Tag Archives: horsemeat

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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Horse Welfare 2016 – The Year In Review

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2016-rocking-horse-christmas-cardWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Because most efforts at altruism are applied to human suffering, when it comes to horses and other animals, we still face the problem of convincing people that the suffering of horses is worth considering at all. Our legal and legislative efforts can be effective ways to achieve goals for the horses, but most campaigns are lower visibility when compared to shelter pets,  and they may only yield results if completely successful. After observing how horse advocacy functions for a few years now (but I am still a relative newbie compared to the seasoned experts who have been advocating for horses for decades)  I want to make the following observations on the year 2016:

To be effective, we must continually find the root causes of systemic problems, such as corrupt or indifferent government officials, hoarding issues, and our often reactionary approach to kill buyer sales programs, which are now entrenched methods of adopting horses.  This is no small feat considering how decentralized horse advocates are – each person is often doing their own thing and advocating for horses in their own way.  As a result, preventative approaches are sometimes overlooked within the movement.   Despite exhaustive work by many people, SAFE Act-type legislation, which could provide the best results for horses in the US, hasn’t passed.

We may best be able to capitalize on shifts in the way people think about all animals and their status in society.  Results in Canada have been achieved when contracts for horsemeat are lost due to the exposing of cruelty and food quality/feedlot issues.  Meat-swapping is also an issue that usually gets a lot of publicity.  The supply of horsemeat already exceeds demand otherwise we would see fewer substitution issues – many people are realizing that they are eating horse unintentionally and this causes them to reconsider buying meat in general.

Unfortunately, 2016 heralded in new administration that is not friendly to animals.  P-E Trump is known to receive advice from conspiracy theorists and the radical far right – it’s true that we have become a “post-fact” world. Knowing this, how can we best advocate for horses in 2017 and beyond? There mere suggestion that there may be jobs to be found in the horse slaughter industry could be incentive enough to resuscitate it in the US, even though it is a poor investment.

“Donald Trump…represents perhaps the greatest threat ever to animal protection policy making at the federal level. His campaign surrogates and the names being floated as possible Trump cabinet picks for the very agencies that oversee such policies include the most ardent anti-animal voices in the country. Advocates for puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and trophy hunting of rare species such as leopards and elephants would be at the steering wheel of a Trump administration.” ~ Michael Markarian, the Human Society Legislative Fund

Here’s my summation of 2016, with articles arranged in Storify:

The Chemical Horse:

  • Horsenetwork reported that Pfizer Canada has announced it will increase the amount of pregnant mare urine (PMU) it collects from its facilities in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017. Demand for conjugated equine estrogens declined in recent years following a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that PMU drugs were linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (In 2012, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement that continues to support hormone therapy).
  • Horse tendons are now being made into an anti-aging therapy to rival botox. The popularity of horse oil from slaughtered animals has increased exponentially and is sold extensively on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.
  • A video released in October showed the appalling treatment of horses at antitoxin and antivenom manufacturing facilities in India.  The facilities draw blood from the horses, many of them multiple times a month with heavy gauge needles, to manufacture antitoxin and antivenom drugs.  The horses depicted in the video (link included below) had festering sores and low body weights.

Live Horse Shipments:

  • Throughout 2016, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition continued to release footage of live horse exports to Japan and petitioned Atlas Air executives to stop the practice, which does not adhere to IATA regulations.

Anti-Soring Efforts:

  • In August, U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act that could stop the soring abuse for good.
  • Anti-soring advocates got the Big Lick kicked out of the North Carolina State Fair

Food Adulteration:

  • In June, a butcher shop in Montreal was caught adding horsemeat to hamburger patties advertised as being entirely made of beef. An investigation by Radio-Canada found burger patties advertised as being 100 per cent beef from La Maison du Rôti, which supplied meat to many hotels and commercial establishments in Montreal.  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.
  • In Britain, two Britons and a citizen of Denmark appeared in court over allegations that they passed horsemeat off as beef. It took THREE YEARS after the horsemeat adulteration scandal in to get them this far.
  • Britain’s food-policing unit, which was created in 2014 following the horse meat scandal has still not resulted in any new prosecutions despite costing the taxpayer £4m. The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU)  has not brought any criminal charges against anyone.

Wild Horses:

  • Aaron Stelkia of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who has apparently provided no care to feral British Columbia horses, decided to claim them and began rounding them up early in the year.  On the heels of this event, the RCMP in Penticton B.C., at the request of the CFIA, began investigating horse rescuer Theresa Nolet after she treated a free-roaming horse with phenylbutazone, making him unfit for human consumption.  If the CFIA, the RCMP, or the SPCA actually had any concern for horses, they would require the Indian Bands to keep their horses contained and properly fed and medicated.  It’s clear the intent was to harass Ms. Nolet, since the CFIA has no problem importing American horses whose drug history is completely unprovable.
  • DNA genotyping of Alberta wild horses showed a connection to the Altai horse from Russia. These genetic markers permitted the placement of the horses on the endangered list by the Equus Survival Trust in North Carolina. 
  • Forty-five years ago the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRH&B Act) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971. The WFRH&B Act created the sensation that wild horses were to be protected on public land, but as it did not create actual defined parameters it has been left open to interpretation and/or lack of enforcement by the US judicial system.

Decimation of the Donkeys:

  • Now that the West African black rhino is extinct and the elephant is well on its way, donkey skins are the new rhino horn, and just like the rhino, the Chinese demand is unsustainable. To that end, a $3,000,000 slaughterhouse has just opened in Kenya – dedicated and purpose-built to kill up to 100 donkeys a day. China is presently responsible for slaughtering four million donkeys a year for traditional medicinal products made from their skin. Already, countries in Africa are seeing their donkey populations drop at an alarming rate – the appetite for donkey skins has risen to such a degree that a worldwide crisis is unfolding for donkey populations around the world.  In the United States the population of donkeys is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000. The US’ wild burro population ranges between 4,000 to 10,000 total on all BLM public lands.  The entire US population of donkeys could theoretically be wiped out in a matter of weeks at the current rate of slaughter.

Cruelty Cases, Horse Seizures, Abandonments, and Hoarding:

  • The infamous Stanley Brothers have been shipping horses to slaughter for quite some time and also have a long history of animal welfare offenses, among other questionable activities.  Boots Stanley, the son of one of the Stanley Brothers, who became millionaires selling horses to be killed, was arrested along with his pal Steven Sadler, for aggravated animal cruelty after slitting a defenseless dog’s throat on the family’s kill lot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Someone who enjoys inflicting pain on an animal may well be a danger to their community soon.
  • “Big Lick” supporter Sandra Darlene Wood will be serving jail time for the crime of Animal Cruelty – starving Tennessee Walking Horses that were seized from her farm on April 6, 2015.
  • Logan Allen, a “horse trainer” who won 1st place in the 2013 Iowa Horse Fair found himself under fire after he posted pics to his Facebook wall of a horse with the caption “bad boy…”  The horse lay on the ground, his legs were bound, his tongue hung out of his mouth and he had been sprayed with a hose,  hence the treatment of the horse was referred to as “waterboarding.”  The dismissal of Allen’s case sends the clear message to those in Iowa that abusing animals is acceptable in the state.
  • The story of Lily, the little pony mare who appeared to have been shot up with a paintball gun and then abandoned at New Holland in Pennsylvania, was a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking narrative.  The mare, who was rescued and subsequently endured an eye operation for painful uveitis inflammation and days of dental work, was elderly and in poor condition overall.  In May, Philip Price Jr. of Rhode Island, (previously convicted of animal abuse) was convicted on all counts related to transporting her to New Holland.  He was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution for Lily’s recovery care costs.  Lily was then adopted by former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and his wife.  Although her quality of life appears to have been quite low for some time, she knew kindness and care before she died a short time later in Stewart’s sanctuary.
  • In June, officials with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture charged trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles Borell, each with 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals in connection with the apparent abandonment of horses at a 121-acre farm in Central Kentucky.
  • 40 deceased and decaying horses were found on a property near Melbourne Australia. Bruce Akers, was charged with 92 counts of animal cruelty and criminal damage.
  • Another 40 horses (and 15 dogs)  owned by a previously convicted mother/daughter team of animal hoarders were seized from a Virginia property.
  • In July, horse rescuers saved from slaughter several horses formerly owned by the Arnold Reproduction Center, which specialized in cutting horse breeding. A herd of horses bearing the brand of center ended up scheduled for shipment to slaughter, according to social media posts, which the business acknowledged in a statement last week, calling the slaughter designation unintended. Photos posted by the Kaufman Kill Pen Facebook page showed show at least a dozen horses bearing the brand and/or distinctive shoulder numbers, with some described as recipient mares.
  • Several horses that had been seized from the Peaceable Farm rescue in 2015 have again been taken by authorities from New Beginnings Horse Rescue, where they had little or no food and water.  Over 80 horses were originally removed from Peaceable Farm and 11 of those horses went to New Beginnings (the other horses were distributed to other rescues).  It’s been a horrible 2 years for some of the rescues in Virginia.
  • Approximately 550-650 “wild” horses of varying ages, some mares with foals, went up for auction in December when approximately 30 were found starving or eviscerated on the bare dirt pastures of the ranch belonging to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in South Dakota. With no plan in place to prevent breeding and insufficient range land for the number of horses, the pastures had been eaten down to dirt. Photos on social media show severely thin horses, some of them dead, with their ribs and hip-bones protruding. Some have grotesque wounds and injuries or wildly overgrown, untrimmed hooves. A few had been eviscerated, presumably by wild animals. Guidestar shows that despite the charity taking in $600 – $700K in donations per year, there were always feed emergencies – this appears to be another hoarding operation with charitable status.  Resources are finite everywhere – uncontrolled breeding with no place to go eventually means there will be a population crash.

Legislative and Public Relations Issues:

  • Of the most immediate concern to animal advocates may be the virtual certainty that a Trump administration will work to reopen horse slaughter in the U.S., to “dispose” of the 45,000 wild horses who have been removed as “surplus” from the  BLM.  Furthermore, in 2009 VP-Elect Pence voted against protecting wild horses and burros on America’s public lands. He opposed the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which was introduced to amend the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.  Simply because you see a picture of someone on a horse,  it does not make them an advocate.
  • It has been announced that the European Commission is set to adopt stricter regulations on the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries following its latest audit, which found that Canadian horsemeat may not meet EU food safety standards.  Horses destined for slaughter in non-EU countries but for export to the EU, must undergo a minimum six-month residency requirement. It’s unclear how either the slaughterhouses or the CFIA will control for this requirement.
  • The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition met with MPs in Ottawa in October on the dangers of horse meat consumption. The CHDC was registered to lobby with Aaron Freeman of Pivot Strategic Consulting.  The CHDC continues to consult with legal counsel in a continuing effort to explore legal strategies to stop illegally-conducted live shipments of horses to Japan for slaughter.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended the slaughtering license of KML Meats in British Columbia temporarily,  due to the absence of an effective HACCP program.
  • The CFIA proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act and Regulations, thereby recognizing that the transport of animals in Canada is not aligned with those of other countries (World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE) nor do they align with the National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice (NFACC) or international trading partners such as the US and the EU.  Furthermore, transport guidelines, such as they are, do not reflect current science regarding the handling of animals by land, sea, and air.
  • The March to DC on behalf of the SAFE Act took place September 22nd. Thank you to the dedicated people who were able to attend.  Many SAFE-type bills have now died and alternative approaches are needed to make the rest of the US population  aware of the atrocities of horse slaughter.
  • The tall metal fences, chained gates, and decaying metal buildings that were an embarrassment and constant reminder of horse slaughter in Kaufman Texas are now gone.  The old Dallas Crown slaughterhouse was torn down.
  • In Ontario, “horse rustling” has received new attention after two horses, who were temporarily loaned/boarded, disappeared from the same farm and are presumed sold for slaughter.  Sargon, owned by Kim Wilson, and Apollo, owned by Kayla Whatling were loaned to the same individual, who told police she sold Sargon to a kill buyer for slaughter without permission and with a faked EID.

EQUUS Film Festival:

  • The EQUUS Film Festival, dedicated to equestrian-themed film, fine art and authors was subject to controversy in 2016. Noted Equine/Human Chiropractor Dr. Jay Komarek,  declined to accept the Equus Film Festival Award for “Best Documentary” Film citing festival organizers for accepting money from two corporate sponsors,  “Protect The Harvest” and “Farm Paint,”  as his reason for doing so.   The sponsor’s principals are Mr. Forrest Lucas (Protect The Harvest and Lucas Cattle Company) and Mr. Duke Thorson (Farm Paint and Thorsport Farm). Slaughtering and soring horses  do not create a better world for them and were therefore incompatible sponsors for the event.  Clant Seay, a reporter for Billygoboy.com, also had the microphone aggressively grabbed out of his hand by former Sue Wallis buddy Dave Duquette at EQUUS. A positive outcome was that the film “Kill Pen” signed a worldwide/international distribution agreement to circulate the film across the US and Canada, into Europe, and beyond.

 Please read more about these and other headlines from 2016, arranged chronologically, in Storify

 

 

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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Embryo Transfer – A Shadowy Market Ripe for Exploitation

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

We’ve known for many years that farm animals have been exploited to produce more meat, milk, wool etc.  Embryo transfer in horses is another technology that is unrivalled for its inefficiency and costliness.  There’s also some evidence that embryo transfer (ET) is exploitative because it can be painful, requiring analgesics.  We recently read about the cast-off recipient mares (the “gestational” carriers that give birth to foals of a different mare/stallion) from the Arnold Reproduction Center  who were consigned to the Kaufman kill pen/kill buyer Mike McBarron for eventual slaughter.   Once exposed on social media platforms, veterinarian Leea Arnold responded:

“I recently sent some mares to the Cleburne Horse Sale.  I certainly never intended for them to end up in the slaughter pen. Many of these mares came to me through the sale barn system, were sick, completely unbroken and certainly destined for slaughter at that time (15 or so years ago). As long as these mares are reproductively sound, they stay in my herd – many probably longer than they are useful. My staff and I have taken the time, money, and resources we have to help these mares become useful and give them a viable purpose.

“I will use another avenue to re-home these mares in the future. If you are a non-profit organization and have your 501(c)3 at hand, I would be more than happy to donate any older or reproductively unsound recipients to your facilities as they become available.”

Dr. Arnold did not otherwise offer to help the animals that were scheduled to be sent for slaughter.

gypsyIn addition to horses, mules are also being used in at least one euphemistically named “mule mom” program  using embryo transfers from gypsy vanner mares.  The Gypsy Gold breeding program  in Ocala Florida charges up to $14,000 for a purebred gypsy vanner foal carried by a mule, who is often shipped to and from the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm and the contractor of their service.  They also helpfully offer a service for purchasers of the gypsy foal who are not satisfied with the quality of their new purchase – they will connect you with an “appropriate buyer” – quite possibly the same buyer who will purchase the mule moms once their fertility wanes.  At the moment, this farm offers 11 mares for breeding, so one can only imagine how many times they are being flushed out and the number of “mule moms” that are being used as gestational carriers.

Currently, most equine breed associations permit embryo transfer. Notable exceptions include the Jockey Club (thoroughbreds), the United States Trotting Association, and the American Miniature Horse Association. Brazil and Argentina are currently the leaders in equine ET, although it’s believed that about 10,000 embryos were collected and transferred in the USA in 2014. The practice seems to have become more widespread in 2015, with more countries reporting embryo transfer activities, including Canada, South Africa, France, Poland, Switzerland, the USA, and Mexico.

Why is Equine Embryo Transfer Also A Welfare Issue?

Because veterinarians can only flush fertilized eggs (embryos) from the uterus of a donor mares at specific times the cycles of one or more recipient mares must be synchronized with the donor mare. This is why reproductive vet clinics tend to have a wide selection of recipient mares from which to choose. The number of mares that some vet clinics keep on hand for this purpose varies from dozens of mares to hundreds.   In many cases the donor mare is synchronized with two or more recipient mares in the event that multiple embryos are recovered from the donor mare.  Obviously,  these mares’ “jobs” come with no guarantee of a home placement after their careers are over and may easily fall into the wrong hands.

There are potential welfare issues for a donor mare, including those associated with the flushing procedure and with repeat injections to attempt to induce ovulation when used. Because more than two mares may be involved, the number of invasive rectal and ultrasound examinations is increased. Where recipient mare numbers are limited, greater pharmacological manipulation (often involving repeated injections) may also be used to achieve ovulatory synchronization between donor and recipient mares.

While there are apparently no studies on whether ET is painful in mares, it is known to be painful in other species, especially those in which embryo flushing is a surgical procedure. Perhaps because of this it is common practice to sedate mares both during flushing and ET.

Transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration in women is known to be associated with pain, the severity of which is dependent upon needle design. In sheep and goats, repeated surgical egg retrieval has been associated with the development of adhesions. In a study of pony mares who were the subject of invasive follicular procedures, it was observed that heart rates and cortisol levels increased considerably as soon as a needle was introduced into the procedure.

Lastly, the development of the “super ovulation” protocol and the resulting production of more oocytes (cells that develop into an ovum/egg) will heighten the possibility of more foals using larger herds of recipient mares, greater numbers of horses born that aren’t needed,  and more slaughter after the recip mares are no longer required.

Drugs/Hormones  Commonly Used in Equine Reproduction Practices and Their Withdrawal Times

Sources for withdrawal times were the Meat Hygiene Manual of the CFIA or drug datasheets.  It is important to note that withdrawal times are often extended when drug

Most donor mares are sport horses, Arabians or Quarter Horses. It’s an appealing option for those who can afford it, since it allows the option of the owner taking their mare out of competition for only about a week in order to produce a foal.

Most donor mares are sport horses, Arabians or Quarter Horses. It’s an appealing option for those who can afford it, since it allows the option of the owner taking their mare out of competition for only about a week in order to produce a foal.

combinations are used. Drugs used off-label in unapproved species may have differing withdrawal times even though appropriate dosage is given 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,

Altrenogest/Progesterone/ Medroxyprogesterone (synthetic variant of hormone progesterone)

  • Trade name: Regumate®, Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone)
  • Class of Drug: Hormone
  • Use:   Clinical uses include synchronizing the ovulations of a donor mare with a specific recipient mare. It may also be used to alter or manipulate the estrous cycle of a mare for a scheduled breeding due to stallion availability.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  42 days withdrawal

Flunixin meglumine

  • Trade Name: Banamine®
  • Class of Drug: non-narcotic, nonsteroidal, analgesic agent with anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity
  • Use: Reduces moderate inflammation by stopping the formation of prostaglandins, which are mediators of inflammation.  They also reduce the formation of certain pain-causing products of inflammation.  Embryo recipients may receive flunixin meglumine i.v. at the time of transfer.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: IV – 10 days/IM 30 days

Vedaprofen

  • Trade Name:  Quadrisol, VETRANAL
  • Class of Drug: Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory agent, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, NSAID
  • Use: For the control of inflammation and relief of pain associated with musculo-skeletal disorders and soft tissue injuries in horses
  • CFIA Withdrawal Prohibition: 21 days (oral and IV)

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)

  • Trade Name: Chorulon®
  • Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
  • Use: Can also be administered to mares to accelerate ovulation selectively where needed to improve the degree of synchrony between the donor and recipient mares. Induces ovulation in mares. Induction of ovulation is advantageous if a mare is in a timed breeding, shipped semen, frozen semen or embryo transfer program.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  0 days

Deslorelin Acetate

  • Trade Name: Ovuplant™ SucroMate™
  • Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
  • Use: A potent, synthetic form of GnRH. The drug is administered as a subcutaneous implant.The most common use in a breeding program is the induction of a timed ovulation, such as when mares are being bred with cooled-transported semen or frozen semen
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition:  not on CFIA website but listed with a “WARNING: For use in horses (estrous mares) only. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. For intramuscular (IM) use only. Do not administer intravascularly. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.”

Lidocaine Hydrochloride

  • Trade Name: Lidoject, Lidocaine HCI 2% etc.
  • Class of Drug: Local anesthetic and anti-arrhythmic agent.
  • Use:  Skin block for sutures and implants
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: 7 days

Prostaglandins

Domperidone

  • Trade Name:  Equidone®
  • Class of Drug: Dopamine antagonist. Neurotransmitter
  • Use: Modulates or suppresses production of the hormone prolactin from the pituitary.  In breeding programs it stimulates lactation or the induction of lactation in nurse mares or the induction of follicular development. Also used as a preventative for fescue toxicosis.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: “no known manufacture for veterinary use in Canada”

Oxytocin

  • Trade Name: OxoJect™, Oxytocin-S
  • Class of Drug: Hormone
  • Use: Administered to mares for evacuation of uterine fluid and treatment of retained placenta. It may also be used for induction of labor in late term mares and milk let-down.
  • CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on website: 0 days

eFSH

 

The welfare of the animal is always compromised when greed is involved.  The ability for breeders to implant multiple embryos with no limits caters to the wealthy individuals in the industry. Rakhassa Bey While one might argue that ET is less risky than foaling for a mare,  horses should not have litters, especially since there is some question whether it is humane to repeatedly subject both recipient and donor mares to invasive procedures, after which many horses are dumped.  The worst  but hardly the only offender of this practice, the AQHA, allows multiple-embryo-transfer rules that facilitate 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  have 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!  

It is also very doubtful  that either Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouses have tested for some of these lesser used or less obvious drugs or hormones.  Since some drugs/hormones are not even line items in the Meat Hygiene Manual, it would be easy for sellers of horses to plead ignorance of the requirement to disclose on an EID. Embryo transfer therefore facilitates  an already unsavory horsemeat industry in novel, previously unanticipated ways.

Canadian Federation Of Humane Societies Conference Presentation Suggests Horse Slaughter Activists “Just Too Sensitive”

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This photo, original to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, was used in a presentation critiquing horse advocates. The presenter claimed that criticism against feedlot owners was unjustified, they are really “not that bad.” The only criticism offered was towards the use of barb-wire fencing.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

In April I attended The National Animal Welfare Conference, offered by The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies.  The CFHS represents all the humane societies and SPCAs across Canada.  So as you would expect, the presentation consisted of a broad range topics related to cat overpopulation, animal shelter stats,  hoarding issues, spay/neuter,  along with some coverage of farm animal issues,  including representation from OMAFRA and the Alberta SPCA on horse slaughter.  I had been looking forward to this event for weeks….

Within the various humane groups, welfare standards, which vary considerably, are reviewed and debated worldwide. The humane societies and SPCAs do not even agree on the issue of what constitutes good welfare, despite the existence of codes of practice.   This schism was made more obvious by the presence at the conference, of strict vegans juxtaposed against those who still justify eating animals but want to improve their welfare while doing so.

The treatment of several issues addressed at the conference was wildly inconsistent, IMO.  For instance, we had delicious vegan lunches and snacks, and panel discussions on the importance of developing food policies for animal events.  On the other hand, the conference content was generally delivered with a view to making animal use more comfortable for people rather than the animal.  By offering vegan fare there is the suggestion that perhaps we shouldn’t be eating animals,  and yet we have presentations that malign animal activists as well-meaning but utterly misinformed people who are just “too sensitive?”

The bulk of horses in Canada are found in Alberta and anti-slaughter advocates have had challenges appealing to many people in that province due to the ranching and Stampede culture. Protesters at the recent Bouvry slaughterhouse in Alberta were subjected to strong negative feedback, to put it politely. There is certainly a notable variation between the principles, opinions, sentiments regarding horse slaughter in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada.  Knowing that at least one of the speakers on horse slaughter was from Alberta, I expected them to graywash the issue of slaughter – I must be psychic because that’s really how it played out. I believe that presenting horse slaughter as acceptable, safe, or humane,  even grudgingly,  is inconsistent with the values of a humane group or SPCA.

There were two equine vets for this segment, each presenting for about 45 minutes.

Dr. Marion Anderson – Alberta SPCA, presented first.  She has a practice in Saskatoon and became President of the Alberta ASPCA in 2012.

The only real issue I had with Dr. Anderson’s presentation was that she depicted slaughterbound horses as generally being geriatric, poorly bred, of poor conformation; with behaviour issues, unrecoverable lameness or injuries – sort of a eugenics program for these horses.  The positives of her presentation were that she did provide valid points when addressing the backstory of horse overpopulation, along with a good breakdown of horse use in Canada:

  • horses are remaining healthier, living longer, and are therefore more difficult to find lifetime homes for;
  • society has an aversion to horse slaughter;
  • US “ban” on horse slaughter;
  • demand for the horses has lessened due to lower rural population, aging baby boomers, economic hardship
  • Indiscriminate and uncontrolled breeding
  • Inadequate and improper training methods lead to behaviour issues
  • Fewer people interested in riding and tend to prefer more sedentary and technological pursuits
  • In 2010 the median age of horse owners was 50- 59 years
  • 24% of all horse owners are over 60
  • Increasing costs associated with horse ownership

However, Dr. Anderson’s presentation conflicted with statements by the USDA and other groups that found that about 92% of all horses are young and healthy and capable of living longer lives. Her presentation can be viewed online at the CFHS site here and in PDF format here.

The second presentation was made by Dr. Bettina Bobsien – she’s a vet in private practice who has worked with the BC SPCA on farm animal welfare issues and was a member of the committee that drafted the current Equine Code of Practice.  Dr. Bobsien reminded the attendees that the new equine code of practice went from 25 statements up to about 75 statements which is obviously an improvement in welfare,  albeit one that has no teeth because it’s a recommendation rather than a requirement.

IMO,  Dr. Bobsien’s presentation was a lot more problematic – probably not just for me but for others in the audience as well.  The Dr. took the approach that horse slaughter is necessary and much maligned by activists who spread “myths.”  She spoke of unintended consequences for the US after the cessation of slaughter including starvation and abandonment, which have largely been debunked, perhaps most famously by John Holland of the Equine Welfare Alliance in the states.

deputy broad

Deputy Broad went from the stable to the table in not 180 days, but in 7 days!

As the presentation unfolded, I did a double-take when I saw on the projector, images from CHDC’s own website and blog being presented as “myths” about horse slaughter. Dr. Bobsien did not name the CHDC in her presentation though, and implored the audience to refrain from embracing “activist hysteria.” It is perhaps noteworthy that Dr. Bobsien’s conference slides have not been made available for downloading at the conference website.  Perhaps it was due to the pushback from some audience members (myself included) who sought to correct some statements, or maybe the CFHS felt the slides were too controversial.

So here are a few of Dr. Bobsien’s “Myths” of Horse Slaughter (the “myth” in bold, followed by Dr. Bobsien’s response in red,  and my response in grey italics).

  • Horses are or should be companion animalsWe Have a special relationship with them. “They are livestock.” I think many horse owners have special  relationships with horses just as they do with dogs and cats and other pets.  They happen to live on farms due to their size and range requirements, but we spend thousands on board or on tack that isn’t spent on livestock.  And we have a special relationship with horses historically that we simply don’t have with other animals. 
  • Horses treated with toxic chemicals mean that the meat is tainted – example: phenylbutazone: Horses given bute are clear in 21 days and meat is fine to eat.  The EU put restrictions on imported horse meat because of a claim about toxic meat in horses originating in Canada.” I did challenge Dr. Bobsien on this and she finally said that the science and the regulations don’t match up.  Dr. Bobsien spoke about bute being kinetically withdrawn from the tissues within 21 days, but made no mention of the fact that the CFIA prohibits its use in food horses entirely.  It’s the metabolized compound that can be found in tissues afterwards that can kill you In a survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs.  Additionally, 99 percent of horses that started in California last year raced on bute, according to the Daily Racing Form. The pro-slaughter doctors and veterinarians who attempted to refute Dr. Marini et al’s study a few years back expected everyone to accept their supposition even though it exemplified an argument from ignorancewhich started out as an appeal to authority, (not unlike Dr. Bobsien’s presentation).  Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette (of United Horsemen’s Group and the now-defunct IEBA) asked everyone to accept the word of a veterinarian who is an expert in his own field (Dr. Henneke – body scoring), but who is commenting on a field outside of his area of expertise. Dr. Henneke supports the assertion that bute exits the system completely.  So what?  He’s not a toxicologist.  When you want to discuss the Henneke scale, he is completely qualified to render an opinion.  Similarly, if Einstein makes a suggestion about relativity,  you’d better listen. If he tries to tell you how to ride a horse, you can tell him to keep his day job. In the US, Canada, and the EU, bute is not permitted to be used for food animals. PERIOD. That simple acknowledgement renders any other discussion on toxicology rather moot.  There are no safe levels for known carcinogens, which is why it’s pointless to discuss to what degree bute is or is not eliminated from the tissues. Harm is assumed.  Discussions of toxicity or “safe levels” are reserved for non-carcinogenic effects.  Furthermore, the “precautionary principle is recognized in international law, and it of course stresses that the absence of scientific certainty about a risk should not bar the taking of precautionary measures in the face of possible irreversible harm. First, do no harm.
  • Horses that are sold to slaughter go directly to slaughter. “No they are held for 180 days.” On the larger feedlots in Alberta there are probably situations where some horses are held for a period of time.  But If you look at the Health of Animals Regulations Import reference document, section 5, if imported horses (from the US) are going directly to slaughter they must be slaughtered within 4 days of their arrival.  If you have horses coming up from US auctions when does this drug withdrawal take place?  When horses arrive at LPN or Richelieu in Quebec from auctions in the US, they aren’t holding them for 180 days – they are killing them within days. 
  • Kill buyers, feed lot owners, and transporters are the ‘bad guys’. “Proper blame should be directed towards the persons who overbreed.  5 minutes of terror is better than months of starvation.”  Again, why are there only two choices – slaughter or starvation?  We can certainly cast blame in the direction of people who produce horses in a “puppymill” type of production line.  But everyone is complicit in this sordid business – from sale barn owners,  transporters, slaughterhouses,  and most definitely kill buyers – all have played a role in facilitating fraudulent transactions and abuse against horses.  Many of these individuals and businesses have been fined or packed off to prison for their crimes.
  • Horses should go to rescues instead of slaughter. “Rescues are overfull, unregulated.”  That is true even though some are registered charities, but so too are kill buyers totally unregulated, and they have input into the food chain. Sales barns sometimes fill out EIDs without input from former owners. I agree that rescues cannot possibly absorb upwards of 100,000 unwanted horses per year.  The answer lies in other solutions, including on-farm euthanasia, hay banks, financial support for rescues, and alternative disposal options such as rendering, mortality composting, and biodigestion. Dr. Bobsien herself also pointed this out.

From the presentation we could see that the Dr. appears to own a very nice dressage horse that is probably very well trained with nice conformation. If slaughter is not a good enough end for Dr. Bobsien’s own horses, why is it acceptable for others to suffer this fate?  This is what anti-slaughter advocates object to – we don’t think it’s an acceptable end for any horse.  Neither of the presentations we saw on this day gave any recognition or discussion to the suffering of non-food animals such as horses.  It’s obvious that most advocacy by humane groups and SPCAs is focused on advancements for the typical “food” animals such as chickens, cows, and pigs, while little effort is expended to the plight of the unwanted horse.  Plenty of criticism is lobbed at the negligent owners and backyard breeders or horses, where it also must lie, but kill buyers seem to get a pass.  Neither presenter touched on transport times, live export deaths, injuries, sickness, or pregnancy.

 

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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© 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.

PBZ Molecule

PBZ Molecule

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.”