Bill Kit – C-246: The Modernizing Animal Protections Act

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BeynateWritten by:

Heather Clemenceau

By now,  many of us have read the details of Bill C-246 itself.  So what exactly is a “Bill Kit?”

The primary purpose of the Bill Kit is to inform other parliamentarians about the Bill in greater detail, and address some anticipated objections. This Bill Kit provides a detailed explanation of its actual effects, and includes data showing that across the country, Canadians support the three measures in the Bill – banning the importation of shark fins,  strengthening and modernizing the Criminal Code’s existing animal cruelty offences, and banning the sale of dog and cat fur in Canada.  There are several different versions of the kit; one for members of the Liberal caucus, one for opposition MPs, and one for the public,  which is presented here.

MP Erskine-Smith (@beynate) and his parliamentary assistants break the document into several sections:

  1. Background
  2. What the Bill Does Versus What the  Bill Doesn’t Do
  3. Political Support: Polls, Petitions, and Endorsements
  4. History of the Criminal Code Amendments

Canadians have been signing animal welfare petitions for decades now, demanding that the values of fairness and justice that we’re known for are applied to the protection of animals and to the punishment of animal abusers. Laws are essential to both codify and enforce positive changes for animals.  Our society is opposed to animal cruelty – our  laws need to be brought up to date to be made consistent with our shared values and this Bill will certainly accomplish that goal.  Please ask your MP to support this Bill!

Stuck On Stamps: Canada Post Issues Commemorative Stamps To Help Pets

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Pets deserve happiness, love and good health

Pets deserve happiness, love and good health

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The Love Your Pet stamps were developed by Canada Post with the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, to celebrate the importance of pets in our lives and raise awareness of responsible pet guardianship. The proceeds of stamp sales support the work of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies for animal welfare.

The five keepsake stamps remind us of the importance of responsible pet care, including spaying and neutering, regular veterinary visits, play and exercise, identification, and keeping pets cool and hydrated in the summer heat – all serious topics showcased with a lighthearted and whimsical artistry. These inspiring stamps were illustrated by Genevieve Simms and designed by Lara Minja of Lime Design. They can be ordered through Canada Post (you need an ePost profile) or via the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (Derek deLouche at derekd@cfhs.ca)

 

CFHS works to:

Demand changes to Canada’s shamefully inadequate animal cruelty laws

 

Ensure the vigorous prosecution of animal abusers

 

Increase adoption, decrease euthanasia and support homeless cats

 

Secure increased animal welfare for Canadian farm animals

 

Shut down puppy mills and end the suffering of thousands of dogs

 

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Grumpy Old Men – The Orchestrated Attack On Bill C-246

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31642869_lWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Since 1999, the Liberals have made numerous attempts to pass a much-needed update to the antiquated and inadequate animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. There was Bill C-17, resurrected as Bill C-15 and then re-introduced as Bill C-15B, followed by Bill C-10, Bill C-10B, Bill C-22, Bill C-50, Bill C-274, Bill C-277 and, finally, Bill C-610. While the House of Commons has passed new animal cruelty legislation three times, those Bills were either prorogued by the government or blocked by the Senate before they made it past the finish line. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies provides an excellent overview of the Bills here.

M2Toronto-area Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, recently introduced a Private Members Bill (C-246)  – the Modernizing Animal Protections Act, to reinforce Canada’s public policy and legislative commitments to animal welfare (World Animal Protection ranks Canada’s animal welfare laws a “D” on a scale of A-G).  Only the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, and New Zealand scored “A” grades on the index.  The Bill will be debated in the House of Commons on May 9th.

Despite rampant paranoia, the law is focused on eliminating the loopholes that allow chronic hoarders, repeat abusers, puppy mill operators and dog fighting perpetrators to get off with a slap on the wrist. It would create a new offence for individuals who cause unnecessary pain, suffering, or injury to an animal through gross negligence of the animal’s welfare. The Bill also sets out to achieve several key measures that are entirely reasonable and should win broad support:

  • Prohibition of dog and cat fur importation
  • Banning of shark-finning
  • Prohibitition the use of live animals in target shooting
  • Establishment of penalties for the killing and injuring a police dog
  • Prohibition of the training or breeding of animals for the purpose of fighting, as well as making it illegal to profit from dog fighting.

Enter Robert Sopuck, the Conservative MP for Dauphin-Swan River-Neepaw. Sopuck and his cabal of trigger-happy, pre-Darwinian animal killers are so paranoid that hunting Brian_Skerry_Mako_Finning(1)and fishing activities will result in cruelty charges, (I wish!) they have created numerous websites and Facebook pages to spread false information and extol the mythical virtues of hunting while proclaiming their services as absolutely necessary for controlling wildlife populations and preserving the environment. These pages feature Sopuck and others dressed up in a variety of machismo fashions, exhibiting unusual levels of arousal while carrying an arsenal of weaponry as they blast into the forests and streams to conduct their primitive rituals.

Sopuck himself proceeded to write a preposterous Toronto Sun article claiming that Erskine-Smith’s Bill will give animals human rights. Clearly channelling former Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, he writes that “Canada already has adequate measures to protect animals and prevent cruelty. Furthermore, all animal uses are covered by veterinary-approved Codes of Practise that guide what you can do with your animals.”  Those “guides” are just that.  They are meaningless because they are not laws.  And they are not “veterinary approved” either – they are the result of inputs from the agriculture industry.  How is it that Sopuck believes we have adequate protections when there are hundreds of entries in the caselaw database of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, with many of those not prosecuted successfully.  Very few animal cruelty cases are prosecuted each year in comparison to the number of cases that are investigated. It is estimated that less than 10% of cases that warrant prosecution are successfully prosecuted.

Lawyer Peter Sankoff lobs a nuclear strike at Sopuck in this deconstruction of Sopuck’s Toronto Sun article.  In the end,  Sankoff finds that virtually all of Sopuck’s claims range from the merely overstated to the downright preposterous – finding none of his claims to be accurate:

 

 

Despite the hunting propaganda which I have read on the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters website, the reality is that most modern families do not embrace hunting as either a pleasurable pastime or a family adventure. In 2010, almost 3.3 million adult anglers participated in a variety of recreational fishing activities in Canada, the majority of whom fall into the 45-64 year age range (If the downward trend in hunting continues, by the year 2050, hunters will only comprise 1% of the population).   Depending on what source you read, about 2-7% of the population are hunters; of course this doesn’t include poachers or treaty hunters who don’t require licenses.  In any case both numbers represent a significant minority of Canadians.  So you have your acknowledged 2-10% of the population righteously informing everyone else that it is only they who are picking up the tab for wildlife conservation – part time at that.

That dog doesn’t hunt, sorry.

pigeonsdeadbirdCanadians have been signing animal welfare petitions for decades now, demanding that the values of fairness and justice that we’re known for are applied to the protection of animals and to the punishment of animal abusers. Laws are essential to both codify and enforce positive changes for animals. Why should we be one of the only countries that does not yet prohibit the importation of dog and cat fur, because self-serving groups and a few old conservative politicians, who are clearly a product of Stephen Harper, are arguing against reasonable updates to an ancient law.  The fact that Sopuck and the hunting/fishing groups believe that Bill C-246 seeks the “complete elimination of animal use in Canada” indicates that none of them can read. If the Conservatives feel the Bill is “fundamentally flawed,” why don’t they draft their own Bill as they frequently threaten to do?  Their objection is based on the desire to kill animals for the sheer delight it brings them – the rest of the world will move on into the next century without them. Compassion for the natural world is the new order.

You can read the details of Nate Erskine-Smith’s Bill below:

 

In Pursuit Of Humanity At Auctions In Western Canada

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12604698_1661362140781773_4399257378087269268_oWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Research Assisted by: Debby

Thousands of horses have been filtered through British Columbia and Alberta auctions in the last few months, often with up to 80% being purchased by kill buyers at some auctions. I’ve chosen to focus on resources for rescuers attending auctions in these two provinces due to the magnitude of criticism and complaints, and because the sheer volume of horses being sent to auctions in BC and Alberta is surely on a par with the biggest horse auctions in the US, such as Billings.

Many horses are registered, sound, very rideable, beautiful, kind, and healthy, while others are unhandled, thin or emaciated, unwell, pregnant, or are injured. Those with injuries will endure unspeakable torture once jammed in a trailer with unfamiliar horses on their final trailer ride. The corruption at these auctions has created an intense divide between the horse rescuers who have been organizing to save these horses – abuse and neglect are untended or unreported, poor quality hay is the rule rather than the exception, and bidders are routinely ignored in favour of kill buyers. Because of negative publicity, photography has been forbidden at most auctions. Many rescuers want to object to the treatment of horses and bidders at the auctions, while others are adamant that the general public will be banned from attendance if they upset the proverbial apple cart.  We’re used to taking photographic evidence freely in public spaces but sale barns are private property.  They do however, have their own “codes of conduct, ethics, and constitution” that they are supposed to adhere to, in theory at least.  Service Alberta also produces a tip sheet on auctions that clearly states that The business is responsible for the actions of its employees and agents.”

I really believe that we need to be careful what we allow, as it is what will continue.  In many ways we teach others how to treat us (and the horses).  While auctions aren’t responsible for the condition in which horses arrive, they and the appropriate SPCA or veterinarian should be prepared to act in the event horses meet the requirements for being “unfit for transportation.”

Transport Decision trees by the National Codes of Practice for Equines.

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( Use CTRL + mouse scroll to embiggen these images)

Even if we are willing to overlook how the auctions treat us individually as patrons, we should not overlook the care of animals in their custody. My own opinion is that I would report neglect and abuse of an animal not only for that animal and future animals, but because it sometimes involves domestic violence on another level.  Many animal abusers have records for other crimes.

Auction houses are *supposed* to conduct auctions transparently and in particular they should announce how the sale of an animal or tack is completed – it could be the bang lead_largeof a hammer or the word “sold.”  Until the sale is completed you can retract a bid, however, once the sale is completed you are responsible for paying.  While employees of the business are allowed to bid on items, they are not allowed by bid on items they do not intend to buy.  Auctions should make an announcement at the beginning of a sale if an employee will be bidding. And finally, if you purchase a horse and need to keep him temporarily on site until shipping is arranged, do make sure that any administration charges, pricing arrangements, and commissions are in writing.

There is ample recourse for patrons of livestock markets to remonstrate against abuse or refusal of bids within the national and local auction networks in Canada and Alberta/British Columbia (and other provinces) and separate processes by which complaints about animal mistreatment can be made.

The Livestock Markets Association of Canada

The Livestock Markets Association of Canada is a non-profit association of livestock marketing businesses.  Members of the Livestock Markets Association of Canada: (Alberta) Includes Westlock, Dawson Creek, and Innisfail auction houses among others. Vold Jones Vold (VJV) operates Dawson Creek, Beaverlodge, Ponoka, Rimbey, and Westlock. The British Columbia members include Valley Auction among others.  Please see the website for information on other provinces.

The LMAC tells us that their members support the following code:

Code of Ethics and Mission Statement

“As a member of the Livestock Markets Association of Canada, this marketing business pledges to uphold the following marketing standards and principles. We pledge to:

  1. To promote the Auction Method of livestock marketing as an integral part of the Livestock Marketing business.
  2. To promote the auction method as open competitive price discovery. (To me this suggests that they, in least at theory, would not close off their auctions to the public)
  3. To promote fair and open competition while providing factual, accurate and honest market reporting, with actual volume and prices.  To strive to accurately describe and represent all animals consigned.
  4. To provide proper training to employees to ensure humane handling and the proper care of all livestock consigned. To develop safe handling practices that ensure both animals and market staff are treated under the best possible safety standards, ensuring a safe working environment for all employees, buyers, and/or consignors.
  5. To work in co-operation with all government bodies, at all levels to advocate the enactment of appropriate laws, whether statute, regulation, or policy, affecting the marketing of livestock. To ensure that regulations that apply to the marketing sector are market neutral. To protect the marketing industry from over regulation that would negatively affect the speed of commerce and needlessly harm the industry.
  6. To provide and maintain the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all transactions while treating all contributors and buyers in a fair and equal manner.
  7. To maintain a sound financial basis by assuring that full payment is made to sellers and received from buyers, in accordance with the provincial payment regulations.
  8. To protect the producers’ right and freedom to choose what method, manner, means and location they use to market their livestock.”

Is there recourse here for auction attendees who have not been treated fairly?  Possibly.  Without testing this creed we simply don’t know how responsive to complaints they are or how seriously they will consider them.

Alberta Auction Markets

In addition to this national group, there is also an Alberta based association – Alberta Auction Markets Association and they also have a Code of Ethics in which they state that they will give “honest service to all patrons of auction markets.”

“AIMS – OBJECTS – ETHICS

  1. To promote the general welfare of the members in regard to business, social, recreational and all other activities pertaining to the general improvement of the Auction Markets.
  2. Factual, accurate and honest market reporting with actual volume and prices.
  3. To provide open and fair competition.
  4. To give equal treatment to all contributors and buyers.
  5. To work in co-operation with all governing bodies, at all levels.
  6. Honest service shall be given to all patrons of auction markets.”

Also available are a number of government resources that outline the responsibilities of public auction businesses:

Province of Alberta Animal Health Act Livestock Market Regulation 

For those who would like to complain about the conditions of paddocks, feed, and water at an auction,  here are the relevant regulations:

“7(1) The operator shall keep an accurate record of each transaction relating to livestock that takes place at a livestock market,including(a) the livestock owner’s name, address, telephone number and premises identification number, (b) for horses, cattle and sheep, the number, colour, kind and brand or identifier as recorded in the livestock manifest required under the Livestock Identification and Commerce General Regulation (AR 208/2008),

(c) for livestock other than the livestock referred to in clause (b), the number, species, sex and livestock identifier, if available, and if the livestock identifier is unavailable, a description of each head of livestock, and (d) the name, address and telephone number of each purchaser of livestock.

Sanitation and other requirements

14 The operator of a livestock market shall, with respect to that livestock market, (a) provide an area where vehicles used to transport livestock to the livestock market may be cleaned by removing manure and bedding, (b) keep the livestock market free of all litter, refuse and weeds to the satisfaction of an inspector, (c) provide an area for the storage of all manure and soiled bedding in such a manner that livestock cannot have contact with it, (d) dispose of all manure and soiled bedding in such a manner that livestock cannot have contact with it for a minimum of one year, (e) provide suitable bedding that is clean, dry and adequate to meet the needs of the species and age of the livestock using it, (f) comply with the requirements of the Disposal of Dead Animals Regulation respecting the disposal of dead animals, and (g) control the fly population to the satisfaction of an inspector.

Cleaning and disinfecting

15(1) An operator must thoroughly clean the areas of the livestock market that are used by livestock, which includes scraping out or removing bedding and manure after each sale or assembly of livestock.

(2) An operator must clean the livestock market if ordered to do so by an inspector.

(3) An operator must thoroughly disinfect the livestock market if ordered to do so by an inspector

Misleading statements

20 No operator shall make or require or permit an employee or a person who is under contract to the operator to make any statement or representation or publish information in any form that misrepresents or misleads any person or is likely to misrepresent or mislead any person with respect to the health or condition of livestock at a livestock market.”

horses in pens at Claremont

Additional resources that may respond to complaints about conduct or animal neglect at auctions:

Alberta Fair Trading Act

Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act (British Columbia)

The Better Business Bureau of Central and Northern Alberta or Southern Alberta and East Kootenays.

The Better Business Bureau of the Lower Mainland, Thompson – Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon 

Alberta Office of the Chief Veterinarian

Animal Health Office of British Columbia

Alberta SPCA

British Columbia SPCA

11891979_486949478138355_2324220209730095838_nIf you are considering reporting you must let conscience be your guide. It’s possible that auctions can be prevailed upon to correct some issues on their own when approached.  If you’re planning to report, consider the number of problems, the severity/urgency, and the duration of the problem.  What is the attitude of the staff if you do approach them?  Are they indifferent (or worse)?

It may be impossible to obtain photographs if the sale barn has banned them and are watching (while they can ask you to leave, they cannot confiscate your camera or phone or detain you against your will).  If reporting an incident, contact your local humane authority or provincial/national regulatory authority.  Lastly, familiarize yourself with the the Criminal Code, National Codes of Practice for equines, and the Health of Animals Act.  Thank you horse warriors……

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

~ Albert Einstein

Over-Breeding, Foal-Milling AQHA Posts Membership Results for 2015

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

While new registrations and memberships of all pedigree horse breeds have been in decline overall since the 2008 recession,  registrations for the AQHA are possibly the hardest hit, due in part to the dominance of the quarter horse breed. The AQHA’s 2015 membership results have been posted, and following the trend of previous years,  they’re down overall once again.   Canada’s overall membership numbers continue in a decade of decline, so too do Alberta’s numbers, which are typically in the top 10 of almost any AQHA stat.

 

Membership Change Overall From 2014 – 2015 (2,997) This decline represents a loss of over $100,000 in revenue

Membership Change for Canada From 2014 – 2015 (655)

Membership Change for Alberta From 2014 – 2015 (171)

 

It’s no secret that the largest non-profit breed association in the world takes the most destructive and inhumane approach to horse slaughter of any of the breed groups. On the one hand, they have a Mission Statement to “ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.” However, the AQHA needs a system to make room for the continuing mass production, hence their business model is to breed as many horses as possible (thus maintaining new memberships and registrations thus ensuring that they are a self-perpetuating entity) while discarding older  or surplus horses and horses with undesirable conformation to slaughter plants.

AQHA  Executive Vice President  Craig Huffhines – (in reference to the S.A.F.E. Act):

“If we do not like unwanted horses being sent to processing facilities across our northern and southern borders, then perhaps Congress should allow our own USDA-regulated processing plants to reopen. The U.S. plants, with state-of-the-art monitoring technology, will assure humane handling and euthanasia as approved by AAEP and AVMA and a USDA-inspected safe and wholesome end product for export.”

Can I say how disgusted I am that Huffhines refers to quarter horses as an “end-product?”  I dislike references to the term “foal crop” on the 2015 Executive Summary (or wherever else I see it).  41655994_mlThe term “crop” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a produce that is planted and cultivated by collecting rainwater for irrigation.  Animals are not “crops” that can be ripened like turnips, although sending horses to slaughter does bring to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down.  Despite what the AQHA claims, the goal of “treating horses humanely and with dignity” is one that’s incompatible with over-breeding and slaughter.

In addition to encouraging horse owners to dispose of their animals in the slaughter pipeline and strategizing against humane groups,  the AQHA’s multiple-embryo-transfer rule also facilitates 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 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!  Possibly these two horses are not the most obvious examples of this policy either. There were so many lines in the All Breed Pedigree record for Dash for Cash that I had to copy and past them into a spreadsheet in order to count them…

top hat tip DebbyInstead of trying to fight against animal welfare groups, the AQHA should be setting aside funds to care for unwanted horses that resulted from rampant over-breeding that the horse-riding public cannot absorb.

Fewer horses produced by responsible breeding practices would result in higher prices at the sale barn and private treaty sales. It’s not all about the membership numbers.

 

Alberta Wildies: Aerial Surveys Used To Substantiate Culls Are Prone To Extreme Inaccuracy

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Spirit of the Basin by Melody Perez

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Artwork by:  Melody Perez

Whether it’s conducted for horses, bison, wolf, or deer, aerial surveys usually precede a savage end for our free-roaming,wild, and migratory animals. It usually becomes apparent that a cull is being considered whenever an aerial survey is conducted.  But the process of conducting aerial counts to justify a cull is profoundly flawed.  The scientific evidence to support arguments against the horses just isn’t there.  Counts require low flying and intensive and systematic coverage of the landscape that are more likely to motivate, and less likely to detect, horse escape behaviour.  The anti-predator behaviour of the horse (and other prey animals such as deer) is characterized by grouping together and running to escape, which compounds observers’ ability to make accurate counts, as does aircraft altitude, weather conditions, season, vegetation, and animal mobility. At least one study of wild horse behaviour in New Zealand’s Kaimanawa Mountains has shown that aerial sampling, which is then extrapolated to the entire population, can be highly inaccurate and imprecise: 

“Comparisons between the records of the counters and two observers show that, of the 136 marked horses located immediately prior to the helicopter count, 34 (25%) were counted more than once, a further 23 (17%) may have been counted more than once, and 13 horses (9.6%) were not counted. The helicopter count yielded 228 horses and was 16.9% larger than the estimate of 195.

Untamed Longing by Melody PerezIn addition, counts that are made only once a year for 2-3 days are not generally considered to be a robust form of wildlife management when compared to counts done 3 times a year, such as in the spring after what is often a harsh winter, after the foals are born, and before a capture is being considered.   Reliable methods to estimate wild horse populations should be important to Alberta Environment & Parks (formerly  Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development – ESRD)  because otherwise they will continue to make programmatic decisions that aren’t supported by science.  A single aerial census is not terribly useful since the horses are pretty scarce and elusive when spread out over 6 million acres, which results in a weak inference about horses that are neither abundant nor widespread in the Equine Zones. Not only is the aerial count slipshod because it is only one sample, E&P doesn’t know how many horses are too many.    E&P allow the “Feral Horse Advisory Committee,” with representation from several stakeholder groups, such as oil and gas, forestry, cattle ranchers, capture permit holders and hunters, (groups with a vested interest in removing wild horses) input into culls.

By most accounts there are somewhere between 850-980 wild horses currently grazing a vast area close to six million acres in 6 Cimmaron stallion of the Sand Wash Basin in Colorado by Melody Perezequine zones in Alberta Canada.  The cattle being grazed consist in numbers about 10 times the number of equids in the 6 zones.

It is falsely claimed by E&D that wild horses have no predators.  These wild horses, like all other ungulates, do have natural predators.  If not, why then would the E&P (ESRD) advertise on their website hunting and trapping licence for cougars, wolves and bears?  It’s also falsely claimed by the Feral Horse Advisory Committee that horses compete with wildlife and cattle for forage.  If so,  how many skinny cattle come off the range each year?  The government’s own study by R.E. Salter, who has a master’s degree in zoology – did not document forage or behavioural competition with either wildlife or domestic cattle.  Studies in British Columbia showed that overgrazing and erosion were caused by too many cattle and not horses.

The New Zealand Study On Aerial Surveillance:

Burro Baby Blues by Melody PerezBy the grace of (insert the deity of your choice), a cull was not held this year. The decision to cull any of these horses should not lie in the interpretation that they are feral rather than wild; feral is a human construct that serves only to stigmatize the horses.

You only have to look at these horses to see that they are almost evolving into a distinct breed, rather like the Canadian horse.  They deserve heritage status and advocates should demand that “managing” these unique and iconic herds be conducted using a biological basis which should never include inputs from groups that seek to eliminate them.

There should be a ban on selling captured horses to slaughterhouses (in part because there is not six months worth of drug history on any of them) therefore those doing so should be heavily fined.

 

 

 

 

Contact:

Minister Shannon Phillips
323 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6
Phone: (780) 427-2391
Email: AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca

Barn Fires – There’s No Excuse For Failing To Implement Common Sense Initiatives

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Horse-Barns-Fire-4Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the last few months several devastating fires have made the news across Canada.   For anyone who owns horses or manages farms, it’s terrifying to hear of a barn fire.  Recently, we’ve all seen the horrifying aftermath of barn fires that killed 40 standardbred horses,  13 arabian horses, hundreds of chickens, milking goats, cows and in one fire alone – over 2,000 pigs in the news.  Sadly, such tragedies are neither unexpected nor sufficiently shocking to alter the low standards of care permitted for these sentient, intelligent creatures. The horrific deaths of all these animals has callously been referenced in terms of “tonnage” in news articles.

There is a well-developed body of knowledge about preventing fires.  The most obvious solution is to install sprinkler systems, which typically make all buildings safer.  So why is there so much resistance by farms and agricultural businesses?  The principal reason is that it is very difficult to install sprinkler systems in non-heated buildings or farms that rely on a well water system.  In unheated buildings, pipes freeze in winter, and water pressure may not be sufficient to sustain water flow to sprinklers.  The majority of barns will likely never have fire sprinklers, so it falls upon us as animal owners,  farm owners,  or boarders on farms to ensure we can mitigate risk as much as possible.

The Office of the Fire Marshal manages a database of all fire occurrences in Ontario.  Analysis of occurrences has shown that the sources of many fires remain undetermined due to complete destruction of the buildings, but there are three leading causes of identifiable farm fires:

Source – OMAFRA

Mechanical/electrical failure

  • short circuit or ground fault in electrical equipment
  • failure of the built-in automatic controls in mechanical equipment or system

Misuse of ignition source or igniting equipment

  • careless smoking, or smoking where flammable vapours are present
  • ignition source left unattended
  • improper use of extension cords (e.g. overloaded circuit, multiple strings in sequence)
  • A commonly reported cause of fires in farm buildings is the misuse of equipment (i.e. arc welders, cutting torches or grinders) in the presence of combustible materials or gases without the proper safeguards.
  • Fires reported in this group reflect human error and are preventable with best practice operating procedures

Design, construction or maintenance deficiency

  • improperly constructed building feature or system
  • improperly installed object such as a heating appliance that is too close to combustible building features
  • improper maintenance such as failure to remove accumulation of combustible dust or debris, which is then ignited by heating appliances, process equipment or electrical equipment
  • faulty product design causes a fire even when the product is installed and used correctly

Design, Construction or Maintenance DeficiencyFire Hose

  • Improperly designed, installed or maintained building systems are another common cause of farm building fires. This includes heating equipment, lighting systems, process equipment and electrical distribution. For example, heat shields for a suspended radiant tube heater may become displaced with the use of a high pressure washer.
  • Without the shields properly in place, the underside of the ceiling becomes too hot and increases the potential for ignition and fire. Although the design and installation of the equipment is correct, a maintenance deficiency would be identified as the cause of the fire.

 

Please Sign – Petitions for Farm Safety Reform

CETFA Petition

Petition to Yasir Naqvi and Jeff Leal

Equine Guelph  has also put together an excellent resource,  one of the best I’ve seen,  to help farm owners avoid fires through common sense initiatives,  and a few that aren’t so common.  Planning ahead will also improve outcomes on your farm in the event you have to call first responders.

 

 

 

 

 

Heart Of Darkness

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bludgeoned heartWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Is eating out in trendy restaurants in Toronto supposed to be enjoyable any more? Or has it just become another display of gluttony and disordered behaviour, where people obsess over the hunt for the perfect dish of raw meat and take pictures of their food rather than who they are dining with? Pop culture is now overrun with the fetishization of food; cooking shows, celebrity chefs and blogs. In a piece by Rebecca Fleming, whose Valentine’s Day Special is rife with foodie-related nose-to-tail misery for animals, Toronto Life ensures that dining has never been more joyless to read about.

The article, entitled Eight Ways To Eat Heart In Toronto On Valentine’s Day must surely have been written by someone gunning for a PhD in grand master trolling. The premise of this pretentious article is that trendy hipsters should be eating animal hearts on V-Day, because, according to the author, it’s far more romantic than Orville Redenbacher’s and a rom-com.” It’s an article where eating prioritizes cachet above humanity.

On the menu at these restos (The Black Hoof, Bar Buca, Zakkushi, and Antler Kitchen Bar),  are chicken hearts, bison hearts, raw kitchen bitcheshorse hearts, and duck hearts – heart-shaped or “skewered just like Cupid would do!” If I could say one thing to consumers of these foods is “please think about what you’re looking at for a moment. “ Each of these animals used the heart to pump blood through their bodies. The heart (also a symbol of romantic or courtly love) is a hard-working muscle, and as with all organs, they have “weird” shapes, textures, and colours, and perhaps to a greater extent than skeletal muscle, it should remind you that this was once a living creature.

No matter what they themselves may say, people who patronize restaurants offering such gruesome fare are not, IMO animal lovers. They may profess to love individual species, such as dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals, but they don’t mind participating in the torture of the “less cute” animals. Not only are they meat-eaters, but they’re unethical meat-eaters. They patronize these restaurants for the sake of trendiness, so they support a system that exacts unnecessary cruelty on animals – breeding them to be weak and sickly, giving them a miserable life, and then delivering the low-quality product to their table.

And sorry (not sorry) restaurateurs, but most of the entrées depicted in the article are utterly indistinguishable from something that comes out of a hospital vending machine or a McCain’s Tasti-Taters bag. Not exactly consistent with my stock image of Valentine’s Day realness.

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches. The tweet represents a growing "culture war" between restaurant owners and their patrons. Of course they are douches - if they think it's cool to eat these tiny little heart as some sort of celebration of Valentine's Day, they certainly don't care about your staff...

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches.  Of course they are douches – they’re eating raw meat in your restaurant,  maybe it’s a primal thing?  They certainly don’t care about your staff…

Let Us Make Horses Relevant Again…

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Photo collage by Tink Photography - Morgan horse Hylee's Rhizzon with Kaleigh Tink

Photo collage by Tink Photography – Morgan horse Hylee’s Rhizzon with Kaleigh Tink

Written by Catherine Sampson/trainer/owner/clinician at Trillium Equine Complex/Trillium Morgan Horse Farm, Orono, Ontario

LET US MAKE HORSES RELEVANT AGAIN to a whole new generation that is lost to organized sports, technology gadgets, peer pressure and unhealthy lifestyles and choices.

There is NOTHING more gratifying than to give trustingly of one’s self both emotionally and physically than when you work with horses. They can be an enlightened path in a world of torment and temptation. They make for a strong mane to cry into when no one else seems to notice. They will challenge you and reward you in ways you never thought possible. They will also stand by you and listen to your words in whatever language you speak. They will unload the mind of its troubles of the day by simply allowing the person to focus on them and not themselves. They are the perfect stress fighter and best friend who never judges or belittles.

Many of my generation knows the value and life lessons horses teach. They are incredible mentors in a child’s life. They represent physical strength, strong emotional bonds, the importance of respect, trust, giving and sharing. They are not a hockey stick, basketball, football, dirt bike, tennis racket or any other inanimate object. They are a living animal with moral values to teach us and lessons to be learned. They are partners.

As riding and driving companions, horses demand physical effort and strength. They demand we have courage, sound thinking, awareness, sensitivity and above all confidence in ourselves. They make us look deep within and learn about who we are and discover how capable we truly can be. This is such a fragile comparison between size and strength, yet the minds of both bodies intertwine as strong as any steel when trust binds them together. I can think of no other sport or animal that defines us so strongly as humans because of this emotional link between a horse and its rider.

The horse has been with us for such a long time. I’m sad to see its numbers steadily decline and its popularity wane in a world that so desperately needs to find itself again. For those of us who still live passionately through our horses, we owe it to the horse to educate and promote their benefits to an unknowing public.

Reach out to the youth and people in our communities. Promote the horse and all the wonderful attributes it contributes to society from physical activity to emotional support and beyond. The horse can be a life changer and a game changer for so many people waiting to discover its magic.”

~ Catherine Sampson

 

 

Dalrahza RIP

Photo by Robin Burkimsher

*post script* I’m a former client of Catherine Sampson.  When I wanted to learn how to drive a carriage, all other clinicians told me my horse Dalrahza was, at 15, “too old to learn anything new” (she was a former working cow horse who competed in the US Nationals, and later my lower level dressage and trail horse) But Catherine knew that horses (and their people) can always learn new things, and Dalrahza embarked on yet another career as a competitive carriage driving horse.

Life is short. Be brave. Love horses. Take some chances and learn new things. I might be too old to take up competitive cheer-leading, but learning itself never gets old.

Kill Buyers, Faux Rescues, And Cockfighters, Oh My!

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“If truth, honor, and a big heart count for anything in this country anymore, then a huge dose of long overdue appreciation is due to every one of the few remaining stalwart, heroic, saviors of doomed and suffering horses…the horse buyers.

God bless them.”

~ Sue Wallis ~

Why would someone who presents themselves to be on the side of horses, alert a kill buyer or horse trader (Don Nowlin) to a website where they could try to negate an anti-slaughter bill?

“Sneek threw?” Seriously? Why would someone (Sabrina) who presents themselves to be on the side of horses, alert a kill buyer or horse trader (Don Nowlin) to a website where they might want to leave negative commentary on an anti-slaughter Bill, and encourage others to be wary of it as well?

Such prophetic words from Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis,  who never met a kill buyer she didn’t like.

I haven’t typically commented much on the issue of brokered horse sales, since it’s one of the most hopelessly partisan topics for horse advocates. I think that all horse advocates would agree that all horses deserve to be rescued despite the fact that, due to a completely random circumstance, they ended up on a feedlot or in the hands of a kill buyer, and that advocates’ networking and/or purchase of a brokered horse is an inevitable response to reality. I could not agree more.

People may ask, “what’s the problem if horse rescuers want to pay more than a horse is worth, and substantially more than what the kill buyer paid?” Over time, purchasing from brokered sales has become the de-facto method for rescuing horses, which means that private owners selling comparatively priced horses are completely excluded from consideration because there is no sense of urgency. I found this out myself when I was trying to place two mares that needed a new home this fall – the offer – that these two healthy, free mares came with 20 free round bales, was not sufficiently compelling because the owner was not going to slaughter them (they both eventually found a good home with a rescue, but not without a helluva lot of networking).  And this is why we should support legitimate rescues who often put training and vetting on the horses for a comparable price.

I see the issue of brokered horse sales as being comparable to that of puppymills – all these animals are deserving of rescue and a forever home,  but dog lovers are urged to avoid pet store dogs (since the majority are sourced from cruel puppymills). Pet shops capitalize on the natural appeal of puppies, kittens, and other animals to sell these animals at an inflated price—often several hundred dollars or more for “purebred” animals. Common problems in the pet-shop industry include selling sick and injured animals, failing to provide proper veterinary care, keeping animals in unsanitary conditions, and using inhumane methods to dispose of sick or unwanted animals. Sound familiar?  It’s a simple formula: where there is demand for a “product” like puppies (or horses), suppliers will fill that demand.  Kill buyers are analogous to puppymillers of the horse world.

The demise of faux horse rescue AC4H heralds trouble for other horse “rescuers” and brokered horse programs who are in the lucrative business of offering horses with great fundraising appeal (gaunt horses, mares in foal, ponies, minis, etc) who are never intended to go to slaughter. Some faux rescues may also be selling horses that have already been bailed by donations, thereby “double dipping.” In addition to paying far more than a horse is worth, the purchaser often incurs huge fees for quarantine and transport. After all that, in many cases the horses have lost substantial weight or are visibly sick by the time they arrive at the purchaser’s or,  in a worst-case scenario,  may be euthanized.

Deep down I feel that most horse advocates know or suspect that the people representing the brokered horses they buy may not adhere to general ethical standards such as full disclosure, honesty, or conformity to applicable laws. But we should all collectively denounce improper business practices or mistreatment of animals.

This “advocate” went out of her way to post a link on a KB/horse trader’s page to give him a heads-up that legislation was coming

As you can see, this post is from December 11th. These horses are "overdue?" For what, a trim? No, they're overdue for slaughter. The posts for these horses on this "advocate's" page continue even today, so they've been "overdue" for a while now. Why haven't they been shipped? Because you haven't paid their ransom yet, thus supplementing a whole supply chain down the line that relies on the ransom as their income in whole or in part.

As you can see, this post is from December 11th. These horses are “overdue?” For what, a trim? No, they’re overdue for slaughter. The posts for these horses on this “advocate’s” page continue even today, so they’ve been “overdue” for a while now. Why haven’t they been shipped for almost a month,  despite heavy lobbying? Because you haven’t paid their ransom yet, thus supplementing a whole supply chain down the line that relies on the ransom as their income in whole or in part. They may even have been purchased specifically for the secondary market,  possibly by outbidding legitimate homes.

down the pipe that might just put a big crimp in his lifestyle. I’d call that “casual sabotage.” The plan is to introduce the WASHINGTON DEFENSE OF HORSES ACT of 2016 this month. It will be introduced into the Washington State legislature and then used as a precedent in other key states.

KEY PROVISIONS:

  1. This law includes not only horses but all members of the equine family; ponies, donkeys, mules, asses, and burros.
  2. Equines will be defined under law as recreational/sports/service animals and provided all legal protection as other human companion animals.
  3. It will be illegal to slaughter a horse if it is known or should be known that any of the meat from the slaughtered animal will be used for human consumption.
  4. It will be illegal to possess, purchase, barter or sell privately; possess, purchase, barter or sell at retail; exhibit for barter or sale, or possess with intent to sell or barter horses and other equines or their meat if it is known or should be known that the horse or its meat will be used for human consumption.
  5. It will be illegal to transport a horse or the meat of a horse if it is known or should be known that it is intended for human consumption.
  6. Due to the severe threat to public safety posed by human consumption of horse meat, any and all violations of this law will be a Class C Felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 for each and every horse involved.

There is only one reason I can think of to rally kill buyers or pro-slaughters against the WHDC’s anti-slaughter Bill, and that is because you don’t want the money pipeline to dry up. Don Nowlin, the kill buyer/horse trader in Washington that has been alerted to the website for the Bill, appears to be a member of several FB groups that promote cockfighting. They refer to themselves as “cockers,” which may have more than one meaning but is coloquially a term for a person who breeds or trains fighting cocks (but they hope nobody notices this). They hold fundraising activities for people in the community and have birthday parties for their kids complete with water slides and cupcakes, while probably running a cockfighting superbowl in the backyard (cockfighting is illegal in most places in the US). Do thousands of people follow these guys on Facebook because they like to admire chickens? Some of these groups are located in Mexico and the pages are all in Spanish,  and their websites require you to set up an account before you can view the galleries.  So Don is just another regular working guy trying to make a living and enjoying a few hobbies in his downtime!

As if horse slaughter isn’t bad enough, any sport that involves animals killing each other for their owners’ entertainment as well as monetary gain – is reprehensible. And when an “advocate” alerts a kill buyer to looming anti-slaughter legislation, she’s saying that she’s basically OK with animal cruelty in general, as long as it’s a passive, easy-to-ignore kind of cruelty.  That old saying has never been more true – “he that lieth with dogs shall rise up with fleas.”  Or to rephrase it – people will always sink to the lowest common denominator of the set or group to which they belong.

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(If these graphics in the slideshow are too small,  use CTRL + Mouse scroll to zoom in)

I hope my fellow advocates will take the time to report the Facebook group that I have screen-shot for animal cruelty, even moreso because it features a picture of a dog that has apparently been dragged behind a car, perhaps to demonstrate the curative powers of this black salve treatment they are shilling for roosters that have survived cockfights. It’s enlarged here, if you must look (but I suggest you stick to the smaller image in the slideshow above). Clearly the dog isn’t being treated by a veterinarian in this sequence of pics,  unless veterinarians typically treat dogs while they are lying on a BBQ…None of this is OK.

Meantime, Allen Warren of the WHDC has responded to the issue of kill pen scammers here:

“I know everyone is upset by the KBs and kill pen scammers attacking HR 2327, but we knew this would happen. Here are a few more TALKING POINTS for those of you who would like to take them on. We will ignore them ourselves because to respond to their lies would be to acknowledge them, and we don’t acknowledge bottom feeders at WHDC. You can use these facts, although I promise you won’t confuse them with the truth, no matter how many ways or times you say it:

  1. In the three states where there are current horse slaughter bans, California in 1998, Illinois in 2007 and New Jersey in 2012, there have been no increase in cases of equine neglect, but a dramatic drop in cases of horse theft. Oh, another sideline business for KBs, that’s right. Meat buyers are not looking for old skinny horses. Makes sense, right?
  2. Over 90 per cent of horses going to slaughter in figures kept by USDA are between the ages of 2 and 9, full bodied and sound. Right, the slaughterhouses want meat animals. So the KBs want us to believe they are buying any other kind?
  3. Once they have their greedy hands on them every horse headed for slaughter is considered the walking dead and horribly treated, both in kill pens and while being transported. They really care about horses….NOT.”
  4. And finally, Donnie Boy Nowlin never answered the first question I asked him. How can you sleep at night knowing these animals are poisoning the people of other countries? These scum are not members of the legitimate agriculture community, they’re greedy predatory scavengers and anyone who can’t see that has their head exactly where the guy in this photo does, or in the lowest orifice of their body. Go get em, Warriors!”

WHDC