Captain Paul Watson – Corey Knowlton – The Most Despicable Hominid Of The Week

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lordflies

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

Usually, I write my own text for a blog. But this time I feel that the message presented by Captain Paul Watson is so on-point and so precisely echoes what I am feeling now that I know that despite intense lobbying, Corey Knowlton has killed his Namibian black rhino. So I’m quoting Captain Watson’s excellent commentary directly. But before I do I want to say that there is absolutely no proof that hunting provides any positive conservation value nor does it enhance an ecosystem. Conservation success stories, like the Yellowstone National Park wolf recovery program, support the contention that ecosystems are highly complex and unpredictable by mankind. Hunting disrupts the natural equilibrium produced by nature when left to its own devices without interference from mankind.

Instead of true conservation, the hunting industry and conservation officials have an incestuous relationship where unacceptable practices are being enabled by the very official agencies that should be playing an independent monitoring or watchdog role. During an undercover League Against Cruel Sports investigation in spring 2004, Sir Edward Dashwood, director of the E J Churchill Sporting Agency, admitted to investigators that “90% of the trophy fee goes straight into some Nigerian’s pocket or African politician or whatever it is.”

Corey Knowlton – The Most Despicable Hominid of the Week

Lord of the FliesBy Captain Paul Watson

With one of the most delusional rationalizations of an ecological crime that anyone has ever attempted to present to the public, Corey Knowlton says that his killing of an endangered rhino was meant to bring awareness to the plight of the Black Rhino

When asked if he feels that killing this black Rhino was the right thing to do Knowlton replied:

“I felt like from day one it was something benefiting the black rhino, being on this hunt, with the amount of criticism it brought and the amount of praise it brought from both sides, I don’t think it could have brought more awareness to the black Rhino.”

This despicable excuse for a human being paid $350,000 for a permit to kill a Rhino issued by the corrupt government of Namibia, a country that licenses the slaughter of seals, giraffe, elephants and anything else that the world’s psychopaths have a lust to murder. He then has the audacity to describe the killing of an endangered species as an act of conservation.

If he really cared about conserving the Rhino he would have given the $350K to the underpaid rangers who risk their lives to protect the animals.

The rangers are the truly heroic men, not cowardly white hunters like Knowlton who simply pull a trigger to extinguish the life of a noble sentient being for no other reason than to stain the crotch of their pants.

“I think people have a problem just with the fact that I like to hunt,” Knowlton said. “I want to see the black rhino as abundant as it can be. I believe in the survival of the species.”

Right, and the way to increase the numbers of a rapidly diminishing small population of Rhinos is to kill one. The logic is so peversely bizarre that it could only come from a man who has more money than heart, who not only lacks empathy but seems to be completely devoid of common sense.

Knowlton actually is bragging that he has done more to defend the Rhino than all of his critics. This statement is simply nonsensical. This man clearly loves to kill and it has become a common justification for these psychopaths to justify their dark lethal passions with foolish pronouncements of pretentious conservation.

When poor Black Africans kill a Rhino the world is outraged and they are rightfully labeled as poachers. When a rich White person slaughters a Rhino, they call themselves conservationists.Animal Farm Four Legs Good

Men like Knowlton are a disgrace to humanity and they are very much a part of the problem.

Knowlton’s Namibian guide is named Hentie van Heerden. Another White man posing as a conservationist. His name reminds me of the evil Van Pelt in the movie Jumanji.

Van Heerden thinks that if the older and stronger Rhinos are not culled they will kill younger and healthier Rhinos and that will be bad for the species. You have to wonder how nature got by without White hunters to keep things under control.
According to van Heerden. “There will always be activists and that’s how they make their money,” he said. “They have no clout here in Namibia, because people understand hunting.”

No Hentie, the people in charge of conservation in Namibia understand money. And there is a reason for conservationists not having any clout there. I found out myself when we were working to stop the brutal slaughter of fur seals. It’s called corruption.

According to Knowlton, the Rhino he killed was one of four black Rhinos at the top of the government hit list, the ones considered “high priority threats to the herd.” They can also be classified as the one with the highest marketability in the murder market.

You see it’s not big White hunters like Know-It-All-Knowlton that that are the problem for the survival of the Rhino. It is the Rhinos themselves who are the greatest threats to the survival of the Rhinos.

Humans seemingly have an infinite capacity to justify their cruelty and their destruction.

To bolster his image as a great White nimrod, Knowlton states, “I think people think of it as this docile thing, but you are dealing with an extremely athletic animal that can do whatever it wants to you very quickly.”

The truth is that the Rhino is dealing with an extremely ruthless yet cowardly animal armed with an extremely lethal rifle.

Last year, one of Knowlton’s critics suggested the trophy hunting of a black Rhino was like shooting a couch in a living room.

This criticism annoys Knowlton. He’s always quick to bring it up with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

“So this is just like hunting a couch? Give me a break,” he said. “This isn’t easy. It’s brutal.”

lord-of-the-fliesSo brutal that they have to hike through thick shrub for hours during the day and actually sweat. It’s unlike the canned hunts these posers are used to, so I can understand his frustrations. In the evening instead of a comfortable luxury hotel, they have to endure the night in a tent with a staff to cook and serve drinks in plastic cups. The steaks are never done to perfection, and the night sounds of irritating wildlife, make sleeping a challenge.

It could be more accurately described as hunting a couch being towed through the brush with sleep-overs with the boys and an opportunity to compare the size of their guns.

Knowlton found his victim thanks to cameras set up near watering holes and a gashed ear inflicted by the government to the animal, as a sign that it can be “legally” murdered.

Four shots, a roar of pain and the animal runs. A half an hour later the Rhino lies on the ground. Three more shots and Knowlton gets to kneel over his victim. He says, “Any time you take an animal’s life it’s an emotional thing.”

You can see the self-satisfied emotion in his smug grin as he straddles the corpse, his crotch wet, his fingers encircling the barrel of his high-powered 500 Nitro Express rifle as the smoke still oozes from the muzzle.

Beneath lies a creature far more noble than it’s killer, an animal that a few moments ago was intensely alive in it’s home environment, an animal that was respected amongst his own kind, a vibrant, sentient, self aware member of a diminishing species.

Knowlton will decapitate the Rhino, the head to be shipped off to a taxidermist and transported back to Texas where this notoriously craven nimrod can mount it on his wall as a trophy like any other psychopath.

The memory will suffice for a time but Knowlton will soon feel the urge to kill like any other serial killer and yet another trophy will be placed on his wall in his never ending quest for sado–erotic satisfaction to sustain his disturbing addiction.

 

 

Godbout Express Observed Shipping Horses To Canada On Long Holiday Weekend

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Gadbout Express

It is permissible for horses to travel up to 36 hours enroute to slaughter

 

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos and video credit:  Rob Boisvert

On Friday, May 15th, two Godbout Express transports of horses were observed at an out-of-the-way truck stop in Marysville, Ontario by animal activist Rob Boisvert of Refuge RR in Alexandria Ontario. In listening to the video, it is evident that the drivers appear to be trying to mislead Boisvert and his friend, by telling them that they are enroute from Ohio (probably Sugarcreek Auction) to New Brunswick. They are actually headed to Quebec, and this is proven by a photo taken of one of the trailers which shows a CFIA seal – meaning that the truck cannot be opened until it reaches its destination at one of the two slaughter plants in that province. There are no provincially-registered horse slaughter facilities in New Brunswick.

 

 

 

 

Monday is a statutory holiday throughout most of Canada. The video was taken about 7 pm Friday. From Marysville (near Belleville, ON), it is possibly 5 hours drive or longer (with holiday weekend traffic) to either Les Petite Nations (in St. Andre-Avellin, PQ) or Richelieu ( in Massueville, PQ) slaughterhouses.  The horses would arrive very late the same day or possibly the next day.  We can only wonder what time they expected to get there?  Were the horses to be unloaded somewhere and rested?  According to a 2011 article in Better Farming,  “slaughter-bound shipments will be accepted only during the CFIA’s regular hours of operation…”  Therefore,  we can only take that to mean that unless arrangements were made to offload horses on Friday night, there would be no CFIA inspectors at the plant until TUESDAY, May 19th – more than three full days later!  The horses, unless unloaded somewhere (and by necessity breaking the CFIA seal), would have to stay on the trailer until that time – a horrifying possibility.  Would they be watered or fed? Already many of the horses are standing in the trailers with heads hanging low…

CFIA seal

CFIA Seal

Godbout Express is a repeat offender with the CFIA. The CFIA has most recently issued the company Notices of Violation  of Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations for $7,800 during the period of October to December 2014, with total fines of $45,600 in both current and past reporting periods.

A check of US DOT #648752 reveals that Godbout Express has incurred two violations already in 2015 in the United States, with similar violations in 2014.

 2015 Violations:

HOS Compliance Violation:  395.3A3-PROP Driving beyond 11 hour driving limit in a 14 hour period. (Property Carrying Vehicle)
HOS Compliance Violation:  395.3A2-PROP Driving beyond 14 hour duty period (Property carrying vehicle)

Given the company’s propensity to incur violations,  further investigation with the CFIA will be necessary to determine when these horses arrived and were actually offloaded.

 

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CFIA Report

The CFIA site does not explain what species have been involved in these transport violations.

 

Richelieu EID Exposes Profound Shortcomings Of Food Chain

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meat with horseshoeWritten by: Heather Clemenceau

We picked up a copy of the EID currently being used at the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX) in Waterloo, Ontario. For a document that supposedly exerts “quality control” over horsemeat, notice that there are no CFIA headers or logos; it is however, “branded” with the name Richelieu and replete with embarrassing spelling errors and typos in both English and French.  It is missing a fair bit of information that is present on the sample EID in the CFIA Meat Hygiene Manual for equines as well,  including an indicator of the primary use of the horse (recreation/companion animal/ pleasure riding, breeding, ranch/farm work, public work, private industry work, performance/sport/show, racing, rodeo, urine production, food production.)  I guess they don’t want high risk animals to be unnecessarily flagged for drugs.  Note that on the first page, Richelieu refers to the document itself, not unironically, as “DIE.” It is due to moments like these perhaps, that humorists were born.

As with any other paper version of the EID, the owner is expected to complete the column “withdrawal period.”  There is little likelihood

that anyone will follow the obscenely long URL at the bottom of the page,  and if they did,  they wouldn’t likely understand it since it directs the form user to the French version of the CFIA’s Meat Hygiene Manual – on an English form.  It’s completely misleading to provide a link to French guidelines on an English form that is mostly used by english-speaking horse people.  So under the circumstances, how would anyone find the withdrawal time for a specific drug even if they knew what it was?

Withdrawal times also vary depending on drug delivery methods – whether oral/IV/IM 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,  so the person completing the form,  even if honest,  is never provided with the appropriate information.

 

 

Of course, the system isn’t designed to encourage former owners to give too much thought to what drugs a horse may have been given on or off-label during the course of its life. It’s to the benefit of the slaughterhouses that short-term owners will be unaware of the existence of a list of prohibited drugs or drugs that must be withdrawn for days or months, since this means fewer declarations of drug administrations,  and allows the CFIA to crow about a “98% compliance rate for drugs.” If there were adherence to the Meat Hygiene manual, the majority of horses would be disqualified outright because of Phenylbutazone and other drug usage, including virtually all former race horses. Those that were not disqualified outright would probably need to be held for six months for withdrawal.  You couldn’t even immediately slaughter a horse that had recently been wormed.

We saw how corruptible and falsifiable equine passports were during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal two years ago, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque, and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability and drug-free conclusiveness as does buying meat off the street from a stranger – because official ID isn’t required in order to complete an EID.  Yet the CFIA perversely insists that the paper EID is just as good as the falsifiable passports that allowed the EU horsemeat scandal to happen.

Henry Skjerven, former director of Natural Valley Farms in Saskatchewan, said:

“US and Canada were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.

We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear – I think that it was very valid – that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”

 

An Important Message About Online Petitions – They Are Not All Created Equal!

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pen-signatureI’ve been frustrated and annoyed by many of the Petitionhub and Yousign petitions crossing my Facebook timeline.  Many images look like they were captured with ancient technology,  and while some or most of the images were clearly real,  the incidents themselves are usually very dodgy and “targets” are often vague or entirely absent.  Sometimes there are few clues as to who the perpetrator is either.  When did they happen?  Who is going to send signatures to the target?

Recently, a petition criticizing something Madonna did to her chihuahua dogs in the 90’s was being circulated.  I wondered,  how is this actionable?  Even if true,  why is it being circulated now,  and what possible action could be taken 25 or so years after the alleged incident?  It seems there are many more worthwhile and articulate petitions upon which we can focus,  and I have personally seen that informative,  well-written petitions do get attention.  So I blocked these two apps on Facebook because they were sensationalist,  the incidents were often undated,  they were without targets,  and often written in bizarre language as if the user’s only exposure to English was via Bing Translate.  So please read on,  and please don’t stop writing petitions or letters!  Also noteworthy is the fact that Canadians will be able to submit digital petitions to the House of Commons after the election later this year.

Written by:  Susan Davis

You have heard activists dismiss petitions with a wave of the hand, and frankly when I first opened an account with Facebook I wasn’t so sure about petitions myself and initially veered away from them.  I have witnessed petitions on social media long enough now to know that they have validity…

DO PETITIONS WORK?:

YES they do often work!

I have witnessed petitions work, and the majority of times they work in conjunction with other types of advocacy, but I have been surprised at how often they also work singularly.  Here are some examples of recent victories where petitions either worked in conjunction with direct outreach/demos or were successful as the primary method of advocacy:

1.  Mattel, makers of Barbie ends production of all SeaWorld branded merchandise

2. Global Conservation Group, headed by Jordan Turner were the key players in stopping St. Patrick’s Parish of Wisconsin from hosting anymore pig fighting contests.  However GCG used petitions as part of their endeavor, and numerous signatures played a part in their success.

3. New bills are being introduced in several states to crack down on animal abuse, of particular interest is the one in Las Vegas that is picking up steam thanks to activists there and their use of petitions.

4. Colorado’s Ag Gag bill was defeated.  Obviously this wasn’t petitions alone, but again numerous signatures helped legislators see what the public was demanding!

There are many other examples of successes brought about with the help of petitions or petitions alone.  A great facebook group for activists who have a half hour to sign a slew of petitions is the “ANIMAL ADVOCATE CORNER“.  This group founded by Annoula Wylderich, is strictly for action, no social stuff, and as a result the numbers of signatures are tripled in far less time than relying on the news feed alone!

DON’T STOP WRITING LETTERS:

Nobody is saying to sign petitions in lieu of writing letters.  Letters are far more effective, especially if they are unique and personal.  But none of us has time to write letters covering every aspect of online_petition_0animal abuse.  So the user-friendliness of petitions comes in very handy.  Really, unless you are the author of the petition, there is very little work to do.  Comments help but sometimes we can’t find the words, so a signature will do.  Signing anonymous is just ridiculous, you may as well not sign if that is how you are going to do it, most legislators dismiss anonymous signatures, they don’t count them, and in some cases an entire petition will be thrown out due to one anonymous signature.

I happen to love the petitions by change.org, I have never had a problem with them.  What I would like to see by ALL the authors of petitions is to let us know sometimes when you deliver them and who you delivered them to, and of course let us know if they had an impact, PLEASE!

IMPORTANT UPDATE:

I was just informed by a very trustworthy source that Petition Hub and You Sign Petitions are indeed fake. What “they” are doing is using OLD abuse cases (the most horrific sounding ones) and selling OUR NAMES to SCAMMERS!  I was told this before and I didn’t take it very seriously. NOW I believe it, you can verify what I’m saying yourself by looking at “Nigel Cameron’s” facebook page.  Nigel is no doubt an American name for the Romanian person who is behind this scheme.  My sources are VERY trustworthy – you can see for yourself the type of Petitions he has posted.

scamPlease let everyone know so that we can put a stop to this scam once and for all.  AND, please do NOT stop signing other petitions, this only applies to Petition Hub and You Sign Petitions.  If you are convinced like I am, that Nigel is a fake name, then please report his page to facebook, thank you!  AND to remove all problems and access to Petition Hub and You Sign, do the following please:

Please remove the Yousign and Petitionhub apps in your browser:

Go to your facebook profile –> click on the three points (…) next to ‘View Activity Log’

–> Select ‘Timeline Settings’. Click on ‘Apps’ (on the left)

–> Select ‘Apps, Websites and Plugins’ (on the right)

–> Show all. Select the ‘petitionhub.org‘ app (alphabetical order of the apps)

–> Highlight the app with your mouse, you can see a cross sign

–> click on the cross (remove).

–> a pop-up appears: Select: “Delete all your petitionhub.org activity on Facebook. This may take a few minutes.”

–> Click ‘remove’

Do the same with the app yousign.org

PLEASE DON’T BE DISCOURAGED BY THE FAKES, There are many valid petition sites like: change.org, care.org, avaaz.org, popvox, securepeta and others.  Let’s be glad we KNOW about the fakes so that our work will be even MORE effective!

Thank you for reading this, and your comments are always welcome!  – Susan Davis

Beyond The Brush: Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

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Beyond The Brush:  Who Is Pockets Warhol, The Painting Monkey?

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau (with contributions from Charmaine Quinn)

Last year I received an original painting by internationally acclaimed capuchin artist and philanthropist, Pockets Warhol, who is helping to raise awareness  for Story Book Farm Sanctuary in Sunderland, Ontario.  Story Book is currently running an urgent campaign to raise funds for a new location for 20 primates.  Charmaine Quinn is also famous for being a muse to Pockets’, who is the subject of this Q&A.   She works in Toronto and donates all her spare time to helping animals in need. Her weekends are spent at Story Book Farm as well as volunteering as an exhibit interpreter for the orangutans at the Toronto Zoo. Charmaine also volunteers at a therapeutic horse riding facility helping special needs children and adults.

Pockets 2Charmaine is the Board of Directors secretary for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation led by Dr. Anne Russon (York University) and since 2006 has been spending two months a year at an Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo helping orphaned and ex-captive orangutans in their Forest School System.  Charmaine has been honoured with the title of Canadian Orangutan Ambassador by Orangutan Appeal UK.  An extensive traveller,  Charmaine also manages to give her time to Wildtracks in Belize, where she provides care for spider monkeys, howler monkeys,  as well as manatees! When not volunteering, Charmaine is spending time with her rescued pets – two dogs and two cats, as well as playing classical flute, drawing and sculpting.  So here’s 10 questions for Charmaine about her work with Pockets….

(Heather) How did Pockets come to arrive at the sanctuary and how long has he been painting? What other types of enrichment does he enjoy?

(Charmaine) Pockets arrived about 5 years ago as a former pet in B.C. and he has been happily painting abstract pieces of art for the past 3 years. I noticed a similarity between Andy Warhol and Pockets so I attached the Warhol name which launched him into becoming a viral sensation when people saw his magnificent pieces of work. Pockets enjoys his painting sessions which would be similar to a child doing painting. It comes from a pure heart and pure mind. Pockets loves playing with his dinosaurs, stuffed toys and play ball. He definitely has a sense of wonder about him.

(Heather) Pockets took to painting fairly easily,  but this isn’t true of other monkeys you have at the sanctuary.  To what do you attribute Pockets’ interest in painting,  over some of the other primates?

(Charmaine) Pockets seemed to take to painting quite naturally as do some humans. Other primates in sanctuary settings also enjoy this as part of their enrichment. Pockets is a capuchin monkey Pockets 1and they are known for their high intelligence so it is no surprise to me that he is able to be very creative.

(Heather) Your relationship with Pockets seems especially close.  Would he paint as well if I handed him a canvas and paints?  Or does he prefer to work with you or some of the other caregivers?

(Charmaine) Pockets feels most comfortable with me during the painting process as we have formed a special friendship since he arrived and moreso after introducing him to the paints. Other caregivers have tried to paint with him, but they have not been very successful. He looks at our time together as fun and happy when he is painting as one can see in his work.

(Heather) You tried to interest another capuchin, Cheeko, in painting – how did that turn out?  I guess the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” doesn’t necessarily apply here….

(Charmaine) I have offered paints to other monkeys but they seem to have no interest and prefer to focus on other types of enrichment, like puzzles, toys, mirrors, etc.

(Heather) My Pockets painting has little bits of straw or wood chips in it. The little finger and hand prints are so adorable. Does Pockets like to incorporate any other “found objects” in his painting?

(Charmaine) Pockets uses his hands and feet to move around the paint and often little bits of straw are incorporated in these paintings as they are part of his enclosure which create an interesting look to the paintings. Sometimes he uses his tongue as a brush or takes other objects in his enclosure to push around the paint.

Charmaine and orang(Heather) How easily does Pockets clean up after a painting session?  It’s non-toxic children’s paint,  but how do you get him paint-free?

(Charmaine) I do use children’s paints as it has to be safe for him because he sometimes does put this in his mouth as a child would do. At the end of the sessions, I use baby shampoo and warm water to clean his hands, feet and tail and face. Pockets seems to understand this process of cleaning up after the painting is complete.

(Heather) Sometimes capuchins are used as service monkeys in other countries.  But they,  along with other species of monkeys don’t make good pets. Most of the primates at Story Book are very high energy and Pockets is quite the little busybody – what other attributes do they have that make them very difficult pets?

(Charmaine) Primates share many human traits and people often feel they would make good companions, but they are wild and unpredictable by nature as well as extremely strong. The cruel exotic animal trade is rampant and fueled by humans and this never ends well for the primate of choice unless they are fortunate enough to end up in a sanctuary setting.

(Heather) How has your life been impacted by Pockets specifically?  Aside from the fact that sometimes both your hairstyles resemble Andy Warhol…..

(Charmaine) Pockets has indirectly changed my life in the most positive manner and think he has brought much happiness to others as well with his artwork and his funny little character and I feel Pockets 3very flattered when people see that we share the same hairstyle!  He is very special to me because he loves to have fun and he has a sense of humor. Pockets keeps me motivated to help continue my volunteer work abroad with orangutans and monkeys and protect their environment for future generations.

(Heather) Has Pockets’ fame gone to his head?  How do you keep him grounded?

(Charmaine) Pockets is a little spoiled but he manages to keep himself grounded with a little help from me!

(Heather) Does Pockets have any upcoming exhibitions?

(Charmaine) I am hoping to continue more art shows and have been approached by Sadie’s Diner who were the original hosts of the first show. He has had a couple of art shows in Helsinki, one being at the Helsinki Museum, another at the Museo Apparente in Naples where he was part of an art show with other animals and many in Toronto. Pockets is listed as number 8 animal artist in the world and I am very proud of all his artwork which has created fundraising to help his primate friends at the sanctuary and has created many conversations about their intelligence and hopefully will make people think about protecting primates as they are very much like us in many ways, but are born to be wild.

 

The Carriage Horse Cortisol Stress Study – What If It All Means Something?

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ELISA testWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

A study of NYC Carriage horses by Western University is being promoted as the definitive study of carriage horse stress. Dr. Joseph Bertone, DVM, MS, DACVIM, WesternU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) Professor of Equine Medicine, apparently approached the carriage trade to sample salivary and fecal cortisol levels in a selection of horses:

“The WesternU CVM group measured saliva cortisol from the animals at multiple time points in the workday. They also measured medial canthus temperature using a FLIR thermal imaging camera (IRT), and collected feces samples for fecal cortisol.”

Four time points were used during testing:

Time point 1: feces, saliva and IRT tests were collected an hour before horses went to work.

Time point 2: saliva and IRT were collected after the horses were harnessed and as the horses walked were hitched to  their carriages.

Time point 3: saliva and IRT were collected as the horses returned from working.

Time point 4: saliva and IRT were collected an hour after they worked, as they rested in their stalls.

As you might expect due to the contentious issues surrounding the horses, it has drawn both supporters and carriage horse NYCdetractors. I realize that what was posted on the WesternU website is a press release and not an abstract, but I was surprised that Dr. Bertone immediately set about politicizing the study by mentioning NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio.

Normally, scientists don’t concern themselves with political incumbents, because politics does not and should not drive scientific outcomes. He went on to state that “I’m also concerned over claims that could dismantle, or likely end, the lives of these grand horses,” and “the loss of an iconic New York City institution, the loss of the important human-animal bond the drivers have with these spectacular animals, [would] have a profound negative economic impact on the people whose lives this would touch.”  As a veterinarian, he probably can’t be equally concerned with both those issues. And why would the lives of the horses come to an end?  Would the owners send them to auction where they might then be shipped to slaughter?  If so, only the owners could be blamed for that.  Dr. Bertone then proceeded to draw animal-rights advocates into the conversation, apparently not understanding that animal-rights advocates also own animals including horses. So his politicized preamble is surprising as are the statements that followed. He needs to let his study stand on its own and either succeed or fail on its own merits.

What’s potentially wrong with this study?

It’s probably not possible for anyone to obtain a copy of the manuscript or even the abstract until publication. Authors submit their manuscripts to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association with the understanding that the manuscripts and their contents will be kept confidential until they are published. So until the study is published, no one can really know how well it was conducted. Framing the press release with comments about Bill deBlasio is probably not very suggestive of an impartial study,  which ideally should conform with frameworks for research ethics that demand that the researcher be able to show that their research is independent and impartial by:

  • Avoiding assumptions
  • Writing in a style that is formal and depersonalized, avoiding the use of personal expressions
  • Starting with a premise and impartially proceeding to the conclusion, which may or may not support your premise
  • Disclosing a professional or financial of interest by a study’s authors. Although such conflicts do not necessarily disqualify a reviewer, they should be considered when an editor or peer reviewer makes a decision about a manuscript’s disposition.
  • Including numerical results that make mention of standard deviations or 95% confidence limits and the degree of statistical significance.

Other characteristics of the study stand out:

  • Why were only 13 horses out of approximately 220 selected?
  • Why were all the horses chosen from the Clinton stable?
  • Were the horses tested on pasture these same 13 horses or different ones? If different, why? How long were they there before they were tested?
  • Why was the study period so short (August 3 – 5, 2014) By comparison, here is a salivary cortisol study that was truly longitudinal in nature. This study took place over six months, not three days, in an effort to analyze the subtle variations that take place over time.
  • Salivary cortisol follows a diurnal rhythm with the highest concentrations in the morning and a decrease throughout the day. How did Dr. Bertone control for these factors?
  • Why were none of the horses tested at the hackline or after arriving at the hackline after their trip from the stables?
  • Bertone tells us that “behavior associated with equine gastric ulcers was observed.” What behaviours did they observe for? But why not test for gastric ulcers while they had the feces samples? Fecal tests for pathological conditions of the GI tract is a simple ELISA test, which can detect most (but not all) gastric ulcers. Why not just take this extra step and know with reasonable certainty whether ulcers were a factor?
Fury

Apparently, this older NYC carriage horse named “Fury” escaped from his handlers and went on the lam on Friday. I wish someone had been available to sample his salivary cortisol levels so we could know whether he was stressed…

I’ve seen several comments about this study from pro-carriage people operating with the view that once it’s peer-reviewed it will be unassailable as to its accuracy.  There’s actually a lot of confusion about the “peer review” process and what a “peer-reviewed journal” is. There are plenty of impartial, scientific journals out there, whose peer review process is to guard scientific integrity. However, there are also as many journals founded and funded by an industry or a professional group, whose peer-review is intended to protect the interests of that industry or group.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is a professional group. Sometimes its journal publishes articles with scientific intent. Other times it publishes articles that are intended to protect financial interests of its members — and in those cases, its “peer review” is done by hand-picked “peers” who will reject anything that doesn’t support a purely political position the AVMA or other self-interested groups are protecting.  Furthermore,  many journals have been systematically pulling studies that were peer-reviewed once corruption or falsification was determined.  So peer review works great in theory and in practice most of the time,  but it’s hardly infallible.  It won’t make any study immune to critique.

John Ioannidis holds the C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention at Stanford University, and he is Professor of Medicine, Professor of Health Research and Policy, and Director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center at Stanford University School of Medicine.  In 2005 he wrote an essay, “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.” In this essay he describes the false positive findings,  biases,  conflicts,  and design flaws prevalent in modern research.  In his essay he identified several factors associated with research fields susceptible to false positive (or false negative) findings:

  • Samples are typically small (13 of 220+ carriage horses tested)
  • Effect sizes are typically small (we’ll know more about this once the study is published)
  • Large number of potential relations that could be explored
  • Flexibility in design,  definitions,  and outcomes (at what cortisol levels are horses considered “stressed?”)
  • Popular subject matter (carriage horses in NYC are a hotly discussed topic and the Dr. Bertone admits that he contacted the carriage trade in order to prove wrong the accusations that the horses were unhappy)
  • Topics have potential financial or political interest (tremendous political interest, financial interest if the carriage trade is discontinued, and apparent conflicts of interest with regard to the source of the funding for the study)

With the exception of Przewalski’s horses (who have a different number of chromosomes) domestic horses and wild horses are genetically exactly the same animal. That means that the horse living in your back yard or at a stable somewhere is genetically the same as the horse who evolved in the wild and those still living in the wild. It makes no difference that most horses we have were all born in captivity.  Our horse’s genetics are still the same as those horses who roamed across North America thousands of years ago.

Some people believe that a few hundred years of selective breeding can change all that, but we know that it takes a few thousand years to even begin to change the genetics of any species. Which means the horses in our back yard have been programmed for hundreds of thousands of years to live in wide open spaces where they can see predators coming, eat grass and other forage for 18 hours a day, move 10 miles a day on unshod feet and spend the day with multiple other horses for safety and security.  That’s why the suggestion by Dr. Bertone that pastured horses *may* be under greater supposed stress than the carriage horses are in the city is ridiculous – horses were born to live on grasslands – they did not evolve to work in cities. Unless you stressed a horse by putting it in a pasture the day before with a bunch of unfamiliar horses, most horse owners would find that premise laughable.

It’s important that studies and their designers work through an impartial evaluative lens. Studies funded by a group that can benefit from the outcomes are suspect. They can never truly be impartial.

 

 

Eat Your Words: Toronto Horsemeat Restaurant La Palette Public Health Disclosures

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"La Palette", protest, toronto, "Queen Street West" , "french restaurant", horse, horsemeat

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The summer of 2012 was one where activists demonstrated almost every week against horsemeat restaurant La Palette on Queen St. West.  During that time we started paying attention to La Palette’s food safety evaluations under the “DineSafe” program operated by Toronto Public Health.  The program features an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. If we hadn’t been watching, we would have missed a wonderful exercise in schadenfraude – partway through our demonstrations we read on the DineSafe website that Palette received a “conditional pass,” results of which are in the public domain. Restaurants are required to prominently display this information on the front of their entrances (known to Torontonians as “Scores on Doors”),  and when arriving one evening to protest, we were amused to see that a potted plant

La Palette Toronto Public Health Report - courtesy of a protester

2012: La Palette Toronto Public Health Report – courtesy of a protester (notice plant partially obscuring the sign on window)

appeared out of nowhere and partially obscured the signage. La Palette appears to be a restaurant that’s now regularly considered to be “medium/high risk” by the Health Department since in 2014, two years after that conditional pass, they are still being audited 3 times a year. That in itself is probably not atypical for a resto serving multiple meat dishes, some of which are served raw,  but the findings are interesting none the less.

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program, explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): “The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

"La Palette", horsemeat, protest, "Toronto restaurant" , "french restaurant" , horse

Shamez Amlani,  co-owner of La Palette,  engages a protester

A typical tactic of La Palette during protests was to go out into the street and start serving raw horsemeat to passersby.  In some respects this isn’t entirely a bad thing – when they give away food it means they aren’t selling it.  But whenever I think about eating raw meat, I feel an eating disorder coming on.  I get a little panicky when I think that people, perhaps unknowingly, are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid – even moreso because it’s horsemeat. Personally I don’t get it. It is clear that there are absolutely no critical control points to minimize the risk of infection with the consumption of raw horsemeat.

Here’s last year’s summary of audit findings served up online along with an inspection from 2015 (some of which are highlighted as “significant”).  All findings seem confined to washing, sanitizing, preventing contamination of foods/surfaces – all actions you’d want a restaurant to have figured out after years in operation and several previous cautions by Toronto Public Health.

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  •  OPERATE FOOD PREMISE – FAIL TO EQUIP FACILITY WITH WASTE RECEPTACLE O. REG 562/90 SEC. 68(3)(D)
  • Operator fail to properly wash equipment  (mutiple observations)
  • Operator fail to properly wash surfaces in rooms (multiple observations)
  • Operator fail to sanitize garbage containers as required
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE CAP WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE SINGLE-SERVICE CONTAINERS KEPT IN MANNER PREVENTING CONTAMINATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(D)
  • OPERATOR FAIL TO ENSURE COVER WILL PREVENT CONTAMINATION OR ADULTERATION O. REG 562/90 SEC. 59(C)(II)
  • FAIL TO PROVIDE THERMOMETER IN STORAGE COMPARTMENT O. REG 562/90 SEC. 21

None of the above issues mean that La Palette will get anything less than a green “Pass” evaluation,  and unless a diner takes the time to look up the last audit on the DineSafe website they will not be aware of the  individual infractions.   Since the inception of the program however, only 4 restaurants in Toronto have actually lost their license.

I doubt that any pretentious,  self-indulgent, horse-eating foodies will be tangentially concerned with food hygiene anyway – chefs are some of the least reliable people to ask about safely cooking food to eliminate bacterial (or parasitic) contamination.  And trendy executive chefs like former heroin addict Anthony Bourdain have long popularized the idea that eating”good” food needs to involve some element of risk.  And raw horsemeat = trichinosis roulette.

Aftermath Of The Short Hills Deer Hunt – Optimizing The Use Of FOIA Documentation

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The final Ministry of Labour costs for the six-day 2014 deer hunt by members of the Haudenosaunee Aboriginal Community is $61,959. Of the Ministry costs, $19,286 was for salaries, $32,750 for accommodation and meals and $9,923 in miscellaneous costs.  Not included are the wages for Ontario Provincial Police or Niagara Regional Police, who were present at the hunt every day with a headcount of 6-12 officers at any given time.  When their salaries and overtime are factored in, the cost for the hunt could easily approach $200,000. This still does not include the costs downloaded to the Privacy Commissioner’s Office, which in 2013 sorted through “approximately 2,300 pages of records, including briefing notes, house notes, correspondence, e-mails, plans, handwritten notes and agreements” in order to respond to a Freedom of Information request by the Welland Tribune alone.

John Salo from the Ministry of Natural Resources reported that a total of 67 ministry staff were involved throughout the hunt, with about 45 staff on site daily in November and December.  Salo claimed additional ministry staff were required to ensure public and harvester safety at Short Hills Provincial Park due to an increased number of protesters.”  This last statement is a blatant attempt to blame the cost on conscientious objectors to the hunt, however it was the police and not the MNR who primarily interacted with protesters (unless you count the lurid sexist gestures made by someJody Bersma MNR staff to the female protesters).  The open records request did not reveal a single communication that expressed concern over the number of protesters (and therefore a need to increase staff). It’s bogus because the number of protesters had no bearing on the MNR staff who were responsible for marking trees with hunt and buffer zones, patrolling the park to keep public out and keep the hunters in after they left the hunt boundary and had to be corralled back (5), or the “valet services” provided to hunters when dead deer were shuttled in the park via ATV. Despite having all these people in the park, the Ministry still could not control the number of hunters in Short Hills (although clearly they had no intention of doing so), nor could they help locate a wounded deer which survived a night with an arrow in its stomach.

All these MNR staff members would have been present at the park even if there were no protesters at all.  In any case, it is the protesters who need protection against the MNR, if the incident involving MNR Superintendent Richard Post is any indication.

After an unfathomably long investigation of more than two months by the OPP, Post, who pushed a demonstrator with an MNR vehicle out into the road after a protest in December 2014, has been exonerated. This, despite the fact that the Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to drive or operate a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public.

driftwoodThe arms-up, stick-swinging superintendent has a history of causing dissension during the course of his employment  In 2011, he came under scrutiny when a video of him flinging driftwood logs from a teepee-style structure while surrounded by bewildered beach-goers appeared online.  Tensions came to a head in April 2012 when Post was charged with one count of assault after a confrontation with a 73 year old cottager at Rondeau Provincial Park. Those charges were also dismissed in October 2013. Even though more than 320 cottagers petitioned the Ministry of Natural Resources to transfer him, the MNR and Ontario Parks somehow continued to support his methods whilst simultaneously having issues with the stakeholder complaint process.

There was certainly no love lost between Post and the Rondeau Cottagers Association, who wrote in their newsletter after his transfer to Pinery Park that:

“Post’s time here will be remembered by the public for being charged by the OPP with assaulting Garnet Smith two Deer snowyears ago this week, and for demolishing the Big Dock.  Those of us on the RCA Executive view his legacy as the complete loss of a formerly-respectful stakeholder relationship, a shameful breakdown in communication resulting in deepening entrenchment, and ultimately an abject four-year failure of leadership & park management.  When U.S. President Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1980, he asked voters if they were better-off now than they were four years ago.  To paraphrase the late President:  “Is Rondeau better-off now than it was four years ago?”  I vote no.”

How Was Short Hills Park chosen for a hunt when other locations appeared to be more suitable?  Open records requests by the Short Hills Alliance did not provide an answer to this question.  In fact, in all the FOIA information presented to the Alliance, Short Hills was not short-listed or even mentioned once as a possibility.  In reviewing the other available options presented to the Haudenosaunee, it becomes apparent that Short Hills was not any more suitable or desirable than practically any other proffered site.  FOIA requests did reveal that the Haudenosaunee requested additional outsourced deer since the number of available deer on the reservation had diminished, leaving them 10-12 deer short each year for Long House Ceremonial functions.  Reading between the lines, the implication here is perhaps that the traditional grounds may have been over hunted.

Deer WinterThe native hunters requested isolated hunting lands that were not currently open to regular hunters, and they were willing to travel anywhere in the watershed.  Clearly there would have been several more suitable options for hunting if areas that were already used for this activity would have been acceptable.  The natives were working on 27 land claims, and said that pre-existing treaties allowed them to hunt in all of South Western Ontario. 

Other areas discussed for hunting included: Wainfleet Bog,  Navy Island,  Dundas Valley, Willoughby Marsh,  Humberstone Marsh,  South Cayuga/Townsend,  (2) Balls Falls, Binbrook,  Canborough,  Chippawa Creek,  E.C. Brown,  Hedley Forest, Jordan Harbour,  Long Beach,  Mud Lake (4) and Port Davidson, Ruigrok Tract,  St. Johns, Stevensville,  Virgil Dams and Reservoirs, and Wainfleet Wetlands (6)

These  sites may have been ruled out for the following reasons (itemized on spreadsheets by MNR staff and obtained by FOIA requests):

Wainfleet Bog – Public hunting was already in the park, there was public opposition for closing area for exclusive hunt, difficulty walking through would make for a difficult hunt, site is home of Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake and other species at risk, Six Nations had already had discussions but did not pursue, there was difficulty in distinguishing between Crown owned and NPCA owned lands, the area was surrounded by private land,  and there was difficulty in ensuring safety due to large area

Navy Island – A Niagara Parks Agreement would have been required, problem with firearms on Parkway, hunting was deemed too difficult, normally a public outcry when hunt takes place, access by boat, tourist area – highly visible

Dundas Valley – No real increased hunting opportunity as Six Nations is already hunting there, public not happy with hunting in the area, highly populated

Willoughby Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, small recreational area, public opposition to closing area for exclusive hunt, difficult to hunt and low deer concentrations

Humberstone Marsh – Public hunting already allowed, proximity to city of Port Colborne, low deer concentrations

South Cayuga/Townsend – Land is leased so landowner permission required

Balls Falls – No hunting season

Binbrook – Hunting from designated blinds only, hunting blind fee applies, already being used by other hunters

Canborough – No hunting season

Chippewa Creek – Hunting restrictions in some blocks

E.C. Brown – No hunting season

Hedley Forest – Conservation Area boundaries

Humberstone Marsh – Conservation Area boundaries

Jordan Harbour – No hunting season

Long Beach – Some area restrictions

Mud Lake – Hunting from designated blinds only

Port Davidson – No hunting season

Ruigrok Tract – Conservation area boundaries

St. Johns – No hunting season

Stevensville – No hunting season

Virgil Dams and Reservoirs – No hunting season

Wainfleet Bog – Designated areas only

Wainfleet Wetlands – Boundary  restrictions, no ATVs allowed in conservation areas

Notice the number of sites that currently allow hunting but have low populations of deer.  This suggests that the areas are being hunted to excess.  Notice also that the Short Hills Alliance is not the only group in opposition to deer hunting in their backyards.

The Short Hills deer hunt demonstrates the importance of open records for government transparency. The park was selected despite the fact that it also featured expanses of private land around the perimeter, there were objections to hunting, it was of small size, and there continue to be low hunting success rates (as evidenced by up to 70 hunters coming into the park per day,  but killing only 21 deer during the entire hunt),  and unclear hunting boundaries. With the available other options,  the MNR and Ontario Parks would have to be wooden-headed in enforcing subsequent hunts in an area where there is such intense opposition from both the public and the Regional Council members.

According to the law of diminishing returns, we can reasonably presume that if hunting by the Haudenosaunee Deer FallConfederacy on the reserve continued at a steady state or increased while the deer population failed to keep pace or declined, it would become too difficult to kill any deer.  This may explain why the native hunters were unable to continue sourcing deer on the reservation. As a result of population decline, hunters would require increased effort/time as the population reached lower and lower numbers, preventing them from achieving high kill rates.  The only reason populations of deer are not exterminated in this scenario is because of the effort relationship on the part of hunters in general – they tend to give up when it gets too hard,  thus allowing the population of deer to eventually rebound.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, beauty and stability of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it does otherwise. We don’t want to throw any deer under the proverbial bus, but after two hunts outside the reservation, the deer population may rebound and both the MNR and native hunters will reconsider the convenience of hunting in a multi-use park that is the subject of heavy protesting and at a potential cost of up to $200,000 to the taxpayers each hunting season.

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is the one that comes with a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

The Horse Sushi Sagas – Reblogged From “The Gadabout”

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This is a reblog from “The Gadabout,”  a blog by a pilot who writes of his flying experiences.  In these two blog posts written several years ago,  he gives his personal accounting of live horse shipments from Calgary, Alberta to Japan,  which have been previously documented by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.  You will also notice in the original blog photos that the horses are shipped multiple animals to one container,  which is contrary to IATA regulations,  an issue the CHDC also brought to the attention of Transport Canada and the CFIA in 2012

It’s not possible to confirm or deny the claims made here about incidents with horse shipments at this time,  and some of the transport companies mentioned here may no longer be involved and other participants may have changed.  Atlas Air and Korean Air are the companies that have now been observed doing the shipments – Fedex is no longer involved.  Please do not leave negative comments on his blog,  but instead view it as a very revealing first person accounting of the logistics and tragedy of live horse shipments from Calgary to Japan, preceding a protest of the practice at YYC (Calgary Airport).  If you live in the Calgary area, please plan to attend this peaceful protest on April 16, 2015.

Head ’em Up! Move ’em Out! 

“Me and the boys are settled down around the campfire here in Fukuoka, Japan after a big day out on the range a-bustin’ broncs. (Please recall, gentle reader, a previous email where I informed you that “Fukuoka” is pronounced “Foo Ko Ka”. Let’s not have any frivolous mispronunciations here.)

Loading Horses in Calgary (5)

Loading the Horses in Calgary – From “The Gadabout”

OK, they weren’t doggies and they weren’t broncs. They were Percherons and Belgian Draft Horses. We moved 57 head of them critters from Anchorage to Fukuoka yesterday. That’s an 8 hour flight and let me tell you, pards, being stuck in a closed aluminum tube for 8 hours with 57 one-ton horses is an olifactory event. But I get ahead of myself.

There is evidently a big demand for horsemeat and horsey byproducts here in Mysterious Japan. Mitsui & Co, Ltd, Foodstuffs Division, is making enough money to pay FedEx handsomely to fly these behemoths from a ranch in Calgary, Canada to Fukuoka with a refueling stop in Anchorage. The ranch raises them for their first three years until they are full sized. We’re talking Budweiser Clydesdale size horses, here: they average 2000 lbs a piece on the hoof. Once they’ve achieved full horsey adult status, they go to Japan where they are evidently further fattened up before slaughter.

There were two horse charters flown yesterday for a total of 114 horses which is the maximum limit of the horse quarantine facility in Fukuoka. Fifty seven horses – my weight and balance sheet yesterday said they and their containers weighed 131,600 lbs – produce a lot of byproducts that have to taken into consideration when crammed into a wide body jet for many hours. First, there are the clever “Instone” Horse Containers. These cans keep the horses and the horse emanations from running around all over the back of the jet and the cargo hold. Makes the clean up process much more efficient, pards. Note the can does not have cute little yellow “dixie cup” oxygen masks that drop from the ceilings. If our aircraft “loses cabin pressure” – well, Pilgrim – them horses is screwed.

Please ignore the Atlas 747. FedEx has the charter now. Evidently other charters operators have let the horses get too hot and killed the whole plane load.

The charter comes with a certified “Horse Handler” – ours was from Ireland – and a FedEx loadmaster. The horse handler has a big ol’ syringe full of horsey tranquilizer and happy juice should one of those monsters grow too unruly.

There are several pages of instructions contained in the MD-11 flight manual that pertain to carrying livestock. We needed to take advantage of every one of them yesterday. Normally, we run the air system in the MD-11 on “Econ”, i.e, low air flow since there are at most only 5 people on the jet and running the air conditioners on full uses excess fuel. So I had to be sure to turn Econ off during preflight. Some jets have been modified with extra air lines and valves to be “High Flow” jets. Those airplanes had to be specifically tasked against this charter. Next, some of our jets only have a “Nine-G” cargo net and a flimsy plastic “vapor barrier” separating the courier and cockpit area from the cargo hold. Those won’t do. A horse charter has to have a rigid bulkhead system between the horses and the people. Operating out of Econ and in High Flow require increased fuel burn planning. So I and the dispatcher had to make sure we had enough gas to offset that.

Finally, all jets maintain cabin pressure by opening and closing an “outflow valve”. Conditioned Air from the A/C packs flow into the cabin. The outflow valves open and close automatically to maintain an exact cabin altitude. The problem is that 57 horses produce a lot more humidity than the aircraft designer planned for. That moisture can get in the outflow valves and at stratospheric cold temperatures they will freeze the valve in place. Being unable to control the cabin altitude half way across the Pacific with none or little divert options would be a bad thing. So every 30 minutes we had to go manual on the pressure controller and “exercise” the valve to keep it from freezing. Gotta tell you, pards, that gives the ol’ Eustachian tubes in the ears a work out, guarontee [sic] it.

What the book doesn’t tell you and you really need to know is that it is a really good idea to wrap your bags in plastic. If you don’t, your bag and it’s [sic] contents will smell of horse until you get to a time an place that will allow you to clean them. So, we spent and extra 10 minutes bagging all the stuff we wouldn’t need during the flight. Further, once we leveled off at cruise, the first thing we all did was to take off our uniforms and get into some old clothes. Then we bagged the uniforms too – hermetical seals, baby.

The cockpit wasn’t too bad, although you could tell that you had horses in the jet with you. But once you went back to the courier compartment for “physiological breaks” and to cook your meal, the odor of horse almost knocked you down. I’m sure my grandfather is laughing at me now: “That’s the smell of money, boy.” But, Popper could step out of the barn into the fresh air and we couldn’t.

Finally, we were supposed to hawk the temperature controls back in the cargo bay and keep the temperature right around 60 degrees. The packs were working just as hard as they could – I had them turned full cold – to keep them at 60 degrees.

What I didn’t expect – and I should have – was what happened during the approach and landing. Descent requires you to pull the power back – which significantly impacts the air coming into the packs. I tried to keep the power up a little, but there is only so much you can do and still descend, so the temps in the jet just shot up quickly. Elementary physics says that hotter air can’t hold as much humidity and by the time we landed we had moisture dripping off of the ceiling everywhere inside that jet. Yucky horsey moisture.

I wanted to go back and get some pictures of the horses but there wasn’t time before takeoff……and going past the rigid barrier during flight into the real miasma was counter indicated and I chose not to.

So the only pictures I got were of the unloading process at Fukuoka.

I was surprised at how calm the horses were during this process. It seemed like about every hour or so during the flight, one of the horses would start stamping back there in his can and it literally shook the whole airplane. During approach and landing it felt like they were doing a break dance back there. We tried to brake the minimum necessary and roll out the full length of the runway to keep from tossing them around. One or two really exuberant stomping episodes felt like a serious of small explosions to me.

As you look at these pictures, please note that these horse containers have seen some wear and tear and are not nearly the nice homey stalls that the thoroughbreds get when they travel. Certainly, none of these guys were Mr Ed.

Just a short layover here in FUK – yup, that’s Fukuoka’s identifier, I don’t make ’em up, I just have to live with ’em – but it’s a very nice hotel.

We had a really nice meal at a restaurant around the corner that served American style food: “Cafe George” was the name. All six of the two horse charter crews plus one load master all went together. All of us were ex Air Force and we told lies and swapped war stories for a couple of hours and a good time was had by all. Much better than eatin’ Cookie’s grub out the chuck wagon, I gotta tell you, Pilgrim.”

The Horse Charter Follies

“Howdy All,

About 6 months ago I wrote about flying a horse charter to Fukuoka, Japan. Evidently, there is a big market for horsemeat in Japan. Japanese restaurants evidently think Belgian Draft horses make really good sushi (Basashi) so there are ranches all over the landscape around Calgary and Edmonton that grow thousands of these huge horses. They weigh about 2000 lbs apiece by the time they are two years old and then we haul ‘em to Japan. We ship them three horses to a roll-on-roll-off ‘can’.

Unloading The Horses -

Unloading The Horses – From “The Gadabout”

Since we can not load enough horses and fuel to be profitable and fly non-stop, we fly them in two legs, the first to Anchorage to refuel and then on to Fukuoka where they are quarantined and then fattened for slaughter.

Gentle Reader, yesterday turned into yet another mechanical saga – the worst in fact of this two week stretch of work I’m on. First, 57 horses jammed into the aluminum tube of a widebody jet require some significant life support. You have to keep the air moving in and out for cooling and respiration. That many huge horses can generate a lot of body heat and a lot carbon dioxide. So, when we start loading them, we switch the airplane’s A/C packs to ‘high flow’ and crank the temperature as low as we can get it.

The next piece of information in this comedy of errors I’m relating is that Calgary is served by FedEx Airbus 300’s normally. The mechanic assigned to our flight was – on paper – qualified to work on MD-11’s but the most he’d ever done was top-off the ‘serviceables’ – fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, oxygen and so forth. He might have changed a light bulb too…….

The airplane had just flown in from Hawaii and when it landed, the crew could not get one of the electrical buses to connect to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The APU is small jet engine turbine that sits in the tail and provided electricity and air to power, cool and start the airplane. If it can’t power the electrical buses, we are ‘hard broke’ – it’s got to be fixed or we can’t fly.

So a discussion occurs between the loadmaster and the mechanic: ‘How long will this take to fix? Can I start loading the horses?’ Without really thinking this through a decision is made to load them up. I am reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where the bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and turns into dust. As the Knight Templar said: “He chose poorly.”

After the horses are loaded, the mechanic discovers that fixing the electrical problem is much more involved than he previously thought. It will require changing an electrical relay down in the electrical compartment between the landing gear. Further, we have to take all the electrical power off the airplane so it will be safe for him to switch out the relay. Since it is a ‘black box’ it shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes to change out.

Gentle Reader, it was a cool rainy day in Calgary – the temperature outside was just below 60 degrees and good strong breeze was blowing. If it had been normal Memorial Day weekend weather those horses would have been in big trouble because it took 5 hours to fix the jet.

First, our intrepid mechanic had to read the manual and follow it step by step. Evidently the compartment involved is very tight and it is tough to get the heavy black box in and out. Secondly, routing the cables involved is very tricky and requires some previous knowledge and this guy has none. He’s on the phone to the Maintenance experts in Memphis and they are talking him through this process.

I must start another aside here to further this tale. Several years ago, FedEx subcontracted one of these charters to Gemini Airlines. Gemini had some old, beat up 747 freighters that had bad air-conditioning systems in them. They were not up to the charter task and in fact they killed all the horses through lack of oxygen and carbon dioxide inhalation. My loadmaster on yesterday’s flight was also the unlucky loadmaster stuck with this tragedy. He’s really sensitive to horse mortality as he does not want his name associated with yet another incident.

So, about an hour into this process, it is getting steamy in the back of our jet. It’s dark, hot and you can’t see but two or three horse cans back. The loadmaster says to me the chilling words: “Geoff, this looks exactly how the Gemini disaster looked. We gotta do something.” So, we go down to the electrical compartment, get the mechanic out of there, put some power back on the jet so we can open up the aft doors on the main deck to let the breeze blow some air through the jet.

At this point a new problem arises. The only way to open the aft doors is to squeeze between the horse cans and the side of the jet all the back by the tail. When they get there, they discover that the wiring to the doors has been disconnected – since we never use those doors – as a security precaution. So, now they have to reassemble the wiring harness. This takes about 30 minutes and they are 100 feet aft of where I am up in the front of the jet and out of communication.

About 20 minutes into this process, I realize that if heat and CO2 inhalation can kill a horse, it can kill a person too. (I’m quick that way.) They did not take any kind of breathing equipment back with them. My imagination begins to work. So, I go back as far as I think I can safely go into the miasma. You can’t see 10 feet back…..and I begin shouting to see if they can hear me.

Gentle Reader, shouting near 57, large, hot, miserable horses is a bad idea. They begin kicking and stomping and generally making a fuss and shaking the whole airplane. If the loadmaster and the mechanic are answering me, I can’t hear it for all the uproar. I do feel somewhat better about the two guys since I’m thinking that if the horses still have energy to kick, then they are getting oxygen. But I’m still wondering if I’m going to have to call the fire department and have them go back there with breathing apparatus to resuscitate and rescue them. Finally, the horses settle down enough that I can hear them shout that they’ve just about got it open.

About the time they get the doors open, some more ground guys show up with an air-conditioning cart and they stick the big hose up in the doors and begin pumping cool air into the airplane. Now the mechanic can shut down the power again and go back to work fixing the jet.

In the meantime, the loadmaster starts working another issue. We have a ‘no later’ than time for the horses to arrive in Fukuoka. After that the airport is closed. If we go to Anchorage but can’t get to Fukuoka, there is no place to stable the horses. The horse handlers specifically state: “If we can’t get the horses to Fukuoka, we’d rather keep them here.’ They do have a temporary stable system in Calgary to get them off the jet. The Global Ops people say they understand this issue.

Finally, we are repaired and ready to go. The loadmaster makes one last call and confirms we are good to go all the way including the refueling stop and crew change in Anchorage and we blast off.

I have some aerodynamic information to share now, gentle reader. If you’ve ever listened closely to the Space Shuttle mission controller talking, he says as the shuttle passes through about 25000’ above sea level “Now entering the region of Max Q.” You can get the fastest subsonic speeds through the atmosphere in the region of Max Q but you burn a lot more gas. In order to expedite the trip up to Anchorage, I call Global Ops and get a new flight plan and fuel burn for staying that low and to make up some more time.

About halfway to Anchorage we discover that the air-conditioning can’t maintain the desired temperatures in the back at 25000 feet and we need to go higher where the air is colder. So we abandon the speed run and climb to 36000 feet.

The nasty weather around Calgary cleared up about 100 miles east of Juneau and we got some fantastic views. We were behind and above a United 777 that was going to Narita and it made a pretty picture.

Fifty miles further west, we saw this:

Juneau is in the little inlet in the upper right corner of this picture. Then north of Juneau we saw:

There is a cruise ship is right in the center of the picture.

About 200 miles north of Juneau is Mt St Elias and the Malaspina Glacier that I’ve written about before.

Just after that, the 777 veered left to continue to the Orient and we kept going to Anchorage.

Letting down into Anchorage we flew right over Prince William Sound where the sun was shining just right on the waves in the water to make a rainbow reflection:

Just after that we passed over Whittier and the harbor that is home to other day cruises and fishing tours.

If you look close, there is a cruise ship moored at the docks. The only way to drive to Whittier from anywhere is through a one lane tunnel that serves both trains and cars. I wrote about it back in September. In this picture you can see where the road disappears into the tunnel. I tried to show the tunnel from both sides here but the clouds obscure some of the view. You can see Whittier in the left side of the picture, the big mountain the tunnel goes under and on the right side of the picture, under the cloud is the road as it exits the mountain and goes next to the Portage glacier and river.

Clouds closed in right after this and we got busy landing. We got permission from the tower to roll the full length of the runway and minimized braking to keep from throwing the horses around and then taxied in.

That’s when we discovered that the next crew couldn’t get to Fukuoka in time before it closed and the horses had to spend last night in the jet parked on the ramp at Anchorage. The horse owner was more than a little miffed.

And that, Gentle Reader, ends this saga. Today is a flight to Fort Worth, Tx. As more fascinating sagas occur, I will share them.

Until then, I remain,”

Dad / Geoff

http://opinhbombay.blogspot.ca/2008_08_01_archive.html

 

 

Children’s Summer Camp Season – Please Choose Programs That Do Not Discard Horses And Ponies!

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From this.....

From this…..

Written by:  Equine Advocates,  reprinted with permission

Summer will be here before you know it and now is the time many parents are in the process of trying to decide where to send their children to camp. Not all camps that feature horseback riding are the same. Some take very good care of their horses and retire them rather than sending them to auction where they can be sold for slaughter. However, many camps, especially many of the seasonal ones that do not keep their horses all year round, lease their horses from killer buyers and dealers who take them back at the end of the summer and sell them at auction. Those camps should be avoided. In addition, many camps are guilty of inhumane conditions such as keeping horses tethered in the hot sun all day and making them work all day long without a break.

Equine Advocates has been involved with the Camp Horse Issue since 1996 and have been featured in articles and in a FOX undercover

Or this.....

Or this…..

investigation, which included our rescue of a former pony mare named, Journey, who we saved at the New Holland slaughter auction in PA. She had been used as a camp horse at a summer camp before being scrapped for slaughter. We recommend strongly that anyone wanting to send their kids to a riding camp should do their research. Ask questions like, “What happens to your horses at the end of the season?” “Do you retire your horses when they can no longer perform?” “Where do you find the horses for your program?”

To this?

To this?

In the FOX investigation, one very upscale riding camp in Connecticut was found dealing with dealers who took the horses back at summer’s end and sold them at auction. However, there are good camps out there. Please take the time to find them. Also note that the same applies to riding academies, riding schools, college equine studies programs, dude ranches, national children’s organizations and other programs that feature riding. Just do the research and find a reputable camp or riding program that teaches your kids all the right lessons, including the humane treatment and care of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Equine Advocates is a national nonprofit equine protection organization founded in 1996, promoting equine rescue, retirement, and the humane treatment of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules. Located in Chatham, New York.