This Is Horse Slaughter In Canada

bouvry protest

October 2013 protest at the Bouvry horse slaughter plant just outside of Fort Macleod, Alberta

Written by: Brian

I’m not sure which horse is haunting me the most. There was Jack. Big part draft gelding, 23 years old. Skinny as skinny, with large white saddle sore scars. Someone used him hard and threw him away.

Ginger was 26, from the same place as Jack. Friendly and gentle. She came to the fence to say hello.

The Percheron filly was a black beauty. After her trip to Alberta she might be one of the chosen ones to be shipped live from the Calgary airport. If she survives the trip (sometimes all the horses arrive dead), she’ll be slaughtered in Japan and served up raw as a high priced delicacy.

Twenty year old Copper won’t be as tender. He had some hard miles on him.

The dunn mare was in her prime, eleven years old, trained to pull a cart. She came into the sale ring with a rider on her back for the very first time, and handled it like a pro. It wasn’t enough.

The sturdy paint horses and the chunky six year old sorrel were typical slaughter horses, with their whole lives ahead of them. Not any more.

Usually it’s the young ones the kill buyers go for, not the old and feeble, despite what the industry tells you about horse slaughter being a “humane end of life option.” The kill buyers didn’t get as many as usual, but this auction was especially brutal, because most of the ones they did get were older.

Thin horse at OLEX

A thin horse stands alone in the kill pen at OLEX in St. Jacob’s Ontario – even the sweltering July heat cannot dry out the permanent muck

Bucky was the most memorable. His hip bones jutted out from his emaciated body, and a swollen wound on his cannon bone was heading towards proud flesh. He’d spent his 25 years teaching children to ride. But why put him down humanely when you can make a few bucks?

Bucky nickered softly to us as we left the yard after the sale. He was probably hoping we’d give him some hay and water after hours of going without. He’d have to wait for that.

The meat horses would be shunted into a pen together, and Bucky would take a few kicks before being chased from his scrap of hay. If anyone bothered to feed them. Regulations say horses can go 36 hours without food or water.

Who knows how many doses of bute Bucky had in his long life. Like all the horses, he was dropped off with no questions asked. One dose of bute carries a lifetime ban for human consumption.

But Bucky ain’t never had no bute! Even though that festering wound was fresh and he was a jumping horse, Bucky never had no drugs! No wormers, no pain killers, no bute…

He arrived at Bouvry with a fresh, clean EID, filled out by the kill buyer stating that “to the best of my knowledge” Bucky was drug free. Him and all them others that came with no medical information. Hell! They ain’t never had nothin!

Gerry Ritz Flag

Failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture – bureaucratic idiot and exasperating obfuscator. Activists exist largely because our civil servants, who are responsible for safeguarding animals and supervising the inputs into the food chain, do so in a questionable or disrespectful manner towards their own citizens and those of countries to whom we export foodstuffs.

That’s the CFIA’s story and they’re sticking to it. Once at the slaughterhouse the EIDs become the plant’s property and go into cold storage where even a Freedom of Information Request can’t get them out.

I’ve been thinking about Bucky and the others all week. And I still remember Sky from 11 years ago. Pretty young Arab. She was a playful thing, jousting with her pasture mate in the stock pen. After the sale her lifetime friend was led away by a new owner, and Sky was left standing alone in the cold rain, confused. They always know when something’s not right.

The two sleek four year old geldings hid their heads in the corner. The bidding didn’t last long for them. Next.

A teenage girl came in proudly leading her childhood love, and left with a stunned look on her face when he sold for $100. She probably preferred boys now and her parents said, “That horse has to go!”

The sick mare with firehose diarrhea could barely walk. She’d be a downer for sure, but even trampled to death she’d be worth a case of beer.

Of course I’ll never forget the load of full term pregnant wild mares being prodded onto a double decker with 50 other horses, falling and thrashing and banging. The noise was something else! The CFIA sure wanted to shut me up about that illegal shipment.

The auction claims there are no kill buyers at their sales. Only “horse brokers,” who train them ponies up for resale. Ask for yourself. The guy who sits up in the corner with a calculator will tell you where they’re going. “To a friend in Alberta.”

Arriving at Bouvry with their squeaky clean EIDs, the horses were probably unloaded right into the kill line. So much for the six month holding period required by law. They don’t even pretend to follow the rules. I sure wish the EU was paying attention.

I wonder if Bucky’s had his turn yet? I imagine him smelling the fear as he’s driven closer to the stun box, his ears flickering back and forth, the smell of blood overpowering and the noise

Bucky - The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada’s formation began in response to Canada’s anti-slaughter movement, prompted by the CHDC’s first investigative report, “Black Beauty Betrayed” in 2008. The true purpose of HWAC, headed by Bill DesBarres, is not horse welfare, but the promotion and support of North America’s horse slaughter industry.

Here is Bucky. It’s important to acknowledge that the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada’s formation began in response to Canada’s anti-slaughter movement, prompted by the CHDC’s first investigative report, “Black Beauty Betrayed” in 2008. The true purpose of HWAC, headed by Bill DesBarres, is not horse welfare, but the promotion and support of North America’s horse slaughter industry.

deafening. Saws whining and a radio blaring. The humans Bucky grew up trusting shouting and laughing, prodding him with a white stick that sends a jolt through his old bones as he stumbles forward into a blood soaked metal cage, looking frantically for a way out.

He’s a big horse. Maybe the first few shots glanced off his high head, taking out an eye or hitting him in the ear as the shooter casually took his time reloading his gun. I wonder if Bucky has figured out yet that humans are no longer his friend?

Horse “welfare” advocate, Bill DesBarres (HWAC), claims that without slaughter Canada would be overrun with unwanted horses. But almost 70% come from the US. They trickle into the system, one by one, like Bucky and Jack, from owners who are not desperate but just want an easy way out. (By the way, Bill and Claude Bouvry go way back.)

The biggest misconception of all is that banning horse slaughter in the US caused a surge of neglect. The crashed economy, drought and skyrocketed hay prices caused the neglect, not the slaughter ban. The number of horses slaughtered never changed. Owners could ditch them at an auction same as always.

You won’t hear that from Equine Canada. They’ve latched onto the neglect myth and people believe it. They pushed it hard on MPs too, trying to get them to vote against Bill C-571.

Kill Pens at OLEX

The horses are healthy, as are over 90% of all slaughter-bound horses, contrary to statements made by Equine Canada

The horses are healthy, as are over 90% of all slaughter-bound horses, contrary to statements made by Equine Canada

If people would quit breeding so many the numbers would drop pretty quick. Even the responsible breeders don’t break even, driven out of business by everyone who has a mare thinking she should be bred.

All those beautiful babies, in every colour of the rainbow, selling for as little as $100. The breeder brought them from Alberta, knowing that if he sold them there they’d all go for meat. But how many years before they end up back at the auction?

Yesterday a slaughter bound semi carrying 27 horses crashed in Saskatchewan, killing the driver of an SUV and 12 of the horses. How many Jacks and Buckys were on that load?

The CFIA chased reporters away and won’t divulge what happened to the surviving horses. But there are rumors of a Clyde and a pony being reloaded onto a fresh slaughter truck. No matter their terror and broken bones. The production line was waiting.

The ones that died in the crash were the lucky ones. At least their death was kinder than the one they were headed for at Bouvry.

Back at the riding school there’s probably a new horse. The children will stroke him and feed him carrots, and never forget him. Like I’ll never forget Bucky.

Why do I torture myself by going? Because knowledge is power, and maybe when enough people find out the truth about horse slaughter, they’ll care. I hope someone who once knew Bucky sees this post. Or someone in the EU.

Please share.

famous rescues copy

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.

41 responses »

  1. Reblogged this on Hippies for Horses and commented:
    A heart wrenching description of horse slaughter; no graphic photos but nevertheless, heart-wrenching! Many of the people who send their horses to auctions have no idea what happens to horses if they are sold to ‘horse traders’; many, if not all, are kill-buyers as was pointed out. Horse owners who love their horses need to be educated about the horse slaughter pipeline from USA to the abattoirs in Canada and Mexico.

    Try as we might, not enough USA Senators have co-sponsored Senate bill S541 but many more Representatives have co-sponsored HR1094. However, neither bills have the support of the majorities in each chamber of congress. Some of the congressmen have said they would vote for the bills if these bill came to the respective floors for a vote. But the real problem is the committees in which these bills are stuck; the chairmen of the committees are against stopping horse slaughter in America. A little bit of hope since the midterm elections earlier this month – one more Senator and six more Representatives have co-sponsored – it’s a ray of hope that I never expected.

    • If they don’t know what happens after auction, they have their heads up their asses. With all the info available out there in the horse world, how could you not know? Then, we have the ones who don’t care what the outcome is.

      • Everyday I run into people who don’t know and not because their ‘heads are up their asses’. When they find out about kill buyers buying up horses for slaughter, they become vocal about this atrocity.

      • I did not know about horse slaughter until 2010, even though I had owned several different horses for quite a few years. I never bought or sold any through auctions. So I was honestly shocked when I found out. My first knowledge of horse slaughter came with the Top Chef-cooking shows where horsemeat was a required component of a meal in one episode.

  2. ” A thin horse stands alone in the kill pen at Olex “…. Oh yes – I remember that day – heartwrenching!
    Too bad we couldn’t tell that – previous owner – what a piece of shit they are

  3. To learn more about slaughter here is a link to an article done by Temple Grandin at a US slaughter plant in 1998 The most important sentence in the article to my mind is this one “started to drive in, saw us, and drove away” When slaughter plants and auctions know that someone like Temple Grandin is on site everyone is on their best behaviour. Even so it is a sad commentary of the situation. Here is the link for those who want to learn more.

  4. It is not meat men that put horses in this predicament, it is the horses owners! Read some of the description of the horses, it is not the meat man that has used and abused and starved their horses and then sent them off to auction…….. Instead of going after slaughter houses I think it is the irresponsible owners that need to be stopped. The statement about people not knowing what happens to their horse that is sent to auction, I do not understand how somebody in this day and age can NOT know, if you are a horse person you know that if you send your horse to auction the chances are it is for meat. If you do not know that then you are living under a rock. If owners did right by their horse instead of shipping them to an auction, the meat men would not be there buying up these poor horses…….So easy to blame the slaughter industry but what about the owners, they are the ones that keep making the cycle go round……

  5. Great article! The accident that happened in Saskatchewan happened 2 miles from where I live. I arrived at the scene minutes after it happened. I offered assistance to help with the horses but was told by the FIA, very rudely I would admit that they had it under control. It was a horrific accident! One I will never get the image out of my head. I was there all day and into the later part of the night watching. There were two vets on site( my personal vets for my horses). I could go into full detail of the accident but I would have a novel going here. I could give you every descriptive thing that happened to this day yet.

      • MartyUK – the nonsense is from Wendy – we know there’s NEVER enough homes.
        Too many horse breeders that refuse to take any responsibility for the lives they created.

  6. Common sense is more valuable then education, because the way the world is going the educated are not making the right choices, cruelty to anything is and should end, we are not stopping the easiest thing, which is evil, mental illness is clear to see, how it has ruled the world for far too long, time to bring in balance, fairness and harmony, so our childrens children can say that the human race is good for the planet earth, stop the bullshit, and quit the excuses as to why, it is such a old lie and story that needs to end, stop the crultey, no more being in denial, what we can see is not a lie.

  7. Reblogged this on cindymendoza47 and commented:
    this is just sick. ican’t even read this whole story for the tear ,i can’t see the words , why can’t our law maker close thes borders and make people responsible for what is going on. sick people in this world for sure. callous, unfeeling ,dna walking about with not a thought about what they are doing!!! sick. sick .sick.

  8. The ones that are truly putting on blinders are those bringing in their 20+yr old horses. If they consider the horses unworthy of keeping around after all they have done for their kids do they really believe someone else will purchase them to have them sit in their fields, cost them higher vet bills that come with older horses and feed them higher quality food as the old ones need? Of course not. So step up and put the animal down. Say thank you to it in a proper manner. Don’t betray that trusting animal this way. I’m not saying I don’t hate what is happening to the younger horses, just that I can see the average horse owner not being aware of what will happen to their animal at auction. Anyone sending an old animal knows full well what they are subjecting that animal to. And as badly as the animals are treated here, the horses from the US that aren’t shipped to Canada most often are shipped to Mexico and their animal cruelty regulations are virtually non-exsistant. They face even worse treatment down there.

  9. Acutally one of the dumest articles I’ve ever read about slaughter! you can’t save a 26 year old horse they are dying already most horses die between ages 20-25 those that live longer struggle, and people who know anything about killing horses you don’t kill older horses their meat is disgusting, but apparntly you know everything!

    • I’m always gratified when pro-slaughters comment on my blog posts because I use it as an opportunity to show how stupid and selfish they are. 26 year old horses (and much older) are slaughtered without any objections whatsoever. As long as they can walk on three legs they are fit to ship, according to our government. All the more reason to put old horses down humanely if they cannot be placed than to send them to slaughter. I don’t know everything, but I know more than someone who comes here and posts in a long run-on sentence filled with spelling errors.

    • If you’ve owned a horse for 26 years, (or even 1 year,) you owe it to that animal to keep it and love it until the end, and to ensure that it’s passing is as pain-free and gentle as possible. Forcing that horse to spend it’s last moments (or days/weeks/months) in terror is so incredibly cruel that I am shaking just reading this article and thinking of it. Our pets/animals deserve better from us. Shame on you Rae for being so heartless.

  10. Please stop this slaughter of these beautiful animals. We live in a civilized society and this is far from civilized. It’s barbaric. Let’s stop this now. They served us well and this is not how they should end up. Shame on us. 😢

  11. This is very heart breaking, but my question is isn’t Canada a better designation for these horses than a Mexican slaughter houses?

    • All American horses go to the four EU-controlled plants in Mexico. which operate at a standard that the EU accepts. They are very similar to the Canadian slaughterhouses. These plants use the captive bolt gun, which as we know is hardly humane, but it is preferable to the puntilla knife used in the municipal Mexican slaughterhouses. The puntilla knife is stabbed along the spinal column to sever the nerves and cause the horse to fall down. Extremely inhumane!

  12. Pingback: “This is Horse Slaughter in Canada” | rj10drcma

  13. I can’t believe the uneducated comment from Rae about older horses – I have had more than 1 horse into their 30’s. I know many others – in 1968 I knew someone who was still winning $$$ barrel racing her 35 year old mare – YES – DUMMY – 35 YEARS OLD. Your attitude is OH WHO GIVES A DAMN -LET THEM SUFFER makes me sick – sorry folks – I can’t stand this stupidity

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