Monthly Archives: August 2013

Reality Check: Government Agencies Ignore Animal Welfare At Stouffville Livestock Market

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Alternative Turkey Day - Photo  © by Joanne McArthur

Alternative Turkey Day – Photo © Joanne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Live animal markets are notorious for withstanding humane pressure.  This is due to the fact that both the public and regulatory agencies consistently see the often inhumane treatment of food animals as separate and distinct from pet animals.  While few people would hesitate to contact the police if they saw a dog locked in a hot car, fowl  and rabbits are put into the trunks of cars in 40+ weather every weekend at the Stouffville Livestock Market.

One small mercy is that the summer is almost over now and the hottest days for animals are mostly behind us.  But that doesn’t mean that any government agency was able to seriously step up and take action for the birds and animals of the Market.  At a time when SPCAs are justifiably reminding us that we need to take precautions to keep our pet animals cool by not leaving them unattended in cars,  the helpless food animals (chickens,  ducks, turkeys,  exotic birds, other fowl and rabbits) at the Market are still being put into the stifling, unventilated trunks of cars and driven an unknown distance to their uncertain fates.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  high temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk.

This veterinarian sits in a parked car to test the temperature that a pet would experience.

While the trunk is not exposed to direct sunlight, it will still be unbearably hot for a confined animal – on a 95 degree day,  the trunk may be 120 degrees.  It will certainly be hotter than the passenger compartment which at least has ventilation when the windows are down,  if not air-conditioning.

While people in other cities are arrested when caught putting animals in the trunks of cars, York Region Police claim to be unaware of any criminal code violations as they pertain to putting ANY species of animal in the trunk of a car on an oppressively hot day.  I know this because myself and others have spoken to them directly about the animals at the market and Criminal Code legislation. The fact is, when the OSPCA is closed outside of business hours,  automated messages  and instructions on their websites instruct us to call the York Region Police turkey dogduring off hours.   The OSPCA has given the market instructions to provide all animals with water but most of the market vendors and management are either unwilling or incapable (probably both) of following this directive.  Even when we have seen water provided (only on the day of a protest by activists) only the animals on display have been offered water.  Animals kept in confined in plastic containers or on trailers are not offered water unless they are moved to a display cage.

Why do people look the other way when they see farm animals stuffed into the trunk of a car?  They would almost certainly object if they saw you lock your dog in the trunk,  especially on any of the hot July or August days in York Region.  And what kind of person just won’t be bothered to provide water for their animals,  especially when told by a government agency to do so?  All farm animals can and do suffer from heat stress – signs are panting,  increased salivation,  drooling or foaming,  increased respiration or laboured breathing,  lethargy,  or even unconsciousness.

We brought printouts from the  “Health of Animals” Regulations – Livestock Handling,  Transport,  Segregation…  from the Justice Laws website of the Government of Canada to our protests.  it should be obvious that these regulations are sufficient to respond to the circumstances at the Market,  where animals suffer from both the extremes of hot and cold:

141. (1) Subject to this section, no person shall load on any railway car, motor vehicle,  aircraft or vessel and no carrier shall transport animals of different species or of substantially different weight or age unless those animals are segregated.

143. (1) No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of

(a) inadequate construction of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, container or any part thereof;

(b) insecure fittings, the presence of bolt-heads, angles or other projections;

(c) the fittings or other parts of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel or container being inadequately padded, fenced off or otherwise obstructed;

(d) undue exposure to the weather; or

(e) inadequate ventilation.

chickens

And from the Criminal Code of Canada:

Section 446 of the Criminal Code sets out the offence of causing damage or injury to animals and birds. Everyone who by:

…wilful neglect causes damage to animals or birds that are being conveyed or everyone who is the owner or has custody or control of an animal or bird wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food water, shelter and care, is guilty of an offence.

A person convicted of this offence is liable to imprisonment for not more than two years if the prosecution proceeds by way of indictment. If convicted of an offence where the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, the person faces a maximum punishment of a fine not exceeding $5,000 or six months in jail or both.

Section 446(3) states that:

…evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or bird and thereby caused injury or damage to it, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the injury or damage was caused by “wilful neglect”.

In our opinion, the livestock market cannot simultaneously operate and meet all of these conditions.

According to the group Canadians For the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals:”

“To minimize risks of heat stress, farm animals should only be transported during the cooler hours of the day. Space per animal inside transport trucks should be increased by reducing stocking densities to ensure proper air flow between animals and, in the case of pigs, to allow them to lie down. Trucks should be tarped and well ventilated. Water should be provided regularly on long journeys.

Canadian transport regulations, the Health of Animals Act, Part XII, Sections 143, (1)(d) and (e) state that “No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of undue exposure to the weather or inadequate ventilation.” Yet, in Canada, farm animals are routinely transported during mid-day intense heat in overcrowded, un-tarped trailers, with no forced ventilation or water, as documented by CETFA inspectors.

cetfa_heatstress-did-you-knowEven when outside temperatures are not extreme, temperatures inside a trailer can rise dramatically if it is slowed by construction, stuck in traffic or otherwise forced to sit stationary, such as during unloading or at border crossings, where no dedicated lanes exist for livestock trailers (see case documented by CETFA here). Moreover, the amount of water vapor in the air (humidity) can lower the air temperature that farm animals can withstand without becoming heat stressed. For instance, research indicates that temperatures over only 23oC (73oF) can cause stress to cattle when combined with high humidity. Various combinations of heat and humidity, along with transport conditions, thus have the potential to negatively impact farm animals and induce heat stress during the summer months.

We ask that the readers of this blog post take action when it becomes apparent that farm animals are being transported in inappropriate conditions and suffering from heat stress – please contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the government body responsible for the enforcement of farm animal transport regulations, to report your concerns. Provide details of your observations (location, time of the day, name of the transport company, and D.O.T number printed on the rig, as well as the species transported and the signs of heat stress you observe).

Remind the CFIA that livestock haulers are legally required to take reasonable steps to protect farm animals from severe weather and prevent unnecessary suffering, and urge them to enforce the regulations as they are mandated to do. Also, contact the trucking company involved and email us details of the incident.

Many dogs in heat stress situations have been helped through public involvement. As more and more people are becoming concerned about farm animals, public involvement will also be instrumental in improving the welfare of farm animals during extreme weather conditions.”

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Please reach out to all regulatory groups in the following manner:

Contact information

Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

You can contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 or through your local CFIA office (found in the blue pages of your telephone directory).

174 Stone Rd W
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 4S9
Tel: 226-217-8555
Fax: 226-217-8495

OSPCA:

The Ontario SPCA operates on a complaints basis. This means that you can help animals by being aware of at-risk animals in your community and by reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to your nearest Ontario SPCA Community, police, Crime Stoppers or police.

1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722) ext. 327 or email cruelty@ospca.on.ca, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated Humane Society or police.

York Region Police:

Toll Free Number 1-866-8POLICE or 1-866-876-5423 (non-emergencies only)
TTY 1-800-668-0398

Address all correspondence to:
York Regional Police
17250 Yonge Street
Newmarket, Ontario Canada
L3Y-4W5
1-866-876-5423
Email: info@yrp.ca (This email is monitored during business hours and is for non-emergencies only)

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Silence of the CFIA Lambs….

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passport medsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

July 31st, the supposed EU deadline for implementing a traceability system for horses in Canada, is a date that has come and gone.  Although many pro-slaughter advocates maintained that we all made up that date, it clearly originated from the GAO report on horse slaughter – Horse Welfare – Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.

“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”

cash paid for unwanted horsesEarlier in July I wrote to the CFIA to find out what was going down on July 31st.  While Dr. Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for the CFIA’s response did address some of the questions I posed in a letter, it also leaves some other questions completely unanswered or open to interpretation.  The most obvious acknowledgement by the CFIA is that the EU has apparently extended the date two or three years into the future, not that we will be ready by 2015 or 2016 either.  They’re really hedging their bets by including two possible implementation dates too!  Just in case they can’t get it together by 2015, well, there’s always next year!  Lather, rinse and repeat……..

Of course,  restrictions and deadlines hardly bothered the CFIA in the past,  but now they have this passport system with which to contend – a detailed electronic log of a horse’s lifetime veterinary record and the drugs it has been given— including, but not limited to phenylbutazone, which is banned entirely, must not have been given to the horse in at least the last 180 days prior to slaughter or they can not be imported into EU nations.  Canada tried to implement traceability for horses before,  and seemed to give up after spending almost $500,000 to find out that it was unworkable,  no doubt due in part to the fact that many Canadian horse owners just don’t seem to be interested in paying for microchips and barn calls to satisfy third party concerns about the eligibility of our horses for meat.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Click to embiggen and read the entire letter.

Also of interest is the fact that Dr. Alexander tells us that the horsemeat market in Canada is worth $36 million, while we’ve always known it to generate around $70 million in the recent past.  Exactly what happened to halve the revenue of this industry in 2012?

Put down any beverages you are currently drinking, because you’ll probably  choke when you read that Dr. Alexander believes that the EID system is just as effective as the passporting system!  Well, perhaps he’s not really wrong, since they are both completely falsifiable and corruptable.  We saw this during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal early this year, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque,  and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability as does buying meat off the street from a stranger.

missingNotice also that “technical support” is being offered to both Equine Canada and Canada’s #1 slaugherphile Bill DesBarres of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  Is that CFIA-speak for throwing money at both groups?  Apparently, Canada can’t learn from the EU’s mistakes – we’re going to have two separate and distinct databases?  The same problems in the EU system – lack of control over the inputs into the database and duplicated records would happen here, and it would be even worse with two systems.  The EU has since realized that there were too many opportunities for unscrupulous people to make changes to the database, and are tightening up controls in that respect.  What gives veterinarians the idea that they should have any business involving themselves in the architecture and implementation of databases anyway?

I love the closing paragraph on Alexander’s correspondence, – they’ve got an “action plan to not stop exporting equine meat products to the EU Market.”  That’s right,  no matter what,  they’ll jury-rig the system and bamboozle the EU in order to maintain the status quo.  Of course they don’t allude to what their plans entail.  Whatever could the CFIA have told the EU to make them think we have a system with any credibility whatsoever?

The CFIA was given the dual and conflicting mandate to promote agri-food trade and sales,  as well as ensure food safety. That agency has a role to play in preventing the crime of allowing adulterated

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz

Agriculture Minister and failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz.  Live export, horse slaughter, exploding sausages, lavish expenditures, and the downloading of responsibility for our food inspection to the un-elected private sector. Somebody stick a fork in Gerry Ritz. I think he’s done.

horsemeat into the market, but it’s clear that they should not be in charge of food protection whilst simultaneously sending the inexplicably still-employed Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz and others on missions around the world promoting trade.

Food safety in Canada has jumped the shark.  There’s just too much allegiance to old, outdated systems operating purely on faith.  Horses are not living beings exploited by this industry and its participants, but “products” to be exported like lumber.  Oh Canada, what have we got to be proud about when it comes to our treatment of horses?

United Horsemen’s Members Skewered By News Satire!

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3d-cvr-suckerbait-350Written by :  Heather Clemenceau

I think most of us are familiar with the Onion – a fabulously satirical online news agency – it preceded such great shows as the Colbert Report and the Daily Show.  They’re famous for various spoof polls that people often take seriously, because the people at the Onion are very astute at simulating journalistic style.  On occasion, entire countries have been spoofed by the Onion, including Russia,  Iran, France,  China, and Singapore,  who have often quoted them entirely and published their articles as real news.

Well, closer to the horse slaughter issue, a few of our gullible pro-slaughters have been taken in by a similar report, and it’s hilarious.  It’s a whole other level of entertainment when your adversaries believe implausible stuff!  It really makes you realize why many of them cannot grasp complex issues involving horse slaughter – like the testing of meat for example.  Remember the claim that bute is out of the horse’s system in 21 days? It’s almost pointless explaining why you can’t take a litmus test strip and swab any part of a horse to come up with a positive or negative drug test.   They just seem to lack the critical reasoning skills or a basic scientific education necessary to distinguish fact from fiction or pseudoscience.  Alternatively,  you can also choose to believe that they knew it was fake,  but some of them are just disingenuous pieces of shit who are happy to pretend that actual satire is true just to manipulate their audience.  Which is worse?  Could they be that gullible though?  Oh yes, dear reader, they could be, and they are………Dave Duquette better put on his fire-retardant suit,  because he’s about to get flamed!  I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to exercise my schadenfreude muscle,  and this is the perfect moment!

A few days ago I saw an article pop up in my Google Alerts about horsemeat.  It was published on the UK site “The Daily Squib,” which appears to be an Onion-style parody.  Within seconds of reading it most people will rapidly conclude that it’s a spoof, and a very funny one at that.  However, our friends at United Horsemen have embraced this story,  despite all objective reasoning to the contrary,  as fact.  You can read the article here,  but I’ve included a graphic of the story that has so convinced the UH group that they can still find a market for horsemeat in the US and that Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS has just got his comeuppance………

The Daily Squib

united Horsemen spoof

The most unintentionally hilarious comment accompanying this article!  Yes,  you CAN make this stuff up!  But, 29 People forwarded this? Did they realize it’s satire or is everyone taking it seriously?

Even Dave Duquette has been forwarding this spoof tabloid article around as well, and by reading the comments, you know he really believes it too!  The informationally challenged pro-slaughters are so eager to see horsemeat in the marketplace that their susceptibility to the thought now knows no ideological boundaries.

I mean,  this article is so obviously a parody on the horsemeat adulteration scandal in the UK,  one wonders whether Duquette and some of the others would be as quick to believe that Sarah Palin had joined Al Jazeera, or the White House was installing a retractable dome.Falling for the conspiracy  Judging by the number of people forwarding this herp and commenting on it, there’s a good number of UH members afflicted with brain cells as crispy and burnt as a McDonald’s fry left under a heat lamp.  Here’s one such comment:

“So, it this thing was allegedly “grown”, then how did a horse burger just show up all of a sudden? I mean, wasn’t someone checking it each day to see how much bigger it was? Weren’t tests run on it as it grew? Did someone just plop a small chunk of horse meat down one day and then came in early each morning to add to it to make it look as if it were growing?”

There’s a sucker born every minute, and apparently many of them wind up at United Horsemen’s group.  I bet that Duquette et al believes in everything that suits them about horses because they have lied to themselves so much.  Not only that,  but they are so used to publishing untruths that scrutinizing the source never even occurred to them.