Tag Archives: Stouffville

Reality Check: Government Agencies Ignore Animal Welfare At Stouffville Livestock Market

Standard
Alternative Turkey Day - Photo  © by Joanne McArthur

Alternative Turkey Day – Photo © Joanne McArthur

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Live animal markets are notorious for withstanding humane pressure.  This is due to the fact that both the public and regulatory agencies consistently see the often inhumane treatment of food animals as separate and distinct from pet animals.  While few people would hesitate to contact the police if they saw a dog locked in a hot car, fowl  and rabbits are put into the trunks of cars in 40+ weather every weekend at the Stouffville Livestock Market.

One small mercy is that the summer is almost over now and the hottest days for animals are mostly behind us.  But that doesn’t mean that any government agency was able to seriously step up and take action for the birds and animals of the Market.  At a time when SPCAs are justifiably reminding us that we need to take precautions to keep our pet animals cool by not leaving them unattended in cars,  the helpless food animals (chickens,  ducks, turkeys,  exotic birds, other fowl and rabbits) at the Market are still being put into the stifling, unventilated trunks of cars and driven an unknown distance to their uncertain fates.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,  high temperature, humidity and poor ventilation create an extremely dangerous environment in a vehicle trunk.

This veterinarian sits in a parked car to test the temperature that a pet would experience.

While the trunk is not exposed to direct sunlight, it will still be unbearably hot for a confined animal – on a 95 degree day,  the trunk may be 120 degrees.  It will certainly be hotter than the passenger compartment which at least has ventilation when the windows are down,  if not air-conditioning.

While people in other cities are arrested when caught putting animals in the trunks of cars, York Region Police claim to be unaware of any criminal code violations as they pertain to putting ANY species of animal in the trunk of a car on an oppressively hot day.  I know this because myself and others have spoken to them directly about the animals at the market and Criminal Code legislation. The fact is, when the OSPCA is closed outside of business hours,  automated messages  and instructions on their websites instruct us to call the York Region Police turkey dogduring off hours.   The OSPCA has given the market instructions to provide all animals with water but most of the market vendors and management are either unwilling or incapable (probably both) of following this directive.  Even when we have seen water provided (only on the day of a protest by activists) only the animals on display have been offered water.  Animals kept in confined in plastic containers or on trailers are not offered water unless they are moved to a display cage.

Why do people look the other way when they see farm animals stuffed into the trunk of a car?  They would almost certainly object if they saw you lock your dog in the trunk,  especially on any of the hot July or August days in York Region.  And what kind of person just won’t be bothered to provide water for their animals,  especially when told by a government agency to do so?  All farm animals can and do suffer from heat stress – signs are panting,  increased salivation,  drooling or foaming,  increased respiration or laboured breathing,  lethargy,  or even unconsciousness.

We brought printouts from the  “Health of Animals” Regulations – Livestock Handling,  Transport,  Segregation…  from the Justice Laws website of the Government of Canada to our protests.  it should be obvious that these regulations are sufficient to respond to the circumstances at the Market,  where animals suffer from both the extremes of hot and cold:

141. (1) Subject to this section, no person shall load on any railway car, motor vehicle,  aircraft or vessel and no carrier shall transport animals of different species or of substantially different weight or age unless those animals are segregated.

143. (1) No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of

(a) inadequate construction of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, container or any part thereof;

(b) insecure fittings, the presence of bolt-heads, angles or other projections;

(c) the fittings or other parts of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel or container being inadequately padded, fenced off or otherwise obstructed;

(d) undue exposure to the weather; or

(e) inadequate ventilation.

chickens

And from the Criminal Code of Canada:

Section 446 of the Criminal Code sets out the offence of causing damage or injury to animals and birds. Everyone who by:

…wilful neglect causes damage to animals or birds that are being conveyed or everyone who is the owner or has custody or control of an animal or bird wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food water, shelter and care, is guilty of an offence.

A person convicted of this offence is liable to imprisonment for not more than two years if the prosecution proceeds by way of indictment. If convicted of an offence where the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, the person faces a maximum punishment of a fine not exceeding $5,000 or six months in jail or both.

Section 446(3) states that:

…evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or bird and thereby caused injury or damage to it, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the injury or damage was caused by “wilful neglect”.

In our opinion, the livestock market cannot simultaneously operate and meet all of these conditions.

According to the group Canadians For the Ethical Treatment of Farm Animals:”

“To minimize risks of heat stress, farm animals should only be transported during the cooler hours of the day. Space per animal inside transport trucks should be increased by reducing stocking densities to ensure proper air flow between animals and, in the case of pigs, to allow them to lie down. Trucks should be tarped and well ventilated. Water should be provided regularly on long journeys.

Canadian transport regulations, the Health of Animals Act, Part XII, Sections 143, (1)(d) and (e) state that “No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of undue exposure to the weather or inadequate ventilation.” Yet, in Canada, farm animals are routinely transported during mid-day intense heat in overcrowded, un-tarped trailers, with no forced ventilation or water, as documented by CETFA inspectors.

cetfa_heatstress-did-you-knowEven when outside temperatures are not extreme, temperatures inside a trailer can rise dramatically if it is slowed by construction, stuck in traffic or otherwise forced to sit stationary, such as during unloading or at border crossings, where no dedicated lanes exist for livestock trailers (see case documented by CETFA here). Moreover, the amount of water vapor in the air (humidity) can lower the air temperature that farm animals can withstand without becoming heat stressed. For instance, research indicates that temperatures over only 23oC (73oF) can cause stress to cattle when combined with high humidity. Various combinations of heat and humidity, along with transport conditions, thus have the potential to negatively impact farm animals and induce heat stress during the summer months.

We ask that the readers of this blog post take action when it becomes apparent that farm animals are being transported in inappropriate conditions and suffering from heat stress – please contact the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the government body responsible for the enforcement of farm animal transport regulations, to report your concerns. Provide details of your observations (location, time of the day, name of the transport company, and D.O.T number printed on the rig, as well as the species transported and the signs of heat stress you observe).

Remind the CFIA that livestock haulers are legally required to take reasonable steps to protect farm animals from severe weather and prevent unnecessary suffering, and urge them to enforce the regulations as they are mandated to do. Also, contact the trucking company involved and email us details of the incident.

Many dogs in heat stress situations have been helped through public involvement. As more and more people are becoming concerned about farm animals, public involvement will also be instrumental in improving the welfare of farm animals during extreme weather conditions.”

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Turkeys in the trunk of a car

Please reach out to all regulatory groups in the following manner:

Contact information

Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

You can contact the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 or through your local CFIA office (found in the blue pages of your telephone directory).

174 Stone Rd W
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 4S9
Tel: 226-217-8555
Fax: 226-217-8495

OSPCA:

The Ontario SPCA operates on a complaints basis. This means that you can help animals by being aware of at-risk animals in your community and by reporting cases of suspected animal cruelty to your nearest Ontario SPCA Community, police, Crime Stoppers or police.

1-888-ONT-SPCA (668-7722) ext. 327 or email cruelty@ospca.on.ca, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), your local Ontario SPCA Branch, affiliated Humane Society or police.

York Region Police:

Toll Free Number 1-866-8POLICE or 1-866-876-5423 (non-emergencies only)
TTY 1-800-668-0398

Address all correspondence to:
York Regional Police
17250 Yonge Street
Newmarket, Ontario Canada
L3Y-4W5
1-866-876-5423
Email: info@yrp.ca (This email is monitored during business hours and is for non-emergencies only)

Advertisements

New Here?

Standard

aboutOh hey there…..  Thanks for stopping by!  I’ve now been writing this blog for exactly 364 days!   While I’m not a professional journalist,  I hope I do a decent job of it,  at least better than these guys.

I started this blog not only as a creative outlet for myself, but because I was so inspired by the bloggers that I follow – a few philosophers,  as well as people opposed to horse slaughter and animal abuse.  I also wanted an outlet to document the protests we made against Toronto restaurants serving horsemeat,  and show that they were entirely peaceful.  My first blog post, on April 16, 2012, was the start of many posts about restaurants,  foodism,  eating animals,  pets,  and of course horses.  I post about 4-7 times a month,  and lately I’ve invited a few other bloggers and other people who write well and have a great message,  to guest post.  So I’m happy if I can publicize a great message or article, even though I didn’t write it myself.  These guest writers often end up having some of the most popular blog posts too!  I’m also a 3-D artist and like to use my own art and photography in the blog whenever possible.

mag-article-largeI try to stay away from blogging equine-related news only,  because there are so many other horse-related blogs that do a great job at that and have it totally covered.  I also want to write about local animal issues such as Toronto restaurants and livestock markets,  putting my own personal (and usually sarcastic) spin on it.  Hence the tagline “When Reason Goes Out The Window,  Ridicule Pulls Up A Chair.”  God only knows that in the world of horse slaughter,  there’s more than enough subject matter to tackle,  ranging from the inane to the irretrievably stupid.  That is not to say however, that I wouldn’t apply the appropriate gravitas or high seriousness to the subject matter that demands it.  I also write an annual summary of what happened in the world of horse welfare each year-end on Storify.  Please check out the summary for 2012 – Horse Welfare 2012 – The Year in Review

Roundups:

In these “round-ups,”  which bear no resemblance to  BLM roundups,  I highlight my own favourite posts as well as the most popular blog posts of the past year.  Check out  the top 20 countries that are responsible for the majority of traffic to this blog.  It’s like getting a quick’n’dirty view of the entire blog on fast-forward.

My Own Favourite Posts:

The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

The Disquieting Truth About Drug Exposures in Horsemeat

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

Horse Sense vs. Non-Sense – 10 More Enduring Myths From The Pro-Slaughter Posse

Get Your Freak On – Horsemeat Restaurants (And the Companies That Should Sponsor Them)

Putting Horsemeat on the Table – Canadian Influences and Enablers – Infographic

Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

Hutul-horses-05

Most Popular Posts  by Unique Hits (in descending order)

1.  Canada’s Live Export of Horses For Slaughter – Do Canadians Care?

2.  50 Shades of Black and Blue

3.  Small Town Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret

4.  Have the Tentacles of Horse Slaughter Touched the Set of Heartland?

5.  Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

6.  Where Will All The Horses Go?

7.  A Tale of Two Polls…..

8.  Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company (Or Reason #189,743 Why We Cannot Trust Unified Equine or the IEBA)

9.  Hunting for Fallacies – Why Hunting is Bad for the Environment

10.  Slaughterhouse Sue – “We’re Losing Horses in Our Lives,” So Let’s Slaughter More of Them!

485070_565322256819529_1110968047_n

Top 20 Views By Country:

United States

Canada

United Kingdom

Germany

Australia

Netherlands

Mexico

France

Italy

India

Sweden

Belgium

Austria

Spain

Switzerland

Finland

Russian Federation

Brazil

Poland

Ireland

Colophon:

Of course this blog uses the WordPress platform.  I want to give full credit to the great international community that WordPress has brought together.

The theme is “Matala” by Matt Mullenweg.

I’m using the Tag Cloud,  Twitter,  Links,  Milestone, and RSS Links Widgets, and I use Poll Daddy to collect and publish survey info.  I also use Sitemeter,  which is great when it works,  which isn’t that often!

Lastly,  please consider subscribing to this blog. You can also follow me on Twitter – @hclemenceau.  Please check out the other great blogs and resources on the right in the Blogroll.

shop2_1696921a

Stouffville Livestock Market – New Protest and “Letters To The Editor”

Standard
A great turnout on a very cold day....

A great turnout on a very cold day….

Written by: Heather Clemenceau

Today was our second protest against the Stouffville Livestock Market,  which re-opened for the 2013 season.  Fortunately the protest was uneventful, despite some early signs that there might be some hecklers.  At the end of our three-hour protest,  we were delighted to meet a kind gentleman who regularly rescues and rehabs some of the birds from the livestock market.  I’ve included pics of today’s rescue,  and I hope you’ll compare this to the Toronto Star video and make note of the fact that these particular birds show some sparse feathering and bloody scabs,  which is not atypical for many of the birds sold here.

Today,  I’m also taking the opportunity to respond to a couple of Letters to the Editor that appeared as follow-ups to the original article.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Farmers’ market runs afoul of activists, March 16

 “I applaud Bill Fletcher and the vital part he plays in providing an option for folks who choose to take control of their food source. Heather Clemenceau appears to favour factory farmed chicken because “there is a somewhat consistent method of killing,” as if that could make up for the atrocities of a poultry factory floor.

Conscientious protest is a right to be encouraged, though in this instance the OSPCA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency did not find the alleged cruel, outdated mistreatment of animals at the Stouffville Country Market.

I would encourage Ms Clemenceau to watch the episode of CBC TV’s www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/02/10/cons-supermarket-superbugs.html.MarketplaceEND that investigated superbug bacteria on supermarket chicken — the same chicken that most carnivores are familiar with, the same chicken described in the article as “plastic-wrapped packet of boneless, skinless breasts from a refrigerated grocery store aisle,” the chicken that the people who buy from Bill Fletcher do not want to eat.

Researchers bought 100 samples of some of the most popular brands of chicken, labelled and photographed them and sent them off to a lab for testing. Two thirds of the results showed bacteria — not simply E. coli, salmonella or

SPCA Regulations are only one set of regulations pertaining to animals.  Criminal Code may also apply.

SPCA Regulations are only one set of regulations pertaining to animals. Criminal Code may also apply.

campylobacter often present on raw chicken, but bacteria that antibiotics cannot kill.

Some bacteria were resistant to as many as eight types of antibiotics. Canadian poultry farmers are allowed to use the full range of antibiotics including those used exclusively when treating pregnant women and children.

Unless consumers buy chicken raised without the use of antibiotics (and clearly labelled as such), they are purchasing factory-farmed chicken that has consumed a lifetime of antibiotics, given for little reason other than delivering a weightier product, faster.

Why should this concern people like Ms Clemenceau? Because the day may (some on the front lines of medicine say will) come when superbug bacteria will infect our population — vegetarian and omnivore alike — and our arsenal of antibiotics will be of no use.

And that is where Bill Fletcher and choice comes into play: by offering his beautiful birds for sale, he is helping to provide a varied system of food delivery. It seems to me that petitioning to close the livestock stalls at the Stouffville Country Market is a mistake that plays right into the hand of industrialized (and not so healthy) food.

Perhaps vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores could unite — as all are at risk of future bacterial infection without antibiotic relief — and demand that the use of antibiotics in animal feed be outlawed across Canada. This protection is already offered throughout much of Europe.

Now that is a petition that I’d sign.” Linda Muir, Toronto

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When you call the OSPCA after hours, you are directed to contact the police.  Yet today,  despite police presence,  they seem unwilling to even inspect the market when provided with the regulations.

When you call the OSPCA after hours, you are directed to contact the police. Yet today, despite police presence, they seem unwilling to even inspect the market when provided with the regulations.

‘Heather Clemenceau and Nic Wilvert have the right cause, but the wrong target. Small livestock dealers at the Stouffville farmer’s market, following a centuries-old tradition of selling live animals to individuals, are not committing atrocities toward animals. Neither are the buyers.

Instead, these animal activists should be directing their energies toward improving the mega-sized, highly commercialized food system in Ontario where animal welfare is really in question. Do these do-gooders not know about the living conditions and transport of most factory farmed animals?

And the huge processing facilities where thousands of antibiotic-infused chickens are mass executed daily in a mechanized fashion? Is the “consistent method of killing” frenzied, stressed animals en masse that Clemenceau refers to in her blog, a preferred fate to the killing of individual animals by humans who end their lives quickly and humanely?

The cellophane wrapped, Styrofoam-tray mounted, chemical-laced poultry product most of us now buy in our box stores is a far cry from what our families used to purchase just a generation ago. I can’t see this as progress.

We all need to be more mindful of where our food comes from. Farmer’s markets are an excellent source of real, genuine food and need to be supported.”  Denise Sheedy, Pefferlaw

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I would like to respond to Ms. Muir and Ms Sheedy’s Letters to the Editor,  published on March 23rd,  the day of the opening of the Stouffville Livestock Market for 2013.  I wish to clarify that Heather_ppat no time during my interview with the writer Rachel Mendleson did I state that I preferred CAFO farming of any animal.  What I did say was that, with the vendor disclosure that many clients were buying these birds, likely for halal or kosher slaughter, a system with controls and inspectors,  however flawed,  is better than none at all.  That does NOT have to be large scale slaughter – a licensed butcher would be much more appropriate,  as would a mobile slaughter truck.  Halal and Kosher slaughter (or other inept methods of killing) are cruel in that they do not stun the animals beforehand, so they are completely conscious when slaughtered,  which I’ve discussed in a blog post and therefore won’t address it here again.  The average person killing an animal purchased at the market will be unable to determine whether the vertebral arteries have been severed to the brain (unless of course the animal is completely and immediately decapitated).

Insofar as antibiotics are concerned, this is a separate issue that is not directly related to the issues at the market, which I’ve discussed in several blogposts:

Our meeting with Mayor Emmerson

Our first protest of the market and the resulting assaults in December 2012

First blog post discussing the conditions at the market

The livestock industry uses the majority of antibiotics sold today – and it’s quite true they are slowly losing their effectiveness in fighting bacterial infections .  I’m honestly surprised that the writer cannot make the connection between antibiotic use and the mass production of animals.  Surely the writer recognizes that the increase in overall meat consumption has been facilitated by the low cost of meat, due to the mechanization of meat processing, increased economies of scale, and antibiotic use?  Without the ability to slaughter hundreds of animals per hour, the craving for meat cannot be satisfied, especially by the small scale producer. Mechanized dis-assembly of animals occurs as a result of the demand for cheap meat, which we’ve also seen result in the horsemeat adulteration scandal in the EU.  The only way to avoid this is to stop patronizing the industry.

Any producer,  large or small can be a contributor to unethical animal handling, and yes, often the biggest culprit is factory farms.  But small scale farmers can hardly be excused because their product “may” be less adulterated.  The true pressure on small farmers are not the activists asking that blatant cruelty stop, but on farmers themselves to establish CAFOs in order to compete with the larger corporations.  These are not issues we are exploring in our protests.  Therefore, discussion of antibiotics in food has little bearing on the deplorable practice of putting animals in the trunks of cars in any climate.  Causing undue suffering such as this is in contravention of the SPCA act and Criminal Code.  Again, our issue is cruelty,  plain and simple.

These birds show a reality that is somewhat different from the video of Mr. Fletcher's establishment. Notice the small scabs. Today they were rescued by a compassion man who will rehab them.

These birds show a reality that is somewhat different from the video of Mr. Fletcher’s establishment. Notice the small scabs and blood-tinged sparse feathering. Today they were rescued by a compassionate man who will rehab them.  Also notice that he has them in a box and not an onion bag!

I do believe that the battery hens at the market, which comprise a sizable majority, are raised in battery cages, with artificial sunlight, for about 72 weeks before slaughter.  In Canada anywhere from 70-90 percent of them are raised this way.  Beyond seeing Mr. Fletcher’s video, we have no idea how the other vendors raise their birds.  Mr. Fletcher is also one of several vendors on this site and when I visited and photographed the market,  I saw no guarantees from any of them as to what meds if any, are used in their animals directly or via feed.  I saw no disclaimers that these animals were “free range,”  or any of the other semi-meaningless descriptors used for animal farms.  I have never seen any signage posted or warranties provided that these animals are organic.  Indeed, the government of Canada has very specific requirements for registering a farm as “organic.”

Ms. Sheedy decries the “Styrofoam-tray mounted, chemical-laced poultry product most of us now buy in our box stores is a far cry from what our families used to purchase just a generation ago.” What we’ve actually done in the last 100 years is trade one form of cruelty – the unregulated abattoirs,  for another – the mass dis-assembly of animals on a production line.  The way in which we view animals has changed dramatically over the last 100 years.  We experience tension and clashes in this era due to  a growing fondness of some animals and the consumption of others.  Most abattoirs 100 years ago where situated in slums characterized by extreme poverty, filth,  delinquency, and crowded conditions.  Today,  it is generally acknowledged that sentient creatures being killed are worthy of protection.  If you have a market such as this where neither OMAFRA nor the OSPCA are willing or able to direct changes, you have the same institutionalized “forgetting” that creates the conditions for cruelty hidden in a quiet country town.

We received this message via a circuitous route - thankfully the heckler did not emerge. More of an issue perhaps is why adults encourage minor children to engage with adults and encourage harassment.

Come at me ‘bro.  We received this message via a circuitous route – thankfully the heckler did not emerge. More of an issue perhaps is why adults encourage minor children to engage with adults and encourage harassment.  And harassment is not a skill that will take your kids anywhere in life.

Even in the eighteenth century , reformers argued that “public slaughterhouses” would be preferable to “private slaughterhouses” (the term referred to any structure in which animals were slaughtered for human consumption, e.g., a butcher’s shed) because they would remove the sight of animal slaughter from public places and indiscreet private slaughterhouses, they could more easily be monitored, they were generally considered to be cleaner as well.  Our argument is not so much different from that.  That is not to say that industrialization or mechanization of slaughter is somehow preferable to what could be a humane end by a licensed butcher.

In conclusion, a more relevant video embedded in the Star article would have consisted of footage of the actual conditions at the market and not at one vendor’s establishment.  I’m gratified that Mr. Fletcher’s birds are indoors and protected from the elements, but again, is he is only one of several livestock vendors that service the market with different species of animals.  While the video gives the impression that Mr. Fletcher’s establishment IS the market, the animals at the market have zero protection from the elements for at least six hours unless they remain in a trailer.  Today at the protest of the re-opening of the market for 2013, the temperature is in the negative numbers and with wind chill is it even colder.   If the protesters at the market are freezing for 3 hours, imagine how these birds must feel,  particularly the “spent” hens who have  very limited feathering.  They don’t all look like Mr. Fletcher’s birds.  Thank you to another writer responding to The Star article,  Ms. Featherby,  who “gets it.”  Please read her letter below:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Rodger Dunlop’s “hope” that the slaughter of farmers’ market purchases is humane is inadequate. That the manager of regulatory compliance for the Ontario Agriculture Ministry “hopes” that these animals will be treated without cruelty by a public whose methods of ending an animal’s life are not monitored, nor guided by definable regulations is an unfortunate guarantee that many short lives will have horrific endings.

If witnesses are observing animals being carelessly tossed into trunks and having their little bones broken in plain view of the public, one wonders what goes on upon arrival home. Indeed, as these animals end up in the care of individuals who clearly want to do the killing themselves, it does make one question just how much kindness and dignity they are afforded in death, and why the absence of regulation continues.”  Mercedes Featherby, Toronto

What’s On Your Plate Stouffville? Livestock Advocacy Efforts Continue Into 2013…

Standard
Chickens at the Stouffville Market

Photo by Laura Templeton

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Yesterday, in anticipation of the 2013 opening of the Stouffville Livestock Market, we met with Mayor Emmerson and a representative of the Town of Stouffville.  Our intent has been to highlight the perceptions of livestock markets in general by both the local community and the world at large,  and explain that our position on the livestock handling and sale is supported by evidence and law.  We acknowledge that the Mayor does not necessarily have jurisdiction over all aspects of the market,  but nevertheless,  should be made aware of the “other side” of the story that is not being told by the market operators or necessarily the media.  The Mayor also invited members of the OSPCA,  but unfortunately they were unavailable/failed to present for the meeting.  At the same time, a Toronto Star article was published comparing/contrasting activist claims with vendor and government assertions about care and handling of the animals.

First on the agenda was to present the Mayor with the petition, which now reflected between 1,500 and 1,600 signatures from all over the world.  I also gave the Mayor a page of signatures for the Stouffville area alone.

We brought printouts from the  “Health of Animals” Regulations – Livestock Handling,  Transport,  Segregation…  from the Justice Laws website of the Government of Canada:

141. (1) Subject to this section, no person shall load on any railway car, motor vehicle,  aircraft or vessel and no carrier shall transport animals of different species or of substantially different weight or age unless those animals are segregated.”

143. (1) No person shall transport or cause to be transported any animal in a railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, crate or container if injury or undue suffering is likely to be caused to the animal by reason of

(a) inadequate construction of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel, container or any part thereof;

(b) insecure fittings, the presence of bolt-heads, angles or other projections;

(c) the fittings or other parts of the railway car, motor vehicle, aircraft, vessel or container being inadequately padded, fenced off or otherwise obstructed;

(d) undue exposure to the weather; or

(e) inadequate ventilation.

Good to see you Bob and Anita!

And from the Criminal Code of Canada:

Section 446 of the Criminal Code sets out the offence of causing damage or injury to animals and birds. Everyone who by:

…wilful neglect causes damage to animals or birds that are being conveyed or everyone who is the owner or has custody or control of an animal or bird wilfully neglects or fails to provide suitable and adequate food water, shelter and care, is guilty of an offence.

A person convicted of this offence is liable to imprisonment for not more than two years if the prosecution proceeds by way of indictment. If convicted of an offence where the Crown proceeds by way of summary conviction, the person faces a maximum punishment of a fine not exceeding $5,000 or six months in jail or both.

Section 446(3) states that:

…evidence that a person failed to exercise reasonable care or supervision of an animal or bird and thereby caused injury or damage to it, is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof that the injury or damage was caused by “wilful neglect”.

Animal Health Regs

In our opinion, the livestock market cannot simultaneously operate and meet all of these conditions.  As identified in my previous blog on the market, animals of all species are placed in an onion bag(s) – this may consist of rabbits, chickens, quail, or ducks.  It is the market’s responsibility to segregate the animals by species.  OMAFRA handed down a decision at the Woodville auction whereby onion bags were not permissible and the animals were placed in cardboard boxes.  We verified that this was happening at the Woodville auction in January 2013.  OSPCA senior inspector Steven Toy did not only  insist that the vendors supply water to the animals,  but he also told them that they could only place one animal per onion bag,  although that wasn’t mentioned in the Toronto Star article covering our protests.  However, it seems to be that the only animals receiving any water are those on display – animals constricted in the yellow/red cages are not offered water unless they are put out on display in smaller metal cages.

While a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency stated that “Onion bags allow the animals to be calm and breathe comfortably,” I wonder if he would arrive at the same conclusion if he saw multiple species of animal stuffed into the bag and placed into the trunk of a car?  I also spoke with a CFIA source on March 11th and asked him whether it could be construed that placing animals in the trunks of cars could be considered “undue stress” and he did agree.  Therefore,  we hold that the market or possibly its customers may also be in contravention of section 143 (1) of the “Health of Animals” regulations since animals placed in the trunks of cars, particularly on the hottest months of the year will indeed experience “undue suffering.”  This is no different that leaving a dog in a locked car without appropriate ventilation – the police would likely be called and the owner may be charged.  We discussed with the Mayor the possibility that persons storing the animals in trunks could be charged under the Criminal Code.

Wind Chill Factors

Wind Chill Factors – the effect of cold and speed on the interior temperature of a livestock trailer with open slats.

Holding a market in March and November/December is unduly cold for many of the animals, especially chickens who have lost much of their feathers and have little protection from the elements.  This is exacerbated by transporting them in trailers with open slats – the chicken cages are loaded directly against the slats, and open slats in winter  coupled with the speed of the vehicle can often bring the interior temperatures of the trailer into negative numbers.  You can see from the various blog pictures that the trailers all have open slats, and these pictures were taken in November.  It’s amazing to me that the OSPCA apparently overlooked this.  National Farm Animal Care Council codes of practice indicate that “Ventilation should be adjustable from the outside of the vehicle in response to temperature changes during a trip.”

Again, despite vendor claims to the contrary,  various protesters  have actually seen chickens being killed at the market.  Most of the activists have seen chickens get their necks snapped – how can this be construed as “taking things out of context?”  I would honestly say that a great many of the birds on sale at the market hardly look “1,000 times better” than what’s produced on factory farms,”  since many of them are spent battery hens at the end of their productive lives.

What would be the interior temperature of this trailer in November with slats open?

What would be the interior temperature of this trailer in November with slats open? Photo By Laura Templeton

Also not mentioned in the Toronto Star article was the outstanding issue whereby 3 people were assaulted at the market on December 15th.  Two people were pushed, one person’s phone was nearly knocked out of their hand, and another was physically restrained by the wrist.  We were not discouraged from filing police reports by the Mayor’s Office either.  Does anyone other than the conscientious objectors to the market believe that assault,  particularly by a man of a woman,  is a telling indicator of how some of the vendors might behave towards their animals?

Of course it’s better for the purchasers of the animals to take them to a licensed slaughterhouse, but how many purchasers do that?  If they didn’t want to

Animals of various species loaded into onion sacks.  There is significant weight to these sacks and the animals on the bottom are being crushed.

Animals of various species loaded into onion sacks. There is significant weight to these sacks and the animals on the bottom are being crushed.

slaughter animals themselves, they would likely go to their local butcher and still be able to claim they’re a “locavore.” Third-generation chicken farmer, Fletcher, as quoted in the Star article, acknowledges that the animals are being killed at home: “…..his customers, who range from immigrants accustomed to slaughtering their own meat to families seeking a source for fresh eggs.”  Religious or kosher/halal slaughter techniques are cruel and should be ended, says a scientific assessment from animal welfare advisers. The Farm Animal Welfare Council in the UK says that slitting the throats of the animals most commonly used for meat, chickens, without stunning, results in “significant pain and distress”.  Throat cutting associated with religious slaughter may fail to sever the vertebral arteries supplying the brain.

Spent Hens

“Spent” hens, now with water as a result of social media publicity.  Photo by Lynne Barrington

We came away from our meeting  having reached consensus on some issues with the Mayor.  Smoking around flammable material by vendors and customers is to be addressed with signage and inspection from the Fire department.  We were not dissuaded from filing police reports as a result of the assaults.  The Mayor agreed to asking the market to use cardboard boxes, so that the market is “on spec” with the practices being used at Woodville.  I sense that the Mayor was uncomfortable with the past practice of putting goats in the trunks of cars – I say “past practice” because we assume that they will no longer be sold at the market since per the CFIA, hoofstock is not permissible.   Mayor Emmerson also didn’t really offer any resistance when we suggested that purchasers who put animals in the trunks of cars on hot days might be subject to charges of animal cruelty either.  Is it so difficult to put an animal into the climate-controlled passenger compartment?

At this time, our protest of the market re-opening is still a go for March 23rd, despite conflicting information about the official start of the livestock market.  It will be interesting to see what policy changes “stick” with the market in 2013.  We thank the Mayor for agreeing to meet with us and will follow-up with the other agencies as discussed.

Activism Happens – Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret – The Protest

Standard

Stouffville's Dirty Little SecretWritten by Heather Clemenceau

All Photos by Heather Clemenceau unless otherwise indicated.

The way we treat our animals is a direct reflection of our society. Animals raised for food have little protection against cruelty.  It speaks to a prejudicial attitude towards certain animals,  which is not based on a rational assessment of their ability to feel pain and sense fear,  but on our intended use for them.   As a result of these prejudicial attitudes,  the abuse of animals traditionally thought of as “farm animals” usually merits little attention, while the loudest outcry is reserved for the abuse of suburban pets.

On December 15th, we held our peaceful, planned protest of the Livestock Market in Stouffville, Ontario.  Saturday’s protesters appeared to be an eclectic mix of all ages from Toronto and both York and Durham Regions.  Some brought babies in their arms, others brought their enthusiastic dogs.

Since the initial blog postings by myself and Photojournalist Laura Templeton, we’ve heard that there have been some changes at the market.  It seems that water dispensers have made an appearance for some animals.  While this is clearly an improvement, we wonder about all the other animals in plastic cages who are not on display?  The pigs that I photographed on an earlier visit are now to be contained within plastic bags rather than exposed to airborne particles from the chicken pens.  This is clearly a win for everyone,  since all raw meat products,  whether pork,  beef,  poultry or fish – have the potential to carry bacterial pathogens,  such as Salmonella or E. coli.  No need to facilitate it either by having meat uncovered near live poultry.

MP McMeekin responds to my tweet about the market

MP McMeekin responds to my tweet about the market

While these changes are positive, I can’t help but wonder how long they will last?  Will the old, entrenched habits of the market reappear once the management and vendors think they have escaped public scrutiny?  What the management should have done years ago is take a leadership role – the sudden presence of water in some of the cages and the packaging of the dead pigs are a sign that the management knows that something is amiss,  but for whatever reason they have lacked the initiative required to put such welfare improvements in place.  A proactive management would have done this and a lot more without the presence of activists.

Additionally,  all livestock sellers who display chicks, ducklings and other live poultry should provide health-related information to owners and potential

Spent Hens

“Spent” hens, now with water as a result of social media publicity – Photo courtesy of Lynne Barrington

purchasers of these birds.  This should include information about the possibility of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contacting live poultry.  Platitudes about handwashing stations at petting zoos and washing hands when dealing with potentially risky things are nice but never enough. I wrote about this in the previous blog post about the market,  but it bears repeating,  especially since Martha Stewart of all people famously became infected with Salmonella due to cross-contamination. Both food producers and consumers themselves are billed by the Center for Disease Control as the CCP (Critical Control Point)  where contamination might occur.  And I will also add that none of these live animals can be sold or prepared for public consumption – private consumption only.

The protest was marred by some unforeseen events.  At the close of our 3 ½ our protest/vigil some of the protesters encountered physical hostility by some vendors inside the market.  You can read more about the physical altercations and the gentleman we call “The Self-Appointed Historian”  on Laura Templeton’s blog.  There is no justification for this physicality, as there is no justification for hurling homophobic slurs at the protesters either.  The real problem is the direct link between animal and human violence. It is repeatedly proven that abuse of animals is a rock-solid sign of trouble. Domestic violence and violence in schools are both two main areas in which potential problems could realistically predicted by looking into the implications behind animal and human violence. The individuals who grabbed or shoved the protesters have got some serious issues – even more so in the case of men accosting females.   While most of the sellers at the market wouldn’t start such a confrontation,  it’s unfortunate that a small minority of vendors chose to take this initiative; if one has no empathy towards animals,  it’s not exactly surprising that some express their frustrations in undesireable ways.  Ditto for the homophobic man and his homophobe-in-training child.  The “parent” has not only taught his child to hate/bully others but directly brought her into an altercation with adults and encouraged it!

In a free society, the best tool that we have in moving forward and making social change is knowledge, and by making the general public aware of these happenings; currently there is significant pressure on the management and owner of the market to end the outdated practice of selling live animals who are transported inhumanely and face a death by possibly unskilled or unpracticed hands.  The public are not aware of potential disease risks either,  and these cannot be eliminated without the cessation of live poultry sales completely.

Small Town Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret

Standard

Written by Heather Clemenceau

Farmers’ markets attract city dwellers the way clover fields draw bees. Every major Canadian city has at least one, and they have been a favourite tool of city planners seeking to develop new communities or rejuvenate rundown parts of town. Typically, farmer’s markets have a new role as a popular anchor for urban redevelopment to lure both tourists and residents as the buy-local food movement gathers momentum.  I myself also enjoy farmer’s markets and I’m a frequent patron of the Evergreen Brickworks Market and the Reesor Farm Market.  Toronto has an abundance of small markets tucked away in the city that promote local produce and bring colour and life to stagnating urban areas.

Although the Stouffville Market,  located northeast of Toronto in York Region, has a large and comprehensive vegetable market,  they’ve been hiding a dirty little secret from the nearby community. The Stouffville Market also houses a livestock area that is open-for-business from 3am – 11am on Saturdays most months of the year.

Most Canadians are unaware of the fact that animal abuses are endemic in agriculture in Canada.  The Toronto Star recently published an op-ed piece describing why this might be so.  The author asserts that  peaceful Canada condones such cruelty to farm animals largely due to the fact that these practices are generally concealed from the scrutiny of the public eye.  I agree!  And with small steps such as highlighting the numerous issues at this market,  welfare advocates gradually move towards exposing these and other practices committed against farm animals.

Arguably, this is also the case at the Stouffville Livestock Market  as well,  where it seems that the only patrons of the market appear to hail from various ethnic and “old world” communities.   Despite having an excellent vegetable market on the same premises, the livestock area reminds one of a third-world market where animals are constricted in tiny cages unable to move,  then stuffed into onion bags awaiting a horrible fate at some other location.  The livestock market  is also a fire hazard as both patrons and sellers smoke openly around straw-filled cages.

Stacks of poultry cages packed with live birds fill the area – most of these birds and other animals won’t sell today and will be shipped back in these cages or dropped off at the abbatoir on the way back from the market.  We witnessed these plastic “cages” being flung onto the pavement at the market in the early morning,  the birds inside utterly commoditized.  The market is a little shop of horrors in the early morning too,  where customers wait in the shadows at 3am to make their purchases.  What reputable business operates in the shadows of darkness at 3am?  Although we did not witness it,  there were animal sounds emanating from nearby that were consistent with slaughter,  which is not permitted on the property.  Furthermore,  what reputable vendor would toss used-up  or weakened birds out on the road or in ditches in onion sacks to drown or slowly die constricted by their onion sacks?  Thankfully,  there is a kind-hearted good samaritan in the area who collects and rehabilitates these animals,  but why is this cruelty perpetuated without repercussions for these sellers?

Throughout the day,  vendors barter and patrons go home with chickens,  rabbits, and ducks stuffed into onion sacks,  where they are put into the trunks of cars.  This is November,  but I’m sure the practice of putting animals in trunks occurs during the oppressive heat of July as well.  We would be outraged at the sight of a dog being put into a trunk or left in a hot car,  but where is the outrage here?  The problem is that few people,  outside of the ethnic community it serves,  even know that this market exists.

Although there is some distance separating the two,  I’m surprised that the small dead pigs, laid out on flattened cardboard boxes, are so close to all of these chickens and the prodding fingers of prospective purchasers who

Pigs laid out on flattened cardboard boxes, not protected from the fingers of patrons who perhaps have handled live chickens.

may have just visited the livestock area and handled a chicken.  I did not see the vendors in this area wearing gloves either.  Shipment and adapting to new locations causes stress on birds and makes them more likely to shed bacteria in their droppings. While anyone can become ill from exposure to these germs, the risk of infection is especially high for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems; for example, people receiving chemotherapy or who are HIV-infected. One of the most important bacteria  to be made aware of is Salmonella.  Birds infected with Salmonella do not usually appear sick. Salmonella lives in the intestine of infected chickens, and can be shed in large numbers in the droppings. Once shed, bacteria can spread across the chicken’s body as the bird cleans itself and throughout the environment as the chicken walks around. Therefore, it is especially important to carefully wash hands with soap and water after handling young birds or anything that has come in contact with them.

I have confirmed with Dr. Popper of the CFIA that this market is not allowed to sell hoofstock.  Yet,  today,  we see ample evidence of goats and pigs being sold despite the CFIA’s assertions.  The market is a disgrace and a blight on the community.  They know that they are not permitted to sell hoofstock yet they thumb their noses at regulations.  Some vendors appear to be selling Mallard ducks as well,  which they assert are Call ducks.  This issue remains in contention because Call ducks are usually smaller,  stockier,  with shorter  bills and necks.  We are of the opinion that these are Mallard ducks.  To report infractions,  please contact the Ministry of Natural Resources or call 905.336.4464 for the Canadian wildlife service, and 1.877.847.7667 for infractions.

Please sign the Petition to close down the livestock market. 

This petition sends emails directly to the Mayor of Stouffville,  Wayne Emmerson,  and OMAFRA Minister Ted McMeekin.

Postscript ~ In an article written for  York Region.com it was noted that Mayor Emmerson had contacted me and was waiting for a response.  I’m unsure by what media this contact allegedly took place,  since I have an unpublished phone number that I haven’t provided to anyone.  I have no records of any phone calls originating from the Stouffville area,  nor do I have any messages on any of my phones.  I have received no emails nor have I seen a comment left on this blog.  If Mayor Emmerson wishes to reach me I would be more than happy to speak with him,  so perhaps he could leave a message on this blog.