 2012, Undeclared allergens (unlisted ingredients or product mislabeling) and microbial contaminations make up the majority of recalls,  according to Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

The Red Meat Condemnation report from Agriculture Canada provides a testament to the true brutality of both the transport and slaughter operations.  In 2015, 20,244,822 pigs were slaughtered,  and 7.02 pigs per thousand slaughtered were found dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse.  That amounts to 14,221 pigs.  Almost as many pigs were condemned on ante-mortem inspection for abscesses, peritonitis, arthritis, pneumonia, septicemia, emaciation, hepatitis, bruising, hernia, fracture, and many other conditions, suggesting that perhaps more were in very poor condition upon arrival at the slaugherhouse.  According to CFIA prosecution notices for that same year,  no one was convicted of anything as a result.

kindness-to-pigs-on-a-cattle-trainI hope our food scientists will continue to bring attention to serious risks in the food supply,  rather than trying to pick off the “low-hanging fruit” that are the protests at slaughterhouses.  I would like to propose that Dr. Warriner write an article condemning the abuse of transport and the risks of veterinary drug contamination with horse slaughter in Canada.  Certainly horse slaughter is not a closed system – non-farmers are dealing in drugged meat with false and incomplete EIDs, concealing incompetence and deceit, often at the highest levels.  In fact,  I plan to send him an email asking him to do exactly that.

Those activists who wish to expose inhumane farming practices and give water to animals enroute to slaughter are not terrorists. Dr. Warriner,  I cannot respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism.  Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Videos of activists providing water to pigs have mobilized a movement towards improving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows.  In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom.



When the news first broke that an outbreak of Listeriosis had resulted in the deaths of several Canadians, you might expect the minister responsible for food safety, to immediately step in, or at least take the matter seriously. Instead,  former Ag. Minister Gerry Ritz actually thought the whole matter rather funny, so much so that he immediately joked about the demise of the victims. Forget that it was under his watch – his funny bone was tickled and he wanted to share the feeling.

A look back at recent outbreaks and recalls in Canada,  courtesy of @Barfblog’s contributors, including Drs. Powell, Chapman, Hubbell and assorted food safety lecturers at  – the unofficial internet gatekeepers on food-related illness and terrible reality cooking shows…

From toxic mothballs to blister beetles in food, there are no cautionary mentions of illness caused by the “tampering” of food by animal activists.


At The 11th Hour, Paranoid Hunting And Fishing Groups Lobby Hard Against Bill C-246



Every year in Canada more than 100,000 complaints of animal cruelty are investigated  Today,  Nathaniel  Erskine-Smith’s private member’s bill, C-246, goes to a vote to see if it will move forward to a Commons Committee.  “There’s been a ton of confusion about the bill. Am I giving animals rights? The right not to be tortured and abused, if we want to call those rights,” Erskine-Smith said in the House last week. Additionally, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies CEO Barbara Cartwright says she’s baffled by some of the opposition, saying it’s based on hyperbole and irrational fear, given that the bill is clearly aimed at criminal, deviant behaviour.“This is about ending animal abuse, not ending animal use.What does ensuring that all animals are protected from sexual abuse have to do with fishing? What does animal fighting have to do with farming practices? What does it have to do with hunting? They aren’t linked.”

In this ideological battle, the pre-Darwinian thinkers who oppose reasonable updates to an ancient law, have not responded to reason, and have taken out full page ads in The Hill Times (paid subscription required to view) Canada’s political newsweekly for October 3, 2016.




No Leaping Bunny Award For Donkey Milk and Horse Oil Skin Products

No Leaping Bunny Award For Donkey Milk and Horse Oil Skin Products
Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a character in American Horror Story: Coven portrayed by Kathy Bates.

Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a character in American Horror Story: Coven portrayed by Kathy Bates.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Hat Tip: Paola

The origin of the word ‘quack’ comes from the Dutch quacksalver, literally meaning “chatter salve” or someone who prattles or boasts about the efficacy of his remedies.

The next big wave in skincare comes straight from cottage industries in Canada and countries like Korea and Japan.  More paleo than vegan, some of these products are not for the faint of heart.  Instead of plant-based oils such as coconut or argan, oils from the rendered fat of horses and milk from donkeys are the new “natural” alternatives.  Dreams of soft, smooth skin are interrupted by visions of Black Beauty shedding a single tear.

Shamâne Cosmetics is a company located in Quebec and like another company in British Columbia that used horse milk in 15their skin care products, they are adding donkey milk to their skin care line. Like Spa Creek Ranch (who were forced to remove unsupported claims on their website by Advertising Standards Canada)  Shamâne have made some rather extraordinary claims about the supposed benefits of washing yourself with soaps made with donkey milk. Claims made by Shamâne were referred to ASC, who will referee their statements. I attempted to contact  the company to find out how many donkeys they had and what they did with the foals, but they did not return my phone call and their email is defunct.

Their website tells us that the product:

  • Contains protein and lactose proportions close to those of woman’s maternal milk (I say so what? Milk is species specific food for infant animals, not for washing your face with)
  • Is hypoallergenic (To determine if a product is hypoallergenic a company usually performs a patch test on 100-200 subjects and records how their skin reacts).
  • Nourishes and regenerates the skin deep down (Where is the proof that the product penetrates the skin or accomplishes “nourishment,” whatever that means?)
  • Slows down the skin aging process (It’s a pretty extraordinary claim to make that donkey milk does this, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence).

mam-14-kh0375-01pThe company makes additional claims about the powers of donkey milk, based on testimonials from the 1700s!  Back then microscopes were a very new invention, and the most popular methods of treating patients included bloodletting and blistering.  But the assertion that the product will slow down the aging process is probably the one thing that will get some of the statements removed from Shamâne’s website with prejudice, by Advertising Standards Canada.

According to the ASC:

Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to any identified or identifiable product(s) or service(s).

Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable. If the support on which an advertised claim or representation depends is test or survey data, such data must be reasonably competent and reliable, reflecting accepted principles of research design and execution that characterize the current state of the art. At the same time, however, such research should be economically and technically feasible, with due recognition of the various costs of doing business.”

Although relatively unknown in Europe and the UK, horse oil is a popular and widely used beauty product in Asian culture. It’s the latest craze in Korean skin care. No, it doesn’t dsc_0001give you long, pony-tail like locks.  It’s rendered horse fat, quite likely made from American and Canadian  horses who were exported for live slaughter.  Horse oil products are sold/marketed by a variety of names – Guerisson 9 Complex Cream with horse oil is readily available at the Pacific Mall in Toronto, along with many other products containing horse oil from Korea. Horse oil is also sold as “Son Bahyu/Sonbahyu” on both Amazon and eBay. Once again,  miraculous claims are made about these products, none of which are substantiated.  There may be little we Canadians can do about products that are not produced in Canada and where claims are made on websites in Korean or Japanese languages.

dsc_0032There is no reason to assume that donkey milk or horse oil have any beneficial properties other than possibly as emollients,  and we have plenty of cruelty-free products that already accomplish this.  In order to satisfy some of these claims, the constituent ingredients in the milk and oil would have to be absorbed by the skin past the epidermis (the outermost layer).  The rule of thumb is that anything smaller than 500 Daltons can penetrate the skin while anything larger cannot.  A Dalton is the standard unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale.

If the milk and oil molecules in question were small and permeable (under 500 Daltons) they would be uptaken into the skin cells and possibly into the bloodstream. If not, the ingredients may just penetrate through the top layer of skin only and will just be sloughed off as part of the dead skin cells. Even if they can be absorbed there is no evidence that they will have any sort of positive impact or that they will suspend the aging process. Myths that your skin absorbs large amounts of chemicals are NOT true.

Even people who eat animals often realize it’s ridiculous to add them to skin care products.  We already have the option of plant-based products that can be crueltyfreelogo_jpgabsorbed into the skin and may even provide some protection against essential fatty acid deficiency. We don’t need milk or horse oil or other animal products added to soaps or lotions.

Always remember that oftentimes these claims about skin care in particular have little to no research behind them and they may be based in superstition, popular trends, or “traditional medicine.”  Please buy cruelty-free products wherever possible. And Pubmed is great for advanced reading to help substantiate claims.







Horse “Passports” Come Up Lame At Saskatchewan Auction – Will CFIA Take Corrective Action?


larry_the_cable_guy_health_inspector_xlgWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Hat Tip:  Debby

The Johnstone Auction Mart in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan sells over 1,000 equines per year  in lots or as riding horses – minis, yearlings, bucking stock, mares and geldings in both “medium” and “good” condition.   Selling prices range from about $25 up to $4,400 (more for lots).  The average prices for horses they advertise as “older” is $200-$400,  which of course are within the realm of slaughter prices.

Like most auction websites,  they provide a link to the Equine Information Document (EID) which the CFIA has always told us is mandatory for slaughter-bound horses.  But  auction management have a rather unique way of interpreting who needs to fill one out.

Their website states:

“Horses sold at Regular Horse Sales must have the following document filled out regarding  and drugs [sic] which may have been given to the horse in the previous 180 days.  Although not mandatory,  it is in the seller’s interest to fill one out for each horse so the price is not discounted.

Yearlings, and miniatures and donkeys do not need an EID form.”



This statement struck me as extremely odd,  mainly because they touted the EID as a “mandatory,  yet optional” document,  and also because they indicated that it was not required for yearlings, minis, or donkeys.  It is the slaughterhouses’ responsibility to ensure that a valid EID has been submitted for each equine they receive,  but if it is only optional at any auction,  who will collect it if not the sale barn itself?  And why were some equines seemingly exempt?  Both the Meat Hygiene Manual of the CFIA and farming Codes of Practice,  when referring to equines,  consider that the term “horse” refers to all domestic equine species, namely horses, ponies, miniature horses, donkeys, mules and hinnies.


From the CFIAs Meat Hygiene Manual….

After navigating my way through the CFIA’s new phone system with 78 menu options and 7 levels,  designed to discourage all but the most indefatigible caller,  I was transferred to various people whose mailboxes were all full and there was no way to backtrack.  The whole idea of all the options and levels is to deter you from actually getting anything done. It cuts down on the number of complaints and support that must be provided.  Normally,  to get the fastest service I would press any number that indicates to the organization that I am likely to spend money on more service,  but that clearly won’t work with the CFIA. Ignoring the menu options and sitting on hold waiting for someone to answer won’t work either. When when I finally reached a live person they both grilled me to find out why an Ontarian would have any interest in something happening in Saskatchewan.  How about just answering the question?

Mini horses are uneconomical to ship long distances to slaughter. But if an opportunity presents itself, they are still considered to be “meat on the hoof.” Photo courtesy of Tierschutzbund (Switzerland) taken on a feedlot in Alberta.

Mini horses are uneconomical to ship long distances to slaughter. But if an opportunity presents itself, they are still considered to be “meat on the hoof.” Photo courtesy of Tierschutzbund (Switzerland) taken on a feedlot in Alberta.

I finally spoke with two veterinarians,  neither of whom appears to have any idea what really happens at a horse auction even though both were familiar with this particular business. Dr. Allison Danyluk Ross,  a supervisory veterinarian for the western operations of the CFIA  helpfully reassured me that not all horses at auctions go for slaughter.  She reiterated that it was not the auction mart’s responsibility to collect EIDs at all,  but that somehow,  they must arrive with horses presented for slaughter.  So it’s the owner’s responsibility to fill out the EID,  but it’s not mandatory, and it doesn’t have to be filled out at the actual auction, so by what other means would it arrive at the slaughterhouse if the horse is sold to a kill buyer? (that’s a rhetorical question,  dear readers).

Once again, any form that only asks for voluntary declaration of drugs is unlikely to be complied with when the seller wishes

These young mules were photographed by me at the OLEX auction in Waterloo Ontario on July 5, 2016. I was unable to stay to find our whether they went to a private home or were sold to a kill buyer. The fact that they are mules is not an impediment to slaughtering them, despite what the CFIA thinks.

These young mules were photographed by me at the OLEX auction in Waterloo Ontario on July 5, 2016. I was unable to stay to find our whether they went to a private home or were sold to a kill buyer. The fact that they are mules is not an impediment to slaughtering them, despite what the CFIA thinks.

to dispose of the horse for profit. I had to ask Dr. Danyluk Ross twice why minis, yearlings,  and donkeys do not require EIDs at this auction before she finally responded that she would pass my concern onto the Red Meat Specialist. Obviously Dr. Danyluk Ross believes everything is fine because the CFIA audits the paperwork – audit reports are only useful if someone in authority at the CFIA  reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results.  Indeed,  Canada’s food safety system is a patchwork of third-party audits, personal assurances (like Dr. Danyluk Ross’ email), and profit before protection.

When veterinarian Dr. Harry King was asked why Johnstone Auctions would indicate on their webpage that minis, yearlings and donkeys brought to the auction would not require an EID,  he replied,  “because we don’t slaughter them in Canada.”  He also said that Johnstone Auctions focuses primarily on goats and cows and not horses,  and that they are not a “horse slaughter auction.”  Dr. King is dead wrong,  since the Donkey Sanctuary in Guelph acknowledges rescuing donkeys from slaughter (albeit,  in the province of Ontario) and kill buyer Eddie Kohlman is known to frequent the Saskatchewan horse auctions.

So much energy is spent on denial rather than enforcing legislation and regulations that already exist. Any belief or

suggestion that EIDs are consistently completed by owners invites some serious criticism.  In the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s investigation – “Pasture to Plate,” there can be no dispute that, when reviewing the EIDs included in the document, a pattern emerges and it is very clear to see that some EIDs have obviously been “pre-written” across the top with “Drug-free six months,” and the appropriate boxes checked to agree with this information.

Why did the CFIA inspectors and slaughter plant operators not flag this for concern? What remedial actions have the CFIA taken against auctions and owners that have submitted incomplete, incorrect or falsified EIDs?  In addition, what actions has the CFIA taken to ensure Canadian and American horses sold at auctions have EIDs that are filled in completely, correctly and truthfully by their owners?

Epiloque – September 21, 2016

Apparently the CFIA decided to act quickly on this one.  Johnstone’s horse auction page with incorrect EID instructions was quickly modified to remove the references to donkeys, minis, and yearlings.  You can see the change has been made here.  I believe someone at the CFIA intended to let me know of the outcome by phone,  as I had received a call,  but no one left a message.

What Is The Truth Behind One Of The Most Brutal Horse Slaughter Images On The Internet?

What Is The Truth Behind One Of The Most Brutal Horse Slaughter Images On The Internet?

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

How many times have we seen the picture below depicted as gruesome evidence of horse (and foal) slaughter?  I’ve no doubt that many people have been disturbed or reduced to tears by what it depicts,  a dead mare and foal on a cold floor,  seemingly devoid of any sort of compassion in their final moments.  Ever since I first saw the picture, I wondered what was happening – was it a picture of a slaughter operation?  If so, it seemed to be uncharacteristic in many ways from what we’ve seen elsewhere and know about slaughter, stunning and evisceration.

Google and Tin Eye’s reverse image search engine are great tools that can be used to find the date that any image first appeared on the internet.  This image first appeared on a Polish website  in 2011, and has been copied on many social media channels since then.  Because the entire site is in Polish, and the video in question no longer seems to work, I wouldn’t advise visiting it because I don’t know if there’s anything malicious about the website itself in terms of viruses or harmful codes. But if you want to view the original video that has been recently copied to Youtube, you can see it here [graphic and disturbing].

But back to my search for the truth behind the image…….The following may be hard for many to read so proceed with caution…

I shared this picture with a veterinarian and asked that person to comment on what they saw.  Because this image was captured in a foreign country we can’t be absolutely certain what we’re looking at, but our veterinarian found the image to be inconsistent with a slaughter operation and more likely to be an example of a necropsy  or possibly an effort at an emergency caesarian.

Horses are generally stunned in a chute, then hoisted with one rear leg and hung from the line where they are bled out.  They then travel along the line where they reach the evisceration area.  As mare and foalmany of us have seen from the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition youtube videos, it’s a brutal operation where horses are left bloody and covered in excrement and urine.

In this screen cap, there’s no chute, the mare has not been hung and is instead shackled.  She is still wearing a halter, which in a slaughter operation would have been long removed. There is a channel in the floor for removing bodily fluids.  There is no evidence that the mare’s throat was slit and no evidence that she was bled out.  We don’t know how she died, whether her death was natural or sudden in a large animal clinic, or whether she was euthanized with barbiturates.

We know mares and foals are dying in feedlots and slaugherhouses in real life in Canada. Through Access-To-Information requests, the CHDC has publicized evidence that pregnant mares are being shipped to slaughter, sometimes delivering in trailers or in the actual slaughterhouse itself (both are issues of non-compliance and/or violations of Canada’s Health of Animals Regulations).  We know mares  are enduring transport in late stage pregnancy and giving birth to their foals in these places of death.  We don’t really know the context in this sad photo, but the above clues suggest (but don’t confirm) that this is not a photo of a horse being slaughtered for food.  At least this is what I am going to choose to believe based on my conversation with a veterinarian who is familiar with commercial slaughter operations.  Despite all the evidence of cruelty toward horses already available and assaulting us every day,  I want to believe that this is one less example.

Embryo Transfer – A Shadowy Market Ripe for Exploitation



Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

We’ve known for many years that farm animals have been exploited to produce more meat, milk, wool etc.  Embryo transfer in horses is another technology that is unrivalled for its inefficiency and costliness.  There’s also some evidence that embryo transfer (ET) is exploitative because it can be painful, requiring analgesics.  We recently read about the cast-off recipient mares (the “gestational” carriers that give birth to foals of a different mare/stallion) from the Arnold Reproduction Center  who were consigned to the Kaufman kill pen/kill buyer Mike McBarron for eventual slaughter.   Once exposed on social media platforms, veterinarian Leea Arnold responded:

“I recently sent some mares to the Cleburne Horse Sale.  I certainly never intended for them to end up in the slaughter pen. Many of these mares came to me through the sale barn system, were sick, completely unbroken and certainly destined for slaughter at that time (15 or so years ago). As long as these mares are reproductively sound, they stay in my herd – many probably longer than they are useful. My staff and I have taken the time, money, and resources we have to help these mares become useful and give them a viable purpose.

“I will use another avenue to re-home these mares in the future. If you are a non-profit organization and have your 501(c)3 at hand, I would be more than happy to donate any older or reproductively unsound recipients to your facilities as they become available.”

Dr. Arnold did not otherwise offer to help the animals that were scheduled to be sent for slaughter.

gypsyIn addition to horses, mules are also being used in at least one euphemistically named “mule mom” program  using embryo transfers from gypsy vanner mares.  The Gypsy Gold breeding program  in Ocala Florida charges up to $14,000 for a purebred gypsy vanner foal carried by a mule, who is often shipped to and from the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm and the contractor of their service.  They also helpfully offer a service for purchasers of the gypsy foal who are not satisfied with the quality of their new purchase – they will connect you with an “appropriate buyer” – quite possibly the same buyer who will purchase the mule moms once their fertility wanes.  At the moment, this farm offers 11 mares for breeding, so one can only imagine how many times they are being flushed out and the number of “mule moms” that are being used as gestational carriers.

Currently, most equine breed associations permit embryo transfer. Notable exceptions include the Jockey Club (thoroughbreds), the United States Trotting Association, and the American Miniature Horse Association. Brazil and Argentina are currently the leaders in equine ET, although it’s believed that about 10,000 embryos were collected and transferred in the USA in 2014. The practice seems to have become more widespread in 2015, with more countries reporting embryo transfer activities, including Canada, South Africa, France, Poland, Switzerland, the USA, and Mexico.

Why is Equine Embryo Transfer Also A Welfare Issue?

Because veterinarians can only flush fertilized eggs (embryos) from the uterus of a donor mares at specific times the cycles of one or more recipient mares must be synchronized with the donor mare. This is why reproductive vet clinics tend to have a wide selection of recipient mares from which to choose. The number of mares that some vet clinics keep on hand for this purpose varies from dozens of mares to hundreds.   In many cases the donor mare is synchronized with two or more recipient mares in the event that multiple embryos are recovered from the donor mare.  Obviously,  these mares’ “jobs” come with no guarantee of a home placement after their careers are over and may easily fall into the wrong hands.

There are potential welfare issues for a donor mare, including those associated with the flushing procedure and with repeat injections to attempt to induce ovulation when used. Because more than two mares may be involved, the number of invasive rectal and ultrasound examinations is increased. Where recipient mare numbers are limited, greater pharmacological manipulation (often involving repeated injections) may also be used to achieve ovulatory synchronization between donor and recipient mares.

While there are apparently no studies on whether ET is painful in mares, it is known to be painful in other species, especially those in which embryo flushing is a surgical procedure. Perhaps because of this it is common practice to sedate mares both during flushing and ET.

Transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration in women is known to be associated with pain, the severity of which is dependent upon needle design. In sheep and goats, repeated surgical egg retrieval has been associated with the development of adhesions. In a study of pony mares who were the subject of invasive follicular procedures, it was observed that heart rates and cortisol levels increased considerably as soon as a needle was introduced into the procedure.

Lastly, the development of the “super ovulation” protocol and the resulting production of more oocytes (cells that develop into an ovum/egg) will heighten the possibility of more foals using larger herds of recipient mares, greater numbers of horses born that aren’t needed,  and more slaughter after the recip mares are no longer required.

Drugs/Hormones  Commonly Used in Equine Reproduction Practices and Their Withdrawal Times

Sources for withdrawal times were the Meat Hygiene Manual of the CFIA or drug datasheets.  It is important to note that withdrawal times are often extended when drug

Most donor mares are sport horses, Arabians or Quarter Horses. It’s an appealing option for those who can afford it, since it allows the option of the owner taking their mare out of competition for only about a week in order to produce a foal.

Most donor mares are sport horses, Arabians or Quarter Horses. It’s an appealing option for those who can afford it, since it allows the option of the owner taking their mare out of competition for only about a week in order to produce a foal.

combinations are used. Drugs used off-label in unapproved species may have differing withdrawal times even though appropriate dosage is given and whether used in combination with other drugs. The dose itself along with the frequency of use (repeated oral administrations can greatly extend withdrawal times) are two of the most important factors.  Compounded drugs (as opposed to generic or branded drugs sold OTC or through veterinarians) can vary widely in potency as well.  The amount of body fat, the breed, gender and health of the horse are also factors that affect kinetic decay of drugs.  Lastly, the amount of stress that the horse is subject to may also affect withdrawal times.  And even though a pharmacological effect on the animal may be over, the drug and its metabolites may still be detectable, and those metabolites may also be prohibited. The CFIA manual doesn’t tell anyone this, nor could they expect the lay horse person to understand any of the factors that also affect withdrawal times and drug tests,

Altrenogest/Progesterone/ Medroxyprogesterone (synthetic variant of hormone progesterone)

  • Trade name: Regumate®, Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone)
  • Class of Drug: Hormone
  • Use:   Clinical uses include synchronizing the ovulations of a donor mare with a specific recipient mare. It may also be used to alter or manipulate the estrous cycle of a mare for a scheduled breeding due to stallion availability.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  42 days withdrawal

Flunixin meglumine

  • Trade Name: Banamine®
  • Class of Drug: non-narcotic, nonsteroidal, analgesic agent with anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity
  • Use: Reduces moderate inflammation by stopping the formation of prostaglandins, which are mediators of inflammation.  They also reduce the formation of certain pain-causing products of inflammation.  Embryo recipients may receive flunixin meglumine i.v. at the time of transfer.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: IV – 10 days/IM 30 days


  • Trade Name:  Quadrisol, VETRANAL
  • Class of Drug: Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory agent, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, NSAID
  • Use: For the control of inflammation and relief of pain associated with musculo-skeletal disorders and soft tissue injuries in horses
  • CFIA Withdrawal Prohibition: 21 days (oral and IV)

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

  • Trade Name: Chorulon®
  • Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
  • Use: Can also be administered to mares to accelerate ovulation selectively where needed to improve the degree of synchrony between the donor and recipient mares. Induces ovulation in mares. Induction of ovulation is advantageous if a mare is in a timed breeding, shipped semen, frozen semen or embryo transfer program.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  0 days

Deslorelin Acetate

  • Trade Name: Ovuplant™ SucroMate™
  • Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
  • Use: A potent, synthetic form of GnRH. The drug is administered as a subcutaneous implant.The most common use in a breeding program is the induction of a timed ovulation, such as when mares are being bred with cooled-transported semen or frozen semen
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  not on CFIA website but listed with a “WARNING: For use in horses (estrous mares) only. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. For intramuscular (IM) use only. Do not administer intravascularly. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.”

Lidocaine Hydrochloride

  • Trade Name: Lidoject, Lidocaine HCI 2% etc.
  • Class of Drug: Local anesthetic and anti-arrhythmic agent.
  • Use:  Skin block for sutures and implants
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: 7 days



  • Trade Name:  Equidone®
  • Class of Drug: Dopamine antagonist. Neurotransmitter
  • Use: Modulates or suppresses production of the hormone prolactin from the pituitary.  In breeding programs it stimulates lactation or the induction of lactation in nurse mares or the induction of follicular development. Also used as a preventative for fescue toxicosis.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: “no known manufacture for veterinary use in Canada”


  • Trade Name: OxoJect™, Oxytocin-S
  • Class of Drug: Hormone
  • Use: Administered to mares for evacuation of uterine fluid and treatment of retained placenta. It may also be used for induction of labor in late term mares and milk let-down.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on website: 0 days



The welfare of the animal is always compromised when greed is involved.  The ability for breeders to implant multiple embryos with no limits caters to the wealthy individuals in the industry. Rakhassa Bey While one might argue that ET is less risky than foaling for a mare,  horses should not have litters, especially since there is some question whether it is humane to repeatedly subject both recipient and donor mares to invasive procedures, after which many horses are dumped.  The worst  but hardly the only offender of this practice, the AQHA, allows multiple-embryo-transfer rules that facilitate overpopulation by allowing mares to have more than one foal per year. Rules about using frozen semen or eggs from long-sterile or dead animals  have allowed horses to breed from beyond the grave.  Consider that First Prize Dash,  a 1988 quarter horse mare – produced  44 offspring!  Her sire, Dash for Cash, sired 1,233 foals!  

It is also very doubtful  that either Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouses have tested for some of these lesser used or less obvious drugs or hormones.  Since some drugs/hormones are not even line items in the Meat Hygiene Manual, it would be easy for sellers of horses to plead ignorance of the requirement to disclose on an EID. Embryo transfer therefore facilitates  an already unsavory horsemeat industry in novel, previously unanticipated ways.

Rescue Reality


Vinnie-aka-Executive-ShopperSeveral competitive markets for horses have emerged as a result of the opportunities gleaned from social media sites like Facebook. Kill buyers outbid private buyers at auctions on horses that they think they can flip. People are buying horses at outrageous prices and paying phenomenal amounts of money that could be used for feed and vetting, to ship them halfway across the country only to sometimes find that they are sick. In many cases the horses that arrive bear little resemblance to their photographs, may be misrepresented and sometimes must be euthanized upon arrival. After passionately giving themselves to their previous owners, these horses do not deserve to die.

We have largely forgotten about the horse rescues who have to confront this competition for resources and face challenges that surpass those of humane societies and shelters.  Most rescues and sanctuaries rely on public donations rather than government funding, and they require commitment, passion and business acumen in order that they be sustainable. Private rescues are often run by a single person or a small group rather than a large board of directors. Most of their expenses cannot be discounted, and veterinarians and farriers usually don’t work for free.

Many horses waiting for homes at rescues are registered, sound, very rideable, beautiful, kind, and healthy after months of care. Rescues restore horses to good health, evaluate them for a variety of different types of riders, put training on them, and often provide warranties for a price that doesn’t reflect the investment of time.  Yet the perception exists in public realm that rescued horses are devalued or marginalized as old or dangerous, when in fact they are usually quite the opposite.

I really believe that we need to be careful what we allow, as it is what will continue.  If we choose not to support rescues, they will all go away….

Tanya Boyd of Kindred Farm Rescue will no longer offer adoptions through her rescue.  In her own words,  she explains why she is decertifying her not-for-profit and her former rescue operations will now operate for-profit.  (We are trying Tanya….)


“I have been running a horse rescue for just over four years. Effective today, that comes to an end. From now on, any horse that I “purchase” will be rehabbed and marketed as for sale for a price that is in line for their true value. I will no longer operate as a rescue, because, for some reason, potential buyers think that these horses/ponies are less than, and are not as valuable as horses of the same quality, advertised on the open market.

I cannot put in words, just how emotional this is for me…showing my horses to potential buyers…knowing full well the value of any of my “rescues”, on the open market…and I am singing their praises….and offering them up for free or for $500. and still no buyers. I will do this no longer. I am simply not going to give horses away for a song anymore.

If you were an orphan…or adopted…are you worth any less? Many horse rescues in this area, and beyond, are giving it up. Why? Because there is no funding…because acquiring and maintaining Not for Profit Status or Charitable Status….for horse rescues is extremely time consuming, in terms of the administrative requirements. I know…been there, done that…cannot commit the time required to fill out paperwork. So, I sent off my letter to dissolve my Not for Profit Status. Not worth the time and energy required. Sadly, horses do not rate, in terms of rescue organizations…they are still deemed as livestock…and livestock is butchered…..and that will not change until the public demands that it change.

Frustrated, yes. Sad, yes. But I do not see a move towards any change of status for horses in sight . They are indeed, the forgotten. Where would we be now without them?. I am truly heartbroken that in the four years I have been doing this, nothing has changed. And the public is no more aware now, than it was then, of the degree to which we subject horses to so much pain and abuse. It seems that it really doesn’t matter. I feel so defeated. What does it take to get people to understand that horses are not meant to be slaughtered so inhumanely….and transported so inhumanely. Along with many other animals that we ship in transport trucks, packed full, in 35 degree weather….for hours and hours.

What have we become, as a society, that we close our eyes to this abuse….it makes me so very sad. We are allowed to ship animals for 36 hours, without water, without feed….and in this heat. And that is considered to be ok. Again….in 4 years of doing this…this horse rescue…I have seen no change in our approach….no real concern about what we subject both horses, and other farm animals to in terms of humane handling…prior to being butchered for our consumption. Are we really that unfeeling? Or do we really not want to know.

Time to ask yourself these questions.”

We All Matter – A Sermon About The Moral Value of Animals


This is a sermon delivered by Earthsave Canada president David Steele at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, July 31st, 2016.  It was originally published on Earthsave Canada`s website.

dreamstime_s_54024506Six years ago today, on July 31st 2010, one of the closest friends I’ve ever known died. Her name was Tasty. Tasty the Sky. She was a canine person. An Australian Shepherd.

Tasty was born in early September 1993 in a research facility at the University of Virginia. She was bred to be deaf. It turns out that a common mutation in Australian Shepherds is an analog to similar mutations in humans – these mutations are behind the most common genetic cause of deafness in our species.

Once the study of her deafness was done, she was sent to another lab where the nerves to her heart were cut. The idea was to mimic one of the effects of a heart transplant. Her heart rate from then on was very low. Didn’t interfere with her health overall, though.

But the next event planned for her very definitely would have. Because she was no longer of any use to the institution, she was slated to be killed. Fortunately for her – and, as it turned out, for me – a brave veterinary student named Jessica Levy couldn’t let that happened. She spirited Tasty out of that place. After a short chain of events, Tasty found her new home with me.

I tell you about this because I think that it is through our pets that we often get insight into the internal lives of animals. We can learn from them how similar they often are to us – in their basic wants and desires; in their curiosity; in their problem solving, even.

Tasty would hug people she loved. She would remember how to navigate complex paths in places she once lived – years before – to find old friends or to get a treat that she expected would be at the end of the line. She was very bright. There’s no doubt about it. But really, she was unexceptional. The vast majority of creatures on this planet have amazing capabilities.

That’s in very large measure because, like you and me, they share a very basic and mysterious trait. They are conscious.

And wow is consciousness amazing!

To me, consciousness is the essence of what it is to be a person. It is awareness, the ability to experience. We all know we’ve got it, but we don’t really understand what it is. Physicians assess it by simple test, ranking humans’ consciousness on a scale ranging from full alertness and responsiveness, through states of delirium, and all the way to what they consider a complete lack of consciousness, defined by a complete lack of responsiveness to painful stimulation. Still, this is just a practical definition. It doesn’t get to what consciousness really is.

It’s a question that has eluded the greatest of minds for millennia. Philosophers have puzzled over it and scientists, too, haven’t been able to figure it out. Some claim consciousness is an illusion. The vast majority of us would disagree with that, I think – and with good reason. I include myself on that one. But still, try and tell me just what it is.

Some say that mind and body are separate; others say mind and body are the same. “Consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe”; “it’s a side-effect of how our brains are organized”; “it works like a machine”; “it works because of the spooky properties of quantum mechanics.” The list goes on and on. Put the theories together and what do you get? An unintelligible mess that still doesn’t explain what consciousness is.

Me, even though I don’t understand it, I think it’s physically based. We know that we can modify it by drugs – even eliminate it, e.g., for surgery, then bring it back at will. It disappears every night, too, as we sleep. That, to me, says that it arises as a property of our brains.

And again, looking around, as my experience with Tasty showed me so very well, we humans are obviously nothing like the only creatures on this planet who experience it.

Dogs and cats, cows and pigs, chickens and crows all clearly share the basic experience of life that we do. Fish, too, show clear signs of conscious awareness. Charles Darwin saw it even in the lowly earthworm. I’m not so sure that he was right about that, but I do know that they can be trained to solve very simple mazes. Fruit flies are much better at solving mazes, though; and they can even learn from each other.

We humans have our biases, so most of what we know about animal consciousness comes either from tests of animal intelligence or studies on a trait that is medically useful to humans: pain. We look into intelligence because we value that in others; we look into pain mostly because we want to use the understanding we get from pain in animals to figure out how to alleviate pain in us.

On intelligence, know, for example, that orangutans are relative geniuses. They have been known to steal canoes and paddle them away and even to put on humans’ clothing, if given the chance. Returning to dogs for a second, we have good evidence they can recognize the emotions in other dogs’ faces and in our faces, too.

That animals feel pain is obvious.

We use rats in experiments on pain because we know that they will react to it like we do and that drugs that blunt pain in them almost always do the same in us. They recognize pain in each other as well, and will try to help when they see another rat in distress. Lots of studies have shown this! We’ve even learned that fish feel pain and react similarly to us when confronted with it.

Some scientists claim that fish are not actually feeling pain; their brains are too different from ours, they say. That, to me, speaks of irrational arrogance. One doesn’t need a similar brain to have fundamentally the same experience and ability. Different structures may well take on different roles in different species. Just look at the intelligence of a crow or a parrot! Or even a chicken!

Birds’ brains are very different from those of humans and other mammals. They lack the neocortex that so many scientists tell us is necessary for intelligence. Yet, they are clearly intelligent. Crows make tools – both in the lab and in the wild. Just last week, scientists reported observing New Caledonian crows make long hooks so that they could carry more than one item away from a scene at once. Clearly ‘bird brain’ doesn’t mean what we once thought it did!

I speak of this not only because consciousness is such an amazing mystery, but also because of its moral dimension.

Beings with consciousness feel joy and pain; excitement and disappointment. They have wants and desires. What we call good can befall them; so can ill.

In short, animals – like us! – have moral value.

I am not saying that there are not differences in the ways the we and dogs and sharks and elephants experience consciousness. I’m not saying that the vast majority of other animals we share this earth with are anything like as aware as we are of their place in the world, or of the consequences of their actions.

What I am saying is that they are very much worthy of our moral consideration. That their experiences of life are sufficiently similar to our own that we should do our best to avoid causing harm to them.

We love our dogs and cats and do our very best to ensure that their lives are pleasant. Other animals are similarly deserving.

And those animals may be more aware of us and our abilities than you may think.

Many sure are aware that we are not beings to be trusted. We hunt them, pave over their habitats and otherwise disrupt their lives.

One study that I read about this week highlights this reality very well.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario studied the fear responses of small predators. I confess that I haven’t read the study yet, so I don’t know the details. What I do know – reported in New Scientist Magazine – is that that badgers, foxes and raccoons evidently fear humans much more than they fear bears, wolves and dogs.

In one experiment, the scientists played badgers, in the wild, the sounds of bears, wolves, dogs and humans over hidden speakers. While hearing bears and dogs had some effect – reducing the likelihood that the badgers would feed, simply hearing the sound of people conversing or reading passages from books completely prevented the badgers from feeding.

A lot of animals, I would guess, if they think about it – think of we humans as terrible threats.

Clearly, from the animals’ points of view, we are perpetrators of horrors. We can’t say just how aware any specific animal is of the dangers we pose, but clearly they avoid us to the extent that they can.

There is one major way that we differ big time from at least the vast majority of the other animal species on earth.

We have highly developed abstract language. We can learn from others over great distances; we can learn from ancestors long dead.

What a huge advantage that is!

And with that advantage comes great opportunity for improvement – and in my view, great responsibility as well.

We have developed thoughtful, sophisticated theories of ethics and morality. We understand the world to a degree unimaginable in the rest of the animal kingdom. We know dreamstime_xs_7168047that others feel pain and fear when we do harm to them, just as we know that they can feel joy and belonging when we treat them well.

So let’s live according to the better angels of our nature. Let’s look objectively both at the good we do in the world and at the ill. Let’s strive to enhance the good and eliminate the bad.

To do that well at that, we need to look carefully at our own actions in our own lives. We need to consider their effects, even whether our actions are warranted at all.

I’m going to focus now on one part of the moral universe that we should be considering. It’s one of the easiest for us – in this rich Western world – to deal with. And it is one with among the greatest consequences.

For the last few minutes of this homily, I’m going to focus on animal agriculture.

From just a human point of view, this is an extremely important issue.

Animal agriculture is a huge contributor to global warming. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization pegs it as responsible for between 15 and 18% of global warming. That’s more than the 14% associated with all of the cars and planes and trains and ships in the world, combined.

Animal agriculture is responsible also for other egregious environmental effects.

The vast majority of corn and soy grown in North America is grown for animal feed. The corn, especially, requires enormous amounts of fertilizer. One result of the use of so much fertilizer is that it runs off into our waterways. This results in massive algal blooms and dead zones. One of the worst examples is the dead zone that forms at the mouth of the Mississippi every year. Every year, about 20,000 square kilometers of the Caribbean becomes an oxygen-depleted zone where all of the fish and lobsters and other sea life go belly up for lack of oxygen.

Animal agriculture is responsible for most of the ammonia pollution in North America. The majority of our fresh water goes into raising animals – mostly to grow the feed corn, soy and alfalfa.

It’s even a major contributor to the antibiotic crisis that the World Health Organization is now warning us about. Over 80% of the antibiotics we use in North America aren’t used to treat humans. No, they’re added to the feed of factory farmed animals. In such tight quarters, they’re necessary to prevent the rapid spread of disease and – to boot – they somehow speed up the growth of the animals.

And that’s not all.

Modern animal agriculture steals food from the poor.

As Vaclav Smil at the University of Manitoba has well documented, animal agriculture is outrageously inefficient. The way we raise animals today, it takes some 14 lbs of corn and soy, etc., to get back one pound of edible pork. Over 30 lbs of corn and soy and alfalfa go into a pound of beef that we actually eat.

In terms of protein, we are similarly careless. Whereas we could get all of the protein in the corn and soy if we just to eat the corn and soy itself, we instead throw most of it away, mostly in animal feces, urine and bones.

Again, referring to Vaclav Smil’s work, we throw away 60% of the plant protein we fed to the cows when we drink a glass of milk. We throw away three quarters of what we could have gotten when we eat chicken or eggs. And we throw away a whopping 87 to 95% of the protein we could have had when we eat pork or beef. It’s outrageous, really!

Throwing away that much corn and soy – and wasting the land on which other forage is grown – necessarily raises the price of grain. That wastage limits the supply of grains, often pricing them out of the reach of the world’s poor. These days biofuels, too, are contributing to that injustice.

Even more outrageous is the way we treat the animals we are so wastefully using.

When we think of farmed animals, we tend to think of animals in pasture; chicken coops; pigs wallowing in the mud. But that is not the reality for the vast majority of animals raised for food today.

Today, the vast majority of our animal foods come from factory farms. Some 98% of eggs come from hens packed 6 to 8 to a cage – each chicken with the equivalent of an 8 ½ x 11” sheet of paper to her – but it’s a wire mesh floor on which she lives. Her brothers, perhaps luckier than her, were ground up alive or suffocated in giant garbage bags on the day they hatched.

Broiler chickens live their 7 week lives on the floors of giant barns. Their badly manipulated bodies growing all out of proportion to the ability of their legs to support them.

60 years ago, it took broiler chickens almost twice as long to reach ‘market weight.’ And ‘market weight’ in those days was one quarter of what it is today. To satisfy our desire for white meat and to meet the financial demand for more meat per bird, the chickens have been bred to grow into near-Frankenstein monsters. They can’t be rescued. Their bodies will soon do them in.

Female pigs are confined to so-called gestation crates. They can stand up and lie down. That’s all. There is not enough room to turn around. Every few months they are forcibly impregnated.

Dairy cows, too, are forcibly impregnated. Like humans, cows give milk only after they give birth. So, they are are artificially impregnated once a year. Her calf will either become another dairy calf or, if male, either be immediately killed or raised for veal. Neither will be allowed to suckle from his or her mother. That milk is for us; the calf gets an artificial formula.

None of this is necessary. Humans do not need to eat meat and other animal products. In fact, there is lots of evidence that avoiding them does us good. Study after study finds dramatically lower rates of heart disease and type II diabetes in vegetarians and especially vegans. Rates of colon cancer and some other cancers are lower, too.

And it’s easier and easier to forgo the stuff. There are plant-based meat substitutes galore. One recently developed burger even has heme in it – evidently the secret ingredient for making beef taste like beef. Plant-based milks are easy to find, too.

We humans are conscious, just like the other animals around us. We have a huge advantage, though. We can learn from others via our abstract language. We can reflect on our actions with the benefit of knowledge no other species that we know of could even dream of – or even imagine exists.

Let’s use our amazing gift for good. We’ll be better off as individuals. We’ll improve our health. Poor people will eat better. Animals will not have to suffer so.

If We Could Eliminate All Animal Suffering, Should We Do It?


In the animal kingdom, predators in search of a meal rarely seek to cause suffering – they seek a quick and efficient kill.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

I’ve always enjoyed reading futurists such as Ray Kurzweil and crossover sci-fi writers like David Brin who are inspired by imagination. Savvy futurists envision how society could function differently and better, but prediction also helps make us aware of futures we might wish to avoid.  One futurist vision that would theoretically have a very high pay-off is that proposed by one of the world’s most notable transhumanists, philosopher David Pearce. Pearce has advocated for an end to all animal suffering caused by carnivorous predators eating herbivorous animals, whom he describes as being “trapped in the never-ending cycle of blind Darwinian processes.

Pearce’s abolitionist manifesto, the Hedonistic Imperative, proposes that a combination of pharmacology, reprogramming, GPS monitoring, neurochips, and pushing gene-edits through entire populations of animals are the methods by which we could eliminating the suffering caused by predation.   To that end, transhumanists,  philosophers,  and other followers including some vegans,  have created overarching plans to bio-engineer carnivores and omnivores (and presumably other taxonomies such as parasitoids, insects, and possibly viroids too) down to the most granular level of detail. This plan amounts to nothing less than a complete micromanagement of the planet’s ecosystem, staggering in proportion, and one that would essentially turn the wild regions of the planet into zoos.  While such a utopian dream could,  in theory at least, eliminate animal suffering in the wild, it would also have a high risk of irreversibility — and unintended or hard-to-calculate consequences for other species.


Retro-Engineering the Evolved Characteristics of Animals

The sum total of all the bodily parts and biological functions that an animal’s genotype creates to propagate itself is its phenotype.  Millions of years of evolution made

Of these species that have been described and catalogued, about 200 have had their genome sequenced. The pace of sequencing is affected by the cost and speed of modern methods.

Of these species that have been described and catalogued, about 200 have had their genome sequenced. The pace of sequencing is affected by the cost and speed of modern methods.

carnivorous animals into what they are today.  Not only would it be necessary to “ re-engineer an animal’s consciousness” as Pearce has described,  but going forward, physically modify their very phenotype so that they would be equipped to consume plant matter rather than animal flesh.  Being a carnivore is part of that animals’ phenotype – they are uniquely equipped with  tools to kill, consume, and digest their prey.  A herbivore, on the other hand, has evolved to evade predators and derive as much energy from vegetable matter as possible. Omnivores meanwhile, have evolved to process both meat and vegetable matter. In fact, since herbivores, omnivores, and some predators also exhibit behaviours that co-evolved in the presence of top level/apex predators, many of those behaviours and biological functions would also be redundant.

The micromanagement challenge required to innovate and maintain a cruelty-free biopsphere is astonishing in its complexity.  To begin, we would need to acquire and map the entire biocode for about 8 million species of animals, many of whom haven’t yet been discovered.  It is assumed that CRISP-R gene editing would be required to manipulate genes that control the development of teeth, the processes by which various species break down carbohydrates/protein/fats and lipids, and even the variation in the animals’ gut microbiome needs to be considered.


Herbivores are much better suited to grinding up plants with flat teeth.  Herbivores and omnivores have enzymes in their saliva to help break down the plant and other food that they eat while carnivores do not.

Some different adaptations for omnivores include sharp teeth in front and flat teeth in back, which enable them to eat a larger variety of food. Birds have specialized beaks for insect, seed, and flesh eating.  Obviously birds of prey are not well suited to transitioning to a cruelty-free diet without some modifications.

A carnivore’s mouth is full of sharp teeth so than can shred the meat that they eat. Their tongues are usually serrated which aids in pulling flesh off bones.  A carnivore’s taste buds have long ago ceased to recognize certain carbohydrates.  Another adaptation is that some carnivores’ digestive tract enables them to go days even months without eating anything, because catching wild animals isn’t always easy. These are all evolutionary advantages conferred on carnivores that are problematic for wild animal “zoo keepers” in Pearce’s utopia.

Digestion  by Diet:


Nature – red in tooth and claw

Herbivores only consume plant material which is very difficult to digest. Since their diet includes large amounts of fibre and cellulose, the digestive tract of herbivores is much longer than carnivores. To overcome this herbivores have developed a symbiotic relationship with a population of microflora that inhabit the rumen (of ruminants) where it undergoes fermentation. The microbiome of the gut is able to break down cellulose and use the glucose for metabolic needs. Not only do the micro-organisms break down the cellulose but they also produce the vitamins E, B and K for use by the herbivorous animal.

Omnivores consume both meat and plant matter; they have a digestive system very similar to carnivores but also they also possess a working cecum that is not as well adapted as in herbivores. Due to this flexibility they are able to consume a wide diet, which has also prevented them losing the ability to synthesise certain products in the body as with carnivores. Since they are not as efficient processors of plant material as herbivores, as a group the genes that control for the break down of meat and plant material would need to be turned off/enhanced.  In birds, the crop is primarily a storage area for food consumed by the bird; certain adaptions in some species allow it to produce a mixture that can be fed to newly hatched birds.  Carnivorous bird species usually feed their offspring directly from the carcass of an animal so obviously this is problematic for those hoping to eliminate carnivorous species – they need alternate ways to feed young if they cannot consume meat.  The same vitamins that gut flora produce in the herbivore are not necessarily bioavailable in the carnivore, who must source them from their diet directly.

biological communities include the "functional groupings" shown above. A functional group is a biological category composed of organisms that perform mostly the same kind of function in the system. Ecosystems maintain themselves by cycling energy and nutrients through trophic levels. Green plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. The carbon becomes part of complex molecules such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the plants. Humans like to think of ourselves as living at the top of the food chain - doing so implies we have dominion over all the other plants and animals living on this planet. That perspective is not correct when looked at in its truest biological sense. Organisms at the very top (apex) of the food chain eat only meat—the meat of other predators, that is.

Trophic levels in a marine ecosystem are shown above. They are organized into functional levels because they perform mostly the same kind of function in the system.
Ecosystems maintain themselves by cycling energy and nutrients through trophic levels. Green plants remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. The carbon becomes part of complex molecules such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the plants. Dead tissue and waste products are produced at all levels. Scavengers and decomposers consume this “waste” and ultimately it is the microbes that finish the job of decomposition. Humans like to think of ourselves as living at the top of the food chain – doing so implies we have dominion over all the other plants and animals living on this planet. That perspective is not correct when looked at in its truest biological sense. Organisms at the very top (apex) of the food chain eat only meat—the meat of other predators, that is.


Clearly, it would be an oversimplification if transhumanists believed they could easily reprogram or use pharmacology to put an end to the suffering carnivores cause other species.  As Pearce acknowledges, fertility regulation would also be necessary particularly for animals that were previously part of the food chain for animals at higher trophic levels of the food web.  Animals would have to be classified according to their survivorship curve so that those who reproduce the quickest and produce the most offspring due to high predation (such as marine invertebrates) would survive longer but with fewer offspring.  It’s not about only the apex predators – every single species would have to have their reproduction levels altered to prevent starvation,  because all animals would now be consuming only plant food which is available in finite quantities.

What Would The Loss Of Predators Mean To The World Ecology?

The phrase “balance of nature” accurately describes the equilibrium (homeostasis) which exists between populations in natural ecosystems. Because plants are at the base of all food chains they are integral to maintaining the balance essential to prevent the destruction of habitats. Only plants absorb CO2 and give off life giving oxygen. We’ve already discovered that the elimination of just one link in the food chain by either exploitation, hunting, or competition from pests or disease will have a major effect on plants and/or animals above or below it in the food web.  So when considering how to re-engineer carnivorous animals in this experiment, considerable thought would also need to be given to how it could be carried out in such a way that the ecosystem is not disrupted.

Eliminating the carnivore populations could result in existing and new herbivorous species driving

The co-evolution of predator/prey species has driven natural selection. The Lotka-Volterra equation shows that in the presence of predators, the prey population is prevented from increasing exponentially.

The co-evolution of predator/prey species has driven natural selection. The Lotka-Volterra equation shows that in the presence of predators, the prey population is prevented from increasing exponentially  The presence of predators (black line) is responsible for the sudden drop in population level of the prey population (in red). Shortly after the decline in prey populations,  the predator population also experiences a decline,  and then the cycle begins anew.

losses in plant and tree biodiversity by virtue of their numbers.  Additionally, emboldened herbivores no longer have to hide from predators, so their consumption may increase.  Plants also evolved in the presence of predators as well – in areas where carnivores preyed on animals, plants had little need for elaborate defenses such as toxins or thorns because plant eater population levels were controlled by predation on the herbivores.  Unlike phytoplankton which grows rapidly can support vast numbers of marine life, land plants may take years to reach maturity.  In order that the anticipated increase in the number of herbivores and their associated plant requirements be accommodated, the nutrient status of grassland soils would probably need to be improved to increase productivity.  Unfortunately, we can`t make the sun shine longer in order to produce more energy at the bottom of the pyramid either.

So it’s very likely that plant material on earth would not have time to evolve defences against millions of new herbivores voraciously consuming them before they were decimated, rendering the experiment a complete failure when all organisms on the planet died as a result.

Dynamics Of Ecosystems and Biogeochemistry

Thus far we have focused the genetics, phenotypes, behaviours of individual animals when considering the feasibility of eliminating animal suffering.  An ecosystem consists of the biological community of plants and animals interacting with each other and sharing resources, as well as physical and chemical factors that make up its non-living or abiotic environment. The functional concerns with eliminating predators include such potential problems as how energy flows along the steps in a food web, whether there is enough energy (sunlight) to drive photosynthesis by plants, and the rate at which nutrients are recycled in the new, cruelty-free ecosystem.

Illustration of the carbon cycle in a forest ecosystem. Carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth

Illustration of the carbon cycle in a forest ecosystem. Carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.

Energy enters the biological system as energy from the sun, captured by plant photosynthesis, which then flows upwards through the trophic levels. A trophic level is composed of organisms that make a living in the same way, that is, they are all primary producers (plants), primary consumers (herbivores) or secondary consumers (carnivores). Without the continued input of solar energy, biological systems would quickly shut down.

Biogeochemical cycles can be broken down into two types:

  1. Local cycles such as the phosphorus cycle, which involve elements with no mechanisms for long distance transfer.
  2. Global cycles (carbon, hydrogen, mercury, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur, rock, and water) which involve an interchange between the atmosphere and the ecosystem. It is these global nutrient cycles that perpetuate life for all organisms. Of all these cycles – the carbon cycle is most likely to be affected by this abolitionist project.

When an animal eats a plant, carbon from the plant becomes part of the fats and proteins in the animal. Microorganisms and some animals feed on waste material from

Photo by Anand Varma - National Geographic. Ladybug parasitized and converted in to a zombie bodyguard by Dinocampus coccinellae.

Photo by Anand Varma – National Geographic.
Ladybug parasitized and converted in to a zombie bodyguard by Dinocampus coccinellae.

animals, and the remains of dead animals and plants. The carbon then becomes part of these microorganisms and detritus feeders. Quite simply, if we have numerically more animals, or they live longer, or more energy is required to enter the system to support the increased number of herbivores, the number of trophic levels would be changed (because predators would be eliminated) and  these cycles will be affected.  The risk of irreversibility – and unintended or hard-to-calculate consequences for other species really becomes apparent with this analysis.

How few trophic levels can an ecosystem support? The answer depends on the amount of energy entering the ecosystem, energy loss between trophic levels, and physiology of organisms at each level.  The loss, or even reduction in numbers, of predators in an ecosystem can set off something caused a “trophic cascade” in which the change in predator population has effects across the food web and ecosystem.  We’ve already seen this happen when wolves have been decimated – the end result is that there were changes in the type of vegetation that elk ate.  Humans have already disrupted many biogeochemical cycles and in the process have threatened many ecosystems. Climate change through the use of fossil fuels and animal agriculture are two such examples that have directly affected the carbon cycle.


While Pearce’s ideas are compelling from an ethical and welfare perspective, the suggestion that we can rebuild a Garden of Eden from the ground up after millions of years of evolution is hardly feasible, nor may I add, is it desirable.  It’s so difficult to fathom from a technical standpoint that I can’t quite get engaged by it,  even though the concept itself is appealing. While Pearce’s main focus is on ending the suffering caused by predation, that’s hardly the only source of pain.  Humans would also need to eliminate parasitism and disease, vaccinate animals, provide painkiller at birth, and prevent infanticide and detrimental mating competitions by male animals. What fatally undermines the thought experiment is that it positions humans as a parochial superintelligence over animals.  Besides that, what would be the point of eliminating carnivores while humans still raise, kill, and consume animals? We’re but a brief novelty on the evolutionary timeline; humans will probably be extinct long before we get close to having this much power. Either climate change or disease are likely to wipe us out, or at the very least knock the few survivors back to hunter gatherers.  If any predator needs CRISP-R, it’s us.

As we’ve learned with antibiotic resistant microbes and pesticide-resistant pests, nature can evolve faster than we can innovate.  We would have no idea what would happen when natural selection took over once this utopian abolitionist project had been finished.  Attempting to control population levels is incompatible with life, because the ultimate goal for any living being (from an evolutionary biology perspective) is to make as many copies of your DNA as possible, and have those progeny make as many copies and proliferate,  to survive while pitted against other similarly evolving animals in a changing environment.  This is the “Red Queen hypothesis.”

Human facilitated animal suffering can and should be stopped.  And it’s much more realizable. It’s ethical, has a high pay-off for humans as well as animals, and it must happen.


Three Concepts: The Five Freedoms (FF), Five Domains (FD) And Quality Of Life (QoL) As Tools For The Analysis Of Animal Welfare

Three Concepts: The Five Freedoms (FF), Five Domains (FD) And Quality Of Life (QoL) As Tools For The Analysis Of Animal Welfare


Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Most of our animal welfare audits and Codes of Practice developed for implementation on farms and in slaughterhouses arose from the core concept of “The Five Freedoms,” a set of internationally recognized animal welfare standards.  The Five Freedoms, or FF, came to be when the British public demanded that the government appoint a committee to look into the welfare of farm animals.  In 1965, the committee, chaired by Professor Roger Brambell presented the “Report of the Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of Animals Kept under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems” which became known as “The Brambell Report.

While the FF utilized the problem-solving methods of that era and allowed us to measure welfare, they were still focused on the superiority of mankind, which provided the context. Anything was permitted except for what was expressly forbidden.

5 freedoms chart

In common with other scientific disciplines during the last 50 years, ideas in animal welfare science have evolved from these basic concepts.


Mennonite Percheron Horses

Percheron horses at the St. Jacob’s Market in Waterloo, Ontario. The welfare of these horses, used to pull this trolley around Mennonite farms, has improved slightly in that they now have a shaded structure under which to stand to avoid the hot summer sun.

We now understand that the Five Freedoms are insufficiently complex and therefore not tremendously helpful to animals since their focus was primarily concerned with the avoidance of negative experiences such as pain and hunger. Now, animal welfare is generally defined as the state of an animal in relation to its ability to cope with its own environment.

The knowledge that animals are conscious and capable of experiencing negative emotions is at the core of most people’s concern about them.  So as we progress in a linear fashion to an increasingly sophisticated understanding of animal welfare concepts, the focus of legislative instruments should follow with a shift from cruelty to welfare.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was publicly proclaimed on July 7, 2012 at the University. The group of scientists wrote, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

Dog Tales Rescue and Sanctuary

Photo Credit: Dog Tales Rescue and Horse Sanctuary

True animal welfare is now considered to result both from an absence of negative experiences and from the presence of positive experiences or sensations, so that animals’ mental states are now a legitimate focus, along with preferences and aversions. The welfare significance of positive experiences has been promoted in discussion of the value of providing animals with “lives worth living’ or “good lives,” as opposed to “lives worth avoiding.” Laws and codes of practice must evolve to acknowledge the strong neurobiological drives in animals that are necessary for QoL to exist, even if physical needs are met.

In his recent and comprehensive essay, “Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living, Dr. David Mellor (Animal Welfare Science and Bioethics Centre – Massey University,  New Zealand) has presented the Five Domains as the successor model to the Five Freedoms, developed “in the light of new scientific knowledge and understanding of animal welfare.”  Like Temple Grandin,  Dr. Mellor is also an iconic animal welfarist who recognizes that animals have emotional lives, that they can suffer deeply, and that if we continue to use them for food and in research we need to recognize this well-supported fact and do as much as possible to alleviate their pain and suffering. Dr. Mellor also delivered the plenary at the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies annual conference on April 18, 2016.

Five Freedoms vs. Five Domains

“Both have utility. The Five Domains are clearly of use to animal behaviour and welfare scientists because they can embrace new knowledge and understanding, and provide pointers for new study. They can also be used for in-depth analysis of the impact of specific management practices (human actions) on animal welfare. For example, the FD approach has recently been used to evaluate the negative (adverse) welfare impacts of a range of procedures to which domestic horses may be subject, across a broad range of different contexts of equine care and training. This has been a valuable exercise. In the case of procedures that may be deemed necessary, such as castration, it encourages us to think carefully as to what constitutes both best practice and minimally acceptable practice. For other procedures, such as the use of the whip in horse racing, it addresses the question as to whether the alleged “benefits” can ever justify the cost. In this and many other examples, the FD approach provides a highly effective foundation for research and evidence-based conclusions as to the impact of the things we do on the mental state of the animals in our care.”

A Life Worth Living

“The concept of Quality of Life (QoL), recognises that animals have both positive and negative experiences and focuses on the balance between the two. 

2015_Five_Domains_Final_Poster_David_Mellor copy

The Five Domains of Potential Welfare. The first four Domains are predominantly physical/functional, and the last, mental state, represents the overall experience of the animal, i.e. its welfare status.


cows in pastureWhile the shift to QoL represents a much needed and long overdue transition from welfarism to a more compassionate moral framework, we can still do better.  Most veterinarians and influencers remain focused on FF. Food animals still cannot have a “life worth living” even though we may be improving housing conditions that supposedly are more humane and allow for more movement/natural behaviours/socialization.  It still fosters a paradigm in which billions of other animals are kept “comfortable and happy” after which we slaughter them for consumption.


FD and QoL initiatives are capable of lessening many of the priority welfare challenges for zoo and lab animals, pets and other companion animals:


  • Unresolved stress/pain behaviour and pain management
  • Inappropriate nutrition
  • Inappropriate stabling /turnout 
  • Delayed death (animals may be kept alive inappropriately, prolonging welfare problems)
  • Wild animals kept as pets or in poorly designed zoo enclosures
  • Adoption
  • Training
  • Enclosures in shelters and zoos – light, substrate flooring, drainage, heating, ventilation, air quality, cleaning and disinfection.
  • Drop boxes at shelters
  • Lessening the negative effects of No Kill while promoting population management
  • Methods of euthanasia
  • Vaccinations
  • Emergency medical care
  • Parasite control
  • Behaviour Modification
  • Anaesthesia and improved surgical techniques and recovery
  • Declawing of cats
  • Neutering and spaying
  • Improving lives for feral cats
  • Position statements from veterinary groups and advisory councils 
  • Transportation to slaughter
  • Shelter reference guides
  • Codes of practice
  • Lab animal QoL