Category Archives: Horses

No Charges Laid In NOTL Carriage Horse Accident – February 23, 2019

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No Charges Laid In NOTL Carriage Horse Accident – February 23, 2019

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

According to a General Occurrence Report by Niagara Regional Police, no charges were filed following the carriage horse accident at King and Picton that resulted when the horse, “Ethan,” spooked and the carriage he was put to subsequently collided with a parked 2017 Lexus RX5. According to the police report, obtained by FOIA request,  there are two explanations for what happened, one provided by a witness, who claimed that a second carriage pulled out and clipped Ethan’s carriage, startling him, while the second explanation was provided by the carriage owner, who claimed the accident occurred when “the shaft to the carriage broke off.”

“The horse then went diagonally toward the median on King Street hitting the curb and the horse then bucked its hind legs 3-4 times. The horse then turned 90 degrees and went directly toward the front of the Prince of Wales Hotel (on Picton Street) where the carriage struck a parked (unoccupied) vehicle in the valet stand area.  The driver of the carriage fell off the carriage and the horse came to rest and sat on the ground adjacent to the struck vehicle.” ~ FOIA Report

Insofar as the two explanations are concerned,  both show that it is not necessary for a third party vehicle to be involved as a cause for a

Ethan, in a photo credited to Richard Harley/Niagara Now

carriage horse accident.  It’s often claimed by supporters of the carriage trade in NOTL that “drivers need to respect carriages,” and that perhaps “cars should be prevented from driving in the tourist areas of NOTL,”  as if cars are the sole reason for a carriage accident.  It is the law that cars must respect horse carriages of course, but this incident shows that a horse and carriage can get into an accident without any other influential factors, unless you consider a parked car a factor in the accident.

I don’t know which of the two explanations for the cause of the spooking is the more accurate one (perhaps an element of truth to both – clipping one carriage *could* damage the shaft on the other).  It’s ironic that two carriages operated by the same company may have had a small altercation causing a huge explosion in the horse (bucking and bolting),  or that one of the two shafts on the carriage spontaneously broke off for no apparent reason,  as per the police report.  By either official explanation,  there appears to be no cause to blame anyone else other than the owner/operator for this accident that left one driver injured and Ethan sitting stunned on the lawn next to the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Original FOIA Documents Below:

 

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New Technology May Enable Detection of Transport Injuries In Slaughter Bound Horses

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

A new study, published January in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, has found that digital thermography can be used in the detection of ante-mortem injuries sustained by horses en route to slaughter.  While digital thermography (DT) itself is not a “new” technology, (it has been previously used in the detection of lameness in horses); the authors of the study used DT to assess bruising by identifying areas of the body where there were elevated skin temperatures (consistent with non-visible injuries).  The high predictive rates for detecting unseen injuries means that CFIA inspectors or other welfare assessors could use DT as a diagnostic tool to identify injured horses up arrival at slaughterhouses.  The obvious relevance of DT here is that it could be used to assign responsibility for transportation injuries to the appropriate offenders – not just for horses,  but for other species of animals transported to slaughter as well.

Full text of the study found here.

2019 Roy, Riley, Stryhn, Dohoo and Cockram – Department of Health Management, Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, PE., Canada, and the School of Veterinary Sciences, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

“The transport of horses for slaughter and related management practices may cause externally visible and non-visible injuries due to trauma including fractures, swelling, excoriations, and bruising. The welfare assessments of livestock undertaken following transport to slaughter plants include visual/clinical evaluations by plant personnel or official inspectors. However, horses may have non-visible injuries unrecognized until post-mortem carcass examination. The lack of suitable methods to identify bruised horses ante-mortem limits the ability to differentiate injuries occurring during transport, from those that occur at the slaughter plant itself. It is important to determine which stage of the process is responsible for bruising, so that appropriately directed measures are taken to reduce this risk. Reliable and objective tools to detect non-visible injuries in horses following transport could empower regulatory authorities and plant operators to improve animal transport welfare.

Digital thermography (DT) is a non-invasive imaging technique that records superficial infrared emission patterns. When tissue is damaged, localized hypo- or hyper-perfusion due to vascular injury and inflammation occurs that may be detectable by DT. In horses, DT has been used to detect musculoskeletal and neuromuscular injuries, and to monitor skin lesions. It also has been used for the ante mortem and post mortem detection of blunt force trauma in humans. The authors hypothesized that a qualitative methodology using DT imaging implemented at slaughter plants may identify horses with bruising ante-mortem after transport. The objective of this study was to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of DT images as a diagnostic test for detecting bruising ante-mortem when compared to post-mortem visual examination of carcasses.”

 

Ante-mortem digital thermography images provided as supplementary materials in the study. Lack of symmetry between the right and left side of the horse suggests “hot spot” in second image is transport bruising.

Far too often we have seen the devastating, often fatal, effects of horses transported to slaughter plants in Canada with few individuals ever held accountable.  While we collectively work to get horse slaughter shut down, digital thermography is one tool that we can insist the CFIA implement in order to improve welfare.  Violators who are found to consistently deliver loads of horses with soft tissue injuries should be assessed the same administrative monetary penalties that the CFIA already applies in the case of non-compliance with the Health of Animals Act (HAA) and Health of Animals Regulations (HAR).

Some Talk, All Action – Commercial Carriage Protests in #NOTL

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The peaceful protest, Operation Rolling Thunder, took place on December 16th in the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake, to protest the commercial horse carriage industry.

Written By:  Heather Clemenceau

Photography: Me

Horse carriages delay traffic which cannot easily or safely pass, and on occasion, they are involved in motor vehicle accidents (carriages themselves are considered vehicles within the Highway Traffic Act).
Drivers often don’t understand that they need clear sight lines for hundreds of feet in order to safely pass a horse and carriage.

Most people who oppose urban carriages are used to being told that they have “limited horse knowledge” or that they don’t live in the country or work with horses, and therefore have no right to render an opinion. But much of the propaganda being churned out in favour of the commercial carriage industry takes the form of attesting to the carriage horses’ overall “happiness” and wonderful working conditions, and this is something we can all fact-check.

The insistence that “horses love to have jobs” is an oft-repeated statement in the carriage trade;  I’ve heard it uttered many times in defence of working horses for 8-12 hour days.  It’s derivative of the old “christian work ethic,” which every true believer is supposed to apply in the realm of their employment – everyone should work to support themselves and idleness is to be abhorred.  For horses and those individuals who used horses for their labour, it would be rare to find evidence of real friendship, because the primary relationship to the horse with an actual job was usually exploitative. It is more accurate to say that horses, because of their compliant nature towards humans, do not actively show aversion to the many things humans ask them to do.  They may like interaction with humans very much, but there’s no indication that they “love having jobs.”

According to carriage operators, protests are both “good for business,” yet simultaneously frustrating for carriage operators – https://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/8708125-sentineal-carriages-owner-frustrated-by-notl-protests/

A publication by European equitation scientists suggested that, when given the choice, horses prefer not to work at all; in fact, it appears that they’d rather be back in their resting place with their food and equine pals. It’s not a big stretch of the imagination to assume that horses might prefer not to have to be bitted for long periods of time either.  Some equestrians have found that feeding horses with bits in their mouths may also be a choking hazard, but the bridle, and therefore the bit, can’t be removed from horses while they are put to carriages for safety reasons.

When we keep horses engaged in work or put to a carriage for as long as 8-12 hours, whether we think they like it or not, we overcome horses’ innate responses and thus ignore their behavioural preferences. We need always to bear in mind that its the “tractability” of draft horses in particular that makes them easygoing animals, but that characteristic also makes them vulnerable.

Other people feel that the carriages themselves are at odds with the traffic in an urban environment – which has resulted in sharp, civic discontent in the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake.  Horses and cars do not mix well wherever you find them and if there is a collision it is always the horse (and passengers) who will be worse off for it.  Most carriage companies typically represent their industry as accident-free or low risk, but even in a quaint town like NOTL that isn’t the case.

Yes, there was a carriage accident in NOTL.

Click to open PDF document

It was reported to the Niagara Regional Police and requested by FOIA. According to the NRP, the horse appears to have been thankfully unhurt. For understandable privacy reasons, the report does not identify any individuals or circumstances of the accident, or whether any charges were laid. The dates in my original FOIA (2014 – 2018 – provide only a 5 year “snapshot” in a 30 year history of carriages in the town), did not cover the exact date of the accident, but my contact at NRP helpfully provided that one was on record in 2013.  The incident demonstrates that even with the slow pace in the quaint town of NOTL, accidents with carriages will still occur.

 

The 10 Commandments of Riding for Roy Moore

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When do the other 3 horsemen arrive?

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

A few days ago, alleged pedophile, bigot, and misogynist Roy Moore rode his horse, Sassy, to the Alabama Senate polling station and got roasted extra crispy by the internets for his poor riding ability and silly Gunsmoke cosplay.

The “10 Commandments” judge loves traditions from the 1800s, including slavery and child brides, so it’s fitting that we present him with a set of commandments that he should adhere to when considering torturing riding horses in future.

Roy Moore’s 10 Commandments for Riding Horses

  1. Thou shalt not sit like a lumpy sack of potatoes despite having a gaited

    All hat, no cattle

    horse. When you can barely stay level on a TWH, that is a clear sign you should not be anywhere near a horse.

  2. Thou shalt not jerk and flail your arms about like you’re trying to pull-start a gas lawnmower. Curses on whoever set you up with a long shanked bit that isn’t even positioned correctly. I don’t like them but I will say that leverage bits belong in educated hands only.  Period.
  3. Thou shalt not let the daylight show between your ass and the saddle
  4. Thou shalt not ride with such a heavy hand that you make your horses ewe-necked – both horses shown with Moore have prominently developed muscling on the underside of the neck. Both horses show how their physicality has changed with poor riding and hollowed out backs.
  5. Thou shalt not inflict one’s ignorance and poorly fitting tack on any animal.  Always use a saddle pad under the saddle.
  6. Thou shall shorten thy reins and stirrups and get your legs under you.
  7. Thou shall take lessons if for no other reason than the sake of the poor horse.  Moore doesn’t even ride as capably as someone at a trail ride who is riding for the first time, so he needs to give some thought into strapping on a helmet.

    At least he kept his shirt on….

  8. Thou shalt not use horses as props and photo ops when your riding is so poor that you have no business being up there.  Moore didn’t care that Sassy might have been spooked by photographers and as she was nervous,  he had not the skill set to calm her and instead kicked and jerked on her sensitive mouth. His riding clearly showed that he does not care about the pain of any other creature.
  9. Thou shalt not dress as one of the Village People.
  10. And lastly, If you’re an accused pedo,  thou shalt not name your horse after a now-defunct magazine aimed at teenage girls #Sassy.

Moore’s appearance at the voting station was not exactly my idea of a tableau of vintage America.  Is anyone surprised that he has heavy hands?  Both horses look uncomfortable with Moore touching them.  And Moore riding a filly that can’t get away from him is so totally on-brand, isn’t it?

Another ewe-necked horse by Roy Moore, which is hardly surprising considering the vise-like grip he has on all his mounts.  Here’s he’s almost as lifelike as Bernie in “Weekend at Bernie’s in a classic “chair seat” stance.

Everything about his riding demonstrates a lack of understanding about how one’s body impacts the horse – which appears to mirror his lack of understanding of how his actions impact the lives of others. His horses are merely objects fulfilling their purpose. As with both the law and religion, Moore appears incapable of considering anything beyond manipulating objects to his benefit. Roy Moore is no more qualified for the US Senate than he is to ride a horse.

Next time take the car pardner….

Someone please take these horses away from this man!

Access-To-Information Docs Reveal Auctions and Feedlots are “Bad at Paperwork”

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“…all horse meat producers must obtain the health and medical history – complete with information on all drugs and vaccines used – of each horse for the 180 day period before consumption.”

– standard form letter response from Conservative MPs – 2016.

Whenever I read documents obtained through an Access-To-Information request, I think the bar for this industry cannot go lower. The ATI documents included here covered all Equine Lot Inspection Audits for the years 2015-2017 year-to-date, and captured conversations between CFIA veterinarians and feedlot/auction staff.  These Lot Inspections are audits that are carried out approximately once a year, although it appears that our favourite Farmville operators, Bouvry Exports’/Prime lot is being audited more frequently. When you read the audit reports, you’ll understand why – the CFIA appears to be doing a fair bit of manual checking of their record-keeping.

It should really come as no surprise that feedlots and auctions have a perpetual struggle with the paperwork required to track horses from receipt to slaughter.  Kill buyers are bottom level feeders who travel from auction to auction picking up horses. They have no idea where these horses come from, nor do they care.  Auctions and feedlots typically will complete just enough paperwork so that can scrape by, and they’re going to fill it out in the way that it needs to be filled out so that it meets the CFIA criteria. Sometimes though, they can’t even meet the minimum standard and even the CFIA has to write them up when uncomplicated record management tasks are turned into Sisyphean clusterfucks.

So what is the Lot Program and how does it work?

The lot program is used by high volume accumulators of horses for the purpose of slaughter.  It’s really a sort of “express lane” in that these producers use a group declaration (the Lot-EID or LEID) in lieu of individual EIDs. The program requires at least a 180 day recorded history prior to slaughter. Lot inspections review the procedures maintained in Lot Programs for equine feedlots – this covers the control of EIDs (Equine Information Documents), vaccines, medications, movement of horses in and out of each lot and a few other criteria.  Please note that the lot program does not verify the health of any equines or the condition of the feedlot itself. The CFIA describes the process in more detail if you need it.

If you’re new to the horse slaughter issue, here’s a bit of history on the EID – its implementation  was announced by then-Director of the Meat Programs Division of the CFIA, Dr. Richard Arsenault, in a response letter to the European Commission on October 23, 2009.  Arsenault announced that, in order to meet EC requirements for exporting horsemeat, every equine presented for slaughter as of July 31, 2010 would be accompanied by an Equine Information Document.

Fast forward to 2014 when the European Commission’s Food and veterinary Office released an audit in 2014 that raised concerns about the tracking process.  In 2011 the same issues were raised, so you could say there’s little evidence of improvement. You can read the final reportthe response, and the CFIA proposed changes.

The audits reveal that, shockingly, Bouvry Exports/Prime Feedlot holds anywhere from 7,000 – 10,000 horses at any given time.  According to the audit reports,  a total of 52 lots of horses are sent to their deaths each year (1 lot per week).  Additionally, horses who receive any medication while on the lot are subjected to painful branding and re-branding as part of the record-keeping process.

Forms Are So Hard And Confusing!

The February 2016 audit of Bouvry’s Prime Feedlot (where the report indicated 10,000+ horses were on-hand) contained some findings flagged as “unacceptable” by the Veterinarian-in-Charge:

Finding #6 and #7 (see pages 31 and 35): – “…drug list was changed in August but not updated.  CFIA wasn’t informed.  Instead of Derapen (penicillin G Procain) which is no longer available, Biomycin is used since August 2015.  Biomycin is not authorized to be used yet.“ At the time of writing, Biomycin is not even listed on the Meat Hygiene manual for equines.  The manufacturer of Biomycin states that is has a withdrawal time of 28 days (for cattle).

Finding #20 (see page 32 and 36): – “One of the records reviewed was not transferred from daily vaccine application records (lot records) to a Lot Equine Information Document.  Fluvac vaccine application was missing.  All other records verified during the audit were accurately transcribed.”

Finding #25 (see page 33 and 36): – “No EIDS on file, none reviewed.  [Redacted] said the horse [kill] buyers did not supply any of EIDS [SIC] along with horses purchased.  This issue was discussed at the previous audit and Prime Equine Lot.”

So there were no EIDs on file for an entire lot of horses?  What happened to slaughter-bound horses without them?  There is no mention of what became of them, or whether anyone attempted to locate the missing paperwork, although I presume the horses were slaughtered anyway, no matter how laughably incomplete or non-compliant the paperwork was.

“It is the responsibility of the Lot Program management to request EIDS and verify for non-permitted drugs.”

Supplemental Export Reports for a May 2016 visit that summarizes communications with regards to an Operational Guidance protocol distributed in February 2016. (page 45-47)

Perlich Bros. Auction  gets called out for not collecting EIDs:

“[Redacted] contacted [redacted] of Perlich auction market over the phone in April 2016 (specific date unknown). The purpose of the call was explained, and [redacted] was asked about the creation of EIDs at his auction market.  [Redacted’s] response was that, while [redacted] staff were happy to handle any EIDS that are submitted with equines for sale, no effort is made to ensure that horses enter auction with complete EIDS, that is is [SIC] “not their job,” and that the responsibility for obtaining valid EIDS lies with the buying agent.  Very few are thus processed at [redacted] auction.”  At this late stage (7 years after the implementation of the EID), how is it that the incomprehensibly stubborn auction staff can give the standard disclaimer, “that’s not my department?”

CFIA resorts to googling kill buyers/plant management for follow-up information:

“On 12 April [redacted] received a list of buying agents for the Bouvry plant from [redacted] who was, at the time, a CFIA meat hygiene inspector at the plant. When contact information was requested for these individuals, so that upcoming verifications could be discussed, it was requested that an explanation/reasoning for the request be sent directly to plant management.  This was done by [redacted] on 13 April.  Having not received a response by early the next week, a Google search was conducted to find a contact number for [redacted] spoke to [redacted] over the phone on 18 or 19 April.  The potential for CFIA presence at upcoming horse auctions was discussed, as was the method with which he goes about obtaining EIDS for slaughter horses.  [Redacted] reply was that [redacted] no longer buys horses for this purpose (slaughter) at Perlich auction because of the difficulty of obtaining EIDs.  [Redacted] rather focuses on the Innisfail Auction Market (IAM) where all horses enter auction with EID unless explicitly declared by the owner that the animal is not for meat sale. There [redacted] is able to enter the ring and verify that the EID is acceptable before bidding on the horse.”

So who is “redacted” in this scenario?  Clearly there is more than one person whose name has been concealed.  Either this person is a kill buyer(s) or plant management, in which case, if they didn’t respond to the CFIA enquiry,  that’s pretty inexcusable.

“[Redacted] encouraged the CFIA to audit [redacted] activities at the IAM.”

CFIA to Bouvry – EIDs must accompany all horses to the feedlot:

“It was felt that in order to conduct the verification task correctly, the district needed to be clear on whether or not it was permissible for horses bought in Canada to enter the feedlot system without an EID…”  “The response was that unless there was some other auditable means (on file) of ensuring a history of no non-permitted substances in the horse(s) no horse without a valid EID is allowed to enter the feedlot, despite a six-month waiting period.”

The CFIA’s attempt to enforce what must seem like an unfathomable bureaucracy apparently perturbed staff at Bouvry’s, who sent an inquiry to the CFIA asking why [redacted] was “asking so many questions.” Due to the difficulties with paperwork at the Perlich auction, the CFIA discussed attending their auction on overtime and it was decided that this was not a valuable use of CFIA resources. Recommendations were passed to the Red Deer CFIA office for a vet inspector presence at Innisfail.

The confusion that continues to this day over the EID and other paperwork is evidence that inputs into the food chain are not something to be taken casually, yet that is exactly what is happening.  The doubts highlighted in these reports leave another cloud over the already sordid industry – something policymakers need to pay attention to.

Despite this, Dr. Richard Arsenault, former director of the meat programs division for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), thinks that the regulations are working“It’s extremely well respected in terms of compliance” – a statement that he has continually championed throughout the years. This is basically the same feeble confirmation that is echoed by anyone in charge of any aspect of the meat program at the CFIA. Downstream, MPs may take months before they reply to our complaints about horse slaughter, and if they do it’s usually nothing more than the standard form letter that doesn’t even address the concerns raised by the constituent.  Instead, the response parrots the same impotent reassurances put out by the CFIA.

The horse slaughter pipeline is one of the most unregulated livestock venues in North America. There is absolutely no desire or motivation on the US side to enforce EID authenticity because Americans do not eat horsemeat. There is no resolve on the Canadian side because they are importing horses for the purpose of (primarily) exporting the meat. Regulating this paperwork would cost everyone money, and no one wants to do that.

You may also download these documents here.

New ASPCA Study Examines The Availability Of Homes for Unwanted Horses in the United States

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Simply offering a horse for sale is no guarantee of finding a suitable home for that animal,  even if young and sound.  The process is even more challenging if the horse is older, untrained, or has behavioural or physical issues, or if the economy is poor.  While most shelters and rescues are likely at capacity,  a study conducted by the Research and Development/Community Outreach arm of the ASPCA found that there do appear to be untapped resources that could be called upon to re-home horses within the general public.

The question posed by the study is whether there are enough private homes to accommodate the number of unwanted American horses currently being sent to slaughter.  Using Edge Research to conduct a telephone survey, the researchers attempted to pre-qualify people who would be willing to adopt unwanted horses, determine what characteristics were required of horses to be considered “adoptable” in the respondent’s opinion, and whether potential adopters thought they had adequate resources to keep a horse. The criteria for establishing initial interest was that the respondent currently owns a horse,  has owned a horse in the past 5 years, or is interested in acquiring a horse in the near future.

From the Abstract: “Estimating the Availability of Potential Homes for Unwanted Horses in the United States”

 

“There are approximately 200,000 unwanted horses annually in the United States. This study aimed to better understand the potential homes for horses that need to be re-homed. Using an independent survey company through an Omnibus telephone (land and cell) survey, we interviewed a nationally projectable sample of 3036 adults (using both landline and cellular phone numbers) to learn of their interest and capacity to adopt a horse.

Potential adopters with interest in horses with medical and/or behavioral problems and self-assessed perceived capacity to adopt, constituted 0.92% of the total sample. Extrapolating the results of this survey using U.S. Census data, suggests there could be an estimated 1.25 million households who have both the self-reported and perceived resources and desire to house an unwanted horse. This number exceeds the estimated number of unwanted horses living each year in the United States.

This study points to opportunities and need to increase communication and support between individuals and organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with people in their community willing to adopt them.”

 

The ASPCA estimates that a more realistic, true count is more likely to be about .72 million households. Still, these numbers may not reflect an objective set of adopters though, since people often overstate or overestimate their ability or available resources to care for a horse properly, or their circumstances change after the survey.  Nevertheless, the study results suggest that new channels of communication between potential horse owners and organizations/rescues are needed to grow the horse industry by engaging new audiences and creatively promoting horse adoption.

 

By The Numbers: Study Reviews 13 Years of Ontario Racing Commission “Death Registry” Data

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Barbaro is held by jockey Edgar Prado and a track worker after injuring his leg at the start of the 131st running of the Preakness Stakes, in this May 20, 2006 file photo, at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Barbaro was euthanized Monday, Jan. 29, 2007, after complications from his breakdown at the Preakness last May. (AP Photo/Matthew S. Gunby, file)

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Beneath the facade, commercial horse racing subjects horses to catastrophic injuries and sudden deaths. Young thoroughbreds, standardbreds, and quarter horses die every week on racetracks from injuries sustained while training and racing. Remember Barbaro? He was euthanized at 3½ years old due to an injury he sustained at the Preakness. Eight Belles was euthanized at 2½ years old due to catastrophic breakdown after a second place win at the Kentucky Derby. And when Rachel Alexandra lost her last race she was shipped off to be a baby making machine. She suffered grave complications at the birth of her first foal.

The majority of racehorses will not survive past the age of 10 and only a small fraction will ever be “good enough” to race.  Approximately 70% +/- of all racehorses are thought to end their lives in a slaughterhouse.

A  new study was just published using 13 years of data from the Ontario Racing Commission Death Registry.  The ORC database was implemented on January 1, 2003; owners, trainers and veterinarians were, from that point forward, required to notify the Commission within two days of the death of any racehorse (Thoroughbred. Quarter horse, or Standardbred) where the death occurred within 60 days of the horse having been entered or qualified to race in Ontario Canada. If the death occurs within 14 days of the horse having been entered or qualified, post-mortems are mandatory and may include gross pathological examination results, histopathology, parisitology, bacteriology, mycoplasmology, virgology, and toxicology.

Of the 963 horses in the database, a postmortem was carried out on 56% of those or approximately 539 horses (presumably those horses who died within 14 days of a race or during a race).  Of these 539 horses:

68% died/were euthanized due to musculoskeletal injury (such as tendon or ligament injuries/broken legs/pelvic fractures/spinal cord injuries etc).  This represents approximately 367 horses.

16% died suddenly due primarily to cardiopulmonary lesions (possibly cardiac failure/pulmonary failure/pulmonary haemorrhage/blood vessel rupture). Approximately 86 horses examined by post-mortem died spontaneously.

4% died following an injection (possibly IV injection/performance-enhancing compound/anaphalactic shock).  Approximately 22 of the 539 horses were killed by an injection.

Of the 963 horses in the ORC database, post-mortems were not completed for about 424 of them, since presumably this was not a requirement by ORC rules.  The cause-of-death is unknown,  but they will not be forgotten.

The fact that these injuries and deaths occur are not surprising – the suffering of these and many other racehorses represents all that is detrimental to their welfare. Studies that break down the injuries and deaths are always useful for showing how healthy horses are pushed beyond their physical capabilities.  Since the profit motive is priority, horses are drugged so they can race while injured and physically compromised. Naturally,  these statistics do not include any horses who died or were euthanized outside of the 60 day window established by the ORC or were sent to slaughter at any point after their racing career ended.  The database reflects the fact that the approximately 74 horses who died each year in Ontario alone were only those that were required to be reported to the ORC according to the regulations noted above.

The racing industry promotes false imagery of race horses retiring to lives of luxury as pets, well-cared-for riding horses, or studs. While some race horses find good homes, the vast majority are slaughtered for meat even though virtually all of them contain veterinary drug residues prohibited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

 

Eight Belles suffered compound fractures of both front ankles at the 2008 Kentucky Derby and was euthanized immediately. At just over 3 years old, she was far too young to be racing.

Hitting Kill Buyers In The Pocketbook

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Death came to this horse after agony and fear. How many other horses have been subjected to this new form of “euthanasia” – injected with amphetamines until they are allegedly flipped over backwards? After all his suffering, his bladder was then cut out of his body post-mortem, likely to avoid collection of illicit substances.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Everyone knows that abuse, neglect, and disease are embedded in the trading of horses by unscrupulous buyers and flippers, beginning with the kill buyer and ending with the killing process.   But despite the number of sick or suffering feedlot and broker horses documented on Facebook, few purchasers contact authorities to report abuse, neglect, or contractual fraud.  Some people even choose to protect the kill buyer while praising him (or her) in being so kind as to offer to sell them the horse in the first place.  Quite understandably, many people may reasonably be afraid of further alienating the kill buyers and brokers and being unable to purchase more horses. But in March, two plaintiffs initiated a civil litigation against kill buyer Don Nowlin of Washington-based Outwest Livestock, alleging the torturous September 2016 death of “Brad Pitt”, an approximately 20-year-old thoroughbred stallion they purchased in August of that year.

In the Statement of Claim, the plaintiffs alleged that the conditions at the feedlot were heart-rending – horses “bore significant injuries, such as fist-sized scabby wounds, a pregnant mare bleeding from her vagina, a horse with a broken leg and overgrown hooves…”   Before the plaintiffs could collect Brad Pitt, they were told that he had broken his back leg and was “put down” via a “cocktail” and “hit the ground” within thirty seconds, all evidently without veterinarian oversight.   The plaintiffs had the forethought to insist upon taking the remains of the horse with them after being notified of his death, so he was hauled out of the bushes where he lay decomposing, and loaded into a U-Haul for a necropsy.

Above is a strictly professional, notarized message from Facebook lawyer/kill buyer Don Nowlin from 2016 (previously unnoticed by me). For some reason he objects to my screen-shotting his Facebook page showing that he was following various cock fighting groups. https://heatherclemenceau.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/kill-buyers-faux-rescues-and-cockfighters-oh-my/

The homemade amphetamine concoction (see necropsy and toxicology report) alleged to have been injected into the stallion by layperson Nowlin certainly wasn’t one of the two recommended forms of euthanasia, namely barbiturate overdose with sedation or shotgun.  Amphetamines  stimulate the nervous system – breathing and heart rate speed up and energy levels and anxiety may be increased.  Amphetamines are controlled substances in the US and are sometimes used in the manufacture of other illicit drugs.  These drugs are banned across racetracks internationally because they can excite an animal to a degree to which they are uncontrollable and are very likely to hurt either themselves or anyone near them. They certainly have no business being injected into a horse. It does not appear that the “euthanasia” drugs administered actually killed Brad Pitt outright either, since the cause-of-death was determined to be traumatic injury to the central nervous system due to fractured cervical vertebra.

The most soul-crushing aspects of this case are the injuries to Brad Pitt, which are described in Sean Tuley DVM’s report, and expanded upon by Victoria L. Smith DVM.

Findings by Tuley Equine Sports Medicine:

“Grossly, Brad Pitt, was covered in flies, as well as dried mud, he had multiple excoriations as well as impalements covering his entire body. No evidence of predation by scavengers was evident. A post mortem evisceration was most notable beginning at the left paralumbar fossa, extending ventrally, through the perineum and ending 6 cm short of the anus. The wound was deep to the pelvic floor, created via sharp dissection and showed no evidence of bleeding or bruising. This wound was created post-mortem.

The left hind pelvic limb was completely luxated and was only attached by the gluteal muscles and dorsal skin. On the ventral sagittal abdomen at intercostal 17 an eviscerating lesion of 4 cm was present. A deep puncture wound on the medial left radius of 10 cm was noted. Located on the left lateral antebrachium a sharp excision of 12 cm was noted.

The left elbow joint was completely dislocated. Blunt force trauma, with dried stained blood was present near the lateral canthus of the right eye. The gum tissue was hyperemic and a vesicular lesion on the gum tissue was consistent with aggressive use of a lip chain war bridle. On gross appearance the cervical vertebrae appear to be luxated. Upon sharp dissection, a large hematoma approximately 8 cm in diameter appeared deep to the Splenius mm. and dorsal to the longissimus mm. near the C6-C7 junction. Upon further dissection the Cervical joint between C6 and C7 was completely luxated.  This appears to be an antemortem finding.”

Dr. Tuley  continues….

“In four years of veterinary school, performing routine necropsies, and 6 years of private practice-having now euthanized over 50 cases personally, (this figure does not include my training at WSU-VTH or with Traber Bergsma Simkins inc., where significantly more euthanasias and necropsies were performed) I have yet to see an animal present so poorly, in as bad of condition as I saw Brad. Injuries stemming from the lip chain, battered right eye and broken neck, all occurred while Brad was still alive. These findings are evident by the fact that bleeding and other signs of inflammation were present. Given the presence of multiple eviscerations and leg dismemberment, even after death, Brad was not treated with much regard.”

Findings by Victoria L. Smith DVM

  • Blunt force trauma to the right side of the head and right eye. Aggressive use of lip chain
  • Left elbow completely luxated and spinal cord trauma possibly caused by a rotational fall at high speed or by the horse rearing up and falling backwards
  • “Severe intentional penetrating injuries to the horse post-mortem”
  • “An incision had been made into the abdominal cavity, eviscerating the horse, sharply luxating the left pelvic limb, and the bladder had been removed.”
  • “The horse Brad Pitt’s injuries are consistent with intentional and painful abuse by a human.”

Dr. Smith’s comments suggest that the horse may have been “drugged with intravenous amphetamines via an aggressive lip chain to restrain the head during injection.  Dr. Smith explored the possibility that, for cruel sport, someone proceeded to rope Brad Pitt’s forelimbs, “tipping the horse and causing a rotational fall which luxated the elbow and luxated the cervical vertebrae.  The horse’s eye and perioribital area could have been injured by a closed fist or by self-trauma, as a frantic, traumatized, painful horse may slam his head into the ground in terror. “

Below is a copy of the Complaint filed against Donald Nowlin and Outwest Livestock in Yakima County Superior Court concerning the torture and killing of Brad Pitt, an approximately 20-year-old thoroughbred purchased by Rebecca Thorley and Monica Baxter in August 2016. This document contains the allegations and claims made against Nowlin, et al. The plaintiffs are also suing for severe emotional distress and the recovery of actual damages and out-of-pocket expenses.

The sharing of the Amended Complaint and Tuley/Smith reports was done with the permission of  Adam P. Karp Esq,   All documents are public records. Documents originally posted on the “Justice for Brad Pitt Thoroughbred” Facebook page.

Amended Complaint filed April 4, 2017

 

 

Necropsy reports prepared by Sean Tuley, DVM and Victoria Smith, DVM.

 

 

“Did Brad experience stress and anxiety while under the influence of these illicit compounds? Did Brad experience pain and suffering while accumulating these ante mortem injuries? My visceral reaction is yes on both instances. However, I cannot conclude for how long the suffering endured.” Sean Tuley, DVM

Americans who threaten to sue Canadians will be told that they must have sufficient assets within the jurisdiction (Canada) as security for costs BEFORE proceeding with the action. The amount that would need to be posted is equal to the attorney’s fees and any awards that the defendant might receive if and when they prevail in the action.
In any case, truth is a defense against libel.

Who cannot relate to the anguish that Brad Pitt’s owners felt not only in discovering that he was dead, but how he died? Imagine collecting his body in the condition described in the necropsy report – and later reading how he was purported to have been killed. Not only was there a lack of care given to him – he is alleged to have been deliberately abused. Do any of Nowlin’s feedlot horses end up at the “horse tripping” establishment next door to him where they are “smoked” (roped by their back legs)?  What do you think?  I say,  if you can’t put them in jail, you take their money. Civil lawsuits act as an important tool because fighting them requires time and money that could be used for other purposes – like collecting horses to be killed.

I know there is a very good argument for continuing to deal with unscrupulous people in order to get horses off lots like this. All horses in peril deserve saving regardless of where they have landed, but please don’t facilitate these horrors by providing kill buyers with this lucrative revenue stream.  By making kill buyers more profitable, we are guaranteeing they will stay in business and more of them will pop up.  Save your money by buying locally and preventing a horse from ending up going to an auction in the first place; there are needy horses everywhere that you can actually lay your eyes on, and they deserve help too.  No, the truck is not coming for broker horses – it already left and they weren’t on it.  The slaughter truck came for a horse that you never saw.

 

 

If you are interested in helping and want your money to make a difference, you may donate to support the Friends of Brad Pitt.

Donations will be used for legal bills related to the civil suit.

 

The Science Is In: Exposure To Bute In Horsemeat Still A Big Problem

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Phenylbutazone or “bute” was at one time marketed for humans use under the trade name of Butazolidin.  It was a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) used for arthritis and other inflammatory ailments that worked by inhibiting an enzyme that synthesizes chemical mediators called prostaglandins.  It was ultimately withdrawn by the FDA for causing a wide range of serious side-effects.  It remains however, on the market for treatment for horses and is an effective anti-inflammatory.  It is also prohibited in the food chain as residues of bute and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone are not known to have safe limits.  None of this is new information to experienced horse advocates.  Therefore, it’s always personally surprising to me when I come across another horse advocate who takes the position that we needn’t be concerned about bute adulteration in food. It’s a pretty rare position to take, IMO, and reaffirms  to me that not all champions of the horse are on the same page when it comes to advocacy. This position not only harms our advocacy,  it’s also scientifically illiterate IMO.

Writing in a recent blog post, Founder and President of the Equine Rescue Network Janine Jacques goes all-in and on the record as being in doubt that bute is harmful to people.  Jacques also assumes that the only possible toxic result from consuming bute or metabolites can be aplastic anemia.

How did the consumption of over 16 million pounds of horsemeat impact the health of those who consumed horse meat tainted with bute? ~ If Google search deaths from phenylbutazone you will find no relevant deaths for humans.”  

While investigation and surveillance of overdoses and poisonings by phenylbutazone are available, there is a tendency to believe that, in order to be hazardous to health, only large amounts of a chemical are needed to cause poisoning. This is not necessarily so. A highly toxic chemical can have a low health hazard if it is used with proper precautions and care. On the other hand, it is possible that a chemical of low toxicity may present a high health hazard if it is used inappropriately, such as in the food supply.  The domain of published works in the field of toxicology contain many presuppositions such as this; regulators have always had difficulty establishing acceptable levels of chemicals and they are expected to show evidence that a level of exposure is harmful before they can ban its use.

Virtually all evidence we have about harmful dosages of drugs come from animals where extrapolations are made from high doses (LD50, Draize, and ADME – Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion tests for example) .  It is also said that effects found in animals in relatively short-lived species cannot necessarily be used to estimate the effects in a long-lived species such as human.  Humans live much longer than most of the species used for drug testing, so we have a longer period of time in which to manifest disease.  Compounding this, we know that much of human disease is idiopathic in nature – without known causes.  Forensic toxicology testing can detect drugs in the blood stream or urine and overdoses in the emergency room, but it can’t predict the cause of idiopathic disease.

What makes chemicals poisonous?

There are several factors which can influence the degree of poisoning caused by a chemical.

  • Route of entry into the body – orally, inhalation, etc
  • Amount or dose entering the body
  • Chemicals that are weakly toxic require large doses to cause poisoning, Strongly toxic chemicals only need small doses to cause poisoning
  • Chemicals that are broken down by the body into sub-products before being excreted may be more or less toxic than the original chemical
  • Biological variation in the person consuming the chemical/drug determines response – slow metabolizers may be affected in addition to those who have susceptibility to phenylbutazone due to different metabolic genes (polymorphisms) that encode enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of drugs.People who are poor metabolizers of a drug may overdose while taking less than the recommended dose. Altered or enhanced drug metabolisms in individuals have been known to cause fatal drug reactions.

PBZ Molecule

Another layer of complexity is added when humans are exposed to chemicals at very low doses – the chemicals may reside in certain regions of the body that are more susceptible to organ damage  which is impossible to measure directly.  Studies have shown that many chemicals impact cancer-causing pathways at low doses. Taken directly, phenylbutazone is associated with various hematologic disorders, including aplastic anemia. Bute is also a cause of agranulocytosis, which can also be fatal. Hypersensitivity reactions can include anaphylactic shock, arthralgia, fever, angiitis (polyarteritis), vasculitis, serum sickness, adenitis, hepatotoxicity, allergic alveolitis, lymphadenopathy, Lyell’s syndrome, activation of systemic lupus erythematosus, and aggravation of temporal arteritis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. Asthma may be precipitated or aggravated by phenylbutazone, especially in aspirin sensitive patients. We also know that phenylbutazone interacts with many other drugs.  When administered to lactating cows, it was found that phenylbutazone was distributed into their milk.

When the drug was used therapeutically in humans as Butazolidin, the dose rate would have been around 2 to 6 mg/kg, similar to the current dose for the horse of 4.4 mg/kg. The question is whether the presence of bute in horsemeat can present a risk to human health even in small amounts.  Around the time of the 2013 horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU, the highest amount of bute found in a horse carcass was 1.9 mg.  If a human had been taking Butazolidin in the 50s, they might have taken 200-400 mg a day in total, if we compare it to the current-day dosage of Tylenol or Advil.  Obviously, we would have to consume a significant amount of contaminated horsemeat in order to reach the level of a therapeutic drug dosage. What is not clear, despite reassurances, is the level that is necessary for the average person to consume in order to experience a toxic effect.  If a therapeutic dose of Butazolidin was once considered “safe” at 200-400 mg, then how do we know that some individuals are safe at 1.9 mg?  If Butazolidin was withdrawn from the market as being unsafe for some people at that dosage, we don’t know whether sensitive individuals may have experienced toxicity at lower levels as well.

If it still seems as though a negligible trace of bute in meat might not be enough to cause harm,  there is an analogous cautionary tale of another NSAID – diclofenac, which was also used in human medicine for decades,  and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Obviously, the dynamics are not the same, but vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses, their main food source, and this has accounted for death by renal failure of many vultures examined in a three-year study by the scientific journal Nature.  Further investigation showed tissue residues in livestock treated at the labelled dose rate were sufficient to cause death in vultures. These findings confirmed that diclofenac is the primary cause of the Asian vulture decline.

“Diclofenac is toxic to vultures even in small doses, causing kidney failure. That results in uric acid accumulating in the birds’ blood and crystallizing around their internal organs—a condition called visceral gout.”

Food safety laws are clear.  Companies that produce, trade or sell food or food ingredients are legally obligated to implement a quality assurance system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), which maximizes food safety by minimizing chemical, physical and microbiological hazards.  There is something wrong with a food system whereby the food animal must sit on a feedlot for six months in order that veterinary drugs “degrade” before it can be eaten.

For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison, which still holds true for many drugs and chemicals.  But one key message there is that source or origin of a chemical usually tells you very little if anything about its toxicity or ability to cause harm.   We now live in a time where exposure to chemicals is unavoidable and we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation.  Having said that, bute is not a chemical that is ubiquitous in the environment like other toxins we are exposed to – we can avoid it by not eating horsemeat and not killing horses for food.  In the final analysis, no one is really in a position to make broad statements about the safety of horse meat.  Conrad Brunk,  the co-chair of the 2001 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, wrote that:

“When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks;  the mere absence of evidence is not enough.”  This is the essence of the Precautionary Principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment,  precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” The toxicity of a chemical cannot be changed, but the hazard it presents can be controlled.

Have Your Say In The “Safe Food For Canadians” Public Consultation!

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wall2Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“The increasingly global marketplace for food commodities has created more opportunities for the introduction and spread of contaminants that may put Canadian food safety at risk. Food-borne illness continues to impose significant health and economic costs on Canadians and recent food safety incidents in Canada have demonstrated where the current federal food regulatory framework must be strengthened.” ~ Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Government of Canada has recently launched a public consultation on new rules to strengthen food safety – the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. The proposed regulations are supposed to better identify and manage food safety risks before products are sold to consumers. As members of the public, we are stakeholders in this process and entitled to send comments on the proposed regulations.  I’ll be writing to Dr. Arsenault (contact info below) and each of us should take this opportunity to give input.  The consultation process closes on April 21, 2017, so we need to get our letters written before then. If you would like background reading on this consultation process, here are some links:

What topics should you address?  Here are a sampling of issues that are derived from recent events and longstanding issues that have been identified by horse advocates and advocacy groups:

  • The presence of drugs in meat (the CFIA refers to these as “non-food agents”) and the low testing rate of carcasses.  Focus should be testing kidneys and liver rather than skeletal muscle.  Carcasses must be held until all laboratory results are received.
  • Transport issues – horses can remain in transport for up to 36 hours with no food, water, or rest. Transport guidelines, such as they are, do not reflect current science regarding theb1f handling of animals by land, sea, and air.  Late term pregnant mares are sent to auctions and subsequently to slaughter, and sometimes foals are born in transit (this information was obtained through CHDC Access-To-Information documents).  Were any penalties meted out to the transgressors?
  • Live shipment of horses not following IATA regulations
  • No traceability.  Horse owners will not pay for a system to track horses from cradle to grave in order to satisfy a food safety requirement.  The fact that no group in Canada – neither Equestrian Canada  or  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has so far developed a workable system for horses is a testament to how unworkable such a system would be.  Horses are not food.
  • In June 2016, a butcher shop in Montreal was caught adding horsemeat to hamburger patties advertised as being entirely made of beef. An investigation by Radio-Canada (and not the CFIA) found the meat sourced from La Maison du Rôti, which supplied many hotels and commercial establishments in Montreal, advertised as being 100 per cent beef.  This is consistent with a study from 2015 that found that nearly 5% of all ground meat products tested in California had horse meat in the product.  What did the CFIA do to address this adulteration? It does not appear that the company was ever fined or had their operations suspended – if not, why not?
  • Wild horses ending up in the food supply – in 2014, 3 wildies from the Williams Creek cull were sent to the Bouvry plant.  Complaints to the CFIA resulted in an investigation, because a permit holder cannot determine if he has captured a truly wild horse, or a barn yard escapee. The CFIA, concluded that Bouvry did slaughter two of the Wildies, and that a kill buyer purchased the horses from the permit holder without having the required 6 month history as required by the EID (Equine Information Document). The third horse could not be verified (lack of traceability once again).  If punishment has not been meted-out against these two individuals, ask the CFIA why?  How will the CFIA prevent this from happening in future?
  • Native owned horses in British Columbia are rounded up and sent to slaughter periodically despite roaming free on private land and being unaccounted for during much of the year.
  • I do not wish to throw any animals under the bus, but unlike “traditional” farm animals, there is truly no verification system in place to ensure that horses who do go to slaughter are sent there by those with rightful legal ownership.  Horses sold to slaughterhouses or kill buyers without the owner’s knowledge or permission are sold with Equine Information Documents (EIDs) that were fabricated during the last leg of the horses’ journey to the plant, often by someone who has owned the horse for a few days or weeks if that. Such individuals have no basis to make any claim that the horse has not received any prohibited substances.  EIDs do not sufficiently identify horses who look similar and it cannot differentiate between them with any degree of certainty.  Once again, any form that only asks for voluntary declaration of drugs is unlikely to be complied with when the seller wishes to profit from the sale of that horse.
  • EIDs (Equine Information Documents) are property of slaughterhouses.  Some EID forms are even branded with the name of the slaughterhouse and not the CFIA.  This is a food safety issue and should not be 1569ba4db68ad332267e02f5e74bd3badecentralized to the slaughterhouse – the CFIA needs to exert control over EIDs and publish the results of audits in the interest of transparency.
  • The recent and well-publicized  cases of missing horses Sargon and Apollo (Sargon was sold to slaughter by someone other than his legal owner).  Urge the CFIA to take action against false statements made on EIDs and to report the results of audits to satisfy public interest.  Send them information on the impact on victims of stolen horses.
  • EIA (Equine Infectious Anemia) has now appeared in Quebec after a years-long  absence.  Are the presence of slaughterhouses in Massueville and Saint-André-Avellin, in Quebec risk factors?  Private owners of horses are required to have a Coggins test when moving practically everywhere, but slaughter-bound horses are not.  Now that there is an expectation by the EU that American horses will need to reside in Canada for six months prior to slaughter, you may feel that this residency requirement increases the risk of disease transmission in Canada.  Do you feel that slaughterbound horses from the US should require a Coggins?  Why should slaughter haulers be allowed to evade what amounts to a biosecurity issue for every place they travel through, since Equine Infectious Anemia is incurable and biting insects the principal vector? We live in an era where animals are hauled long distances and to’from different countries – large numbers of unvaccinated and untested animals are coming into Canada. This is surely a threat to any responsible horse owner and this law could be easily changed though the slaughter buyers would have to bear the costs (as everyone else already does) when purchasing and transporting a horse for any purpose.

 

Call To Action:

Write now to Dr. Richard Arsenault before April 21st!

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Contact

Richard Arsenault
Executive Director
Domestic Food Safety Systems and Meat Hygiene Directorate
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
1400 Merivale Road, Tower 1
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0Y9
Telephone: 613-773-6156
Email: CFIA-Modernisation-ACIA@inspection.gc.ca