Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

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Written by Heather Clemenceau

The transition from summer to fall is a time when the air may still be hot,  but the winds signal that a change is arriving.  The fall is a time of letting-go;  we prepare our gardens for the fall,  pruning and fertilizing,  removing spent foliage, and raking leaves.  When the leaves flutter to the ground,  we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in reality.

It is possible to take something beautiful and lasting out of the heart-wrenching experience of seeing something you love move inexorably toward death.  Four ladies living in or near Mattawan,  Michigan discovered that sometimes memories are one of the most poignant legacies that exist.  If you aren’t involved in the equestrian community on Facebook,  you might not have heard about the story of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse.

Sugar was a 34 year-old mare living in the junkyard owned by Don Austin of Mattawan.  She was purchased at auction about 20 years earlier,   and lived her life out in his junkyard.  Don Austin claims she was a barrel-racing quarterhorse,  but to me she looks more like a thoroughbred.  Her history seems unclear,  but years ago she apparently had a foal who still lives to this day. There may have been a time when she looked relatively healthy,  but in recent years her emaciated appearance created concern in Mattawan.  Add to that concern was her injured back leg,  deep lacerations,  and rapidly growing mass on her jaw.  Despite complaints,  the Animal Control and Sheriff maintained that Sugar was healthy and receiving appropriate care.

Concerned animal lovers took sides with many residents in Mattawan over the health of the horse and the rights of others to intervene in cases of obvious neglect.  Sugar was an “icon” with whom parents photographed their children  while feeding her apples and carrots that she could not chew due to the loss of her back teeth and the encroaching mass on her jaw.  Animal lovers questioned the appropriateness of photographing Sugar for a keepsake photo with their children while doing nothing to intervene on her behalf.  Two Facebook pages dedicated to her became battlegrounds over such issues as humane euthanasia,  property rights,  and the Sheriff’s inability to discern via direct evidence (Sugar’s condition) that the mare needed an intervention immediately.

After reading about Sugar on Facebook,  Cindy,  Nancy,  Mary and Laura stepped up and became everyone’s “eyes on the ground” for Sugar.  And thus,  the “Sugar Shack Crew” came to be.  A very caring local equine

The Last Photo......

The Last Photo……Saying Goodbye

veterinarian,  Dr. A,  who had tried to help Sugar in the past,  gave tirelessly of her time and skills to provide professional care and assistance to Sugar and the Crew.  A Chip-In was begun,  and people from all over the world gave money to provide food and medical supplies.  Through an agreement with Austin,  the Crew and Dr. A. reached an understanding about Sugar and how she would be cared-for in the coming months.  They also reached an agreement of sorts that allowed for humane euthanasia when the time came.  Through diligent visitation for several months,  the Sugar Shack crew cared for Sugar and truly gave her her “Last,  Best Days.”

Through the oppressive heat of the summer of 2011,  the Sugar Shack Crew doted on their charge.  They restored both her mind and body,  and performed all the maintenance and hard labour that goes hand-in-hand with caring for a horse on a small acreage,  in the limited time left before the harsh Michigan winter took hold.  The onset of winter was an immovable milestone in the near future,  because despite the greatly improved condition of Sugar,  it was agreed by her caregivers that she couldn’t survive another winter.  The kindest thing anyone could do for her would be to make those last days,  her very best days,  and then humanely let her go  before the deep cold set in,  and before the growth on her jaw made eating or swallowing impossible.

October 29, 2012 is the one year anniversary of Sugar’s humane euthanasia.  May she rest in peace.

I know the experience was transformative for all the Sugar Shack ladies.  Cindy and Nancy describe their feelings one year later……..

Cindy's Comments

Click to read the entire message

~Epilogue~

Dr. A did do a biopsy after Sugar was euthanized and the diagnosis was indeed osteoma,  a benign tumour which is typically formed by abnormal growth of bones on the skull or jaw. Once again, she paid for everything because she wanted to know.  To remove something that large would have resulted in Sugar losing her left mandible and the basic care for this kind of wound would have beyond unmanageable for any of her caregivers to handle especially considering where she lived.  Dr. A also felt that it would have been too traumatic to move Sugar to a place where that kind of procedure could have been carried-out.

The excess funds (so many people were so generous) were donated to the Michigan Horse Coalition.  Part of the monies were used to provide a small honorarium for Dr. A,  since she would not accept cash in compensation for her services.

Don Austin was never charged with animal cruelty.  The prosecutor’s office did not authorize animal neglect or cruelty charges against him because Sugar had enough food, water and shelter.  Among animal rescuers, the phrase, “food water shelter” has become a sad code when clear cases for criminal charges are dismissed. Ironically, the food, water and shelter don’t even have to be nearly adequate.

The bylaws in Mattawan were subsequently changed to disallow horses in junkyards.  There will be no new junkyard horses in Mattawan.  I think this is a good thing,  because a skinny horse living alone in a junkyard doesn’t bring anyone any peace.  We would also like to wish Buddy,  depicted in photos here,  a safe journey to the Rainbow Bridge,  where no doubt Sugar will be gratified to see him once again.  Buddy died under unknown circumstances at the Austin farm.  RIP Buddy.

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Join-Up! New Canadian Anti-Slaughter Billboard in the Air

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We’re Goin’ to the Rodeo Y’All – Protest of the Ram Rodeo Tour

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When it comes to the abuse of animals in entertainment, rodeos rank among the top culprits. While it’s very typical to see many rodeos in Alberta,  there aren’t so many appearing in Ontario,  until the Dodge Ram brand brought it to Newmarket Ontario.  At this event ticket holders can expect to see saddle bronc,  bareback,  bull riding,  steer wrestling, tie down,  and team roping.  Today,  we’re in horse country in York Region Ontario,  home to over 1500 horse farms and more than 20,000 horses,  and during three shifts on Saturday and Sunday – thousands of people,  including horse owners,  will see our signs.

Many Canadian rodeo aficionados cite tradition,  culture and athleticism as justification for events such as steer-riding, chuck wagon racing,  and calf-roping.  In the face of increased public critique,  animal welfare groups are helping to shed light on the cruelty of these events. Canada’s animal cruelty legislation is a disagrace – the laws have not been substantially changed since 1892.  Grassroots movements of Canadians say things need to change. There have already been at least 25 walks across the country and around the world, trying to bring awareness to Canada’s horrible animal cruelty legislation.

Animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), also object to rodeos. The ASPCA calls them “a cruel form of entertainment that involves the painful, stressful and potentially harmful treatment of livestock.”  The Vancouver Humane Society was instrumental in bringing international focus to the issue of rodeos in Canada,  via the League Against Cruel Sports.  This is a first step toward internationalising opposition to rodeos in Canada and making it  harder for rodeos to justify their use of animals as “entertainment.”

“Sometimes tradition and habit are just that, comfortable excuses to leave things be, even when they are unjust and unworthy. Sometimes–not often, but sometimes–the cranks and radicals turn out to be right.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

Tradition and heritage are two very emotional words,  heavy with meaning.  Yet,  despite those historical connections,  the Catalonians have banned bullfighting,  which was intensely tied to their nationhood and heritage.  The British have outlawed foxhunting.  The scarlet coated riders are now gone,  even though few things were more “British” than stately homes,  country weekends,  and The Hunt.  I wonder, with regard to Canadian tradition,  how many settlers had to ride or wrestle steers and race chuckwagons at breakneck speeds across the prairie?  I don’t believe that calf roping has ever been a sport but it was made so for entertainment and prize-money, as was bull-riding. Think about it: why would anyone ride a bull? It was created for entertainment and was not something based on culture or tradition.  But despite the fact that their own country outlawed rodeos many years ago,  royal couple Will and Kate visited the Calgary Stampede.  These events are not sports,  but an entertainment spectacle and part of that spectacle are the accidents that inevitably result.  Horse tripping relies on the horse to fall down as part of the spectacle.  Rodeos are a brutish business.

“The less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it” Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

There are many cultural traditions that are not morally acceptable. Think shark finning, whaling and bear bile farming.  If many of these cruel practices against animals were promoted as a brand new form of entertainment,  virtually every animal lover would demand that the practice cease.  Imagine if “horse tripping” were not tied to tradition and parlayed about as a Mexican cultural practice?  The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), which sanctions about 600 rodeos each year in the United States and Canada, does not even allow horse-tripping,  which is exactly as stupid and dangerous as it sounds.  I sent a message to the account holder of the above video (Randy Janssen – read more about him here).  He sent me a reply, but still didn’t post my statement – coward!   This means that he cannot rebut even the most reasonable arguments against the practice.

“If you have proof of animals being injured in Charreada, send it to me and I will post it. Proof is not unsubstantiated ranting from someone who has never been in a lienzo. It is pictures or videos of injuries in the lienzo. You can see live Charreada on Spanish TV or the decharros (dot) com. You can also see videos of complete Charreada if you google livestreamdecharros. I want you to watch it so you will see that Charros and Charras are good people who would never intentionally hurt animals.Please watch this video.” Looks like I can’t provide any proof unless I’ve been in a “lienzo,”  whatever that is.  Oh,  and he tells you right upfront on the video that he doesn’t allow postings from “animal rights activists,”  and of course ratings are disabled too.  If these people think their “sport” is so harmless,  why don’t they have the courage to allow the general viewership of YouTube to comment and vote on some of these practices?

This truck tried to side-swipe us with the stock trailer

Come at me ‘bro.  This truck tried to side-swipe us with the stock trailer while we stood on Davis Drive.  Stock trailer wheels nearly ran over our feet,  and this was no accident!

Many rodeo participants are sincere when they say that they love their animals.  Recall the chuckwagon driver Chad Harden of the Calgary Stampede, who cried when his horses died in a terrible wreck this year.   But what does the word “love” mean if we are willing to profit from and place in injurious situations those we “love?” Rodeo animals are sent to slaughter, not to retirement and pasture, when they cease to perform at a profit.   Whilst it is a sad fact that many animals sustain severe if not fatal injuries when used for entertainment in rodeos, it is perhaps sadder that one can almost guarantee each and every one of them has felt fear and confusion.

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”
Ellen DeGeneres

“In riding a horse, we borrow freedom”
Helen Thompson

“When I hear somebody talk about a horse or cow being stupid; I figure it’s a sure sign that the animal has somehow outfoxed them”
Tom Dorrance, True Unity: Willing Communication Between Horse & Human

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.”
George Bernard Shaw

“If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.”
Woodrow Wilson

“What I want is so simple I almost can’t say it: elementary kindness.”
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

“There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have earned the disfavor of a perceptive animal.”
Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

Get Your Freak On – Horsemeat Restaurants (And the Companies That Should Sponsor Them)

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hungry enough to eat a horseAs an Anglophone,  it`s sometimes second nature to make fun of the French,  after all,  they awarded Jerry Lewis the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award.  To me,  this is proof of French ridiculousness.  No offense intended to my actual French-Canadian friends though.  It has  also become somewhat second nature for me to make fun of hipster celebrity chefs who not only make endorsements for eating horse in particular,  but also promote other rather disgusting,  gross,  or cruelly derived animal products, in the name of french cuisine.  So many of them claim it`s OK to serve raw meat,  because it`s “grass-fed” (note to insufferable foodies – that`s sarcasm).   It`s widely known that the so-called celebrity chefs are victims themselves of “food fashion”and that they know squat about food safety.  The majority of celebrity chefs are food safety imbeciles and foodie fanaticism  continues unabated,  from Toronto to New York City……….

I`ve taken a sample of such menu offerings from some of these restaurants in Toronto,  not far from where I live,  and paired them with potential corporate sponsors and spokespeople who can benefit mutually by exploiting these opportunities.  And although not located in Toronto,  I`m going to include the now infamous M. Wells (All`s NOT well at M. Wells) who pretty much cover all the bases by offering horse,  marrow,  foie gras and other notably and unapologetically fatty foods.  Wherever possible I’ve used actual pics of the food provided by the restaurant.  Bon Appétit!

Blood Custard at The Black Hoof

Suggested SponsoBlood Custard at The Black Hoofr – United Horsemen`s Group

Suggested Spokesperson –  Author Jennifer McLagan – “Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal”

Since the pro horse-slaughter contingent advocates consuming their own horses,  why wouldn`t they eat blood?  They hate to waste anything,  and they already eat meat and horsemeat,  so what not just add some cream,  egg yolks,  and a little plasma (pick your favourite species) for a little dessert?  Lord knows that Sue Wallis is always preaching that the blood is the most valuable part of the animal.  Maybe Sue knows something that the rest of us don`t – perhaps blood could be the new king of condiments!  Chef Olsen at The Black Hoof certainly isn`t squeamish about it “I enjoy blood.  I think blood is a great vessel for culinary expression. When I look at The Learning Channel, at all those surgery shows, that’s when I get squeamish. But working with animals, no.”   Chef Olsen even tells us that horses don’t get parasites because they don’t graze the part of the grass stalk upon which eggs are laid.   Buy Jennifer McLagan`s book if you`ve ever wondered how to cook bellies, brains, cheeks, combs, gizzards, hearts, hocks, kidneys, lungs, marrow, necks, shanks, spleens, tongues, trotters, and, oh yes, testicles.

Bone Marrow at the Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor – Legal teBone Marrow at The Black Hoofam at Monsanto

Suggested Spokesperson – Fred Flintstone

People who eat bone marrow frequently describe sucking the last bits of marrow out of the bones.  So obviously,  this isn`t a first-date kind of food – much like green salads,  which can get caught in your teeth and embarrass you later in your date.  This is the kind of food that the Monsanto legal department regularly chows down on (and sucks dry),  so  they should wholeheartedly endorse marrow.  However,  I`m not entirely sure  that one shouldn`t be cautious about eating parts of cows that may carry BSE.  FSIS in the US considers these to be the brain,  tonsils,  spinal cord,  parts of the nervous system,  and part of the small intestine.  If oxtails are suspect,  so too is bone marrow.  There is some confusion about bone marrow because it has been reported to potentially carry the infection.  Since bones were certainly around during the Paleolithic period,  and hence,  are available for inclusion into the Paleo diet,  I`ve chosen Fred Flintstone as the spokesperson.  Despite not having any dairy,  grains,  sugar,  legumes,  potatoes, processed oils,  or any other food grown after agriculture started,  Fred is still overweight and at least a 40 on the BMI scale.

Foie Gras and Nutella at The Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor:  TotFoie Gras and Nutella at The Black Hoofal Gym

Suggested Spokesperson:  Paula Deen

I wonder what celebtard chef thought this up?  It seems like a finalist for the “Cruellest Dessert” category.  Just looking at this makes my arteries cry.  Paula Deen,  famous for the Krispy Kreme burger,  should endorse this one.  Therefore,   I suggest also incorporating a Krispy Kreme donut into this lacquered mess so you can have another sweet fat with a savoury fat – it`s a great big blessed matrimony of fat!  Adding mucho expensive (and ethically dubious) fattened duck liver to a dessert isn’t necessarily unusual. But to add some fibre to this meal I`d suggest adding a diamond-encrusted tennis bracelet and perhaps some other country-club condiments that Paula might be familiar with.

batifoleLe Tartare de Cheval Bien Relevé at Batifole

Suggested Sponsor – Merck and Co. Inc.

Suggested Spokesperson – The Geico Caveman

So this is a “well-raised” horse?  I wonder if the staff at Batifole can lay any claims to whether it was “well-killed?”  Excuse me server,  what breed was this horse?  I understand that wine painings with different breeds can be a bit tricky at times.  Perhaps to be safe,  you`d like to recommend a nice Chiati?  What wines are complementary with Trichinosis?  Foodies who embrace the new and the outré, might also embrace a dose of Trichinosis as well,  since it`s an acknowledged fact that horses carry Trichinella spiralis,  the parasite that causes the disease,  which occurs with some commonality in France.  That`s why I`m suggesting this is a sponsorship Merck might be interested in,  since they manufacture Mectizan,  the human version of Ivermectin wormers we are all using on our horses.  You might need some if you’ve eaten a horse with Trich……And our postmodern spokesperson,  the Geico Caveman, would no doubt have eaten some food raw,  at least before the invention of fire.  At least cavemen knew how to progress beyond the Paleozoic era…..

horse heart and tongueEscabeche Chevaline Niçoise at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor – FEI Dressage Rider Patrik Kittel

Suggested Spokesperson – Jasha Lottin

We`re really going to push the boundaries of good taste for this one – all around!  For the uninitiated,  this plate consists of horse heart and tongue,  with quail egg tarted up with  red wine Dijon vinaigrette.  I am presuming it`s cooked, but knowing La Palette,  you can never be too sure.  And if you`re not familiar with Jasha Lottin, she is the infamous Oregon woman who killed her horse,  gutted it,  and crawled inside the carcass, gnawing on various organs for photographs,  who was then endorsed by Wyoming Representative “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis.  Apparently Lottin thought she was recreating the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke killed a tauntaun,  to keep from freezing to death.  Bear Grylls did the same with a camel.  Hey Jasha,  want to be “one with your horse?”  Go see Cavalia.   And of course,  even though video is available of  Patrik Kittel`s horse`s blue tongue,  he was cleared by the FEI from actually using rollkur at the Olympics,  since it was really only LDR (Low,  Deep, Round).

Foie Gras at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor –  ThFoie Grase American or Canadian Liver Foundation

Suggested Spokesperson – Anthony Bourdain

Odes to its “butter-soft texture and rich, subtle taste” appear regularly in the New York Times magazine.  Cruelty aside,  there may be another reason to pass on the foie gras. Scientists report that these livers of overstuffed waterfowl contain abnormal proteins that, when fed to laboratory mice, caused them to quickly develop the protein clumps themselves.  Various human diseases – among them Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and rheumatoid arthritis – are associated with these clumps, known as amyloids.  Foie gras is a traditional food in France and throughout Europe – where, interestingly, amyloidosis is more common than in the US. So why is this heavy, fat-rich delicacy also rich in amyloids? Put simply, force-feeding makes animals sick. To produce the succulent livers, tubes are inserted into the birds’ throats and corn mush is pumped in, massively inflating the animals. Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef-author-famous-TV-food-bourbon-swilling guy, should stand up and personally sponsor this entree.  He looks like death warmed-over,  quite frankly,  so it`s a fitting match.  And kudos to Wolfgang Puck for quitting the foie.

Quack “n” Track at La Palette

Suggested Sponsor – SQuack "N" Track at La Palettechering-Plough Animal Health Corp.

Suggested Spokesperson –  Banned Thoroughbred horse trainer Mark Wedig

Mark Wedig has had a symbiotic relationship with La Palette it`s true;  had it not been for the efforts of many individuals,  more Wedig trained horses would have ended up on the menu,  replete with all the usual drugs that racehorses typically run on.  Cactus Café and Canuki,  fresh off the track at Buelah Park,  were practically in the kill box at Richelieu slaughterhouse before they were miraculously retrieved after conscientious individuals presented their DRUG HISTORY to management at the abbatoir.  Not that their drug history is any different from almost any other racehorse.  Does Shamez charge extra for pharmacologically active horsemeat? Schering-Plough is one of the companies that distributes/manufactures phenylbutazone,  one of the major ingredients in horsemeat mains served in restaurants in Quebec,  Toronto,  and the OoogaMooga food festival in New York.

Tongue on Brioche at The Black Hoof

Suggested Sponsor Tongue on Brioche at The Black Hoof– Boston Scientific Corporation

Suggested Spokesperson – Andrew Zimmern,  host of Bizarre Foods

First off let me say that even when I was not a vegetarian,  I could never have overcome the mental barrier involved in eating something that had already been in somebody else`s mouth.  When fat and refined carbs are glued together in blessed matrimony, a heart attack can’t be far behind. Enter the Boston Scientific Corporation: It’s sold over a billion dollars worth of coronary stents since just 2009.  Of course,  Andrew Zimmern`s show includes a precautionary announcement, which explains that some of the foods featured on the show could cause death.  Hearing such an announcement must be the equivalent of a wet dream for Foodie Freaks.

Horse Tartare at M. Wells

Suggested Sponsor –   Horse TartarePfizer Pharmaceuticals Inc.,  makers of Premarin®

Suggested Spokesperson –  Bear Grylls

Thank god I do not have a penis,  therefore,  I`m unconcerned about repeatedly trying to demonstrate how big it is.  Chef and co-owner Hugue Dufour is soon to be spending more time than anyone else apologizing,  well except for Canadian conservative politician Rob Anders perhaps!  The manufacturer of Premarin®, Pfizer, maintains that this drug is “exclusively from natural sources.” Yes, they are correct. Horse urine is natural, but so is manure. Premarin® is so widely used because it was the first product of its kind for estrogen replacement therapy. It continues to be used, not because it is superior to the other available therapy but because it is what doctors are told is the best. They are told by a company with a huge advertising budget who has a lot to lose if doctors begin prescribing other estrogens,  or simply telling women that menopause is not a disease that requires treatment. The mares on these farms are placed in a urine collection harness and rarely taken off the “production line” for exercise or any other reason.  Straps firmly hold a rubber cup on the mare’s urethra to catch every drop of the precious urine. The continuous standing on concrete causes swollen legs and crippling. Urinary tract infections are not uncommon and many of these horses die as a result of the stress, only to be replaced by another “disposable” horse that might soon come up as a menu item at M. Wells.

Bear Grylls is not only notable for eating virtually everything raw,  from spiders to grubs to worms,  but to giving himself an enema with fetid water just to keep himself hydrated.  Dufour may already know his spokesperson Grylls, since as sous chef for Montreal`s Au Pied de Cochon, Dufour appeared in a TV show called “The Wild Chef”a couple of years ago,  travelling through La Belle Province (otherwise known as Quebec) in search of unique food experiences.  Raw oysters on a bed of jellyfish?

m. wells equadorian cuyCuy (Ecuadorian Guinea Pig) At M. Wells

Suggested Sponsor – La Molina University in Lima,  Peru

Suggested Spokesperson – Michael Vick

Here’s a guinea pig fermenting in some sort of curry bath – reminds me of United Horsemen’s “Rescue and Rehabilition” program for horses – only it’s nothing like a spa treatment.  I have to admit I was shocked when I saw this pic on M. Wells Facebook page,  since I consider guinea pigs to be children’s pets.  Secondly,  I am shocked since I strongly suspect that this animal was never USDA inspected,  and since the proprietors imported it from Ecuador,  as per their own comments;  I wonder how they got it here?   Clearly,  since it’s a menu item,  they had more than one.  I know there’s an entire black market industry revolving around the import of animals and I’ve seen many pics of people caught in customs with animals in their suitcases or strapped inside their pant legs,  bound and silenced or even sedated.  Even if it arrived frozen from Ecuador,  how is a small animal such as this “dispatched” in that country?  Any meat that is not state or federally inspected may not be served in restaurants or sold in any way.  Selling uninspected meat is a serious crime.  Even wild meat that is processed by a butcher must be stamped “not for resale.” Our sponsor,  La Molina University, wants to exploit their genetic engineering of guinea pigs,  since they have taken an animal that normally weighs a pound,  and engineered it to weigh 2.5 pounds.  Makes you wonder what they have done to more than double the size of the animal.  Michael Vick is the celebrity face of pet cruelty,  and an appropos spokesperson considering that most people in the west consider that guinea pigs are pets.

How about we just go back to Meat (if you eat it) and plain old white potatoes. Maybe a green salad with a tomato or two.  But if we did that what would happen to the Celebrity Chefs? Oh yeah, they might just go back to cooking decent food instead.  I’m ready for this cruel macho eating to finally go away – along with the restaurants and chefs responsible for it.  Oh,  and another foodie freak habit I hope goes away real soon – taking photos throughout the meal and posting them on Twitter and Facebook – the rest of us don`t need to see your documentation of your food,  OK,  well I did,  at least for this blogpost.  Blackberries and iPhones are not as necessary on a table as are knives and forks.  `Nuff said.

Can I See Some ID? Bill DesBarres’ Desperate Attempt To Make Equine Traceability Work in Canada

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Horse USDA TagsWith the abandonment of the CanEquid program by Equine Canada,  which has determined that it’s not a workable solution, Bill DesBarres has taken up the cause,   bombarding horse associations with pro-chip marketing diatribe,  attempting to lay the infrastructure to satisfy EU demands for horsemeat,  all under the guise of isolating disease.  He has partnered with Animal ID Systems,  which has been heavily promoted by Cargill Meat Solutions, Monsanto and Schering-Plough – Big Ag intensive production systems, and this initiative was partially funded by the AgriMarketing Program of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  Read the Equine Canada report – Equine Canada – Summary Report to Industry

DesBarres,  who has steadfastly maintained that a $200 slaughter horse stubbornly clinging to life is what’s preventing you from buying a $2,500 horse,  makes his appeal here – http://www.horsewelfare.ca/images/stories/traceability/equine_id_traceability_letter_21sept2012.pdf.   Please take the time to read the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s response and Call To Action here.

In DesBarres own words:

“As you are aware,  identification,  tracking and communication related to diseases is becoming more critical,  as well as the European Union has a timetable for the adoption of

DesBarres "pays back" his horses by slaughtering them

DesBarres “pays back” his horses by slaughtering them

standards for the export of all equine products.  It is imperative for the welfare of Canada`s equine herd we move forward with ETC.  our industry can no longer afford more lengthy delays,  decisions must be made and action taken. 

Once implemented,  the system will be available to all members of the Equine Industry in Canada regardless of their affiliation with other existing associations and registries.  There is no requirement to be a member of HWAC and HWAC will invite all industry members to work with them in order to create a single equine identification and tracking system.  Part of the implementation process is to work with other organizations to integrate,  at an appropriate level,  data between existing databases and ETC. “

The chip for horses is not about disease-tracking,  as Bill DesBarres and HWAC would have the various horse owners and associations believe – it is not about science either – it’s about satisfying requirements to make horsemeat a world-wide commodity.  Here’s a very good example of why that is the case – when a single atypical case BSE was found in the US a few months ago,  all trade to South Korea stopped immediately – this was based on trade and politics – not science,  since the cause of the BSE in this example was mutagenic and posed no risk to any other animals.  Random genetic mutations happen all the time in nature, so once in a while a cow will be born with a mutation that makes the BSE prion.

Would it be acceptable to you if your own personal home/premises/farm were registered with the government and monitored as if you were a food producer?  These commodities traceability programs require every farm or “premises” be registered with government agencies, even if that premises houses a single animal. While the purported goal of disease containment appears to be beneficial, the requirement for  citizens to register privately-owned property for tracking and monitoring purposes has very serious implications for our privacy, rights and freedoms – even more so because we are not raising food animals. As designed, traceability systems will be no more effective in stopping the spread of mass-level outbreaks than the current policies are,  which rely on the owner to communicate federally reportable diseases – EIA (swamp fever), contagious equine metritisequine piroplasmosis, rabies, anthrax,  and provincially reported diseases – salmonella,  WNV.

BiohazardSince Americans in particular avoid eating horsemeat,  the official explanation for including horses shifts to their ability to serve transmission vehicles for diseases affecting other types of livestock. If that is the concern, then what is to be done about the dogs that live on most places that have livestock present? What about the wild horses on the open range? How about the other ever-present species, such as wolves, coyotes, deer, elk, cats, mice, or prairie dogs? What about humans, for that matter? It is, after all, possible to transmit disease should I go from one farm to another, via human contact.  Traceability programs ONLY benefit corporate agriculture and factory farming so they can sell their product on the global level. If animal disease is even suspected in an area, the USDA or the CFIA could go in and kill all the animals. That is supposed to show the world market that buys the factory farmed meat how safe it is.  I am assuming that insurance will not cover the loss of your horse if it is killed because of a disease containment program,  when your horse is not ill.

I like this summation  here – written by an American veterinarian and farm owner who has obviously given this considerable thought – please read the statement of Dr. R. M. Thornsberry, DVM, MBA, President of R-CALF USA, who writes:

“It is important for horse owners to know why NAIS is being forced on the equine industry within the United States.

The United States and many other countries signed a World Trade Organization (WTO) treaty in the 1990’s which obligated the first world countries, which had spent literally millions and millions of taxpayer dollars to eradicate contagious animal diseases, to develop a system of individual animal identification.

The individual animal identification was demanded by the Organization of International Epizootics (OIE), a WTO world wide governmental agency, tasked with developing trade rules and internationally obligated trade regulations that would force animal and meat trade between countries that had eradicated contagious diseases with those that had not eradicated contagious animal diseases.

QuarantineIn other words, the United States, which had eradicated Equine Piroplasmosis in the 1980’s, a tick borne protozoal infection, would, by identifying all equines, be forced to trade with countries that had not eradicated Equine Piroplasmosis.

In general, the argument goes something like this: Once you can identify every equine at birth and trace their every movement off the farm from birth to death, a first world country that has spent millions of taxpayer dollars to eradicate Equine Piroplasmosis, can no longer prevent trade with those countries who have refused to spend the necessary resources to eradicate Equine Piroplasmosis.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) no longer seeks to carry out their mandate to prevent the introduction of foreign animal and plant diseases into the United States. Currently, USDA-APHIS in supporting NAIS, spending millions of tax payer dollars to entice livestock and equine owners into the system by promoting the acquisition of a free Premises Identification Number (PIN) from their respective state departments of agriculture.

Producers of cattle, and equine owners, are the two classes of livestock owners who have overwhelmingly refused to receive an internationally sanctioned encumbrance to their private property. The USDA says a PIN is the first step to a painless process of identification of all livestock owners’ physical locations, and that this PIN number is essential for the USDA to find a farm and quickly trace the movement of animals in the face of a contagious animal disease outbreak.

Yet, in any location within the state of Missouri, and I am sure in most states, you can simply punch 911 into your phone, and in a matter of 15 to 20 prohibited drugsminutes, the police, the fire department, the ambulance, the sheriff, and usually the Conservation Commission Agent will be at your doorstep, but the USDA says they cannot find you? At every Agricultural Services-USDA office in the United States, you may obtain a description of your farm or ranch, including a current aerial photograph.

You can go on Google Earth, type in your physical address, and privately obtain a detailed satellite photograph of your farm or ranch, providing such detail, that you can actually count individual cattle or horses in your pasture, and the USDA says it cannot find your farm or ranch in a contagious animal disease outbreak? The reasons the USDA want you to obtain a Premises Identification Number have nothing whatever to do with the USDA’s ability to find your farm or your cattle or your horses. My 10 year old grandson can find my farm, a detailed satellite photograph of my farm, my telephone number, my mailing address, and my physical address on his computer in a matter of seconds. It’s called Google!!!

The USDA-APHIS has testified before the United States Department of Agriculture, House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, March 11, 2009 that the NAIS would have to be electronic in nature to function as envisioned by the WTO. This simply means no visual tags, hot or cold brands, tattoos, ear notches, or individual color markings or descriptions will be allowed for individual animal identification.

While this is a problem for other types of livestock, for the equine industry, it becomes a major hurdle to overcome. For equines, dogs, cats, fish, poultry, and many exotic animals, the only acceptable means of electronic individual animal identification is a surgically implanted glass enclosed electronic microchip. This implant is not nearly as simple to surgically implant within an animal as some are led to believe.

syringesWhen I implant a chip into an animal, I clip or shave the area. I scrub the area with surgical preparation soap containing iodine, and I finish by spraying the area with a surgical site disinfection iodine-alcohol solution. Lastly, I inject the area over the site of implantation with lidocaine to render the skin and underlying tissues devoid of sensation. The chips come individually packaged in a sterile container. To maintain this sterility, I must be sterile, which requires a surgical scrubbing of my hands, and the donning of a pair of sterile surgical latex gloves. Only after this extensive preparation, am I ready to actually implant the chip in the nuchal ligament of the mid neck area of my equine patient. Compare this process to the cattle producer who simply places a small eartag in his cattle.

The glass enclosed chips do not always stay put.

Like a splinter in your finger, the body often mounts a response to a foreign body, even one as innocuous as a piece of sterile glass. The response may include the formation of a sterile abscess around the chip, or it may simply be painful and generate a negative response from the horse as it turns its neck or tries to graze, or attempts a performance endeavor at a race, show, or event. Chips have been known to migrate quite extensive distances within the body of an animal. Ask any veterinarian that works in this area of interest.

Simply finding a chip to make a reading in some animals becomes a major undertaking. Only recently, has another side effect of chipping become known. A small percentage of veterinary patients have developed a cancerous growth at the site of implantation. While the incidence is low in animals whose lives are relatively short, an equine patient, living to thezenobiotics age of 20 to 35 years, has much more time to develop a cancerous growth around the implanted chip, than does a dog or cat, whose lifetime is closer 12 to 15 years.

For a very complete summary and analysis of the scientific literature on microchips and cancer, see Katharine Albrecht, Ed.D., “Microchip Induced Tumors in Laboratory Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature, 1990 to 2006,” available at www.antichips. com/cancer .

RFID chip

RFID chip

With all that being evaluated, the primary reason the USDA-APHIS desires to force the NAIS system onto the livestock sectors of the United States is simple: Bruce Knight told a large group of bovine practitioners at our annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada in September 2007, when asked why the USDA was pushing so hard for NAIS, and I quote, “It is quite simple. We want to be in compliance with OIE regulations by 2010.”

Now I don’t know about all you equine owners, but we cattle producers do not look kindly on an international agency in Belgium telling us what we can and cannot do with our livestock in the United States. Our grandfathers and fathers spend untold millions of dollars to assist the USDA in eradicating many serious contagious animal diseases during the last 75 years. Why would we now acquiesce to a system that will open up our privately owned animals to contagious animal diseases that we whipped and wiped out many years ago, for access to our marketplace to animals and meat from countries who have chosen in that same time period to ignore eradication of contagious animal diseases? No way!!!

We live in the United States, not the WTO. We have a Constitution that directs our legal system, not the OIE. We have a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. It is time for the people to stand up and say, “Enough with the one world government junk!!!”

If equine owners do not stand up and unite their voices with other livestock producers, NAIS will become mandatory in the United States. It will cost the equine owner in excess of $50.00 a head to implant the electronic microchip desired by the USDA and the WTO. You will then be required to report any movement of your horse or horses off your property, and for any reason.

Imagine the bureaucratic nightmare and the paperwork requirements of reporting to your government every time you go on a trail ride, every time you go to a show or an event, and every time you trailer a mare to go to the stud. There will have to be an NAIS office in every county seat to process all this data, keep track of your information, and report any violations to the USDA.

Just imagine the fines and enforcement actions that will be carried out to enforce this NAIS system on the livestock industry of the United States of America, including equine owners.”

R. M. Thornsberry, D.V.M., M.B.A.
March 28, 2009

People who want to move sick and diseased animals will unfortunately do so anyway in violation of any program purported to exist to prevent it.  They simply won`t report it.  And they are more than likely to be affiliated with slaughter to

I'm from the government, and I'm here to help

I’m from the government, and I’m here to help

begin with.  There are more than enough examples of injured and ill animals standing on feedlots in the US and Canada,  or injured in shipment,  or transferred across borders without Coggins-ing.

Send DesBarres a strong message – Our horses are not “products.”

Please be aware that the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada is allied with the following business partners – please let them know that you hold them all to a higher standard than that maintained by an alliance with the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada,  the International Equine Business Association, and Sue Wallis:

Provincial Organizations

British Columbia
Horse Council
Orville Smith
President
Lisa Laycock
Executive Director
27336 Fraser Highway
Aldergrove, BC
V4W 3N5
Phone: 604-856-4304
Fax: 604-856-4302
Toll Free: 1-800-345-8055
Email
Alberta
Equestrian Federation
Dixie Crowson
President
Sonia Dantu
Executive Director
100, 251 Midpark Blvd S.E.
Calgary, AB
T2X 1S3
Phone: 403-253-4411
Fax: 403-252-5260
Toll Free: 1-877-463-6233
Email
Saskatchewan
Horse Federation
Terry Fagrie
President
Mae Smith
Executive Director
2205 Victoria Avenue
Regina, SK
S4P 0S4
Phone: 306-780-9244
Fax: 306-525-4009
Email
Manitoba
Horse Council
Geri Sweet
President
Bruce Rose
Executive Director
145 Pacific Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R3B 2Z6
Phone: 204-925-5718
Fax: 204-925-5703
Email
Ontario
Equestrian Federation
Allan Ehrlick
President
Deborah Thompsen
Executive Director
Suite 203
9120 Leslie Street
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 3J9
Phone: 905-854-0762
Fax: 905-709-1867EmailToll Free: 1-877-441-7112
Email
Quebec
Fédération équestre du Québec
Dominique Chagnon
President
Richard Mongeau
Executive Director
4545 Ave Pierre de
Coubertic CP 1000
Succursale M
Montreal, PQ
H1V 3R2
Phone: 514-252-3053
Fax: 514-252-3165
Email
New Brunswick
Equestrian Association
Deanna Phalen
President
Suite 13
900 Hanwell Road
Fredericton, NB
E3B 6A2
Phone: 506-454-2353
Fax: 506-454-2363
Email
Nova Scotia
Equestrian Federation
Helen Smith
President
Heather Myrer
Executive Director
5516 Spring Garden Road
4th Floor
Halifax, NS
B3J 1G6
Phone: 902-425-5450 Ext 333
Fax: 902-425-5606
Email
PEI
Horse Council
Ken Smith
President
Joy MacDonald
EC Representative
POB 1887
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N5
Phone: 902-964-2379
Email
Newfoundland
Equestrian Federation
Chris Gallant
President
34 Circular Road
St. John’s, NF
A1C 2Z1
Phone:709-726-0826
Fax: 709-777-4558
Email

Mailing address:
Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
Box 785, Cochrane, Alberta
T4C 1A9

Bill DesBarres: Tel: 403-526-1070 Cell: 403-529-7237
http://horsewelfare.ca/contact

Email – gordmack@xplornet.ca

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 1341 Baseline Road
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5
Tel – 613-773-1000
Toll-free – 1-855-773-0241
Email – info@agr.gc.ca