Tag Archives: “Canadian Food Inspection Agency”

Richelieu EID Exposes Profound Shortcomings Of Food Chain

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meat with horseshoeWritten by: Heather Clemenceau

We picked up a copy of the EID currently being used at the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX) in Waterloo, Ontario. For a document that supposedly exerts “quality control” over horsemeat, notice that there are no CFIA headers or logos; it is however, “branded” with the name Richelieu and replete with embarrassing spelling errors and typos in both English and French.  It is missing a fair bit of information that is present on the sample EID in the CFIA Meat Hygiene Manual for equines as well,  including an indicator of the primary use of the horse (recreation/companion animal/ pleasure riding, breeding, ranch/farm work, public work, private industry work, performance/sport/show, racing, rodeo, urine production, food production.)  I guess they don’t want high risk animals to be unnecessarily flagged for drugs.  Note that on the first page, Richelieu refers to the document itself, not unironically, as “DIE.” It is due to moments like these perhaps, that humorists were born.

As with any other paper version of the EID, the owner is expected to complete the column “withdrawal period.”  There is little likelihood

that anyone will follow the obscenely long URL at the bottom of the page,  and if they did,  they wouldn’t likely understand it since it directs the form user to the French version of the CFIA’s Meat Hygiene Manual – on an English form.  It’s completely misleading to provide a link to French guidelines on an English form that is mostly used by english-speaking horse people.  So under the circumstances, how would anyone find the withdrawal time for a specific drug even if they knew what it was?

Withdrawal times also vary depending on drug delivery methods – whether oral/IV/IM and whether used in combination with other drugs. The dose itself along with the frequency of use (repeated oral administrations can greatly extend withdrawal times) are two of the most important factors.  Compounded drugs (as opposed to generic or branded drugs sold OTC or through veterinarians) can vary widely in potency as well.  The amount of body fat,  the breed,  gender and health of the horse are also factors that affect kinetic decay of drugs.  Lastly,  the amount of stress that the horse is subject to may also affect withdrawal times.  And even though a pharmacological effect on the animal may be over, the drug and its metabolites may still be detectable, and those metabolites may also be prohibited. The CFIA manual doesn’t tell anyone this,  nor could they expect the lay horse person to understand any of the factors that also affect withdrawal times and drug tests,  so the person completing the form,  even if honest,  is never provided with the appropriate information.

 

 

Of course, the system isn’t designed to encourage former owners to give too much thought to what drugs a horse may have been given on or off-label during the course of its life. It’s to the benefit of the slaughterhouses that short-term owners will be unaware of the existence of a list of prohibited drugs or drugs that must be withdrawn for days or months, since this means fewer declarations of drug administrations,  and allows the CFIA to crow about a “98% compliance rate for drugs.” If there were adherence to the Meat Hygiene manual, the majority of horses would be disqualified outright because of Phenylbutazone and other drug usage, including virtually all former race horses. Those that were not disqualified outright would probably need to be held for six months for withdrawal.  You couldn’t even immediately slaughter a horse that had recently been wormed.

We saw how corruptible and falsifiable equine passports were during the EU lasagna adulteration scandal two years ago, where meat has for years been extruded through a supply system that could hardly be more opaque, and foreign gangsters and mafia were secretly adulterating the food supply with profit as the main incentive.  This is hardly much different than what happens currently In Canada, (minus the organized crime connection) where the EID system provides as much traceability and drug-free conclusiveness as does buying meat off the street from a stranger – because official ID isn’t required in order to complete an EID.  Yet the CFIA perversely insists that the paper EID is just as good as the falsifiable passports that allowed the EU horsemeat scandal to happen.

Henry Skjerven, former director of Natural Valley Farms in Saskatchewan, said:

“US and Canada were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.

We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear – I think that it was very valid – that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”

 

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The Horse Sushi Sagas – Reblogged From “The Gadabout”

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This is a reblog from “The Gadabout,”  a blog by a pilot who writes of his flying experiences.  In these two blog posts written several years ago,  he gives his personal accounting of live horse shipments from Calgary, Alberta to Japan,  which have been previously documented by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.  You will also notice in the original blog photos that the horses are shipped multiple animals to one container,  which is contrary to IATA regulations,  an issue the CHDC also brought to the attention of Transport Canada and the CFIA in 2012

It’s not possible to confirm or deny the claims made here about incidents with horse shipments at this time,  and some of the transport companies mentioned here may no longer be involved and other participants may have changed.  Atlas Air and Korean Air are the companies that have now been observed doing the shipments – Fedex is no longer involved.  Please do not leave negative comments on his blog,  but instead view it as a very revealing first person accounting of the logistics and tragedy of live horse shipments from Calgary to Japan, preceding a protest of the practice at YYC (Calgary Airport).  If you live in the Calgary area, please plan to attend this peaceful protest on April 16, 2015.

Head ’em Up! Move ’em Out! 

“Me and the boys are settled down around the campfire here in Fukuoka, Japan after a big day out on the range a-bustin’ broncs. (Please recall, gentle reader, a previous email where I informed you that “Fukuoka” is pronounced “Foo Ko Ka”. Let’s not have any frivolous mispronunciations here.)

Loading Horses in Calgary (5)

Loading the Horses in Calgary – From “The Gadabout”

OK, they weren’t doggies and they weren’t broncs. They were Percherons and Belgian Draft Horses. We moved 57 head of them critters from Anchorage to Fukuoka yesterday. That’s an 8 hour flight and let me tell you, pards, being stuck in a closed aluminum tube for 8 hours with 57 one-ton horses is an olifactory event. But I get ahead of myself.

There is evidently a big demand for horsemeat and horsey byproducts here in Mysterious Japan. Mitsui & Co, Ltd, Foodstuffs Division, is making enough money to pay FedEx handsomely to fly these behemoths from a ranch in Calgary, Canada to Fukuoka with a refueling stop in Anchorage. The ranch raises them for their first three years until they are full sized. We’re talking Budweiser Clydesdale size horses, here: they average 2000 lbs a piece on the hoof. Once they’ve achieved full horsey adult status, they go to Japan where they are evidently further fattened up before slaughter.

There were two horse charters flown yesterday for a total of 114 horses which is the maximum limit of the horse quarantine facility in Fukuoka. Fifty seven horses – my weight and balance sheet yesterday said they and their containers weighed 131,600 lbs – produce a lot of byproducts that have to taken into consideration when crammed into a wide body jet for many hours. First, there are the clever “Instone” Horse Containers. These cans keep the horses and the horse emanations from running around all over the back of the jet and the cargo hold. Makes the clean up process much more efficient, pards. Note the can does not have cute little yellow “dixie cup” oxygen masks that drop from the ceilings. If our aircraft “loses cabin pressure” – well, Pilgrim – them horses is screwed.

Please ignore the Atlas 747. FedEx has the charter now. Evidently other charters operators have let the horses get too hot and killed the whole plane load.

The charter comes with a certified “Horse Handler” – ours was from Ireland – and a FedEx loadmaster. The horse handler has a big ol’ syringe full of horsey tranquilizer and happy juice should one of those monsters grow too unruly.

There are several pages of instructions contained in the MD-11 flight manual that pertain to carrying livestock. We needed to take advantage of every one of them yesterday. Normally, we run the air system in the MD-11 on “Econ”, i.e, low air flow since there are at most only 5 people on the jet and running the air conditioners on full uses excess fuel. So I had to be sure to turn Econ off during preflight. Some jets have been modified with extra air lines and valves to be “High Flow” jets. Those airplanes had to be specifically tasked against this charter. Next, some of our jets only have a “Nine-G” cargo net and a flimsy plastic “vapor barrier” separating the courier and cockpit area from the cargo hold. Those won’t do. A horse charter has to have a rigid bulkhead system between the horses and the people. Operating out of Econ and in High Flow require increased fuel burn planning. So I and the dispatcher had to make sure we had enough gas to offset that.

Finally, all jets maintain cabin pressure by opening and closing an “outflow valve”. Conditioned Air from the A/C packs flow into the cabin. The outflow valves open and close automatically to maintain an exact cabin altitude. The problem is that 57 horses produce a lot more humidity than the aircraft designer planned for. That moisture can get in the outflow valves and at stratospheric cold temperatures they will freeze the valve in place. Being unable to control the cabin altitude half way across the Pacific with none or little divert options would be a bad thing. So every 30 minutes we had to go manual on the pressure controller and “exercise” the valve to keep it from freezing. Gotta tell you, pards, that gives the ol’ Eustachian tubes in the ears a work out, guarontee [sic] it.

What the book doesn’t tell you and you really need to know is that it is a really good idea to wrap your bags in plastic. If you don’t, your bag and it’s [sic] contents will smell of horse until you get to a time an place that will allow you to clean them. So, we spent and extra 10 minutes bagging all the stuff we wouldn’t need during the flight. Further, once we leveled off at cruise, the first thing we all did was to take off our uniforms and get into some old clothes. Then we bagged the uniforms too – hermetical seals, baby.

The cockpit wasn’t too bad, although you could tell that you had horses in the jet with you. But once you went back to the courier compartment for “physiological breaks” and to cook your meal, the odor of horse almost knocked you down. I’m sure my grandfather is laughing at me now: “That’s the smell of money, boy.” But, Popper could step out of the barn into the fresh air and we couldn’t.

Finally, we were supposed to hawk the temperature controls back in the cargo bay and keep the temperature right around 60 degrees. The packs were working just as hard as they could – I had them turned full cold – to keep them at 60 degrees.

What I didn’t expect – and I should have – was what happened during the approach and landing. Descent requires you to pull the power back – which significantly impacts the air coming into the packs. I tried to keep the power up a little, but there is only so much you can do and still descend, so the temps in the jet just shot up quickly. Elementary physics says that hotter air can’t hold as much humidity and by the time we landed we had moisture dripping off of the ceiling everywhere inside that jet. Yucky horsey moisture.

I wanted to go back and get some pictures of the horses but there wasn’t time before takeoff……and going past the rigid barrier during flight into the real miasma was counter indicated and I chose not to.

So the only pictures I got were of the unloading process at Fukuoka.

I was surprised at how calm the horses were during this process. It seemed like about every hour or so during the flight, one of the horses would start stamping back there in his can and it literally shook the whole airplane. During approach and landing it felt like they were doing a break dance back there. We tried to brake the minimum necessary and roll out the full length of the runway to keep from tossing them around. One or two really exuberant stomping episodes felt like a serious of small explosions to me.

As you look at these pictures, please note that these horse containers have seen some wear and tear and are not nearly the nice homey stalls that the thoroughbreds get when they travel. Certainly, none of these guys were Mr Ed.

Just a short layover here in FUK – yup, that’s Fukuoka’s identifier, I don’t make ’em up, I just have to live with ’em – but it’s a very nice hotel.

We had a really nice meal at a restaurant around the corner that served American style food: “Cafe George” was the name. All six of the two horse charter crews plus one load master all went together. All of us were ex Air Force and we told lies and swapped war stories for a couple of hours and a good time was had by all. Much better than eatin’ Cookie’s grub out the chuck wagon, I gotta tell you, Pilgrim.”

The Horse Charter Follies

“Howdy All,

About 6 months ago I wrote about flying a horse charter to Fukuoka, Japan. Evidently, there is a big market for horsemeat in Japan. Japanese restaurants evidently think Belgian Draft horses make really good sushi (Basashi) so there are ranches all over the landscape around Calgary and Edmonton that grow thousands of these huge horses. They weigh about 2000 lbs apiece by the time they are two years old and then we haul ‘em to Japan. We ship them three horses to a roll-on-roll-off ‘can’.

Unloading The Horses -

Unloading The Horses – From “The Gadabout”

Since we can not load enough horses and fuel to be profitable and fly non-stop, we fly them in two legs, the first to Anchorage to refuel and then on to Fukuoka where they are quarantined and then fattened for slaughter.

Gentle Reader, yesterday turned into yet another mechanical saga – the worst in fact of this two week stretch of work I’m on. First, 57 horses jammed into the aluminum tube of a widebody jet require some significant life support. You have to keep the air moving in and out for cooling and respiration. That many huge horses can generate a lot of body heat and a lot carbon dioxide. So, when we start loading them, we switch the airplane’s A/C packs to ‘high flow’ and crank the temperature as low as we can get it.

The next piece of information in this comedy of errors I’m relating is that Calgary is served by FedEx Airbus 300’s normally. The mechanic assigned to our flight was – on paper – qualified to work on MD-11’s but the most he’d ever done was top-off the ‘serviceables’ – fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, oxygen and so forth. He might have changed a light bulb too…….

The airplane had just flown in from Hawaii and when it landed, the crew could not get one of the electrical buses to connect to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The APU is small jet engine turbine that sits in the tail and provided electricity and air to power, cool and start the airplane. If it can’t power the electrical buses, we are ‘hard broke’ – it’s got to be fixed or we can’t fly.

So a discussion occurs between the loadmaster and the mechanic: ‘How long will this take to fix? Can I start loading the horses?’ Without really thinking this through a decision is made to load them up. I am reminded of the scene in Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where the bad guy drinks from the wrong cup and turns into dust. As the Knight Templar said: “He chose poorly.”

After the horses are loaded, the mechanic discovers that fixing the electrical problem is much more involved than he previously thought. It will require changing an electrical relay down in the electrical compartment between the landing gear. Further, we have to take all the electrical power off the airplane so it will be safe for him to switch out the relay. Since it is a ‘black box’ it shouldn’t be more than 30 minutes to change out.

Gentle Reader, it was a cool rainy day in Calgary – the temperature outside was just below 60 degrees and good strong breeze was blowing. If it had been normal Memorial Day weekend weather those horses would have been in big trouble because it took 5 hours to fix the jet.

First, our intrepid mechanic had to read the manual and follow it step by step. Evidently the compartment involved is very tight and it is tough to get the heavy black box in and out. Secondly, routing the cables involved is very tricky and requires some previous knowledge and this guy has none. He’s on the phone to the Maintenance experts in Memphis and they are talking him through this process.

I must start another aside here to further this tale. Several years ago, FedEx subcontracted one of these charters to Gemini Airlines. Gemini had some old, beat up 747 freighters that had bad air-conditioning systems in them. They were not up to the charter task and in fact they killed all the horses through lack of oxygen and carbon dioxide inhalation. My loadmaster on yesterday’s flight was also the unlucky loadmaster stuck with this tragedy. He’s really sensitive to horse mortality as he does not want his name associated with yet another incident.

So, about an hour into this process, it is getting steamy in the back of our jet. It’s dark, hot and you can’t see but two or three horse cans back. The loadmaster says to me the chilling words: “Geoff, this looks exactly how the Gemini disaster looked. We gotta do something.” So, we go down to the electrical compartment, get the mechanic out of there, put some power back on the jet so we can open up the aft doors on the main deck to let the breeze blow some air through the jet.

At this point a new problem arises. The only way to open the aft doors is to squeeze between the horse cans and the side of the jet all the back by the tail. When they get there, they discover that the wiring to the doors has been disconnected – since we never use those doors – as a security precaution. So, now they have to reassemble the wiring harness. This takes about 30 minutes and they are 100 feet aft of where I am up in the front of the jet and out of communication.

About 20 minutes into this process, I realize that if heat and CO2 inhalation can kill a horse, it can kill a person too. (I’m quick that way.) They did not take any kind of breathing equipment back with them. My imagination begins to work. So, I go back as far as I think I can safely go into the miasma. You can’t see 10 feet back…..and I begin shouting to see if they can hear me.

Gentle Reader, shouting near 57, large, hot, miserable horses is a bad idea. They begin kicking and stomping and generally making a fuss and shaking the whole airplane. If the loadmaster and the mechanic are answering me, I can’t hear it for all the uproar. I do feel somewhat better about the two guys since I’m thinking that if the horses still have energy to kick, then they are getting oxygen. But I’m still wondering if I’m going to have to call the fire department and have them go back there with breathing apparatus to resuscitate and rescue them. Finally, the horses settle down enough that I can hear them shout that they’ve just about got it open.

About the time they get the doors open, some more ground guys show up with an air-conditioning cart and they stick the big hose up in the doors and begin pumping cool air into the airplane. Now the mechanic can shut down the power again and go back to work fixing the jet.

In the meantime, the loadmaster starts working another issue. We have a ‘no later’ than time for the horses to arrive in Fukuoka. After that the airport is closed. If we go to Anchorage but can’t get to Fukuoka, there is no place to stable the horses. The horse handlers specifically state: “If we can’t get the horses to Fukuoka, we’d rather keep them here.’ They do have a temporary stable system in Calgary to get them off the jet. The Global Ops people say they understand this issue.

Finally, we are repaired and ready to go. The loadmaster makes one last call and confirms we are good to go all the way including the refueling stop and crew change in Anchorage and we blast off.

I have some aerodynamic information to share now, gentle reader. If you’ve ever listened closely to the Space Shuttle mission controller talking, he says as the shuttle passes through about 25000’ above sea level “Now entering the region of Max Q.” You can get the fastest subsonic speeds through the atmosphere in the region of Max Q but you burn a lot more gas. In order to expedite the trip up to Anchorage, I call Global Ops and get a new flight plan and fuel burn for staying that low and to make up some more time.

About halfway to Anchorage we discover that the air-conditioning can’t maintain the desired temperatures in the back at 25000 feet and we need to go higher where the air is colder. So we abandon the speed run and climb to 36000 feet.

The nasty weather around Calgary cleared up about 100 miles east of Juneau and we got some fantastic views. We were behind and above a United 777 that was going to Narita and it made a pretty picture.

Fifty miles further west, we saw this:

Juneau is in the little inlet in the upper right corner of this picture. Then north of Juneau we saw:

There is a cruise ship is right in the center of the picture.

About 200 miles north of Juneau is Mt St Elias and the Malaspina Glacier that I’ve written about before.

Just after that, the 777 veered left to continue to the Orient and we kept going to Anchorage.

Letting down into Anchorage we flew right over Prince William Sound where the sun was shining just right on the waves in the water to make a rainbow reflection:

Just after that we passed over Whittier and the harbor that is home to other day cruises and fishing tours.

If you look close, there is a cruise ship moored at the docks. The only way to drive to Whittier from anywhere is through a one lane tunnel that serves both trains and cars. I wrote about it back in September. In this picture you can see where the road disappears into the tunnel. I tried to show the tunnel from both sides here but the clouds obscure some of the view. You can see Whittier in the left side of the picture, the big mountain the tunnel goes under and on the right side of the picture, under the cloud is the road as it exits the mountain and goes next to the Portage glacier and river.

Clouds closed in right after this and we got busy landing. We got permission from the tower to roll the full length of the runway and minimized braking to keep from throwing the horses around and then taxied in.

That’s when we discovered that the next crew couldn’t get to Fukuoka in time before it closed and the horses had to spend last night in the jet parked on the ramp at Anchorage. The horse owner was more than a little miffed.

And that, Gentle Reader, ends this saga. Today is a flight to Fort Worth, Tx. As more fascinating sagas occur, I will share them.

Until then, I remain,”

Dad / Geoff

http://opinhbombay.blogspot.ca/2008_08_01_archive.html

 

 

Horse Welfare 2014 – The Year In Review

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2014 seasons greetings graphic© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

So we’re concluding the “Year of the Horse,” which technically ends on 02/18/2015, until the next YOTH, in 2026. Will we see the “end times” for horse slaughter before then? While on the subject of the Chinese zodiac, I’m reminded of the phrase “may you live in interesting times,” which according to Wikipedia, is an English expression purporting to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. The nearest related Chinese expression is “宁为太平犬,莫做乱世人” which conveys the sense that it is “better to live as a dog in an era of peace than a man (woman) in times of war.”

Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war – a constant struggle to maintain the de facto ban on domestic horse slaughter in the U.S. With the signing of the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill, the U.S. will continue to forbid the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption. Horse slaughter was effectively blocked via an injunction in New Mexico,  and after exhausting all legal avenues, Valley Meat owner Rick De Los Santos gives up.  As a testament to the durability of the pro-slaughter mindset,  a new owner is still expressing interest in slaughter in that state.

There is continued support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would ban both the slaughter and export of American horses for human consumption. Despite the support of 308 Representatives and 60 Senators behind the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to stop the inhumane practice of “soring” show horses, a small group of obstructionists in Congress prevented a vote on the PAST Act, so this must be revisited in 2015. There is increased outrage against the drugging of horses in the racing industry and TWH soring and attendance at “Big Lick” shows is declining.

The mismanagement of wild horses and burros in the west continues to be predominant, as is the BLM continuing to conduct inhumane round-ups and removals while failing to move decisively toward humane on-the-ground population management strategies built around fertility control. Criticism of Premarin® and Prempro® and similar drugs derived from conjugated equine estrogens continues to be made in 2014.possible impossible

Reverberations of the 2013 horsemeat adulteration scandal are still felt – we are occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply.  The EU is in the process of revising rules on horse passports, and horsemeat was withdrawn various markets in the EU, resulting in the loss of a contract that was of tremendous importance to Claude Bouvry in Alberta.

An unpopular wild horse capture goes ahead in Alberta, and the protest received a celebrity endorsement by singer Jann Arden.  After months of uncertainty for the hardy protesters who were arrested near the capture site,  the charges were later dismissed.

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and its supporters continue to ensure that bad press for the slaughter industry reaches the public. The Global News 16X9 investigation is made with the assistance of the CHDC and supporter/horse rescuer Mindy Lovell and others. The CHDC continues to publish the results of ATI (FOIA) requests, each one revealing grievous departures by the CFIA from established procedures..

Despite intense lobbying, press conferences and huge pushes for Bill C-571, Canadian anti-slaughter advocates were ultimately let down by the NDP party. As a result, the anti-slaughter Bills in Canada ultimately failed.

The poor economic results in the last 6 years helped ensure that all breed organizations experienced a decline in the number of foals, registrations and memberships. If fewer horses are being bred (and ultimately slaughtered), the prospect of turning around the problem of North American horse slaughter is on the horizon. This has not gone unnoticed by those with a vested interest in seeing horse populations increase and the convenience of slaughter continue.  The Ontario Racing Commission recently announced that the province’s standardbred racing industry is about to get a substantial $12 million infusion to its program to encourage breeding, after the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Programs resulted in the slaughter of thousands of horses, including foals and broodmares. The declining number of horses (rightsizing?) continues to be a hot topic in the U.S as well, where the American Horse Council wondered aloud at their 45th annual meeting what they could do to increase registration (and breeding) from the various equestrian disciplines. The Jockey Club too, are concerned about the drop in racehorse starts.  And lastly, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the AVMA suddenly have a problem with the aspect that fewer horses mean less income for veterinarians and other equine practitioners. If these professional groups were more forward-thinking, they might have given greater consideration to building relationships with their clients rather than promoting slaughter at the expense of humane euthanasia…….

Perhaps the most promising news this year though comes in confirmation that the European Commission, after a recent audit, decided to suspend horsemeat imports from Mexico due to food safety concerns. If Canada is not far behind (indeed our slaughter industry presents the same concerns as Mexico), then the loss of these markets could prove devastating to the horse slaughter industry in Canada, preventing plants from achieving economies of scale and therefore continuing to thrive.

Click here to review some of the highlights (and lowlights) on Storify, in chronological order.

thank you note

 

This Is Horse Slaughter In Canada

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bouvry protest

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

Written by: Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thin horse at OLEX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gerry Ritz Flag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kill Pens at OLEX

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please share.

famous rescues copy

Horse Slaughter Trends Across Borders – Google Trends Analysis

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Magnifying GlassWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

As a result of their market domination, Google has become more of an institution than a search engine. Therefore, Google’s search data is incredibly indicative of public opinion and interests. Google Trends is an application that’s particularly useful as a timely, robust, and sensitive surveillance system. While it is useful to advertisers looking to create keywords to market their products, we can also use it to create charts that show how often horse slaughter issues and phrases are searched for over time by all Google users interested in acquiring more information on this subject.

An analysis of the term “horse slaughter” in Google Trends shows us how popular the search term is currently as well as in the recent past. I’ve compared the stats from 2004 to 2014 year-to-date for the United States (blue), Canada (gold), and the United Kingdom (red).  Initially I compared these countries to France, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and China, expecting to see some tangible increase over time yet Google Trends yielded no measurable activity.

From the chart we can see that horse slaughter in the US was trending long before the United Kingdom or Canada, which began trending mid-2007 and 2008 respectively. The uptick in slaughter keyword trending activity in Canada began a few years after the launch of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition in 2004, and seems to be linked to that group’s 2008 publication of Black Beauty Betrayed, an Early Investigation at Natural Valley Farms, and the issue of Illegal Dumping of Horse Blood at Natural Valley Farms.

horse slaughter stats

Click on the graph for a link to the live data

 

Key points in the graph also register the heightened activity in the US and Canada due to:

  • House votes on horse slaughter in the US (2006)
  • Anti-horse slaughter bills advancing in Congress (2007)

There was a huge spike in late 2011 likely due to:

  • The US “ban” on domestic horse slaughter being lifted when Congress passed, when Obama signed into law a USDA spending bill that reinstated federal funding for inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption
  • Developing interest in Rick De Los Santos horse slaughter plant in New Mexico
  • Valley Meats first application for a grant of inspection with the USDA in December
  • The CHDC releasing footage and photos obtained by an anonymous source at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation in St. Andre-Avellin Quebec (Pasture to Plate)

Also note the increased interest in horse slaughter search terms as a result of the horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU (January – March 2013)

Currently we see that horse slaughter as a keyword search appears to be tapering off in 2013 and 2014 YTD, perhaps due to the cessation of slaughter in the US, the subsiding interest in the horse meat adulteration in Great Britain, and the failure of the anti-slaughter bills in Canada.  At the present time,  interest in “horse slaughter” as a keyword appears to be in decline relative to the heightened activity from 2006 – early 2013.

 

 

Torture for Profit – The Business Model of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

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red tape

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

As if there wasn’t enough misery in the lives of farm animals…….

By now you’ve probably read about the “Canadian Food Inspection Agency sanctioned” abuse at federally licensed Western Hog Exchange in Alberta, filmed by undercover investigator. The undercover video shows the arrival oftop hat tip dead pigs, lame pigs, pigs being hit with electric prods, and jammed with metal gates. In some instances, CFIA inspectors are present and are videoed providing staff with electric prods which are in violation of Western Hog regulations. All this serves to raise questions about CFIA oversight and investigation and enforcement of anti-cruelty regulations.  Why does it always take an undercover operation to expose something terrible happening on the CFIA’s watch?

The footage, filmed by Mercy For Animals, was given to W5, CTV’s investigative program, as part of their “These Little Piggies” expose. W5 made multiple attempts to interview either Dr. Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, or failed ostrich farmer Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture, for this segment. In an incredible feat of bureaucratic idiocy and exasperating obfuscation, the CFIA, who claim to be intolerant of farm animal abuse, side-steps the issue and refuses an interview at least until W5 ambushes Archibald in the parking lot. Too bad the media types at the CFIA never understood the phrase “when you find yourself in a deep hole, stop digging.”

W5’s negotiation process with the CFIA looks like this:

September 3, 2014 – W5 e-mails CFIA providing a synopsis of the video, our initial questions, and seeking an interview with CFIA President Bruce Archibald

W5 is producing a story about the transportation of and handling of pigs in Canada. As part of this investigation, W5 has been provided with hidden camera video inside the Red Deer location of the Western Hog Exchange.

September 11, 2014 – CFIA responds to W5’s request for an interview and responds to some of W5’s written questions

I am responding to your recent requests for an interview with Dr. Bruce Archibald. Dr. Archibald is unavailable for an interview however the information you requested is below. Please contact me if you have further questions.

Thank you,

CFIA Media Relations

Question 1: What are Canada’s animal transport and welfare regulations?

Answer: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) does not condone or tolerate any abusive behaviour towards animals and investigates all allegations of animal mistreatment.

The CFIA enforces the humane treatment of animals in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations and the Meat Inspection Regulations. Broadly speaking, these regulations aim to prevent the undue suffering of animals during transport and during slaughter at federally registered facilities. These regulations are enforced through inspections at various locations such as border entry points, livestock auction markets and slaughter plants.

Most Canadian producers, transporters and processors are strongly committed to treating animals humanely. In the cases of non-compliance, the Agency works closely with the provinces, territories and all stakeholders in the animal care community to encourage immediate reporting of any animal welfare concerns to the appropriate regulatory authority. Rapid, detailed reporting places us in the best possible position to take appropriate enforcement actions.

Question 2: What are the current regulations on transport times, limits for feed, water and rest, andtruck conditions on animal welfare, and animal handling during the transportation process?

Answer: Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport. The Health of Animals Regulations require that animals be in good physical condition to travel and that the trip be made under suitable conditions (ventilation, duration, loading density, and proper construction of trailers and conveyances

Question 3: Can the CFIA provide their records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange from May 1,2014 to August 31, 2014?

Answer: There have been no issues of non-compliance identified by the CFIA against the Western Hog Exchange in the past year and, therefore, no enforcement actions taken by the CFIA.

September 12, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

If Dr. Archibald is unavailable, we request an on-camera interview with the person who oversees CFIA inspectors or someone else from the CFIA who can speak to these issues.

September 12, 2014 – CFIA responds and requests a copy of the hidden camera footage, while not agreeing to any interview

The CFIA takes any allegations of animal mistreatment seriously. In order for us to conduct an appropriate investigation, we request that you forward us the video footage.

September 12, 2014 – W5 responds offering to bring the video to the CFIA office and screen it for them prior to any on-camera interview

We propose the following: our reporter, Victor Malarek, will bring a copy of the video to your offices and show it to the person designated to be interviewed (off-camera). Immediately after he or she has viewed the video, we would expect an on-camera interview.

We have previously enumerated the instances contained in the video in advance of its showing to provide an idea of what the interviewee will see:

  1. a)      Pigs being transported in extreme heat;
  2. b)      Pigs dead on arrival;
  3. c)       Pigs coming off trucks that are too injured to stand or move on their own being forced to move with bats, feet, prodded with electric prods, or pushed with heavy gates;
  1. d)      Boars de-tusked to the gum level,
  2. e)      Questionable euthanasia practices;
  3. f)       Overcrowding.

In some instances, CFIA inspectors appear to be present.

September 17, 2014 – CFIA responds saying an interview is not feasible and responds more of W5’s initial questions

In order for us to initiate a proper and detailed investigation, it is essential that several CFIA animal welfare experts thoroughly view the footage. Typically, this process requires multiple viewings and consultation with other officials in the CFIA. Therefore, it would not be feasible to conduct an interview under the scenario you have proposed.

The CFIA takes allegations of animal mistreatment during transport or slaughter seriously and investigates reports of mistreatment. It is important to re-emphasize that we cannot proceed with a full investigation of this situation until we are provided and can appropriately examine the video footage.

Question 1: Can you provide information on the CFIA records of inspection at Western Hog Exchange (WHE) from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014 including inspector compliance verification records and non-compliance reports?

Answer: At this facility, WHE employees identify and exclude from slaughter suspect or unsatisfactory animals. CFIA inspectors then verify that the remaining animals are suitable for slaughter and that proper procedures are followed to produce safe meat. There were379,769 animals presented for CFIA inspection during this period. No animals were condemned based on these inspections.

CFIA inspectors also verify that animals arriving at this facility have been transported in a humane manner. It is important to note that CFIA inspectors are not on site for all arrivals; however, the CFIA did conduct 84 humane transport verifications during this period. No non-compliance reports were issued.

Question 2: Were there any “letters of warning” written to the Western Hog Exchange by the CFIA from May 1, 2014 to August 31, 2014? If so, how many? Can we get copies?

Answer: No letters of warning were issued during this period.

September 17, 2014 – W5 again requests an interview

As we continue our reporting, today we interviewed a representative of Western Hog Exchange who agreed to be interviewed immediately after screening the video with his colleagues. We are prepared to do the same for CFIA.

i.e. to screen the video to as many people as you like, and the opportunity to screen the footage multiple times, in order to allow you to thoroughly view and examine the footage, provided that an interview is granted immediately afterward.

October 1, 2014 – W5’s Senior Reporter Victor Malarek approaches CFIA president Bruce Archibald directly to seek answers and to request an interview. (The exchange is recorded by W5’s cameras and can be seen in our report.)

October 2, 2014 – Following the approach to Archibald, CFIA’s Executive Director of Strategic Communications, James Stott, calls W5:

We are prepared to offer an interview. Our spokesperson is in Western Canada, we would have him available in Calgary.

There would be a condition to the interview, and that is that the footage that was taken today and yesterday at our headquarters not be used. … We’d like an opportunity to be part of a fair and balanced story and I don’t think that’s possible with that footage being used.

October 2, 2014 – W5 responds, accepting their offer of an interview, but declining the CFIA’s conditions

According to CTV News Policy, we cannot undertake to withhold any video that has already been shot.

We have been asking for an interview for more than 4 weeks. We find it very interesting that you come to us now with an offer, after we approached Dr. Archibald yesterday. That said, in the interests of fairness we remain interested in an on-camera interview.

Victor and our crew are available to tape an on-camera interview with a spokesperson or representative from CFIA in Ottawa tomorrow, Friday, October 3, 2014, until 5 pm Eastern Time.

October 3, 2014There is no response from CFIA

mediocrityIt’s hardly surprising that there are so many lame pigs in the video – pigs fed ractopamine are at increased risk for exhibiting downer pig syndrome. Ractopamine, a growth promoter, has been banned in 160 countries as a suspected carcinogen. The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and a protruding tongue. In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals. There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug. Inexplicably, the FDA approved the drug, although other countries certainly paid attention to the scandal.

The CFIA, in their hatred of both animals and humans, has also simply ignored research that clearly warns of the danger represented by this drug to humans and the inhumanity to pigs. Even China, home of infant formula contamination, aluminum-contaminated dumplings, and glow-in-the-dark pork, has banned ractopamine, which is given to pigs in their last 4 weeks.

Animal abuse by agri-business does not appear to be a blip on CFIA radar, but they have no problem using extreme prejudice against small farmers and businesses. In 2012 the agency notified Wholearth Farm that they intended to destroy an entire herd of rare Shropshire sheep. The order was made under a federal program to eradicate scrapie, an illness that affects the productivity and longevity of sheep but can’t be transmitted to humans. The CFIA went on to waste more taxpayer money in the sheep-napping investigation that followed. The Wholearth farm was raided multiple times by the CFIA, who threatened the farmer with up to 12 years in jail and fines of up to $1.5 million, even though none of the sheep were determined to have scrapie. It is fascinating how a very simple act of civil disobedience (refusing to hand over the rare sheep to be killed) unleashed an investigation worthy of searching for a mass murderer or a drug cartel.

Contrast the decision to eradicate the healthy sheep to one by the CFIA to declare fit for human consumption 240,000 Atlantic salmon with infectious salmon anemia – a disease it says poses no risk to human heath. Because the U.S. won’t import fish with the virus, the salmon will have to find dinner plates to land on somewhere in Canada. A marine biologist says infectious salmon anemia is an influenza-type virus and can mutate in unpredictable ways, especially if it comes into contact with another flu virus in a human being.LIPSTICKONAPIG

While allowing infected fish in the marketplace, the shallow talent pool at the CFIA have chosen to target Field Roast vegetarian “meat” products, for labelling compliance issues, forcing the vegan company to halt Canadian distribution. It looks like we will need a special act of parliament to allow the Field Roast product into the Canadian marketplace, thanks to this misguided ruling by the CFIA. Virus-infected fish = OK , but vegetarian meat replacements = NON-COMPLIANT WITH CFIA LABELLING REGULATIONS.

It’s simply astonishing that industries that torture and abuse animals have been left relatively untouched by the CFIA while they persecute both a small sheep farmer and the manufacturer of a vegan meat replacement product.  The CFIA has set something of a national record for blundering in a single government agency – an agency where lying and bullshitting have also become part of its business model.

In his classic 1986 essay “On Bullshit,” Princeton University professor Harry Frankfurt makes an important distinction between lying and mere “bullshit.” The liar knows and cares about the truth but deliberately sets out to deny or disguise it; the bullshitter doesn’t care about the truth, he is simply trying to impress us or sell us something. The honest man and the liar really care about the facts but the bullshitter isn’t concerned with the facts except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says:  He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them up, or makes them up, to suit his purposes.

Please sign the Mercy for Animals petition.

Please also see Canadian Horse Defence Coalition blog posts about CFIA misfeasance.

A Tale Of Two Wildies

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Family Picnic,  by Melody Perez

Family Picnic, by Melody Perez – http://www.runninghorses.org

 

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

These famous lines, which open “A Tale of Two Cities,” hint at the novel’s central tension between love and hatred. Indeed, the subject of opposite “pairs” is one of the major themes of Charles Dickens’ novel.

I’m reminded of both the similarities and differences between the wild horses of Sable Island off the coast of Nova Scotia and those of western Canada. How unequally treated they are in the eyes of the government!  On the one hand, the Sable Island horses are romanticized as being the descendants of shipwrecked horses, while the wild horses residing in Alberta and British Columbia however, not treated with such sentimentality. They are considered to be feral, inbred, and worthless, while spreading parasites and disease to other ungulates in the area. Both groups of present-day horses, however, are descendants of animals brought to these areas in the 1700s. When horses galloped across what would become the US border onto Alberta’s prairies, it was a bit of an overdue homecoming, having been perhaps 10,000 years since the province’s grasslands shuddered under equine hooves. Despite geography, all these horses share a common ancestry, as fossils indicate that North America is the original home of the horse where it first appeared millions of years ago. Yet both groups of horses are viewed in decidedly different fashions, primarily because up to this point, unlike Alberta, there have been no resources of interest that can be easily extracted from Sable Island.

Sable Island Horses tonemappedThe 42 km long, 1 km wide crescent-shaped island, really a large sandbar, is a remnant of the Wisconsin glacial deposit made between 10,000 and 45,000 years ago. The present population of 350-400 horses are the ancestors of horses used in a government operation established to assist ship-wrecked seafarers. The island, located about 290 km off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, became Canada’s 43rd National Park in June 2013 – the first national park in the middle of a petroleum field. Perhaps because of this, the Bill to designate Sable Island a national park reserve was very nearly derailed in the House of Commons.

The possible pedigrees of these horses, who generally fall between 13 – 15 hh and range in colour from chestnuts to bays and blacks, with some horses bearing light coloured manes and tales, is unknown, but could consist of a number of breeds popular at the time, including ponies and drafts. Unlike the Alberta and BC wildies who are exposed to interference by people – fertility control, culling, round-ups, etc. the Sable Island horses are among the few wild horse populations that are entirely unmanaged.

It’s important to note that the Sable Island horses themselves are not directly protected, but rather the island itself is, historically under the “Canada Shipping Act,” not surprisingly, since the island is a hazard to marine vessels and the area nearby is a graveyard to about 350 ships and thousands of sailors. This protection is tenuous and exists only as long as the Canadian Coast Guard operates a station there. Since 1801, when the life-saving stations were established, there has been a continuous government presence on the island. In 2008, the Nova Scotia government designated the horses one of the official provincial symbols and they are also the official horse of Nova Scotia. The horses have the same status as other wildlife on the island, such as grey seals, roseate terns and the Ipswich savannah sparrow – undisturbed except where research permits are provided by Parks Canada. Biological samples are only taken from animals that have died of natural causes. Based on meticulous records of which horses have gone missing and how many carcasses have been found, it’s estimated that remains have been found for the majority of the horses that have been on the island for about the past 30 years.

Up to this point there have been no resources of interest to extract from the island itself, although that could change in the future. Because of the reserve status, there is a legal ban on surface drilling on the island, out to one nautical mile. horses on the dunes tonemappedThe designation as a national park reserve still allows for horizontal drilling underneath the island and low-level seismic testing on top of the island. The Sable Offshore Energy Project produces between 400 and 500 million cubic feet (14,000,000 m3) of natural gas and 20,000 barrels (3,200 m3) of natural gas liquids every day. But the government estimates there is $2.4 billion worth of natural gas and oil directly underneath Sable Island. However, it is too expensive to extract those resources with current technology. ExxonMobil, Shell Canada, Imperial Oil and other consortium partners have the exploration rights in the area. Environmental groups say the Bill designating the island as protected is not perfect because it allows for potential future development in and around the island.

In stark contrast to the status of the Sable Island horses, Alberta’s government announced in January it would give out licences to capture 200 of the free-roaming wild horses. There are no restrictions on what may be done with them either – while some could be domesticated, trained and sold to private homes, any others, including pregnant mares, older horses, and infirm horses, can be sold to slaughter.

According to the Ministry of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, there are too many horses in the area, and they are competing for resources with cattle (a non-native species) and wildlife. These wild horses inhabit crown land territory of 23,000 km2. That is one horse for every 23 km2. This is very low density. The committee that made this decision included groups with a conflict of interest such as cattle ranchers (one of whom was issued a permit to capture horses), OHV (off-highway vehicle users) and the forestry industry. In addition to pressure by industry, there is also an historical sense of entitlement by certain groups, including hunters, trappers, rodeo suppliers, and outfitters. These groups all claim that roughly 900 or fewer horses have somehow decreased the population of deer and elk. All claim these “feral” horses threaten their use/exploitation of the land and its resources. The Conservative government of Alberta, formerly under Alison Redford, has close ties to the most powerful stake holders, oil and gas, the beef industry and forestry.

Stake holder list:

  • Alberta Equestrian Foundation & Alberta Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
  • Alberta Farm Animal Care Association
  • Alberta Fish and Game Association
  • Alberta Professional Outfitters Society
  • Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA has withdrawn from the committee, even though they state that they did not know about it at the beginning, they also had not attended any of the previous meetings)
  • Alberta Veterinary Medical Association
  • Alberta Wilderness Association
  • Capture License Holder
  • Livestock Identification Services Ltd.
  • Rangeland Expert at the University of Alberta
  • RCMP Livestock Investigator
  • Rocky Mountain Forest Range Association
  • Spray Lake Sawmills
  • Sundre Forest Products
  • Wild Horses of Alberta Society
Alberta Wildies tonemapped

Photography by Ken Mcleod

A scientifically valid headcount of the horses has not been done since March 2013, before the flooding last June, and before the heavy snowfall this winter, both of which are believed by horse advocacy groups in the area to have taken a toll on the herd’s numbers. Despite not possessing an accurate count of the horses, the PC government insisted on moving ahead with the cull without a clear objective or enough scientific data to support it. Therefore, the government has operated blindly using misinformation to justify their actions. Various talking heads in government capacities also bizarrely claim that the wild horses have no known predators. There is absolutely no science behind any of their claims of rangeland degradation by the horses. It is a fact that domestic livestock grazing reduces wildlife populations by competing for food, water, and space, and degrading habitat. Habitat degradation caused by grazing also exposes prey species to increased predation (due to lost vegetative cover for concealment and escape), resulting in further declines in those populations. The vast majority of forage and water resources in the West are devoted to domestic livestock grazing.

Ultimately, only 15 horses were captured, despite the covert behaviour of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) leading up to the 2014 capture season. By no means did ESRD demonstrate any commitment to the recommendations of a clear and transparent, honest communication amongst all stakeholders, which was tabled at the Feral Horse Advisory Committee. In fact, ESRD repeatedly denied capture permits were issued when numerous inquiries were put to them in the weeks preceding the announcement. Jason Bradley (one of two individuals to whom the original permit for 200 horses was ultimately issued – Brynn Thiessen is the second.  Two other former permit owners declined to participate this year), is on the Steering Committee and was therefore provided with advance information about the issuance of his capture permit so that he could prepare his site in advance, while withholding that information from other members of the Steering Committee and members of the general public. This is a clear conflict-of-interest. Of these captured horses, three mares, possibly heavily in foal, were removed, sold to a third party and apparently slaughtered within a scant few days, despite Alberta Horse Industry (and therefore Canadian Food Inspection Agency) regulations that state that “at least six continuous months of documented acceptable history is required for an equine presented for processing in an establishment inspected by CFIA.”

So,  by an accident of geography, the Sable Island horses are left alone to enjoy their days free from human interference. It’s not that the government values the horses themselves, but unlike the Alberta wildies, they have no reason at this time

Ken McLeod Horses tonemapped

Photography by Ken Mcleod

to disturb them. Now the future of Sable Island and the Station is in question, and the Canadian government is considering various options – one of which is to close the Station, thus ending 200 years of full-time human presence and stewardship. This option, combined with the encroachment of companies who are interested in oil and natural gas exploration would put not only the horses, but all the island’s flora and fauna at serious risk.

You can be sure if gas or oil could be easily extracted from Sable Island,  or the grass growing on the island was found to be of benefit to cattle grazing, then all of a sudden there would be too many horses on the island and a “management” plan would have to be implemented.

Please register your complaints about the handling of the Alberta free-roaming horses with the following individuals/agencies:
Livingston, Don

Land Management / Planning Forester
Land and Range Management
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
2nd fl Provincial Building
4919 – 51 Street
Rocky Mountain House, AB
T4T 1B3
Phone: 403 845-8236
Fax: 403 845-4750
E-mail: don.livingston@gov.ab.ca

Kesseler, Rob

Unit Lead, Integrated Operations
Rangeland Integration Section
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
4th fl Great West Life Building
9920 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2M4
Phone: 780 422-4568
Fax: 780 422-0454
E-mail: rob.kesseler@gov.ab.ca

Newsham, Helen

Section Head
Rangeland Integration Section
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
4th fl Great West Life Building
9920 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2M4
Phone: 780 427-4764
Fax: 780 422-0454
E-mail: helen.newsham@gov.ab.ca

Campbell, Robin, Honourable

Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource
Development, Government House Leader
Members of Executive Council
Executive Branch
323 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6
Phone: 780 427-2391
Fax: 780 422-6259

Hancock, Dave,  Honourable

Premier
Office of the Premier
Executive Branch
307 Legislature Building
10800 – 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2B6
Phone: 780 427-2251
Fax: 780 427-1349
E-mail: premier@gov.ab.ca

Booth, Nikki

Issues Manager
Communications
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
12th fl Petroleum Plaza ST
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone: 780 427-6233
Fax: 780 422-6339
E-mail: nikki.booth@gov.ab.ca

Sancartier, Carrie

Public Affairs Officer
Communications
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development
12th fl Petroleum Plaza ST
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, AB
T5K 2G8
Phone: 780 644-8372
Fax: 780 422-6339
E-mail: carrie.sancartier@gov.ab.ca

 

Legends of the Dance by Melody Perez

Legends of the Dance by Melody Perez – http://www.runninghorses.org

 

 

 

 

Full Monty or Foolhardy?

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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?

Horse Welfare 2013 – The Year in Review

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2014 Christmas Horse copy© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

2013 certainly became the year of the adulterated horsemeat scandal!  “Filler product,” comprised of horse meat and beef, is believed to have been unwittingly sourced from Poland and Romania, and used in the manufacture of the burgers and other ready-to-eat products.  Millions of products were removed from supermarket shelves in the EU.  The impact on industry trust on consumer confidence and ultimately on ready-meal volumes has been severe, and we are still occasionally hearing of instances whereby horsemeat has infiltrated the food supply.  Promises to tighten up the traceability systems in the UK should serve as foreshadowing to other nations such as Canada,  where it seems likely that some form of traceability will be pushed on the horse owner in the distant future.

There were certainly other big stories centering on animals, and the publicity surrounding the release of “Blackfish” was perhaps the most notable one, generating massive concern over the plight of captive marine mammals. Will any of the movies produced to highlight the plight of wild and slaughterbound horses be able to achieve similar popularity in 2014?  There are “lessons learned” from the success of this movie that can be used to bring horse issues to the mainstream public….

In the U.S., there were maneuvers to open slaughterhouses in Iowa, Missouri, and New Mexico, even though these businesses have almost no chance of being profitable and may not even be able to sell their product in the EU. Thus far, they have been staved off in court, but what happens in 2014 is uncertain.  HSUS and other advocates have secured language in the House and Senate 2014 spending bills to bar USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants, but the Congress has not given final approval to the measure.  Sadly, in Canada, a 5th horse slaughter plant opened in British Columbia.  which has become the subject of strenuous protests by horse advocates in that part of the country.  The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition also brought to the forefront the issue of non-compliant transport of live horses to Japan for meat.

In New York, grassroots animal advocates put carriage horses on the media radar screen during the mayoral contest there, and recently a carriage driver was charged with animal abuse after a horse was observed by police to be lame from serious thrush.  Cruelty to Tennessee Walker Horses was brought out of the stable and into the sunlight.  Trainer Jackie McConnell was sentenced for his abuses,  and trainer Larry Wheelon was indicted.  The PAST Act, legislation to upgrade the federal law against soring, received significant support with more than 250 House members signing on to the bill. The former leader of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association came out in favour of the bill, as did other prominent leaders within the industry.

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

Coins offered by the Royal Canadian Mint celebrate 2014 as the Year of the Horse

As most of us know, 2014 is the Year of the HorseA article on Chinese elements describes those born in the Year of the Horse as:

“Those born under the Sign of the Horse are said to be graceful, eager, impetuous, sharp, fashionable, hardworking, intelligent, friendly, cheerful and popular folks. People born in the Year of the Horse are excellent talkers, and can charm just about anyone. They are clever, kind to others, and like adventure. It is easy for them to fall in love. They are cheerful, perceptive, talented, and earthy. They like entertainment and large crowds. Horses are not comfortable with authority; they prefer to be the One in charge. They prefer a constantly changing, challenging environment. They are adventurers, scientists, poets, and politicians.”

Recent Horse Years are: 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002. A few famous people born in the Year of the Horse: Frédéric François Chopin (1810), Davy Crockett (1786), Paul McCartney, Harrison Ford , Aretha Franklin, and Barbara Streisand (1942), Teddy Roosevelt (1858), Sir Isaac Newton (1642)  and Oprah Winfrey (1954)

Click to review highlights of the entire year on Storify:

storify 2013

Human Casualties in the Long War for Horses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bouvry video summary,  Part I of III

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Chambers of Carnage

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Investigation – Pasture to Plate

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition Footage Index – Bouvry Exports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Belinda Lyall

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

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