Human Casualties in the Long War for Horses



Despite many dedicated people fighting horse slaughter,  horses continue to be dumped at auction by irresponsible breeders/owners, and are trucked for long distances.  Horses endure terrible conditions in feedlots and continue to be inhumanely stunned now at 5 Canadian plants.  They are live shipped 2 or more in a flimsy container to Asia. Years of cruelty investigations have made it absolutely clear: the CFIA and other agencies have largely given a free pass to those who abuse horses and disrespect the food chain. No feeling person could help but be heartbroken.  But in the absence of people who are willing to speak out,  horses would undoubtedly suffer even more at the hands of such people.

The killing goes on. Canadian laws continue to be broken and the CFIA continues to deny or deflect responsibility. We, as Canadians, have an opportunity to speak out against this. MP Alex Atamanenko will be bringing Bill C-322 forward for debate in the House.  This Private Members’ Bill will be added to the Order of Precedence in early 2014. We need all of our supporters in full force lobbying their MPs before the bill is debated.

For those of us who have been involved in speaking out against slaughter for years,  the toll can be great.  Who among us cannot relate to Belinda Lyall’s letter below,  describing the pain many of us feel when trying to understand why,  despite our best efforts and many more people becoming involved in the movement,  slaughter continues in much the same form as it did years ago…..

“I will not repeat myself here about the issues of drugs in horsemeat and the abuse of horses. Rather I would like to discuss the consequences this industry is taking on the health of individual Canadians.

I’m sure you have probably never given thought to how this issue is affecting hundreds of people who have been fighting for years to end horse slaughter in Canada, and are suffering a huge personal toll because of it. I can tell you that I for one am greatly compromised from witnessing firsthand the appalling abuse of horses due to the slaughter industry. But the worst of it is the way the CFIA has dismissed all accountability towards citizens who report animal welfare violations.

When I personally witnessed the illegal loading of a shipment of horses to slaughter, including several full-term, pregnant wild mares, the CFIA gave my name and home phone # to the auction owners. The auction then called me and threatened to sue for defamation, and then sent a registered letter banning me from the property. This is how the CFIA “takes appropriate action” to deal with public complaints about animal welfare. This happened ten years ago, but nothing has changed.

The CFIA has been repeatedly documented being negligent in implementing their own policies over and over again. After each offense they merely respond with a form letter stating that problems have been “taken care of.” Problems have not been taken care of. Due to the nature of the horse it would not be possible for problems to be taken care of, since assembly line commercial horse slaughter and the manner in which the horses are killed could never be humane.

wild stallionsSo I would like to describe to you what it is like to be fighting this issue day in and out, with visions of horses trembling with terror as they approach the stun box; horses being shot multiple times and still not stunned; foals and old blind horses and wild horses being electrically prodded up the steep slippery metal ramp to the second floor of a double decker cattle liner and packed on a truck for a journey that could last 52 hours without food or water, in blistering heat or freezing cold; horses raised to trust people waiting in the slaughter corral at auctions, reaching over the fence to nuzzle people passing by; horses so ill they can barely stand brought into the sale ring at auctions to be purchased by kill buyers while irresponsible owners are monetarily rewarded for dropping them off; mares giving birth in filthy, crowded slaughter feedlots, to be killed soon afterwards, along with their day-old foals; overfed, foundered horses in pain given no care whatsoever; groups of foals weaned too young shivering in the cold and mud of slaughter feedlots with no shelter from the elements. Then the horrors of the killing itself, which you can view for yourself on the links to videos attached below.

Bouvry video summary,  Part I of III

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Chambers of Carnage

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Pasture to Plate

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Footage Index – Bouvry Exports

This report documents environmental, humane, and food safety violations at Natural Valley Meats, which was eventually shut down.

What’s it like to know and witness this? And to know that the Government funds this industry with taxpayer dollars, only in order to profit a small number of corrupt business owners? And to know that I will never sell my horses for fear that they could end up going to slaughter? And to know that slaughter leads to people holding on to horses they can no longer afford to keep for the same reason? And to know that slaughter does not prevent cases of abuse like the recent one in Kamloops, BC? To know that slaughter perpetuates overbreeding year after year, bringing more unwanted horses into the world and delaying any policies to improve conditions for horses? And to know that the CFIA is lying, falsifying documents, and doing everything in their power to protect the owners of slaughterhouses and prevent the public from knowing what really goes on?

I’ll tell you what it’s like. At least once a day I am suddenly physically overcome with a shaking weakness. My knees buckle and I fall to the floor and sob uncontrollably for five to ten minutes. Some nights I can’t sleep at all. I no longer participate in most activities, because there is too much to do to try to stop this abusive, horrific industry and make people aware of Bill C-322. As I write this tears pour down my cheeks. I’ve been on the computer since 6 AM. It’s now after 12 PM and I’m not dressed yet. There’s too much to do and time for this Bill is running out. My daughter is also suffering, as I’m not able to do as many things with her. I know others who’ve “gone down” for days at a time. They are unable to work, sleep, and they became physically ill. And this fight has been going on for over a decade. When is it going to stop?

I’d like to ask you, is it “healthy” for a person to have a complete emotional breakdown, once, twice, sometimes several times a day? Is it “healthy” to put one’s personal life on hold to try tofighting stallions with grasses copy do the Government’s job? Is it “healthy” to have your valid concerns dismissed over and over again with empty words copied from the CFIA’s webpage, about how “the Government would never tolerate inhumane treatment of animals,” when you have just witnessed video of horses being shot repeatedly in the face scrambling to their feet, desperately fighting for their lives, only to be shot again and again, until finally someone can get a chain around their leg and hang them upside down to begin butchering them alive? Is it healthy to be haunted by these visions, knowing that as I write to you horses are lined up, shaking with fear in the kill line? Is it healthy to be distraught most of the day because no animal deserves to be treated this way? Is it healthy to feel disgust, anger and disrespect for my own country? Mostly I’d like to know, am I going to wake up and still feel this way ten years from now, because the Government cares more about protecting an industry that profits fewer than 50 individuals than listening to the concerns of over 2/3 of the population that wants horse slaughter banned?

I hope you can provide some valid answers to my questions, for the benefit of myself and hundreds of others. If not, I see no other recourse than to launch a class action suit against the CFIA and the Government of Canada for negligence in implementing policy to ensure the humane treatment of horses; for negligence in implementing policy to prevent banned substances from entering the food chain; and for negligence in addressing the suffering this is inflicting on thousands of Canadian citizens.

Regarding the meat issue: please do not reply that random checks ensure that horsemeat is safe. Random checks are designed to test for faults in a system where animals are all raised, fed, housed, and cared for in a uniform environment. Horses don’t have a system, so a “safety” program designed to check a system does not apply to horses.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.”


Belinda Lyall

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

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

About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

11 responses »

  1. I was Blown Away By this Letter The First Time I read It, And Am Blown Away By It Each Time After..Belinda Thank -You For Sharing This And Know That Many, Many Americans Have The Same Feelings and also Are Fighting This Seemingly Never Ending Fight~ Again, Thank-You From Your Friends In The USA~

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  4. I know what the horses have to endure when they get shipped to a slaughter house, I don’t need to be told about it over and over again. I am completely aware of what happens behind the scenes. I am against it through and through but what you need to understand is that the reason why horses are being sent is because at this moment there isn’t a good market for horses being sold to the general public due to the increase of horses that are being produced. With this terrible market and over inflation a lot of the horses get sent to a slaughter house because it is easier to send them to a auction to make a few bucks instead of losing some money because of trainer, feed, general upkeep… fees, etc. I myself classify breeders into two categories 1) ignorant breeders, these are the people you will breed thirty/more mares for one season, this category can further be divided down into backyard breeders, some don’t care for the animal, they breed because they can and the others are either smart or ignorant about it and 2) smart breeders who only breed a few selected mares. \what I think you need to understand is you can talk about horse slaughter all day on how it is bad unless you do something to prevent breeders from mass producing foals. I am to young and not well known on a provincial scale to do anything about it. But as soon as I get my vet degree I am going to push for decreasing the output scale with some of the techniques that I have devised. All of the techniques I have devised are directly pointed at the breeders and having ways to deal with how many mares they can breed. I hope you see my point of view on the subject.

    • I’m not sure I get what you’re talking about. Horses have ALWAYS Been sent to slaughter not because there isn’t a good market, but because there are too many damn horses. I am not opposed to breeding quality horses, but even quality horses go to slaughter if there are too many of them and they are not trained. If you don’t like being told “over and over again” about slaughter, why do you come here and read this blog? I don’t go to where you live and tell you about slaughter every day………..

    • You don’t have to be nasty about it, and if you don’t like the topic, don’t read it. I hope you do some good with your vet degree, whatever these “devices” may be. There are still alot of people out there who have no idea what goes on in a slaughter house, nor do they understand the nature of the horse itself. It does sometimes feel like preaching to the choir but we all like to keep informed on the antics and corruption in this industry.

    • This is disinformation. 90%of slaughter horses are young healthy fit ‘sport’ horses purposefully bred to be used, abused, and discarded by an unscrupulous sector of the horse industry that marginalizes all reputable horse people. Why bother to invest the time and money to condition and school a horse if you are going to slaughter it in a few months anyway? Banning horse slaughter will force some long needed changes in the horse industry as those who mistreat their animals will face both financial and public relations disasters if they can’t send the evidence of their callousness to slaughter.

  5. Belinda Lyall speaks for me. And she made me cry. Today, I have cried over horse abuse and slaughter, round ups and hatred, I don’t know how many times. I do it so often I no longer realize how often. It is just part of my emotional day. I try to stay calm and I do. Rarely do I scream and holler. I just wince and tense and cry.

    This is not a Canadian issue. It is not a American issue. It is a Planetary issue. Horses suffer all over the world. I just lost, after a19-month fight, my Belgian mare and the haunting visions from the Bouvry Exports of the Belgians being herded up the chutes into the crates for their long horrifying trip to Japan to who knows what evil awaits them, breaks my heart. And I cry. It was bad while she was alive, but now it is so much worse. I keep saying “Thank You” for her great life and peaceful euthanasia, but then the brutality I have seen flashes over me. The hopelessness of an unanswered battle wearies me. And I quietly cry

    Over and over, I speculate and try to motivate others to unite and to create a movement too large for them to ignore and then a friend starts a Facebook page to raise money for ads to pass our SAFE ACT here in the US. And she gets 400 likes and four donations. She shuts down the page and returns the donations. And I cry.

    But I wipe away the tears and start to wonder if we might put together a class action here in the US. I begin to plan. I hope for a while. And then I begin to cry.

    Thank you, Belinda. I shall send you all the light and love and hope I can muster. And I will plan some more tomorrow right after I have another little cry.

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