Category Archives: “Farmer’s Markets”

Food Scientist Claims “Liquid Poured On Pigs” A Biosecurity Risk #PIGTRIAL

Standard

toronto-pig-save-transport-11Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…. the actions of these activists simply aren’t safe – not only not for themselves, the truck drivers and their pigs. But also for the consumers,”  writes Keith Warriner,  Professor of Food Science at the University of Guelph.The seemingly humane gesture of feeding water to pigs can actually jeopardize the system and impact the food you serve to your family.The trial taking place in Toronto has touched upon various angles of this incident. But the key issue is the interference with food safety. For anyone who eats pork, this is a product of a food processing system. And it’s absolutely essential that it’s produced in a closed system that hasn’t been tampered with.”

Dr Warriner recently chose to write a guest column that appeared in the Toronto and Winnipeg Sun papers.  Instead of providing an evidence-based opinion on any one of the prevalent food-related pathways to disease and sickness in Canada,  he chose to write about the “unknown liquid” that Anita Krajnc and other Toronto Pig Save activists had given to pigs on the day Dr. Krajnc was charged. It doesn’t appear that anyone believes that there were contaminants in the water the activists have given to the pigs before or since Anita’s arrest – apparently neither Fearman’s Pork nor Van Boekel Hog Farms believes this,  otherwise,  the animals would not have been slaughtered for food.  Neither does the CFIA apparently believe the pigs were contaminated,  since they issued no recall that I could find.  If there was the slightest belief that the water was poisoned,  the bottles would have been confiscated and the water tested.  To the best of my knowledge,  there was no economic loss resultant to the watering of the pigs and NO CRIME HAD BEEN COMMITTED.

The CFIA classifies recalls based on the level of health risk associated with the food product being recalled. High risk triggers include illness outbreaks,  food test results, inspection img_0560findings,  and consumer complaints.  In 2014 the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued 714 recalls, following 467 recalls  in 2013 and 595 in 2012, Undeclared allergens (unlisted ingredients or product mislabeling) and microbial contaminations make up the majority of recalls,  according to Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Food Institute.

The Red Meat Condemnation report from Agriculture Canada provides a testament to the true brutality of both the transport and slaughter operations.  In 2015, 20,244,822 pigs were slaughtered,  and 7.02 pigs per thousand slaughtered were found dead on arrival at the slaughterhouse.  That amounts to 14,221 pigs.  Almost as many pigs were condemned on ante-mortem inspection for abscesses, peritonitis, arthritis, pneumonia, septicemia, emaciation, hepatitis, bruising, hernia, fracture, and many other conditions, suggesting that perhaps more were in very poor condition upon arrival at the slaugherhouse.  According to CFIA prosecution notices for that same year,  no one was convicted of anything as a result.

kindness-to-pigs-on-a-cattle-trainI hope our food scientists will continue to bring attention to serious risks in the food supply,  rather than trying to pick off the “low-hanging fruit” that are the protests at slaughterhouses.  I would like to propose that Dr. Warriner write an article condemning the abuse of transport and the risks of veterinary drug contamination with horse slaughter in Canada.  Certainly horse slaughter is not a closed system – non-farmers are dealing in drugged meat with false and incomplete EIDs, concealing incompetence and deceit, often at the highest levels.  In fact,  I plan to send him an email asking him to do exactly that.

Those activists who wish to expose inhumane farming practices and give water to animals enroute to slaughter are not terrorists. Dr. Warriner,  I cannot respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism.  Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Videos of activists providing water to pigs have mobilized a movement towards improving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows.  In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom.

 

gerry-ritz-listeriosis-copy

When the news first broke that an outbreak of Listeriosis had resulted in the deaths of several Canadians, you might expect the minister responsible for food safety, to immediately step in, or at least take the matter seriously. Instead,  former Ag. Minister Gerry Ritz actually thought the whole matter rather funny, so much so that he immediately joked about the demise of the victims. Forget that it was under his watch – his funny bone was tickled and he wanted to share the feeling.

A look back at recent outbreaks and recalls in Canada,  courtesy of @Barfblog’s contributors, including Drs. Powell, Chapman, Hubbell and assorted food safety lecturers at Barfblog.com  – the unofficial internet gatekeepers on food-related illness and terrible reality cooking shows…

From toxic mothballs to blister beetles in food, there are no cautionary mentions of illness caused by the “tampering” of food by animal activists.

 

Pig Farmer Van Boekel Files Charges Against “Thirsty Pigs” Animal Activist (But Pleaded Guilty to Breaching Water Resources Act Himself)

Standard
Katharina Rot - Pig Rescuer

Illustration courtesy of Katharina Rot

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Torontonians in particular are by now very familiar with the “Thirsty Pigs” court case whereby Van Boekel Farms pressed charges against Anita Krajnc. Dr. Krajnc, who is a principal activist behind the peaceful “Save“ vigils (Toronto Pig Save,Toronto Cow Save, Toronto Chicken Save), was charged under the Criminal Code with mischief under $5,000 for providing water to pigs in a truck en route to their slaughter at Fearman’s pig slaughterhouse in Burlington, Ontario.

On a hot day in June, a Van Boekel Hog Farms trailer full of pigs was stopped at an intersection.  Krajnc and other activists gave water to them in squirt bottles, an action that the court disclosure describes as: “spraying an unknown liquid into the trailer where the hogs were situated.” The concern is that, even though there seems to be no question that water was the liquid given to the pigs, the action is potentially “tampering with the food supply,” although not in the same way many farmers themselves tamper with the food supply by keeping animals in filthy confined pens during lives which are nasty, brutish, and short.

“In-transit loss” is a term used to describe pigs that die after leaving the farm but before being killed at the abattoir

Big Meat certainly does not want anyone exposing the fact that the pigs often arrive at the slaughterhouse panting and foaming at the mouth (pigs cannot sweat). One might say that the charging of Anita Krajnc has backfired since it generated phenomenal support at the courthouse,  in the media,  and via petitions that have now been signed by more than 100,000 people.  More people have been touched by the suffering of pigs and will consider a plant-based diet.  Additionally, it sent people (like me) on little internet fact-finding missions that revealed that Van Boekel’s own farm operations were hardly above reproach. Van Boekel Hogs Farms Inc. of Woodstock, Van Boekel Holdings Inc. and Eric Van Boekel were originally fined a total of $345,000 for a manure spill in the spring of 2007. Van Boekel must have felt as though he was bleeding-out himself when he was hit with an additional 25% victim surcharge that elevated the total to $431,250. He also faced a possible 30 days in jail. He was convicted of breaking three different acts – the Ontario Water Resources Act, the Environmental Protection Act and the Nutrient Management Act – and was sentenced in Woodstock. Van Boekel (who claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt”) immediately appealed the decision and was granted a new trial, where he was found not guilty of charges under the Environmental Protection Act and Nutrient Management Act, but pled guilty to offences under the Ontario Water Resources Act.

There’s really no shortage of video evidence compiled by Toronto Pig Save showing that in summer the pigs are often desperately overheated – 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. Even 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.

Consider also that:

  • The Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs (the absolute bare minimum standard) recommends travelling in off-hours and providing protection for pigs in the trailer, including watering and misting.
  • The group Canadians For the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals says: “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.”
  • An observational study has shown that, not surprisingly, the number of in-transit pig losses was greater at higher internal trailer temperatures, in some cases being as high as 12.5% of the total number of pigs transported.

Photos below by L. Jorgensen and Twyla Francois.  The pig with the leg trapped in the trailer was eventually helped by activists at a Fearman’s Pig slaughterhouse protest.  We wonder how long the pig travelled like this and why no one exercised greater care in loading and inspecting the trailer.  The dead pigs on the grass were photographed in Texas,  delivered to that state by a Manitoba hauler who evidently did not have the proper paperwork, and so claimed he could not unseal the trailer.  The pigs were left on board in the sweltering heat for days.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

We are gradually moving to a police state that demands criminal charges for inconsequential matters. It strikes me as odd that a court can convict someone of “spraying an unknown liquid” when it is known or should be known by now that the liquid was water and that this was a prosocial act to relieve thirst and heatstroke. I’m sure that this alleged concern by Van Boekel and Fearman’s did not deter them from slaughtering this trailer of pigs (or any other load to whom water was provided in the past).

 

Call to Action – Please sign the petitions

Care2.com (This petition has surpassed 100,000 signatures!)

The Petition Site (also over 100,000 signatures!)

Change.org

Bedlam Farm’s Jon Katz – Losing So Hard

Standard

dreamstime_s_33208146

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

If you’re not already familiar with the writer/blogger/photographer Jon Katz, you may have seen a  post he wrote this week entitled, “Rethinking the Ethics of Animal Rescue,” which isn’t the first of his blogs to raise a few hackles in the animal rights/welfare communities. Many of Katz’ comments aren’t much of a departure from what you might read from the Cavalry Group about animals being “property.” And he is such a prolific producer of voluminous blogs defending the working conditions of New York City carriage horses that he probably qualifies as his own “content mill.” The commercial carriage trade heavily promotes Katz’ articles, despite telling everyone not to listen to anyone who is not a horse person. Well, Mr. Katz isn’t a horse person either. He writes lyrical praise about what he sees and is told, from his myopic viewpoint on animals. He takes pretty pictures with a camera that he crowdsourced.  And bizarrely,  he promotes horse slaughter as humane,  while protesting that NYC carriage horses and other horses will be slaughtered if not kept “employed.”

Ponies are going to slaughter because it is now considered abuse for children to ride them…” ~Jon Katz

I strongly suspect that Mr. Katz often writes just to push buttons and blatantly troll people.  For instance,  I’ve never heard of ponies being sent to slaughter rather than being used for riding.  I’ve literally forced myself to read these and other plodding and sanctimonious posts set on his rural hobby farm, for “research purposes.” Despite living on a working farm, Katz’ writing reveals that he really doesn’t seem to know much at all about animals, especially farm animals. He whines constantly about having to care for them, the cold weather, his barn chores, and his dogs. It is a recurring theme of Mr. Katz’ that horses and other animals all need work in order to justify their existence, which is also why he is so churchy and moralizing about horse rescues in particular. But not all horse rescues – he actively promotes Blue Star Equiculture since presumably, they will continue to work horses on the farm rather than fulfilling the “emotionalized fantasies of humans” by letting them do nothing at all.  Katz certainly doesn’t ascribe many emotions to animals, yet despite this he is convinced that they are happy and seek self-actualization in their lives via the protestant work ethic.

“It is the cruelest kind of abuse to take carriage horses away from their human beings and force them onto rescue farms, where they will have no human contact, no work and nothing to do but eat hay and drop manure.”

Scores of elephants will be out of work over the next year or so.” ~ in reference to Ringling’s decision to retire circus elephants.

That’s the cruelest abuse Katz can think of?  He must not even be trying. But now back to the blog post in question……IMO this story about a horse named “Arthur” is nothing more than a piece of very imaginative writing the author is trying to pass off as fact. Katz really channels his inner Sue Wallis when he claims that horse slaughter is humane and that “Arthur,” who surely never existed, was sent on a documented trip to a Mexican slaughter plant that took 11 days…..

“The local slaughterhouse was close by, and was well-known for being humane. Slaughter was quick and painless, the horse and animal owners were always invited to come and watch if they wished, for their own peace of mind and to accompany their animals on their final passage.”

At the time of writing this, which Katz tells us was two years ago, there were no “local slaughterhouses” in the US and hadn’t been for several years. There were certainly no slaughterhouses that invited you inside to watch the carnage, or what he so comfortingly refers to as “their final passage.” Slaughterhouses well known for their humanity? Real animal lovers and especially horse advocates need to speak out in condemnation of such sanctimonious fakery. We’re expected to believe that someone who knew “Arthur” tracked his movements across the US to Mexico for slaughter and reported on how little he was fed or watered during his supposed 11 days in transit (but did nothing else). If Katz knew anything about transport to slaughter, he would know that horses aren’t watered at all on tractor trailers, and despite all the injustices and cruelty inherent in transporting horses or other livestock, no trip can take 11 days – legally or practically. A horse on a transport trailer for 11 days is a dead horse. And then he seems to express disgust that “Arthur” died by a “3 inch nail to the head.” How did he think most horses were guided on their way to their “final passage?”

“Arthur, an old draft horse, was purchased for $200, taken to a feedlot where he was given little to eat, according to a relative of James who tracked his journey and tried to save him, put on a trailer and driven for 11 days through summer heat without ever once being allowed to move around or walk outside.”

*Note to horse rescuers – this “relative of James” is pretty useless isn’t he? If he wanted to save “Arthur,” assuming neither of them are figments of Katz’ imagination, why didn’t he rescue him after the owner supposedly died? There were at least two opportunities to do so.  In the full post Katz also manages to squeeze in a condemnation about horse rescues in this fabricated scenario, claiming that the rescue wasn’t financially solvent and then took  “James” to an auction where he was bought by a kill buyer! And where in the world are the pics of “Arthur?” They must surely be the only photographs Katz has never published.

“ James’s mind failed before he resolved Arthur’s fate. He had to leave his farm and could not bury Arthur there, as he hoped. The horse was too old to give away. James was not aware that the people who claim to speak for the rights of animals had lobbied Congress and state legislators to make the slaughterhouses of America illegal. Many functioned in rural communities close to the people in their communities. The animal rights groups were successful, there are no longer any horse slaughterhouses left in the United States.”

Katz seems to think that there were horse slaughterhouses in every community?  In 2007, the last three now shuttered horse slaughterhouses operating in the US were Beltex, Cavel, and Dallas Crown and I doubt that the citizens of Kaufman, Texas in particular were too thrilled by the Dallas Crown plant operating so close in their community.

My difficulty with Katz’ writings go far beyond the issue I have with horses and slaughter. He continually indicts himself as a cold-hearted simpleton, and his animal care is little short of abysmal. The hobby farm itself is sometimes justified as an experiment to “rehab” his life – more likely it is an experiment to cash in on dog writing and passing oneself off as an expert with border collie and herding dog behaviours. He regularly denounces adoptions from dog shelters and promotes purchasing dogs from breeders. His farm animals all seem to meet with an early demise too – after he opined about his close connection to a lamb born on the farm, the lamb became “stricken.” No vet was called…for after all, it was a “farm” animal and therefore a part of the natural order of life and death. This little lamb suffered for days, not even nursing, while appearing disoriented. Finally, it was decided by Jon and his wife that they should “euthanize” him with a shotgun. He then put the dead lamb out in a back field for animals to eat. Katz is always quick to rally to the defense of farmers accused of neglect of their animals.  His perspective on the Joshua Rockwood farm seizure case is that animals are property and meddling busybodies in the animal rights community should not intervene.  He has no idea whether the allegations against Rockwood are legitimate or not,  but that is his stance.

“We have begun to worship animals at the expensive of people, granted them rights that people do not have, use them to promote the hatred of people, to make it difficult, dangerous or expensive to keep animals in our every day lives. The movement that goes by the name of animals rights is driving animals away from people at an accelerating rate, removing them from the world.”

If it’s difficult or expensive to keep animals in our every day lives it’s because some people actually provide proper veterinary care for them,  and humanely euthanize them at the end of their lives. Katz certainly doesn’t expend much effort and certainly no money beyond what’s required for feed, to look after his animals,  so it’s rather bizarre that he still thinks caring for his animals is that expensive.  What rights do animals have that people do not?  We live in a pet-obsessed culture; Americans spend  about $60 billion a year on their pets, so I wonder how Katz figures that we are driving animals away from us? Just more harem-scarem talk from yet another property rights fanatic who is worried he might not be able to get away with chaining his dog to an engine block for much longer. I’ve been told by a few people who live in the general area that his neighbours don’t think much of him either.

Anyone who uses holocaust terminology to describe AR activists, whom he likens to Nazis, is not someone I’d want on my team. Pets and farm animals are commodities that he expects to get rid of when their batteries run down or they become inconvenient. Everything on his farm gets sick, becomes neurotic, and either is euthanized or taken out back and dispatched. All his animals become tiresome, but are milked one more time in death, until a new one is acquired and the cycle begins anew.

Read James Herriot instead.

 

A Vow to Make to Your Companion Animal

“I will be your loyal companion from this day forward. Even more important, I will be your protector. You have my solemn promise that I will, to the absolute utmost that my strength and resources permit, protect you against all the hurts that life can hold, whether they be physical or emotional. You can depend on me for this. I will never let you down.

And when any hurts become such that all of my efforts cannot effectively alleviate them, I will place your needs above mine, your suffering over my own, and use the only means left to protect you from those hurts. I will deliver you comfort by bringing your pains to an end, not because I will be ready to let go, but because, to protect you, I will have to say goodbye. I know you will count on me at that difficult time to protect you, and I will be there for you, right by your side.

Should my passing come first, you need not worry, because I will have made all the provisions for your care, safekeeping, and happiness.

Fear not, because when death ends our physical togetherness, our emotional bond will never end. You will be a part of my heart forever. I promise.”

Credited to Kathryn Lance

 

 

 

 

Dairy Farms: Weaning Ourselves Off The Fairy-Tale

Standard

Writing and Photography by:  Heather Clemenceau

Art by:  Twyla Francois Art

Twyla Francois Simon2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, and in June, 14 dairy farms opened their doors to the non-farming public. An Open House was held on June 27, 2015 at the Milky Wave dairy farm in the pastoral Mennonite community of Floradale, Ontario. Today there are hundreds of visitors, including many Mennonite families, sampling chocolate milk and ice cream.

This barn is probably one of the “jewels in the crown” of the DFO, who are the marketing representation for Ontario’s approximately 3,900 dairies. Designed to promote the excellence of milk and the humanity of it all, these tours seem like something of a fairy tale relative to the harsh reality documented during investigations by Mercy for Animals and other groups. Today’s visit is a good example of the dairy industry regrouping and rebranding for its very survival.

Most fairy tales began a long time ago and didn’t really begin with the kingdom the public sees on this visit. This 750 acre facility produces, aside from milk, mostly hay, soy, wheat and corn as feedstuffs for the cows. The Schuurmans family recently purchased this farm, after Henk Schuurmans functioned as the herd manager on the 210-cow dairy operation for 25 years (there are another 200+ cows/heifers/calves of various ages living on the farm). Prior to its expansion, the farm operated with 65 cows in a tie-stall barn.  Schuurmans also helped manage reconstruction after a devastating fire destroyed the barn (and presumably the cows) in 1997.

Brambell’s Five Freedoms

  1. Freedom from discomfort
  2. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease
  3. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviours
  4. Freedom from fear and distress
  5. Freedom from hunger or thirst

Farming practices in Canada have changed dramatically over the last 50 years. No longer do most cows live outside for even part of their day, as in those old dutch paintings of farms in the 1800s. The number of small family farms has significantly declined, and larger intensive farms have become the norm. Milky Wave is considered to be a “small” operation and it certainly is relative to larger farms such as Chilliwack Cattle Sales, the subject of a Mercy For Animals investigation. Despite the size of this farm, the cows do not have any access to pasture and they live Twyla Francois Cow Shadowtheir entire lives in various barns on the property according to their size, maturity, and reproduction/lactation status. Despite the scale, Milky Wave still fits the definition of a factory farm – utilizing modern machinery, biotechnology, automation, and standardization, all very efficiently. It operates with a minimum of staff and a minimum of interaction with the cows. New housing systems have resulted new animal welfare challenges, including lack of access to pasture, confinement, crowding, and the behavioural issues that result.

Every aspect of the operation seen here on this day appears to be consistent with current Codes of Practice for dairy cows (recommended,  but not obligatory in Ontario). Facilities like Milky Wave, which have increased mechanization and confinement in order to reduce labour costs, have addressed some animal health issues, while creating other new health and behavioural issues.

General commentary on the farm and its operations (via direct observation and confirmation from volunteers):

  • Milky Wave farm is a closed system – all cows are born on the farm
  • There are no bulls on this farm – AI is the only method used to make more cows as it poses less risk to employees who are not used to handling bulls.
  • The cows can move about the barns, moving from eating areas to raised platforms where they can doze or sleep, but density is fairly high
  • One humane improvement is that tails are not docked
  • All cows and calves are “head shy” – they move away when people approach
  • No sores visible on the cows – hocks seemed to be free of scrapes, which are a common source of infection in cattle
  • The production cows wear pedometers on their rear legs below the hocks, which record their movements, activity levels, production of milk, treatments and whether they are in heat according to algorithms in the software. Cows who are not ambulatory relative to the baselines/medians in the software are checked to make sure they are not ill.
  • Antibiotics are not used as preventatives, but only in cases of actual bacterial infection – this is course is due to the monitoring of drug withdrawal times and a cow on antibiotics is a cow whose milk will be destroyed for a predetermined period of time after treatment.
  • Young calves did not socially interact – their group housing barn was quite dark – they lie on their “mattresses” and don’t move about while I am there watching. They don’t seem to have any enrichment at all and aren’t interested in their surroundings. Their lives appear to be devoid of stimulation.
  • Only form of enrichment appeared to be the cow-activated body brushes which the cows often line up to use.
  • All cows appeared to have a body condition score of 2-3 based on the appearance of fat around the “hooks and pins” of their hip bones. This is considered to be a healthy weight for dairy cows.
  • Painful procedures are still a cause of concern for the welfare of dairy cattle. All heifers are de-horned at a young age in order to prevent injury to each other or to people later in life. Using a procedure called “disbudding,” the small emerging horn is usually prevented from growing by burning the tissue with a hot iron or a caustic chemical paste.
  • The public is not allowed into the milking parlour for hygienic reasons, and the presence of many strange people milling about is considered to be a stressor for cows.
  • The barn has concrete floors, which can cause lameness in cows over time
  • In Canada all dairy animals (alive or dead) are identified by the National Livestock Identification for Dairy (NLID) ear tags are required by Canadian law. Branding is not commonly practiced in the dairy industry.
  • Large fans keep air circulating in the two larger, high-ceilinged barns. The barns seem to be free of flying pests.
  • At the end of their production lives, the cows are picked up and sent directly to slaughter, after living only a fraction of their lifespan.
  • The youngest calves are housed in hutches in a separate barn – there are less than 10 tiny calves here today. The volunteers explain to the visitors that they must be removed from their mothers within 48 hours otherwise “the mother and baby will bond,” as if this is something that should be avoided at all costs. But the dairy industry has no use for a being who intends to drink the milk that they intend to use for profit.
  • The feed barn is set up to show visitors the various foodstuffs that go into feeding all the cows. Along with hay, corn silage, ground corn, extruded/pelleted feeds and mineral supplements, the feed is supplemented with powdered palm oil, which of course comes with its own separate issues with respect to habitat destruction. The calves are of course fed a milk substitute.
  • A mechanized system removes manure from most barns – like a giant windshield wiper, it channels manure and urine into a crevice in the floor, which is removed out to the manure holding tank via a system of conveyors. The floor is mostly free of manure – the slurry tank outside for storage is massive.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The Canadian Federal and Provincial Governments have ensured that milk remains institutionalized in the Canadian diet by introducing a wide range of programs of grants, loans and other funding options for Canadian Farmers and Agri-Business. Through this system of grants, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs offers millions to dairy and other agricultural producers, including the Canadian Dairy Commission’s Matching Investment Fund (MIF), which is a three-year, $6 million fund designed to encourage growth and innovation in the manufacture and use of Canadian dairy products and ingredients. In the last three years alone, the dairy/cattle industry has benefited from numerous grant programs that we all pay for, whether there is reasonable humane treatment of cows or not:

 

Twyla Francois Handle With CareOne doesn’t need to be operating on a “vegan agenda” to object to the government funding an industry in the name of public health though, especially when the health benefits of dairy products are debateable. It’s also infuriating to imagine that an industry such as Chilliwack Cattle Sales near Vancouver, which milks an astonishing 3,500 cows at its main premises, might directly or indirectly benefit from a grant to improve its image as the most notorious dairy farm in Canada.  All the milk moustaches in advertising history couldn’t compensate for the torture of helpless Holsteins by unskilled, teenaged workers who ran wild in CCS. Open houses such as those at Milky Wave and a few other farms aren’t the only way the livestock industry struggles to improve its image – Alberta Farm Animal Care committed $178,500 to help the industry overcome the “negative, inaccurate and falsified blows to animal agriculture.” The best way to prevent horrific truths from being seen by the public is to take steps to make sure that they don’t happen in the first place…

Milk has become knit into our dietary culture, particularly at breakfast, where we stubbornly adhere to the decades-old Twyla Francois Crushing Compassiontradition of drenching cereal in milk. Whether you believe that dairy is healthy or not, we have bought into false notions that milk is deserving of its own food group, overlooking its sugar (lactose), calories and cholesterol. And the fact that dairy has its own food group with milk having special status as a calcium source makes as much sense as sunflower seeds being a food group because they’re high in magnesium.

Despite some improvements in animal welfare, there remain many problems with dairy both from a nutritional standpoint and from an animal rights standpoint. Regardless of whether or not casein is carcinogenic or whether 60 year-olds with fragile bones can benefit by drinking milk, is it not time that adults weaned themselves off the fairytale version of farming and began to judge it by the standards by which we judge other industries?

Belts, Buckets, And Bridles – At The Claremont Horse Auction

Standard

horses in pens at Claremont

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In the countryside north of Toronto one is never too far from a livestock auction yard that sells horses. The horse auctions at these yards have changed little over the years, except perhaps to shrink a little as the way people shop for horses and tack continues to evolve. The Claremont auction is a small country auction in Kawartha Lakes, north-east of Toronto, where horses aren’t sold by the pound. I’ve been to this auction previously, but never with tack to sell – I was here to test the auction as a potential place to sell a few pricier bridles and bits, so I brought some show pads, boots, and a quarter sheet, all in great lightly used condition.

Tack sales are really just rummage sales for horse people, and a tack hoarder’s paradise. Stay for a while and you’ll see desperate people selling desperate things. There was the occasional item

This is the type of item you might regret not buying once you get home - if you can get past the "no questions asked" stipulation of the sale!

This is the type of item you might regret not buying once you get home – if you can get past the “no questions asked” stipulation of the sale!

held up that caused me to wonder, “What the hell is it? And before I could identify what it was, someone had bid on it. A lot of useless crap had been auctioned off before they even got to my stuff at the end, at which point people were fed up with the nearly 4 hours long tack auction that started 45 minutes later than advertised, and they were probably out of money. Even the auctioneer couldn’t summon much enthusiasm by the time he got to my stuff, holding up one of my Italian saddle pads half-heartedly. I only sold one saddle pad, and literally gave away a $50 quarter sheet, so I doubt that I’d return to try to sell anything else in future.

The auctioneer expressed serious disappointment in the bidding on the horses – half of the horses were “no-saled” since reserves were not met.  Today, I suppose it’s a hard lesson for the auction house – don’t take on more tack than can reasonably be sold in an hour or so. Horse prices were probably lower than normal and quite a few people had left hours ago. Only a couple of horses sold for decent amounts of money, and probably could have brought more under more favourable circumstances. Fortunately no kill buyers in sight, but horses that didn’t sell on this day might be one step closer to an auction like OLEX where the majority of horses are sold to kill buyers (current meat horse prices this week are hovering around $.70 per lb.).  With meat prices creeping higher it’s more challenging to set a reserve price on a horse that facilitates a sale yet discourages kill buyers from bidding.

This cute pony was a no-sale

This cute pony was a no-sale

All horses were clean, good weight, appeared to have been cared-for, no long hooves, cuts or abrasions, and were presented with clean tack where noted below. An auction determines the market value of a horse on any given day. Sometimes, a seller may have difficulty selling a horse, because it’s priced higher than the market will bear.

  • 2 paint yearlings, relatively unhandled, nervous, not halter broke – no sale
  • 14 year old gelding under saddle, rides, drives, quiet in the ring, appeared to be a draft cross – $1,150
  • 4 year old QH mare under saddle, nervous – no sale
  • 7 year old paint pony in hand, very flighty in ring, Mennonite origins, it was claimed that she was broke but auction staff declared that questionable – no sale
  • 14 year old gelding under saddle, QH/Arab cross, 4H and lesson horse, touted as an easy keeper, lives in/out, very nice good weight – $1,200
  • 12 year old Black Morgan gelding under saddle, 14.1, camp horse, lesson pony – no sale
  • 13 year old mare under saddle, also drives, quiet in ring, apparently owned by Mennonites – no sale
  • 14 year old pony, 11.2 WTC, jumps, lessons – no sale
  • 9 year old QH gelding under saddle, professionally trained, ground ties – $800
  • 15 year old 14.1 pony, WTC, jumps, camp horse, very resistant to going in ring – $375
  • 7 year old green broke, palomino mare in hand, nice weight and conformation – $650
  • 13 year old TB mare, never raced, hunter, jumps 3 foot – $500
  • 12 year old QH mare under saddle, described as being rideable by anyone, quiet and nice, good weight – high seller of the day – $2,000

When auctions drag on for hours it drives the price of all the items down. While there were some bargains to be had from tack store closures,  I was disappointed in the bidding on the quality items that were offered on this day.  A beautiful new and unused western saddle selling for about $3,000 retail only received offers of $300. At those prices it would be better to just display the saddle in your house or turn it into a very expensive bar stool. Yet lots of dried out crap indistinguishable from other lots of dried out crap were bid on a bit more aggressively.  At least 40 western saddles offered for sale today so there was very little variety. There were a couple of good lessons for me as well:

  • English show tack does not do well at western auctions

    Horses don’t sell themselves—people have to sell them.  This horse was the high seller of the day

    Horses don’t sell themselves—people have to sell them. This horse was the high seller of the day

  • If you have an item that you have been told has a certain value, don’t try to sell it at the equivalent of an equine garage sale.  Pawn stars come looking for bargains. They will be more interested in a box of busted halters and sinewy tie-downs from the civil war era even if they have to soak it for months in neatsfoot oil – they will not care about your lightly used Stubben bridle because they know you will have a reserve on it. If you really think you have something worth money, sell it on eBay.  There you will get something closer to fair market value
  • If you arrive at a tack auction and there’s enough tack to outfit every horse that served in the Boer War, you should probably turn around and come back on another day

Here’s one last point I think is very important.  When attending local auctions,  please keep an eye out for stolen horses.  I know that it’s virtually impossible to remember the physical details of the numerous missing horses on Net Posse and circulated through Facebook,  but if you have a smartphone,  it makes the job a little easier.  Eyes on the ground can help find horses.  Perhaps a good conversation to have with the auction staff is one where you ask them to post pictures from Net Posse to increase awareness.

When asking about this thin yearling in arena (not part of the sale), I was told that he was a camp horse. Seriously?

When asking about this thin yearling in arena (not part of the sale), I was told that he was a camp horse. Seriously?

 

 

 

Why Do Animal Abusers Hate The HSUS?

Standard

humanewatchWritten by:  John Doppler Schiff and reprinted with permission

The HSUS is under attack by animal abusing industries. These industries claim the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States)  is inefficient, ineffective, and incompetent.

But if this was true, why would animal abusers spend tens of millions of dollars annually on dishonest smear campaigns to attack the HSUS?  If the HSUS was truly ineffective, wouldn’t animal abusers be perfectly happy to have such an incompetent opponent?

The truth is that the HSUS is the nation’s largest and most effective animal welfare organization, with a staggeringly long list of accomplishments — and animal abusers are terrified of what they’ve accomplished on behalf of the animals.

Here’s a small, incomplete sampling of what the HSUS does:

 

  • HSUS donated $3000 to the first non-lethal deer population management program in Virginia.
  • HSUS played a pivotal role in securing the defunding of horse slaughter for 2014.
  • HSUS exposed Kenneth Schroeder, a “random source” dealer selling dogs to laboratories for cruel experiements.  Schroeder’s license was subsequently revoked by the USDA.
  • Two endangered tortoises were rescued and rehomed by the HSUS.
  • Cheesecake Factory commenced the phase-out of gestation crates from its suppliers.
  • Humane Society of Charlotte and the HSUS teamed up to rescue 23 dogs from a North Carolina puppy mill.
  • Glee star Lea Michele and the HSUS ask NY legislature to regulate puppy mills more aggressively.  In January of 2014, Gov. Cuomo signs the bill into law.
  • An HSUS investigation exposed 116 Horse Protection Act citations assessed against the board of Tennessee’s Walking Horse Trainers Association.
  • HSUS filed a formal complaint with the USDA demanding enforcement action against more than 50 commercial dog breeders operating illegally.
  • Aubrey Organics joined the HSUS’ Be Cruelty Free campaign to end animal testing for cosmetics.
  • Safeway pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • HSUS launched a successful PSA campaign urging citizens to report animal abuse.
  • HSUS provided the USDA with evidence of AWA violations by a research facility in Georgia, culminating in a $26,000 fine.
  • HSUS investigation exposed disease, neglect, and cruelty at unregulated flea markets.
  • Business Ethics Network bestowed two awards on the HSUS for its campaign to reform factory farm cruelty.
  • HSUS successfully presented testimony to prevent the return of a puppy to the pet store owner who abused him.
  • HSUS’ Duchess Sanctuary completed construction on a new hospital barn.
  • HSUS reports exposed inhumane and unsafe conditions in three Maryland roadside zoos exhibiting dangerous exotic animals.
  • Binghamton University joined the Meatless Monday campaign, with great success.
  • HSUS warned consumers about falsely labeled “faux fur” garments containing rabbit fur, sold at Kohl’s.
  • Infamous Chino slaughterhouse and Westland Meat Packing Co. slapped with $155,684,827.00 judgment — the largest animal cruelty penalty ever assessed — following HSUS investigation that revealed abuse of downer cattle at the facility.
  • 40 dogs and 75 cats, miniature ponies, rabbits, and chickens rescued from NC pet mill.
  • HSUS and Red Barn launch a leash and collar drive for pet owners in underserved communities.
  • HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue filed suits to block horse slaughter plants from opening.
  • 31 dogs seized from dogfighting operations in Alabama thanks to a joint effort between law enforcement, HSUS, and local humane societies.
  • Cracker Barrel shareholders voted to support the HSUS proposal to eliminate gestation crates from the company’s supply chain.
  • Papa John’s pledged to eliminate gestation crates from its supply chain.
  • Prop 204 passed in Arizona, eliminating veal and gestation crates.
  • Prop 2 passed in CA, ensuring that poultry will not suffer in cages smaller than a sheet of letter sized paper their entire lives.
  • 200 pit bulls rescued from the largest recorded dog fighting ring.
  • 43 horses rescued from neglect in Lindale, TX.
  • $600,000 grant from HSUS used to build a shelter in Jackson, LA.
  • Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 recriminalized crush videos.
  • 5,700 fighting dogs and roosters rescued from animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • Over forty emergency deployments for large-scale rescue of animals in 2009.
  • More than 10,000 animals rescued in emergency deployments in 2009.
  • 1800 tortoises saved from being buried alive in Florida construction.
  • 1.8 million cows in California will NOT have their tails cruelly amputated without anesthetic this year thanks to the HSUS.bullshit
  • 3,000+ puppies rescued from mass breeding facilities in 2009.
  • 461 more pet stores agree to not sell puppy mill dogs in 2009.
  • 50th reward paid for information leading to the arrest of animal fighting rings in 2009.
  • 14 laws to protect wildlife passed in 2009.
  • Cockfighting now illegal in all 50 states.
  • 150+ retailers and fashion designers have agreed to go fur-free.
  • Criminal abuse of cows at Conklin Dairy exposed and stopped.
  • Chino slaughterhouse putting dying “downer” cattle into schools’ food supply, exposed and stopped.
  • 8,057 animals treated for free in under-served areas in 2009.
  • 4,300 homeowners advised on the humane removal of wildlife in 2009.
  • 23,000+ low-cost spay and neuter surgeries in the Gulf Coast in 2009.
  • 120 cats rescued from a hoarder in Tennessee in 2010.
  • 40,000+ pets spayed and a quarter million dollars raised for spay/neuter programs during Spay Day 2009.
  • 90 dogs rescued from a New Jersey puppy mill in 2010.
  • 89 state laws protecting pets passed in 2009.
  • HSUS sends relief personnel to Haiti for disaster assistance in 2009.
  • 1300 animals have found refuge in HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch.
  • Maine phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • Michigan phasing out cruel intensive confinement systems.
  • 49 starving horses rescued in West Virginia in 2010.
  • 8,320 animals treated by HSUS veterinarians in 2010.
  • Kraft switched one million eggs to cage-free.
  • Hellman’s adopted cage-free eggs.
  • Subway phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Carnival Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines phasing in cage-free eggs.
  • Ohio’s agriculture industry agreed to phase out veal crates and gestation crates by 2015.
  • HSUS transported 100+ dogs from overwhelmed Gulf Coast shelters to NJ and DC.
  • HSUS holds Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales accountable for mislabeling fur garments.
  • 2000 pet rats rescued from a hoarder in Southern California.
  • Truth in Fur Labeling Act signed into law.
  • HSUS information leads to seizure of 100 roosters from a cockfight ring in Dallas, TX.
  • Undercover video reveals horrific conditions at Smithfield Farms.
  • HSUS distributes 30+ grants to equine rescues as part of American Competitive Trail Horse Association’s fundraiser.
  • HSUS exposes Neiman Marcus sale of dog fur labeled as “raccoon”.
  • D.C. Superior Court rules that Neiman Marcus violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act by falsely labeling fur garments.
  • Pepsi fans overwhelmingly vote to award HSUS a $250,000 grant to provide veterinary assistance to animals in underserved communities.
  • After years of friction, the USDA agrees to appoint an ombudsman and improve oversight of the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.
  • 1,000th pet store joins HSUS’ Puppy Friendly Pet Store campaign, agreeing not to sell puppies.
  • HSUS exposes sale of dog fur labeled as “fake fur” at Barney’s, in NY.
  • Shark Conservation Act signed into law, prohibiting fishermen from cutting the fins off sharks and throwing them back into the water to die horribly.
  • Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman adopts cage-free egg policy.
  • Federal Court of Appeals upholds an HSUS request to stop the slaughter of sea lions at Bonneville Dam on the Oregon/Washington border.
  • HSUS exposes inhumane conditions at Willmar Poultry Company, the nation’s largest turkey hatchery.
  • HSUS and Multnomah County Animal Services provide 40 animal crates to the American Red Cross’ Emergency Warming Center in Portland, OR.
  • HSUS rescues 2500 rats as part of a hoarder intervention in San Jose, CA.  The rescue was featured on Season Three of A&E’s documentary, “Hoarders”.
  • On behalf of the Human Toxicology Project Consortium, HSUS coordinates a national symposium on modernizing the testing of chemicals in laboratories and reducing the role of animal testing.
  • HSUS town hall in Lincoln, NE opens meaningful discussion of agricultural issues with Nebraska farmers.
  • Wheaton, IL adopts non-lethal coyote deterrents instead of trapping and killing.
  • HSUS investigation of Bushway Packing leads to conviction on charges of animal cruelty.
  • 550 prairie dogs resettled, rescued from poisoning in Thunder Basin, WY.
  • 14 turkeys find sanctuary at HSUS’ Black Beauty Ranch in TX.
  • BermansVerminPhotographer Robbie Bellon photographs 25 adopted and rescued dogs of 25 celebrities to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, WI switches to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS and the Kislak Family Fund present a $25,000 grant to the Florida College of Veterinary Medicine for a program to benefit injured and ill shelter animals.
  • HSUS and Ellen Degeneres celebrate and raise awareness of shelters with the annual Shelter Appreciation Week, held the first week of each November.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center expands with the addition of a new animal hospital for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Prop 109, an anti-animal, anti-voter initiative, is defeated in Arizona.
  • Fred Meyer Jewelers creates the Pawsitively Yours line of jewelry to benefit the HSUS’ Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
  • HSUS grants help Second Chance Animal Shelter of Brookfield, MA finish renovations after thieves steal building materials.
  • HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center releases a harrier back into the wild after 8 weeks of care and rehabilitation.
  • The Coats for Cubs program repurposes old fur coats to aid and comfort wildlife.
  • Wal-Mart’s private label eggs are now cage-free.
  • HSUS helps persuade Sara Lee to switch to cage-free eggs.
  • Orphaned raccoons raised and rehabilitated by HSUS’ Cape Wildlife Center are released into the wild.
  • Medford, OR bakery, Harry & David, joins the growing cage-free movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes the Greenspring Wildlife Sanctuary, a permanent,  protected, 154-acre wildlife habitat in Ashland, OR.
  • Minnesota cat killer’s felony conviction on animal cruelty is upheld in State of Minnesota v. Ajalon Thomas Corcoran.
  • Virgin America airlines switch to cage-free eggs.
  • HSUS exposes the worst puppy mills in the “Missouri Dirty Dozen” report.
  • HSUS teams up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, donating forensic investigation equipment to crack down on poaching.
  • Valley Hospital of Ridgewood, NJ joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Union Hospital of Cecil County, MD joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH joins the national cage-free egg movement.
  • Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust establishes a 30-acre permanent wildlife habitat, the Ogden Wildlife Sanctuary, in Leon County, TX.
  • Pennsylvania joins the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a nationwide law enforcement network of 36 states to prevent criminal poachers from hunting in other states.
  • Pennsylvania signs HSUS-supported HB1859 into law, introducing felony penalties for poachers who are repeat offenders.
  • HSUS transports 10 pit bulls rescued from Ohio fighting rings to the Washington Animal Rescue League.
  • Barilla becomes the first pasta manufacturer to join the cage-free egg movement, switching 45% of its supply to cage-free in 2011.
  • HSUS investigates and exposes bear baiting in South Carolina, the only state to tolerate this cruelty.
  • Thanks to the efforts of HSUS, Animal Protection of New Mexico, Jane Goodall, Gov. Bill Richardson, and more, 186 chimpanzees were saved from further invasive medical testing in New Mexico.
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission votes unanimously to ban fox penning.
  • HSUS rescued more than 90 dogs from a Montana hoarder.
  • HSUS assisted in the rescue of 118 dogs from a breeder in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
  • On behalf of local residents, HSUS took legal action against the Olivera Egg Ranch for noxious pollution emanating from that factory farm.
  • HSUS and Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue took custody of 17 horses formerly destined for slaughter.
  • HSVMA launched a petition urging Congress to phase out the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
  • Loyola Marymount University switched all eggs on campus to cage-free eggs
  • 36 Pet Food Express stores took the “Puppy Friendly Pet Store” pledge.
  • HSUS rescues 170 cats rescued from hoarders in Powell, WY; no reimbursement is requested for the capture, processing, treatment, and transport of the cats.

And that’s just a drop in the bucket.

Don’t fall for misinformation from the ignorant and the cruel.  

Get the facts from a reputable source.

cheering_minions

 

To Market, To Market…..

Standard

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme

peaceable-kingdom-edward-hicks

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.

On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.

Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills,  which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
When the Cows Come HomeWe think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses,  many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.

Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.

While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.

What the Tourists See…

 

The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone

 

 

And a Happy Resolution for Two OLEX Mares…

Sold to a kill buyer,  they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine).  There are no words to describe groups like NYNE,  who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense,  but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit.  Nevertheless,  these two mares,  bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August,  are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece.  Finally,  an update was posted on Facebook advising that they have evaded slaughter and were placed into a new home.

 

 

Not Your Neighbourhood Pet Store – the “Odd and Unusual” Exotic Animal Auction

Standard
Zebra at OLEX

Photo credit – http://www.weanimals.org/ – We Animals – Jo-Anne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

On Saturday May 3rd I attended my first exotic animal auction – The “Odd and Unusual” event run by Tiger Paw Exotics and its owner Tim Height from Arthur, Ontario. Height is the Canadian and less flash version of the US’s Joe Exotic – he sells animals to private collectors and provides creatures for film and TV productions.  The auction is not widely publicized and is certainly not found on the Tiger Paw website itself.  Obviously,  they don’t want to attract the wrong sort of people – people like me and a group of others attending the auction at the same time who will document the conditions of the animals and try to do something about it.

I’m somewhat late as usual, and when I arrive, the auction is just beginning with saddles and other animal-related products being offered at the Orangeville fairgrounds. The auction used to be held at OLEX – Ontario Livestock Exchange in St. Jacobs, Ontario, but Tiger Paw and Height were allegedly asked not to return after complaints from residents.

baby pygmy goatThe signs indoors prohibit alcohol and photography. Of course photography is not permitted because the state of the pens and the condition of many of the animals is sad or even disgusting in some cases. They know that OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs – has jurisdiction over farm animal (but not exotic) animal auctions) and animal activists are present in droves and they want what happens in Orangeville to stay in Orangeville and not end up on YouTube.

I know there are other people here like me (activists) because I see sympathetic-looking women looking intently at the animals, or taking notes on pads of paper. Like my friends and I, they don’t fit in either – their hair is not dishevelled, there’s no Virginia Slims 120 dangling from their lips, nor are they missing half their teeth. Sometimes we make eye contact and they look knowingly at me and me back at them.

It also seems odd that you’d have to put a sign up to advise event-goers that they should refrain from drinking alcohol, until you realize that the crowd is a mix of trucker and cowboy hats, NASCAR jackets, and the requisite mullets, whose owners appear to be on their way to a cosplay event. The parking lot featured an assortment of barely roadworthy trailers, some almost completely rusted through in parts, or with missing floor boards. A couple were deathtraps you wouldn’t touch without a tetanus shot. There are a small number of Mennonites here too. A few parents brought their children to fawn over the animals, oblivious to the care issues that stand out.

Fortunately, there are no exotic carnivores here today, probably not a good idea considering the amount of prey animals in attendance. The smaller animals such as macaws, snakes, finches, geese, rabbits, and a peacock are housed in a room separate from the farm animals and other exotic ungulates such as Przewalski’s horses and zebras. With a few exceptions, most animals are not nearly as odd or unusual as their owners or event attendees – we see a baby bison, some highland cattle, goats and sheep, lots of mini horses, standard and mammoth donkeys and a few camels – mostly the type of animal you might see at a petting zoo.

Few if any of these animals belonged to Height himself and were offered on consignment – after being here only a few minutes it becomes apparent that there are vastly different standards of care seen auction trailerhere – from clean animals in good flesh to thin animals with horrid hooves and manure-caked long coats. I didn’t know what to expect, and was quite unprepared for the inconsiderate, and, in some instances, abusive handling and housing of animals I saw in the holding areas.

Even the clean animals were still observed to be handled roughly – pulled by twine “halters” while they occasionally trembled in fear and steadfastly refused to go forward.  In most pens there was no food or just remnants of hay, and I saw no water at all for any animal. The stalls for the zebras and Przewalski’s horses were filthy – it’s hard to believe they would have arrived in the morning that same day.

Both groups of equines seemed wary or completely over the idea of people coming to look at them. A mammoth donkey is presented for auction with a twoonie-sized raw sore on her tail. The camels are outfitted with halters several sizes too small, restricting their ability to chew and leaving embedded marks on their heads and noses. Several animals, particularly the mammoth donkeys, have long, chipped hooves or “elf boots.” And the hyacinthe macaw, protected by CITES against over-exploitation through international trade, has plucked out all his body feathers, a behaviour often taken to be caused by anything ranging from confinement neurosis to skin infections, hormone imbalances, and wasting disease. Plucking is virtually unknown in the wild bird population, and no other pet practices the self-destruction parrots do. Some have compared plucking to trichotillomania, the obsessive compulsive human disorder of hair pulling. Birds observed in the wild spend 50 percent of their waking time finding food, 25 percent interacting with their flock, and 25 percent preening. We put them in cages where they have no flock or social structure and put a bowl of food in front of them and wonder why some are neurotic. In any event, the macaw is really not suitable for sale or even display, and a disagreement erupts when a concerned bystander asks that the bird’s cage be covered with cardboard to prevent an excess of gawkers.  Tim Height himself is there and reluctantly complies. When it is suggested that the bird might be underweight, a helpful woman offers that there is “enough meat on him to eat.”

bald Hyacinth macawThere are few opportunities to take pictures surreptitiously. A “security” detail follows various people who have taken pictures or complained about the condition of some of the animals. Of all the farm animals, I notice a trio of alpacas and mini horses are the only really clean looking animals. You’d think that people would at least run a curry comb through their animals knowing they were going to present them for sale? Another group of donkeys and ponies are filthy – caked in manure and urine. You can only wonder what their living conditions are like. Some baby animals are here, too young to be separated from their dams, and will be unable to nurse if sold without them. Several babies are in pens with male animals while their dams are nowhere to be seen. You don’t need any experience bottle feeding a zebra or any other animal here, just enough cash to buy the animal. I suspect a lot of these people learn to care for animals by trial and error, and there are no questions asked of the prospective purchasers.

The event organizers obviously see no problem with the deplorable practice of accepting unweaned baby animals for sale. We see a pygmy goat baby who would still be nursing. He is not ambulatory, camped out and appearing to strain. He occasionally falls down. His eyes exude a purulent yellow-ish discharge, and he continually sneezes. The adult male goats in his pen are not very tolerant of the little fellow. The OMAFRA rep who is onsite declares it illegal for the owner to have transported him in this condition – non-ambulatory animals cannot be transported according to Health of Animals regulations and other regulations, although I’m sure there will be no penalties for the owner. So a rescue attempt is made and a veterinarian is called to assess him. Dr. Mallu Postens arrives and declares he may have a blockage and is unfit for sale. She administers sub-cutaneous fluids and he appears to revive somewhat – and why not? If he is still nursing no wonder he became dehydrated without anything to drink. I wish I could tell readers that he was rescued but I don’t precisely know what happened to him………

In 2010, an Ontario man was mauled to death by his pet tiger—the same animal that had attacked a ten-year-old boy several years before. A few years ago, a woman near 100 Mile House, British Columbia, was killed by her fiancé’s Siberian tiger. Even though these animals were not present today,  this auction still contributes to the Canadian illicit animal trade. So do some roadside zoos in Ontario, who also sell exotic animals to private collectors.  Overheard at the event was someone claiming to have bought a tiger from the Northwood Zoo in Seagrave, Ontario.

Animals who do survive long enough to be sold here are often subject to inadequate care afterwards, because caretakers are often unprepared or unable to provide for the needs of animals who are so far removed from their natural

These are the most basic of animal requirements,  and it's clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

These are the most basic of animal requirements, and it’s clear that the owner of the baby pygmy goat is in violation.

habitats. Many exotic animals will likely die or be abandoned by their caretakers.  Zebras in particular are especially ornery and difficult to tame and will often fight viciously with other zebras.

The province of Ontario doesn’t require licensing to keep dangerous exotic pets. Ontario does not have province-wide regulations; instead, there is a confusing hodgepodge of municipal rules that allow monkeys in some jurisdictions while forbidding tigers in others. You could live next door to a person keeping lions in his backyard and not even know it. Toronto has banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores but we can still sell exotics north of the city. And you still need a license for a dog and maybe even a cat.

There appear to be no health guarantees offered for any of the animals either. What guarantees are there about vaccinations or zoonotic diseases? Salmonellosis, B-virus, and tuberculosis are three of the most dangerous pathogens that can be transmitted to humans from reptiles, monkeys, and cattle. If some of these animals have obviously not seen a farrier in months, can they be confidently ruled-out as vectors for disease? If all this is not yet completely off-putting, consider that next to the display of exotic animals (and just outside the washrooms) is the presence of a food concession stand . And not a bottle of hand sanitizer in sight!

Word has it that there is another exotic event to be held here in November . Assuming that the town doesn’t rise up against these types of events, I’ll have to remember to black out some of my teeth so as not to stand out too much at my next visit.

 

Open Letter to Ontario Farm And Food Care (And Their “Security Squad”)

Standard

whistleblower5

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

According to the Toronto Sun, Ontario farmers have developed a “security squad” against animal activists.  The paper reports that farmers are monitoring activities online and calling out this squad on a moment’s notice when activists appear on farms or meetings.  The Sun goes on to report that:

“Kristen Kelderman of Farm & Food Care says the Guelph, Ont.-based non-profit works “behind the scenes” to see what activists are planning and to prepare for a response.

Farm & Food Care has a hotline farmers can use to call in the emergency squad.”

whistleblower2The Farm and Food Care newsletter and website, which has curiously been down all day at the time of writing, also expressed concern about ATI requests (Access to Information) that were being received and processed by the government as it concerned information about farming practices.  Your organization also recommends that farmers record license numbers of vehicles on the street near their farms, which smacks of DEFCON-5 level conspiracist thinking.  Would I be a conspiracist if I thought that your newsletter was taken down to scrub it free of incriminating information about dealing with the OSPCA and the Access to Information enquiries?

First off,  please be reminded that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in Canada’s constitution, guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly in section 2(c)  If you truly had a security problem, wouldn’t your organization be better off calling the police rather than some nebulous team you’ve assembled?  To me, that suggests that what you’re encountering isn’t illegal activity at all, but instead activity that you would somehow like your “security squad” to intimidate and suppress.

Cases of animal abuse are widespread and well-documented and they are not isolated incidents. Any time someone turns on the video camera, they can find abuse because it is standard industry practice–and for a very good reason.  Abusive practices enable farmers to control profit margins. The more animals are crammed into smaller spaces, moved quicker through assembly lines, and treated as commodities instead of the sentient animals they are, the more money to be made. Thanks to activists, we now know that grinding live chicks up in a wood-chipper-machine or suffocating chicks in plastic bags is standard practice, as is grinding up piglets and back-feeding them to other pigs.  This practice,  when it happened with cow feed,  caused the 2003 Bovine spongiform encephalopathy crisis when governments failed to regulate heat-treating in feed plants to ensure it was sufficient to denature prions,  which carry the disease between individuals and cause deterioration of the brain.

ego-eco Christian conservative Matthew Scully, deputy director of presidential speech writing for George W. Bush, had this to say in his book Dominion. “...the persistent animal-welfare questions of our day center on institutional cruelties—on the vast and systematic mistreatment of animals that most of us never see.” When conservatives like Scully begin writing books about the cruelty, you know something is seriously wrong. The right-wing is not usually willing to denounce lucrative business practices even when they entail gross abuse of animals or the environment.

If you are a farmer, agricultural industry manager or worker, do you feel good about everything you do? Are you being honest with everyone about your operations? Most activists are simply advocating for humane farming practices – that animals should not be forced to live in torment.  Those who wish to expose those practices are not terrorists. If jamming pregnant female animals into crates so tight that they can’t lie down or turn around for months is such a delightfully ethical practice, why aren’t tours being arranged for school kids? Why not show them chicks being tossed into the wood chipper? Let the poor harassed farmers shine a light onto their humane farms! Because they have nothing to hide…..right?  If your membership has nothing to hide, why are they instructed to contact your organization if they become aware of an ATI (Access to Information Request) for their industry?

I do not respect your attempts to try and criminalize activism. Please respect the right of thoughtful citizens to express what they see as a moral outrage. Animal abuse videos have mobilized a movement towards Martin Luther Kingimproving the quality of life of pigs, chickens, and cows. Frequently, “abuse” is a product of farmers feeling rushed or cutting corners.  I resent the comments sometimes made by far right groups that these videos are edited or compile days of footage distilled down to a few short minutes of cruelty.   This is like saying “we didn’t mistreat any animals for the other 23 hours and 57 minutes, so the 3 minutes we did doesn’t count.”

In the absence of the animal welfare movement, there is an obvious race to the bottom. Battery cages and gestation crates are a classic example of this, while the quality of life of a chicken or pig in a bigger more enriched cage is improved, farmers or agribusiness won’t make these investments unless there exists political pressure. This political pressure comes from us activists.

Please don’t give your membership advice on how to support animal cruelty.  Most of the activists I know personally are a bunch of mainstream, milquetoast environmentalists and animal lovers who are about as “dangerous” as the Rotary Club.  I don’t know anyone who personally protests at farms, but as long as they stay on public property, they have a right to be there.  You don’t have any problem “infiltrating” our meetings, and following our activity online, but you have a little problem with a quid pro quo?  Seems rather hypocritical to me.

Oh yeah, always remember to be on the alert for suspicious compassionate people. You never know when one will sneak up and hug you.

 Food-Labels-Organic-and-Natural

Full Monty or Foolhardy?

Standard

larry_the_cable_guy_health_inspector_xlgWritten By:  Heather Clemenceau

First of all, let me give a hat tip to Denise, for finding this article.  You gotta wonder what kind of Google Alerts she has set up for this……

It seems that a CFIA inspector-by-day has become the “superman of community theatre” by night, working in the St. Jacobs community near Waterloo Ontario.  Graham Duench is a CFIA inspector who enjoys community theatre not for the money,  but for the passion.  Fair enough.  To add to that passion, he’s about to reveal a whole new side of himself that, until now,  has remained buried under his strict devotion to justice for animals and duty to maintaining the high standards of the Canadian agriculture industry.

Graham is about to add “stripper” to his resumé. He won’t however, reveal exactly how exposed he’s going to be in the upcoming K-W Musical Productions’ The Full Monty — The Musical, which opens at St. Jacobs Country Playhouse on February 13, 2014,  running through to the 22nd.

The Full Monty — The Musical is based on the 1997 British film The Full Monty, where the protagonist and his misfit buddies decide the only way to make some quick money is stage a Chippendale’s type male strip show.

Talk about moonlighting. I realize that it’s not like he’s moonlighting as a male escort or entertaining at bachelorette parties, but you’ve got to wonder why someone who has a “professional” position with the government would want to risk that by taking on an evening job with nudity and lots of sexual innuendo.

It’s not exactly Masterpiece Theatre.Donna+Summer+-+Hot+Stuff+-+Red+Vinyl+-+12'+RECORD_MAXI+SINGLE-26348

Ironically, the playhouse is about 7km down the street from the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX),  where from time to time,  CFIA inspectors can be found measuring the height of trailers over a horse’s withers,  and checking to see whether kill buyers have loaded their trailers with shod horses.  But more often than not, horses get transported in double-decker trailers under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s nose and with their blessing.

But the potential for conflict of interest gets interesting.

Mercedes Corp., is a property management company that developed a number of tourism attractions in the village of St. Jacobs,  including the playhouse. The company also owns the St. Jacobs Farmers Market, Waterlive showloo Farmers Market, The  Ontario Livestock Exchange and St. Jacobs stockyards as well as seven other rental and retail properties in the village. That’s right – the same firm that owns the playhouse where Graham Duench is performing (albeit short term) also owns the very places that the CFIA is inspecting for compliance under the Health of Animals Regulations  The same places that Animals’ Angels has also inspected in the past and found issues not only with OLEX but other Ontario auctions under the jurisdiction of the CFIA – problems that seem obvious to everyone except the people employed at the auctions.

Mercedes Corp. also owns retirement homes in the region and several other towns.  Seriously, who the hell in their right mind would want to retire or place a family member at a facility that also owns livestock markets that supply slaughterhouses? The gross-out factor is just unavoidable.

I’m not sure that anything embarrasses the CFIA anymore.  Certainly,  it doesn’t seem to faze them when they’re caught “pants down” in a bare-faced lie.  I’m wondering if we’re approaching the wrong people at the CFIA?  Maybe we’d get better results if we paid $35 bucks to get a seat at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, and then rolled out a large protest sign requesting CFIA response to our outstanding issues?