Calgary Anti-Slaughter Billboard – If You Were Waiting for a Sign, This Is it!


guitar player watches centaur ladyWritten by Heather Clemenceau

On July 23rd,   the hue and cry for a group of anti horse-slaughter supporters, after months of planning, was “Wagons Ho” to Calgary, Alberta.  They arranged,  along with the assistance of Jo Deibel and Angel Acres’  to erect Canada’s second anti-horse slaughter billboard (the first having been erected in Ottawa),  and followed-up with a billboard launch party that rocked the old-school Calgarians like they’d never experienced before.  The team would also like to give an extra loud  shout-out of gratitude to all our supporters who contributed financially to the rental of the billboard.

The billboard team was led by Charlotte Uhrich,  and consisted of Joanne Clay,  Laurie Neilio, Geri Ramsay,  Alex Atamanenko’s assistant Gina,  Dr. Sandie Hucal, and many others who worked

NDP MP Alex Atamanenko in front of Calgary Animals' Angels Billboard

NDP MP Alex Atamanenko in front of Calgary Animals’ Angels Billboard

behind the scenes on Facebook,  contacting media,  preparing signs,  and networking before,  during, and after the billboard went up in early July during Calgary Stampede.  Laurie Neilio and Joanne Clay put considerable energy into sourcing a damning 2005 film of the notorious Calgary Stampede bridge accident (9 horses fell off a bridge and died) that seems to have been suppressed,  even though it was produced with taxpayer funds!  Grab your tinfoil hats – conspiracy theory coming up!

Most of the planning and prep work was done without setting foot in Calgary until the day of the event!  Sinikka Crosland of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition was also in attendance to ensure that Canada’s national horse protection association had a strong presence.  Together,  everyone took a bold public step Monday towards exposing an industry that horse advocates describe as Canada’s secret shame. Alex Atamanenko,  MP for BC Southern Interior and the author of Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada,  along with  more than two dozen supporters , rallied underneath the new billboard on the corner of Barlow Trail and Memorial Drive S.E. And the billboard is a success,  having sparked controversy and created dialogue,  if the number of news reports featuring it are any indication.

Billboard protesters

Billboard protesters

The decision to place a billboard during the 100th Anniversary of the Stampede was ballsy.  In 2011,  Canada slaughtered 89,348 horses and exported nearly 13,500 tonnes of horse meat to Belgium, France, Switzerland and other countries, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Alberta is the horse slaughter capital of Canada,  being home to the Bouvry slaughterhouse and Bouvry Exports which serves both an export and smaller domestic market,  mainly in Quebec.

While the overall message is one of anti-slaughter for all horses,  the group also called attention to the continual death of horses for human amusement at the Stampede,  which many Canadians (outside of Alberta,  that is)  consider to be about as cool as Grandma’s Corolla.  Many will tell you that the Stampede celebrates our Western heritage. However, the modern rodeo is actually a departure from tradition.  Attendance figures actually indicate that,  when expressed as a percentage of city population,  attendance is actually flatlining.

Wear your Canadian Tuxedo with pride at the Stampede,  while enjoying confections such as a Bacon-Sundae Funnel Cake, Jack Daniels Fudge, Bacon-Wrapped Wagon Wheels, Deep Fried Kool-Aid, Taco Pizza, Pulled Pork Poutine and Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Wear your Canadian Tuxedo with pride at the Stampede, while enjoying confections such as a Bacon-Sundae Funnel Cake, Jack Daniels Fudge, Bacon-Wrapped Wagon Wheels, Deep Fried Kool-Aid, Taco Pizza, Pulled Pork Poutine and Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Traditionally, it was vitally important to preserve the safety and well-being of horses: For those who depended on their animals, jeopardizing their life could result in dire consequences  to their livelihood as a result of poor management. Rodeos reflect a shift in tradition from protecting the welfare of horses to profiting from their stress and suffering.

Each year, as recent statistics demonstrate, there is a high likelihood that horses will be injured or die when they are driven beyond their capacity in excessive heat. Most horses participating in the chuckwagon races are older or retired thoroughbred racehorses,  who are no longer fit for such exertion,  especially in the dead heat of summer.  Not only is racing chuckwagons not an everyday ranch event, it’s not even an officially recognized event of the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association. Its sole purpose is excitement, show and entertainment.

In events that pack horses and riders tightly together and where racers vie for  over $1 million in prize money, is it any surprise that horses are pushed to the limit and that this stress would cause severe collateral injury and death?  More than 50 horses have died at the Calgary Stampede since 1986.

In addition,  the Stampede organizers recently admitted that each year, about 20 horses bred at the Calgary Stampede ranch aren’t angry enough to entertain spectators at the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” or at lesser outdoor shows, are sent to slaughter.  Many people are of the opinion that these horses could be re-homed,  since they are a failure at what would be their primary job – bucking – a characteristic that,  when done “professionally” for the Stampede,  makes horses poor candidates for new careers.

Opposition in the  media was expected and it consisted of the usual poorly researched articles,  often written by people who

Sometimes Cowboys do cry.....when they lose out on the prize.  Chuck driver Chad Harden lost three of his horses.

Sometimes Cowboys do cry…..when they lose out on the prize. Chuck driver Chad Harden lost three of his horses. I’ll light my Lady of Guadalupe candle for him later..

had no idea there was a horsemeat industry in Canada (and still don’t) .  They are busy perpetuating illogical arguments  that “some” suffering is acceptable, or even expected, and that these horses are incredibly well treated off the track.  Incredibly,  one news broadcast even neglected to feature MP Atamanenko at all,  and instead relied upon old video of a kill buyer,  who was so proud of himself that he refused to face the camera.

Association manager Robyn Moore said the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has veterinarians on site at slaughterhouses to ensure the process is “100 per cent humane.”  Clearly the CFIA has forgotten that the  footage publicized by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition was authenticated by the Canadian government. She also  forgot to mention that state-of-the-art plant that was retrofitted to use designs by Dr. Temple Grandin was shut down by the government after the undercover investigation  videos were released. Her memory eludes her yet again when she forgets to mention that Canada’s two largest plants will no longer accept Thoroughbred racehorses. I’m sure it has nothing whatsoever to do with the banned drugs (most notably Phenylbutazone) given to racehorses,  which renders them ineligible for food sources.

“Something is quite wrong, we’re not getting the response from the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) that’d we’d like,” he says. “We don’t allow cattle into the human food chain if they’ve been given prohibited drugs, but we are allowing it to happen with horses.” – Alex Atamanenko.  View the CHDC publication “The Art of Evasion,”  which documents the clear sense of apathy within the Agency.

Calgarians in general are not getting the message either,  if the rash of poorly formulated ideas and thoughts posted on news sites are any indication.

Comments from the Calgary Herald article

Comments from the Calgary Herald article (any spelling/grammar errors belong to the authors and not me!)

Chef Shawn Greenwood of Calgary’s Taste Restaurant is serving  horse tartare on the menu. Greenwood said he buys the horse meat from a local supplier, who raised the animals specifically for slaughter, so he was not concerned that the meat contained Phenylbutazone.  I wonder how this was confirmed?  I suspect,  as I do with La Palette in Toronto,  that restaurants are getting the “pharmaceutical grade” of horsemeat,  while Claude Bouvry sends the purpose-bred, medication-free horses live to Japan several times a week.

Of course,  American horse-hater,  part-time Wyoming State Rep and cowboy poet “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis felt compelled to weigh-in (pun intended) on the news stories,  since she has Canadian representation in the International Equine Business Association.

IEBA Gang of Five

IEBA Gang of Five

She writes on the United Horsemen’s Facebook page:

“In spite of the headlines, solely designed to add drama and sell papers, there are actually some very good comments made in this article by our International Equine Business Association partners in Canada.”

And the Canadian contingent of the IEBA,   Canadian horsemeat pimp  Bill DesBarres, chair of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada, criticized the demonstrators’ argument that slaughtering horses is inhumane.  This is because DesBarres can provide proof that all horse-slaughter abuse videos are misleading because they’ve been filmed by angry vegans using Photoshop wizardry and bad lighting.

“There’s absolutely no science behind it,” said DesBarres. “It’s strictly based on emotion. The end of life option of processing is a very real and wonderful option to have for the humane handling and the welfare of all animals. The more these people promote their choice of not slaughtering horses, the more they promote people to try it as a consumptive food,” he said.  Clearly,  he hasn’t been speaking with Wallis lately,  who has been inundated with bad press for yet another failed attempt at establishing a slaughterhouse,  this time in Rockville,  Missouri.

Does anyone else find DesBarres comment that horse slaughter is “wonderful”  to be,  ok,  I’ll just say it – almost fetishistic in its fiendishness?  Who the fvck claims slaughter is “wonderful?”  I daresay that this comment in particular suggests to me that DesBarres thinks horse slaughter is a form of snuff porn.   In that,  he is at least consistent with his compatriot Slaughterhouse Sue,  who has no problem endorsing creepy post-mortem activities with animals.

By the way Bill,  do you know what “consumptive” means?  Courtesy of the Free Dictionary:

con·sump·tive  (kn-smptv)adj.1. Consuming or tending to consume.2. Of, relating to, or afflicted with consumption.n.A person afflicted with consumption.con·sumptive·ly adv.

consumptive [kənˈsʌmptɪv]


1. causing consumption; wasteful; destructive

2. (Medicine / Pathology) Pathol relating to or affected with consumption, esp tuberculosis of the lungs


(Medicine / Pathology) Pathol a person who suffers from consumption

consumptively  adv

consumptiveness  n

Thesaurus:  Synonyms Related Words Antonyms

Noun 1. consumptive– a person with pulmonary tuberculosis – tubercular, lunger diseased person, sick person, sufferer – a person suffering from an illness
Adj. 1. consumptive– tending to consume or use often wastefully; “water suitable for beneficial consumptive uses”; “duties consumptive of time and energy”; “consumptive fires”generative, productive – having the ability to produce or originate; “generative power”; “generative forces”
2. consumptive– afflicted with or associated with pulmonary tuberculosis; “a consumptive patient”; “a consumptive cough”ill, sick – affected by an impairment of normal physical or mental function; “ill from the monotony of his suffering”

Somebody wake DesBarres up from his nap in the crypt and let him know that,  for once,  I agree with him!  Eat North American horsemeat and you could indeed find yourself “consumptive.”  Please take a moment to email Bill and tell him how happy you are with his comments –

Bill C-322 seeks to end the import and export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.  One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem and take action to rectify it. It only takes one person to be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Many private citizens and supporters of integrity and transparency in Canada’s food supply are regularly issuing challenges to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)  to act immediately to correct the serious problems of horse cruelty and non-food horsemeat entering the food chain. We are all consumers and advocates – not one of us is any less responsible for tasking the government with ensuring that our food supply is as safe as it can possibly be.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

20 responses »

  1. the issue of food safety, the testing stats are dismal with only 300-400 hundred samples taken from 60,000+ horses slaughtered, leaving 59,600 – 59,700 horses slaughtered not tested for residues reaching the consumer market(Quoted stats per Dr. Brian Evans 2012) can be hard to find Phenylbutazone residue when You don’t really look for it..

  2. In my letter that I received back from Dr. Brian Evans he was not even aware that the regulations regarding keeping the slaughter of horses and their meat separate from other species had been changed! Would post the links but do not have them with me at work.

  3. Great to read. Do you have any AQHA information to add to this? They are known offenders and apparently the lobby money is substantial from that sector of corrupt horse breeders. That would be helpful to have in order for us in the U S to contact Congress.

    I am thinking that If @ 60% of the horses sent Canada to be killed in slaughter plants are from the U S, Quarter Horses would have to be a major source. The AQHA flies under the radar here in the U S. Would Canada have stats or current estimated numbers of our registered Quarter Horses they receive from our kill buyers? The lack of ID and the usual lying from our kill buyers may make finding an accurate estimate a challenge.

    I recall seeing numbers from 2007 from Dallas Crown which showed the largest number of useful healthy horses they received as being categorized as Quarter Horses. It would make sense if that ratio was found also in Canada. If there is such an estimate of the numbers of U S Quarter Horses being sent to die in Canada, could someone post that in this blog?

    Thanks in advance for any reliable numbers anyone can find.

  4. Pingback: Calgary Anti-Slaughter Billboard – If You Were Waiting for a Sign … | Stop Horse Abuse

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  6. Thank you for sharing this story…but the caption is wrong on the picture…lol…This is an Angel Acres billboard not Animals Angels (great group, btw ;o)

    We have more going up….want to give a big shout out to Charlotte Uhrich for rallying her troops and sponsoring this board!

    Jo Deibel
    Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue

    • Hi Jo, thanks for posting. I realized this earlier this afternoon and changed it to Angel Acres! Sorry about the boo-boo – I finished the blog at about 3am and some things didn’t become apparent until the light of day. I also added a link to your YouTube video as well.

      Thanks for your efforts on behalf of Canadian horses!

  7. Re: the pro-slaughter comment in the article asking why don’t anti-slaughter organizations outbid the kill buyers and take care of the horses for the rest of their lives..actually, that is EXACTLY what rescue organizations ARE doing! All the pro-slaughter people are doing are being lazy & greedy.

    • Yes, those comments were a cross-section those made by some of the more uninformed Calgarians. This is a common complaint about animal welfare advocates. Of course, they expect us to adopt 80,000 – 100,000 ADDITONAL horses each year and thus eliminate slaughter completely I suppose. Rescues and animal welfare advocates are pretty much always expected to pick up the pieces in the secondary horse market.

  8. It may be hard to get hard numbers on the number of QHs shipped to slaughter as most kill buyers and feedlots don’t bother to do the transfers or care about those kinds of papers.

    As far as the chuckwagons, I have to say I’m neutral on that issue. They aren’t like they used to be and most of them do take good care of them. I was reading that one of the guys that retired sold his stock after The Stampede and two of his horse brought in excess of 90K each. It is true that if not for the wagon guys many of them would have shipped to slaughter right off the track. Is it ideal for a retired racehorse? No. I’d prefer them go to polo players or show people, but that’s not always possible. As long as there is slaughter in Canada, I would rather see them go there. I’m not sure Canada has as many rescues that are dedicated to TBs like the US does as of yet. Not sure why that is though…

    • Any number I can come up with will just be a non-scientific, semi-educated guess. AFAIK, there are no stats on breeds slaughtered. I’d like to know too, so I may follow a few auction sites and try to get an idea of type of breeds presented there. Plus, I know someone who goes to OLEX every week who could start to collect some stats over time.

      Going back to the chucks – I’m not really of two minds on this issue. My own feeling is that owners are individuals and whenever possible, I try not to generalize. I suspect that the chuck owners are comparable to race horse owners – good and bad mixed together. Horses that are re-purchased and used for chuckwagon races are probably only delaying their eventual slaughter for the most part, which is how I feel about racing in Canada. It’s awful to contemplate the industry being shut down quite abruptly in Ontario, leaving 60,000 people out of work and horses dumped on the market, foals being euthed, because there is no future for them. Here you have a sudden “march to the gallows” versus a slow bleed of horses over time to the slaughterhouses. Neither is preferable. As long as there is a preponderance of disreputable people in an industry, it cannot wholly reform; this is especially true for slaughter.

      Was Chad Harden shocked by the crash? Absolutely he was – no doubt in my mind. It was a terrible personal and financial loss for him. His statement that “they’re just like humans” seems really over-the-top to me, based on everything I’ve seen and heard coming out of Calgary in the last months. I’ve had Google Alerts running on the Calgary Stampede and chuckwagon races for months, because I knew we had a billboard going up and I knew I was going to write about it. I’ve run queries on boardreaders during that same time. I’ve posted on newsboards and forums with Calgarians – while I love Alberta, the prevailing attitude coming from many Calgarians in the horse industry is that horses are utilitarian, and once they’re no longer able to do their jobs, you can “shoot ’em” and “scoop ’em.”

      I’m also disappointed that some people, knowing I’m a carriage driver, assume that I drive as though I’m in a chuckwagon race (that’s probably because they know how I drive a CAR). Of course carriage driving bears no resemblance to a chuckwagon race, because even a combined driving event isn’t a “race,” the horse and driver must finish the event within a specific time period (neither too soon nor too late) and arrive in good condition. Chuckwagons give carriage driving a bad rep. I realize that even a CDE is a whole lot less appealing to people who want to see thrill and spills, but chuckwagons are reckless, the events have no finesse, they’re dangerous to everyone involved.

      I’m leasing a Welsh/Standardbred right now that has competed in the Royal Winter Fair. He could never command $90k, but he is still worth a fair bit of money. Even if he were practically worthless, there are plenty of activities I would never subject him to. While I’m impressed that Jason Glass enabled one of his horses to have life-saving heart surgery, I’m really shocked they would put the horse back into the Stampede a month later. Seems to me like they really rushed the recovery time to be able to compete in the chuckwagon race –

      Four horses died following chuckwagon races at the 2009 Calgary Stampede, and a wagon crash during the 2007 Stampede led to three horses being killed and a driver hospitalized. Six horses died in 2010, two from heart attacks. Barely a year goes by without a total wreck. My own opinion is that people who “love” their horses like family would not put them through this.

  9. With the small number of Canadian horses owned by locals that are sent to slaughter if the US horses could be banned from bring slaughtered it would shut down slaughter in Canada because of not enough horses to keep a slaughter plant open more than one or two days a week or even less. That will not pay the bills. All of them would shut down within one or two weeks. Slaughter will have to be banned in both countries because if it’s not, all US horses would be shipped to Mexico. Mexico will not shut down horse slaughter because the fools eat the meat. The 100,000 horses killed at the Canadian plants include Canadian horses along with the ones from the US I don’t know if that number includes what is shipped to Mexico. Find out how many Canadian horses are sent to slaughter and subtract that number from the 100,000. I think I came up 29,000 from Canada with zero from the US if slaughter is banned here and that would not be on a daily basis it would be haphazard at best.

  10. I checked and there are 138,000 horses sent to slaughter that includes Mexico. So if it was banned in the US, Canada would only have local horses to slaughter, that still would not keep the plants open.

  11. Pingback: Have the Tentacles of Horse Slaughter Touched the Set of Heartland? | heatherclemenceau

  12. Pingback: Join-Up! New Canadian Anti-Slaughter Billboard in the Air | heatherclemenceau

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