Tag Archives: “horse meat”

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

 

 

Canadian Horses Being Served Up In Exclusive, Members-Only “Supper Clubs” in Japan

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Hat Tip:  Lisa

In Japan, “premium consumption,” a philosophy in which consumers do not mind spending large amounts of money on trendy products or services, is on the increase.  The Japanese are embracing “members-only” clubs and resorts to the tune of ¥355 billion ($4,176,200,000 CDN), up 13 percent from 2015.  Horsemeat is increasing in popularity in Japan due in part to a boom in sushi restaurants and exclusive dining clubs, and is sold as sakura nikku (cherry blossom meat) or raw as basashi.

3db52bea97fbff03b135df5fdd9c5da3The English language paper The Japan News, provides a first look at these exclusive and often very secretive restaurants serving what must be our Canadian draft horses, who are live exported almost every week on 16-18 hour flights during which time they are neither fed nor watered, generally by Atlas Air. Prior to shipment to Japan, our “gentle giants” are fattened up to gross proportions, and at risk for laminitis. Each horse is worth approximately $20,000 CDN.

In Tokyo, The Roast Horse is a members-only restaurant that has a set course menu of ¥7,500 ($88.00 CDN). The Roast Horse solicited its clientele via crowdfunding to collect money for a custom-made stone oven. The restaurant was able to generate about ¥6 million ($70,000 CDN). Membership at the restaurant is considered a privilege for the investors.

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Photo from an Acess-To-Information Request by the CHDC. We know that horses are dying while enroute to Japan, where horsemeat is preferred “fresh,”  hence the live export.  These flights are illegal as Canada is in breach of two sections of our own Health of Animals Regulations and IATA Live Animals Regulations.

“As the door opened, all 30 or so seats in the restaurant were occupied. Owner Mineyoshi Hirayama was serving customers a series of horse-based dishes, such as raw and roasted horse meat, while describing the details of the horseflesh he bought and the cooking methods. “What’s great about this restaurant is that it is exclusively members who can book a table. What’s more, we can taste horse meat that can’t be eaten at any other places,” said information technology journalist Masakazu Honda, who is a member. “All the people I have brought here have been delighted. This is a special restaurant.”

Please read more here.

If you’re not familiar with the entire sordid live horse export business to Japan,  please read the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s comprehensive investigative report here.

 

Call To Action:

Please sign and share the active petition to Atlas Air to end the horrid practice of live export to Japan.

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Trail Of Tears For Missing Horses Sargon And Apollo

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Trail Of Tears For Missing Horses Sargon And Apollo

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Bad things sometimes happen to good people.  In particular,  people loaning horses out for therapy programs would never imagine stealing a horse so it’s incomprehensible if it happens to them.  It may seem obvious to us that someone who sells or gives away your horse without your permission has essentially stolen him or her,  it’s generally considered a civil matter,  quite unlike what happens when someone cuts your fence and steals your horse directly off your property.  In contrast,  a civil matter is considered a dispute between two parties – if the police decide your case is civil,  they will generally decline to treat it as a crime.  Durham police have  assigned a detective to the case of at least one of the two missing Ontario horses, Sargon and Apollo.  Since the same parties are allegedly involved in the disappearance of more than one horse, perhaps the police have taken the view that an investigation needs to be undertaken to satisfy public interests?

WHO IS LIABLE WHEN LOANED HORSES ARE NOT RETURNED TO THEIR OWNERS ON DEMAND?

Leasing or free board arrangements permit a horse owner who loves their horse, but cannot keep him or hasn’t time to ride him – to lend him to a rider that can maintain him while the owner still has control. “Sent out for training” is a common excuse given when horses disappear from the farms where they have been placed.  The chain of custody for many missing horses often cannot be more opaque, with horses changing hands several times without parties to these transactions necessarily being unaware of the status of the missing horse.  This is why it’s a good practice to check all horses out online when you are considering buying or adopting.

The RCMP website informs us that the police will only investigate alleged fraud under certain circumstances:

“Major fraud within the Commercial Crime Program mandate can be defined as fraud cases of provincial, national or international significance (having due regard for contractual obligations with the provinces) in which one or more of the following elements are present (Corporate Fraud,  credit fraud, investment fraud, securities fraud, mass marketing fraud):

  • one or more of the RCMP strategic priorities (i.e. Organized Crime)
  • substantial value or financial losses
  • substantial impact on victims
  • high degree of criminal sophistication
  • requirement for special investigative expertise
  • municipal, provincial, or federal governments as victim
  • satisfying public or national interest”

There’s an old saying that bears repeating – “you will never meet a con-man you don’t like.” While a lease agreement won’t prevent a horse from disappearing if someone has the intent, a written agreement may be a deterrent against someone who impulsively decides to help themselves after identifying a target.  If someone won’t agree to a contract in writing,  walk away.

TIME MARCHES ON QUICKLY WHEN HORSES GO MISSING…

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The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition publishes this document to help horse owners locate their horses or get word to the slaughterhouses that a horse has been stolen. Applicable to both Canadians and Americans. Click to view.

You wonder what is happening to the horse…  Is he or she OK;  is someone hurting them?  What is the horse thinking about where he or she now is?  It doesn’t matter if you are pro or anti-slaughter – both sides know that when a horse is taken from you all you can do is think of ways to bring your horse home.

The heartbreak of owners Kim Wilson and Kayla Whatling  is reminiscent of that experienced by American Vicky Johnson, who has invested years into her own personal search for her missing and much loved mares Suzy and Echo, who were apparently sold to a slaughter horse buyer after being promised a caring home. Almost everything told to Vicky about the whereabouts of her horses was a lie, but both had received phenylbutazone and other drugs and medications, prohibited from entering the food chain. No one was ever punished for this crime against Vicky and her horses either.

Unlike with the “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.  Saying you don’t remember whether you shipped a horse or that “many horses look the same” is not an excuse.  In fact, since many horses do look similar this is further testament to the fact that the EIDs do not sufficiently identify them or differentiate between them with any degree of certainty.

Here are scans of the Toronto Sun articles on the missing horses Sargon and Apollo – these articles from the newspaper contain additional information written by The Sun’s crime reporter Chris Doucette, which was not provided in the online versions. With these articles, Mr. Doucette joins the ranks of investigative journalists Mary Ormsby and Dale Brazao of the Toronto Star in addressing the profound shortcomings of the horsemeat trade in Canada.

In the past the Toronto Sun has featured various articles about “bad boy culinists” who promoted  the eating of horsemeat in their restaurants, so this series of articles is definitely a welcome divergence.  [I hope a few foodies and restaurateurs serving horsemeat in Toronto see these articles as well…]

 

[Click on each article to embiggen to read]

 

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Over-Breeding, Foal-Milling AQHA Posts Membership Results for 2015

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

While new registrations and memberships of all pedigree horse breeds have been in decline overall since the 2008 recession,  registrations for the AQHA are possibly the hardest hit, due in part to the dominance of the quarter horse breed. The AQHA’s 2015 membership results have been posted, and following the trend of previous years,  they’re down overall once again.   Canada’s overall membership numbers continue in a decade of decline, so too do Alberta’s numbers, which are typically in the top 10 of almost any AQHA stat.

 

Membership Change Overall From 2014 – 2015 (2,997) This decline represents a loss of over $100,000 in revenue

Membership Change for Canada From 2014 – 2015 (655)

Membership Change for Alberta From 2014 – 2015 (171)

 

It’s no secret that the largest non-profit breed association in the world takes the most destructive and inhumane approach to horse slaughter of any of the breed groups. On the one hand, they have a Mission Statement to “ensure the American Quarter Horse is treated humanely, with dignity, respect and compassion at all times.” However, the AQHA needs a system to make room for the continuing mass production, hence their business model is to breed as many horses as possible (thus maintaining new memberships and registrations thus ensuring that they are a self-perpetuating entity) while discarding older  or surplus horses and horses with undesirable conformation to slaughter plants.

AQHA  Executive Vice President  Craig Huffhines – (in reference to the S.A.F.E. Act):

“If we do not like unwanted horses being sent to processing facilities across our northern and southern borders, then perhaps Congress should allow our own USDA-regulated processing plants to reopen. The U.S. plants, with state-of-the-art monitoring technology, will assure humane handling and euthanasia as approved by AAEP and AVMA and a USDA-inspected safe and wholesome end product for export.”

Can I say how disgusted I am that Huffhines refers to quarter horses as an “end-product?”  I dislike references to the term “foal crop” on the 2015 Executive Summary (or wherever else I see it).  41655994_mlThe term “crop” has pleasant connotations of the nostalgic gathering of a produce that is planted and cultivated by collecting rainwater for irrigation.  Animals are not “crops” that can be ripened like turnips, although sending horses to slaughter does bring to mind the image of a combine harvester and a crop of living animals that are simply mowed down.  Despite what the AQHA claims, the goal of “treating horses humanely and with dignity” is one that’s incompatible with over-breeding and slaughter.

In addition to encouraging horse owners to dispose of their animals in the slaughter pipeline and strategizing against humane groups,  the AQHA’s multiple-embryo-transfer rule also facilitates overpopulation by allowing mares to have more than one foal per year. Rules about using frozen semen or eggs from long-sterile or dead animals allowed horses to breed from beyond the grave.  Consider that First Prize Dash,  a 1988 quarter horse mare – produced  44 offspring!  Her sire, Dash for Cash, sired 1,233 foals!  Possibly these two horses are not the most obvious examples of this policy either. There were so many lines in the All Breed Pedigree record for Dash for Cash that I had to copy and past them into a spreadsheet in order to count them…

top hat tip DebbyInstead of trying to fight against animal welfare groups, the AQHA should be setting aside funds to care for unwanted horses that resulted from rampant over-breeding that the horse-riding public cannot absorb.

Fewer horses produced by responsible breeding practices would result in higher prices at the sale barn and private treaty sales. It’s not all about the membership numbers.

 

Heart Of Darkness

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bludgeoned heartWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Is eating out in trendy restaurants in Toronto supposed to be enjoyable any more? Or has it just become another display of gluttony and disordered behaviour, where people obsess over the hunt for the perfect dish of raw meat and take pictures of their food rather than who they are dining with? Pop culture is now overrun with the fetishization of food; cooking shows, celebrity chefs and blogs. In a piece by Rebecca Fleming, whose Valentine’s Day Special is rife with foodie-related nose-to-tail misery for animals, Toronto Life ensures that dining has never been more joyless to read about.

The article, entitled Eight Ways To Eat Heart In Toronto On Valentine’s Day must surely have been written by someone gunning for a PhD in grand master trolling. The premise of this pretentious article is that trendy hipsters should be eating animal hearts on V-Day, because, according to the author, it’s far more romantic than Orville Redenbacher’s and a rom-com.” It’s an article where eating prioritizes cachet above humanity.

On the menu at these restos (The Black Hoof, Bar Buca, Zakkushi, and Antler Kitchen Bar),  are chicken hearts, bison hearts, raw kitchen bitcheshorse hearts, and duck hearts – heart-shaped or “skewered just like Cupid would do!” If I could say one thing to consumers of these foods is “please think about what you’re looking at for a moment. “ Each of these animals used the heart to pump blood through their bodies. The heart (also a symbol of romantic or courtly love) is a hard-working muscle, and as with all organs, they have “weird” shapes, textures, and colours, and perhaps to a greater extent than skeletal muscle, it should remind you that this was once a living creature.

No matter what they themselves may say, people who patronize restaurants offering such gruesome fare are not, IMO animal lovers. They may profess to love individual species, such as dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals, but they don’t mind participating in the torture of the “less cute” animals. Not only are they meat-eaters, but they’re unethical meat-eaters. They patronize these restaurants for the sake of trendiness, so they support a system that exacts unnecessary cruelty on animals – breeding them to be weak and sickly, giving them a miserable life, and then delivering the low-quality product to their table.

And sorry (not sorry) restaurateurs, but most of the entrées depicted in the article are utterly indistinguishable from something that comes out of a hospital vending machine or a McCain’s Tasti-Taters bag. Not exactly consistent with my stock image of Valentine’s Day realness.

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches. The tweet represents a growing "culture war" between restaurant owners and their patrons. Of course they are douches - if they think it's cool to eat these tiny little heart as some sort of celebration of Valentine's Day, they certainly don't care about your staff...

Jen Agg, proprietor of The Black Hoof, tweets that her customers are douches.  Of course they are douches – they’re eating raw meat in your restaurant,  maybe it’s a primal thing?  They certainly don’t care about your staff…

Horse Welfare 2015 – The Year In Review

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Dream of horses

© Heather Clemenceau

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Each year spent fighting horse slaughter is proof enough that we live in a time of war. Although there will always be people and groups with a vested interest in seeing horse populations increase and the convenience of slaughter continue, 80% of Americans and 64% of Canadians say “no” to these injustices:

  • Despite the deterrent of jail terms for several key operatives in the 2013 horsemeat scandal, authorities in France are still investigating new horsemeat trafficking which now includes government officials and veterinarians.
  • There are still no charges against kill buyer Tom Davis or the BLM who sent horses to slaughter. Once again the BLM failed to follow its own policy of limiting horse sales and ensuring that the horses sold went to good homes and were not slaughtered. $140,000 of taxpayer money was used to transport the horses to Davis, who earned more than $150,000 in profits.
  • Obscene numbers of horses were run through auctions, often with up to 80% of them being bought by kill buyers. Prospective purchasers and bidders of horses hoping to rescue them from slaughter are being harassed at auctions.
  • Unpopular and unnecessary round-ups are still occurring in both the US and Canada.
  • In Great Britain, Dartmoor ponies are now being eaten in an attempt to “save” them.
  • The AQHA continues to be one of our biggest adversaries, and in 2015 they continued to wonder aloud what they could do to increase registration (and breeding). The AQHA braintrust created a super PAC designed to fight against horse owners, defeat the SAFE Act, and keep the breeding (and slaughter) going. To our dismay, Lucas Oil was named Title Sponsor of the AQHA World Championship Show.
  • With the demise of AC4H, which pulled in $800,000 in profit in two years of its operations, other brokered programs have sprung up or been expanded upon. Like a hydra, when one head is cut off, several more appear to take its place. Several markets have emerged as a result of the opportunities gleaned from Facebook, providing a very lucrative business, and kill buyers outbid private buyers at auctions on horses that they think they can flip using “the truck is coming” ploy.  Immense pressure is placed on rescuers,  who are continually told by kill buyers, “hang with me or the horses hang.” People are buying horses at outrageous prices and paying phenomenal amounts of money that could be used for feed and vetting, to ship them halfway across the country only to find that they are sick. In many cases the horses that arrive bear little resemblance to their photographs, may be misrepresented and sometimes must be euthanized upon arrival.
  • There have been several large scale seizures of horses at both rescues and private farms, sometimes occurring too late to benefit many horses. In the US, approximately 80 horses were seized from Peaceable Farm, a charity in Virginia. The owner marketed herself as a charity not to take care of horses, but to breed warmbloods, while letting dozens of other horses starve in the barn. She took in millions in donations. Emaciated horses and carcasses were removed from Larry Browning’s farm in Kentucky – he only had to wait 9 months before he could acquire more horses… Jerry Earls was charged with 100 counts of cruelty in Copiah County but evaded the charges related to injured, starving, and dead horses under his care and control. And in British Columbia, Canada, about 100 of Gary Roberts’ horses were seized by the SPCA and auctioned at Valley Auction – and thanks to rescuers, none went to kill buyers. The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition successfully pre-empted the possibility that they would go to kill buyers when they wrote a letter to Donald Raffian (Valley Auction owner) to advise him that the herd had been treated with bute and therefore did not have a drug-free history.

We also saw substantial victories in 2015:

  • Horse slaughter will remain defunded in the U.S. as part of the new $1.1 trillion Omnibus Bill, which is expected to be signed into law in January 2016.
  • At the present time, Americans have 183 sponsors in the House and 28 in the Senate for the SAFE Act S1214/HR1942.
  • Those found guilty this year for their participation in the EU lasagne horsemeat scandal of 2013 are now being jailed.
  • A slaughterhouse was closed in Alès, southeastern France, after video obtained by L214 Éthique & Animaux were released for public viewing, showing scenes of horrible cruelty. The slaughterhouse killed about 3,000 horses per year, in addition to cattle, sheep, and pigs.
  • The EU banned horsemeat from Mexico and Canadian Premium Meats ceased slaughtering horses in Canada.
  • Some two years after the first reports from Animals’ Angels and our European partners at TSB (Tierschutzbund Zurich) exposed the cruel conditions horses face in Canada in feedlots and slaughterhouses, GVFI, which purchased from both Bouvry and Viande Richelieu, scuttled their imports of horsemeat from Canada. This is the second major contractual loss for Bouvry.
  • We also fought back against the PMU industry, and Canadian HRT users were eligible to claim compensation from a $13.6 million dollar fund. A US Summit also called for an end to the Premarin Industry.
  • The Canadian Veterinary Equine Welfare Council, to represent the collective voice of veterinarians in Canada who are opposed to horse slaughter, was launched.
  • September 29th was the date of the very well attended Safe Food! Safe Horses! March2DC
  • There were maneuvers to keep the option of horse slaughter open in New Mexico. However, a judge ruled against the Valley Meat horse slaughter plant by expanding a 2014 injunction to include owners of D’Allende Meats, a firm launched by an investment group which purchased the Roswell plant from Valley Meats. The trial in the original 2013 case is slated for August 2016.
  • The Salt River horses received a reprieve. Soon after federal officials announced the imminent capture of 100 or so horses within the boundaries of a national forest near Phoenix — to be sold at auction, “condemned and destroyed, or otherwise disposed of” — horse advocates issued a call for action. They were supported by Arizona officials who joined in the chorus of protests, outlining the boundaries of a dispute that encompasses an old political battle between state and federal governments over the stewardship of public lands in the West.
  • Now that we have a new Liberal government in Canada, we may have more success for anti-slaughter initiatives, since the Liberals were, for the most part, favourably inclined towards the last anti-slaughter Bill C-571.
  • We are fortunate that we have investigative reporters who are willing to write about the injustices meted out to horses in Canada. Journalist Mary Ormsby of the Toronto Star (home of the best investigative reporting in Canada) continued to write about the serious concerns with horsemeat intended for human consumption. W5 and Zoocheck collaborated on an exposé that revealed that Alberta’s previous Progressive Conservative government did not commission its own studies of wild horse populations, preferring instead to take ranchers’ “analysis” at face-value about population levels and claims of damage to grasslands, which were not substantiated.

In 2015 we said farewell to several of our horse advocates. One of our greatest allies in Canada, MP Alex Atamenenko, decided to retire after drafting 3 anti-slaughter bills. A truly great advocate, we can only wish the best for him in his retirement. On a much sadder note, we also lost advocates Marie Dean, Lee Earnshaw, and Dana Lacroix.

 

 

Please read more about these and other headlines from 2015, arranged chronologically, in Storify

 

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New Phenylbutazone Study Found To Have Toxic Potential For Scavenging Birds Of Prey

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27565927_mWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

A new peer-reviewed South African study that evaluates the toxicity of carprofen, flunixin and phenylbutazone in Cape vultures has found evidence of toxicity for al three non-steriodal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). While there were no deaths as a result of the exposure, the study found that long half-life elimination times and the presence of toxic clinical signs were strong indicators of toxicity. The study was conducted to determine whether these three NSAIDS were similar in toxicity to diclofenac, another NSAID, which was also used in human medicine for decades, and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Diclofenac was determined to be a primary causal factor in the decline of the Asian vulture when the vultures predated on the carcasses of animals treated with the drug.

Methodology:

Plasma samples were analysed and after the 48 hour monitoring period, the birds with euthanized for post-mortem evaluation. While no mortalities resulted from the treatment itself, clinical signs of lethargy and depression (drooping heads) were noted in the 1 CRP treated bird, 2 FXN treated birds, and 1 PBZ treated bird while no signs were reported for the control (untreated) birds. The exposure doses used for this study are also considered to be realistic as they were based on either a worst case scenario of the birds being exposed to high tissue concentration of the drug in recently dead cattle, horses or pigs which would represent their primary food source.

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While the study concluded that the three NSAIDs evaluated are not as toxic as diclofenac is to vultures, the three drugs were not considered to be safe. The elimination half-life of phenylbutazone was found to be 18.1 in the horse (PBZ has a half-life of 70h for people). Phenylbutazone is certainly not without toxicity or contraindications in horses either. While dose-dependent, both phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone cross the placenta and are excreted into milk, and the drug binds irreversibly to cyclooxygenase, thereby inducing Cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 gene expressions.

Study Conclusion:

“From the specific study design used, it was concluded that CRP, PBZ and FXN are not as toxic to vultures as diclofenac. We are unable to conclude on the general safety of these tested drugs, as they all show some indication towards toxicity.”

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.  Phenylbutazone is not permitted to be used in equine animals that may be used for food – there are NO exceptions. Mark Markarian, who is chief program and policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States and president of The Fund for Animals, said recently that:

“There is currently no system in the US to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption. It’s a free-for-all when this tainted and contaminated meat is dumped on unsuspecting consumers through their dinner plates and supermarket shelves, either overseas or here at home.”

Safe Food! Safe Horses! Join The March2DC – September 29th

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horse drugsWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau,  with files from Nancy Watson

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. 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.

Henry Skjerven, former director of Natural Valley Farms (defunct horse slaughterhouse) in Saskatchewan, Canada 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.”

 

Please join the Grassroots Advocates March to the U.S. Capitol  The march and rally will take place along Independence Ave. to the US Capitol Building on September 29, 2015. The scheduled events on this day are intended to raise public awareness of the grave risks U.S. horse slaughter has created for the U.S. and global food supply, and to call upon Congress to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015 S.1214 / H.R. 1942 to ban the slaughter of U.S. horses. A recent report from Chapman University, published in August 2015, found horsemeat DNA adulterating mislabeled meat samples sold in the United States.

American horses receive any number of highly toxic drugs that are outlawed by the FDA for use in animals intended for consumption. American horses, including wild horses, live in uncontrolled situations for indeterminate periods of time, have inadequate health histories and may not have not been reliably vaccinated and monitored for illnesses such as rabies, brucellosis, anthrax, glanders, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, or ehrlichiosis.

Ann Marini, M.D., Ph.D., a featured speaker at the march, states American horses are not raised for food. The food safety issue that has been created as a result of sending contaminated horse drugs in meatmeat overseas and into the U.S. food supply is a huge liability for the United States, and needs to end immediately.”

The march, titled “SAFE Food, SAFE horses” will end on the west lawn of the Capitol Building where equine advocacy experts and scientists will discuss why U.S. horse meat contamination poses such a grave threat to our food supply, and how passage of the SAFE Act is crucial to keeping the food supply safe from contaminated horse meat and protecting U.S. horses from slaughter.

American horses are slaughtered for human consumption in Canada and Mexico at the rate of 1 every 5 minutes. Horse advocates want to put an end to the U.S. horse slaughter pipeline once and for all in order to stop contaminating the global food supply with meat from horses that have not been raised for human consumption.

Horse slaughter is a particularly cruel and horrendous death for American horses. As prey animals, horses are especially skittish by nature. They will not stand passively while the executioner attempts to hit a dime sized target on their forehead with a captive bolt gun. Multiple attempts with a bolt gun have been administered to horses in slaughterhouses. Horses who are not adequately stunned may be butchered while still alive and conscious. The only safe and humane way to end a horse’s life is through chemical euthanasia with proper disposal of the remains to avoid contamination of the food supply.

Surveys have shown that over 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Yet, in 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a fraudulent report indicating that horse slaughter is needed in order to prevent neglect and abuse. Several animal advocacy groups have debunked the GAO report, stating that “they have irrefutable evidence showing that the Government Accountability Office fraudulently misrepresented horse abuse and neglect data in their report GAO 11-228. There is both a video and white paper available on line debunking the fraudulent GAO report. Quarter horses make up 75% of US horses going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico due to breed associations such as AQHA promoting horse slaughter as a solution to dealing with overbreeding.

bad politiciansIrresponsible breeding is the single biggest contributor to the U.S. slaughter pipeline, with 70% of the annual Thoroughbred foal crop going to slaughter. Breeders are continually attempting to find the next Secretariat or Seattle Slew. Those horses that don’t make the cut are sent into the horse slaughter pipeline.

In light of all this, advocates are booking flights and making arrangements to participate in the march in a concerted plea to Congress to pass the SAFE Act. Bills calling for the ban of horse slaughter and horse slaughter transport have received overwhelming public and legislative support for many years, but have died an unseemly death in Committee, having never been released to the Floor for a vote. In the previous session of Congress, the SAFE Act S541/HR1094 had 183 cosponsors from the House and 29 from the Senate, but yet again it died in Committee.

The SAFE Act of 2015 S.1214/H.R.1942 has been reintroduced to the 114th Congress by Congressman Guinta of New Hampshire and Senator Menendez of New Jersey with the intent of finally passing this critical bill into law. Food Safety is an issue that concerns all governments. The horse meat scandal that rocked the European Union (EU) and United Kingdom in 2013 involved contaminated horses from North America. The EU Food Safety Commission has since banned all horse meat imports from Mexico, as these are known to be American horses. Current U.S. legislation allows contaminated horses to pollute the global food supply. This bill is sorely needed to ensure that our horses remain safe in the U.S. and off of dinner plates.

A preview of the movie “The Kill Pen” by Sharon Boeckle will be featured

 

Date, Time, Place:

September 29, 2015 at 10:00am (Please be on-site by 9:30). The meeting point will be in front of the USDA building at South Building 1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20250-9911. The march will be a planned route to the Capitol Building.  Directions to USDA Building.

Agenda:

We will meet promptly at 10:00am in front of the USDA building and have several speakers with opening statements about our mission and the importance of banning horse slaughter and closing our borders to horse slaughter transportation in the US. After opening remarks, we will march to the West Lawn of the Capitol Building.  Additional events will be announced soon. Sorry, no permits have been obtained for horses.  Please bring a sign in support of the SAFE Act S1214/HR1942, but there will be extras for those who cannot. Hand held banners will be placed throughout the march.  There will also be a Flashmob – please sign up here.

We are going to rally on the Capitol Grounds for the remainder of the day (please be on-site at 9:30):

  • 10:00Dr. Lester Friedlander will lead the march from the USDA building to the Capitol after addressing marchers
  • 11:00 – National Anthem on the Capitol grounds
  • 11:30 – Speakers: Jo-Claire Corcoran will discuss the chronology of US horse slaughter pipeline.  Dr. Ann Marini will discuss equine drugs and how harmful they are to humans and the global food supply. Dr. Friedlander will discuss equine diseases and the USDA and the contamination of our global food supply, and finally horse advocate Meghan Dixon will speak about her connection with horses and how they enrich our lives.
  • 12:00 – Our horse-themed playlist will play on our sound system
  • 2:00 –  Screening of Kill Pen trailer for Congress Members inside the Capitol (room CVC217 – refreshments will be served)
  • 2:00 –  Open Mic begins for those at the rally (content must be approved by the march team prior).  Open Mic sign-up here.
  • 5:00 – Rally on the Capitol lawn and closing remarks by Dr. Friedlander

 

For further info,  please contact Nancy or Rita,  or visit the event’s Facebook page:

Nancy Watson 631.742.4167 SAFEMarch2DC@gmail.com

Rita Reik 561.818.9664 SAFEMarch2DC@gmail.com

Safe March

 

The following is credited to Captain Paul Watson (useful message points to consider when preparing signage, writing, and speaking to media):

Media Laws
1.  The Media is not concerned with facts, statistics or scientific reports. The media is interested in drama, scandal, violence and sex.
2.  Without visuals, there is no story on TV, without photos, you have a weak story in the print media.
3.  Learn to use the media or you will be abused by the media. Media manipulation is merely a matter of survival in a media culture.
4.  Always talk in soundbites. Keep it simple. Do not clarify. Never underestimate the intelligence of the viewer, the listener or the reader.
5.  Ignore the question put to you if it does not serve your purpose. Say what you wish to say. Stay in control.
6.  Emotion will always triumph over fact. Emote. Use humor. Make the viewer like you.
7.  In a media culture, the medium is the message. TV and film are the message of the mind.
8.  Objectivity is a myth, an illusion, a con, and a trick. Objectivity in the media does not exist. The illusion of objectivity may work as a strategy but only a fool would believe that it is a reality within the media culture.
9.  The media defines reality. What is real is what is reported. The public believes what is real is what it has been told to believe.
10. Believe nothing that you read, be skeptical about what you hear and question all that you see. All your senses can be manipulated.

Godbout Express Observed Shipping Horses To Canada On Long Holiday Weekend

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Gadbout Express

It is permissible for horses to travel up to 36 hours enroute to slaughter

 

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Photos and video credit:  Rob Boisvert

On Friday, May 15th, two Godbout Express transports of horses were observed at an out-of-the-way truck stop in Marysville, Ontario by animal activist Rob Boisvert of Refuge RR in Alexandria Ontario. In listening to the video, it is evident that the drivers appear to be trying to mislead Boisvert and his friend, by telling them that they are enroute from Ohio (probably Sugarcreek Auction) to New Brunswick. They are actually headed to Quebec, and this is proven by a photo taken of one of the trailers which shows a CFIA seal – meaning that the truck cannot be opened until it reaches its destination at one of the two slaughter plants in that province. There are no provincially-registered horse slaughter facilities in New Brunswick.

 

 

 

 

Monday is a statutory holiday throughout most of Canada. The video was taken about 7 pm Friday. From Marysville (near Belleville, ON), it is possibly 5 hours drive or longer (with holiday weekend traffic) to either Les Petite Nations (in St. Andre-Avellin, PQ) or Richelieu ( in Massueville, PQ) slaughterhouses.  The horses would arrive very late the same day or possibly the next day.  We can only wonder what time they expected to get there?  Were the horses to be unloaded somewhere and rested?  According to a 2011 article in Better Farming,  “slaughter-bound shipments will be accepted only during the CFIA’s regular hours of operation…”  Therefore,  we can only take that to mean that unless arrangements were made to offload horses on Friday night, there would be no CFIA inspectors at the plant until TUESDAY, May 19th – more than three full days later!  The horses, unless unloaded somewhere (and by necessity breaking the CFIA seal), would have to stay on the trailer until that time – a horrifying possibility.  Would they be watered or fed? Already many of the horses are standing in the trailers with heads hanging low…

CFIA seal

CFIA Seal

Godbout Express is a repeat offender with the CFIA. The CFIA has most recently issued the company Notices of Violation  of Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations for $7,800 during the period of October to December 2014, with total fines of $45,600 in both current and past reporting periods.

A check of US DOT #648752 reveals that Godbout Express has incurred two violations already in 2015 in the United States, with similar violations in 2014.

 2015 Violations:

HOS Compliance Violation:  395.3A3-PROP Driving beyond 11 hour driving limit in a 14 hour period. (Property Carrying Vehicle)
HOS Compliance Violation:  395.3A2-PROP Driving beyond 14 hour duty period (Property carrying vehicle)

Given the company’s propensity to incur violations,  further investigation with the CFIA will be necessary to determine when these horses arrived and were actually offloaded.

 

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CFIA Report

The CFIA site does not explain what species have been involved in these transport violations.

 

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.”