From: The Western Producer
Animal abuse confirmed
By Robert Arnason, Brandon bureau
June 24, 2010
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has verified that videotapes showing improper and inhumane methods of killing horses were taken at horse slaughter plants in Quebec and Alberta.
It has not fined or penalized Bouvry Exports in Fort Macleod or Vandes Richelieu near Montreal, because the agency doesn’t issue fines for improper slaughter practices.
“The enforcement tools available to the CFIA in federal slaughter establishments … include corrective action requests, education, prosecution, as well as the ability to halt plant operations,” CFIA spokesperson Lisa Gauthier wrote in an e-mail.
Earlier this year, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition released a hidden camera video that depicted animals struggling and thrashing after slaughter plant employees failed to kill horses with the first shot.
When it made the tapes public in March, the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada and other horse organizations questioned the validity of the images.
“The CFIA has verified that the location of where the footage was taken is correct,” Gauthier said.
The CFIA initiated an investigation into the allegations of abuse and the agency worked with the plants to shore up animal welfare, Gauthier added.
The slaughter plants have since adopted humane handling measures and agency inspectors continue to monitor the facilities to ensure that animal welfare regulations are satisfied, Gauthier said.
In May, the RCMP, which was also investigating the Bouvry plant, dropped the case because there wasn’t evidence of intentional cruelty to animals.
Alex Atamanenko, an NDP MP from British Columbia, is not convinced the CFIA is doing everything necessary to prevent mistreatment of horses at slaughter plants in Canada.
He remains skeptical because the CFIA pledged to improve horse slaughter practices following a Horse Defence Coalition video that showed animal welfare abuses at the Natural Valley Farms plant in Neudorf, Sask.
“This issue was flagged a couple of years ago and all of a sudden we have footage of this happening again. That’s not right,” said Atamanenko.
In addition, Atamanenko is worried about drugs like phenylbutazone that are administered to horses that end up at Canadian slaughter plants.
He tabled a private member’s bill last week in Ottawa to ban horse meat for human consumption in Canada.
“The fact is that drugs, which are prohibited for use during the life of any animals destined for the human food supply, are routinely being administered to horses,” said Atamanenko.
“It is irresponsible for Canada to allow the sale of meat from horses as a food item when they have never been raised in accordance with the food safety practices required for all other animals.”