An End to Canada’s Horse Slaughter Industry in Sight?

For Immediate Release June 1, 2012:

An End to Canada’s Horse Slaughter Industry in Sight?

Orangeville, Ontario:  On May 31, 2012, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) released its report “CFIA and the Art of Evasion”,, in response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s deflection tactics to questions concerning the welfare of horses in Canada’s horse slaughter plants, as well as the safety of horsemeat for human consumption.

On the same day, the Daily Racing Form reported that two slaughterhouses, Bouvry Exports in Fort Macleod, Alberta, and Viandes Richelieu in Massueville, Quebec, will no longer be accepting Thoroughbreds:

Thoroughbreds comprise approximately 14% of the total number of horses slaughtered in Canada for the meat market.  The vast majority of horsemeat is shipped overseas to Europe and Asia for human consumption.  It is a known fact that 99% of Thoroughbreds in the racing industry, at some point in their careers, have been administered drugs such as phenylbutazone, which are prohibited from entering the food chain.

Today we ask the CFIA:  What now?  This news may be the beginning of the decline of the horsemeat industry.  Thoroughbreds are not the only horses to receive drugs prohibited from being used for human consumption.  Horses from all directions enter the slaughter market.  They come from trail riding businesses, family farms, the rodeo circuit, and other facets of the racing industry, such as Standardbred harness racing and Quarter Horse racing.

The CFIA relies heavily upon an Equine Information Document (EID) system to determine whether horses headed for slaughter have been administered drugs.  However, this faulty system is, in turn, reliant upon the honesty of irresponsible owners wishing to offload their horses, as well as unscrupulous feedlot operators whose only interest in horse slaughter is the profit that can be made from this practice.

The safety of Canadian horsemeat cannot be guaranteed.  Neither is equine slaughter a humane process.  It is fraught with animal welfare violations, as proven by numerous undercover investigations:

Today, we further ask the Thoroughbred racing industry:  What now?  The slaughter option has been removed from two large Canadian slaughter plants.  Will the industry now begin to truly work to protect its race horses through industry subsidized adoption programs and promote responsible horse husbandry that will include retainment and rehoming of Thoroughbreds, instead of silently allowing the untimely deaths of the very horses who make their industry possible?

The Canadian government can run, but it cannot hide from the truth.  There is no such thing as the humane slaughter of an easily-panicked flight animal such as the horse.  Further, there is no way to guarantee that the meat of horses can be free from drug contaminants.  They are our companions and our working partners, and many have been medicated with substances that can be risky to human health if consumed.

Canada must abolish horse slaughter without delay.

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For more information, please contact the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition:

250.681.1408 (cell)

or e-mail


  1. blanche saarinen · ·

    i feel that the way horses are slaughtered is extremely horrible. i will try and work to get names for the petition tho this canada one can only hope gov’t doesn’t really listen to the people. i do worry about the issues of neglect of horses when money is the problem. breeding horses when there are so many in the need of homes already is also. my daughter paid 5,000$ for one of hers she took 3 years to save the money plus she is in the position now $ wise and with support to keep this horse forever plus she rescued a thoroghbred. having and getting any animal is a long time responsibility.

  2. USA Update:

    House Panel Takes Action Against Slaughter

    By Tom LaMarra, @BH_TLaMarra
    Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 8:05 PM
    Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 2:38 PM

    The U.S. House Appropriations Committee June 19 approved language in an agriculture bill that would prevent expenditures for the inspection of horse slaughter facilities—and ultimately keep them from operating.

    Last year Congress passed an agriculture appropriations bill that didn’t include the ban on inspection expenditures. The language had been included in the legislation for at least five years.

    Democratic Rep. James Moran of Virginia pushed for the language to be included in the agriculture bill. The amendment passed 24-21 but multiple approvals are necessary as the legislative process continues.

    The move was hailed by various anti-slaughter groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

    Last November President Obama signed into law a broader bill that reversed the ban on the slaughter inspection funding. According to published reports at the time, the action could end the “ban” on horse slaughter brought about by the lack of funding.

    In recent years the three remaining slaughter plants shut their doors. Federal legislation actually banning the process of horse slaughter has failed to pass Congress.

    The 2011 legislation was tied to a federal General Accountability Office report from earlier in the year. The report concluded, among other things, that the ban on horse slaughter has led to increased case of horse abuse.

    The American Horse Council June 20 reported the agriculture appropriations bill included other equine-related provisions, including funds for equine health programs and enforcement of the Horse Protection Act.


    To anybody reading this: KEEP CONTACTING YOUR LEGISLATORS.

  3. Public Laws?

    Who asks anybody if they can bury their dead animal. A friend who is now deceased ( 2006 ) probably had over a dozen horses buried after having been in the horse racing business for years. She would of died for those horses and did. At the time of her death she had a mare who was 30 years old still there on the farm. Yes 30.

    She was blind but her buddies looked out for her. She was healthy outside of being blind. Do you know how many pets are buried in the yards throughout America? I have two dogs buried in yards, about 200 relatives and friends the same with their animals including horses who were loved, taken care of but came to the end of their lives by way of sickness and age.

    They are taking perfectly healthy Horses and slaughtering them in the most hideous ways. Population?

    Guess China, Africa, India, etc… needs to start slaughtering its citizens. Well China already has in place only allowing a certain number of kids.

    But you had better think of better excuses then all this. And the horse Industry has not crashed since the slaughter houses have closed. I’m in the Horse Racing Industry.

    My God your own words: Humane SLAUGHTER. Tell me how in all honesty these two words can be put together.

  4. Larry · ·

    None of us prefer the sentencing to death or slaughter of any animal, regardless of the species; but, the reality of it all is, that we need horse slaughter houses as a practical alternative and solution to govern the horse population. Public Laws forbid burying a horse on your own property these days because of possible contamination of water sources and supplies; so, what’s the practical alternative or solution? I agree that the need of unnecessary suffering needs to be resolved in all slaughter houses, regardless of species . . . cow, pig, chicken, etc. As for horse meat for human consumption, if it is untainted and USDA inspected, it is an excellent source of meat protein and an alternative to beef, pork, poultry, and other human-grade meat sources. If that is too hard for the U.S. human meat industry to consider, use horse meat for carnivorous animal food diets, just as other animal sources are used. The horse industry has crashed since the close of horse slaughter houses, and reopening of the horse slaughter houses is the only resolution to the over population of horses in the U.S. Do you really think that hunter’s get the shot exactly right for an instant kill every time, or slashing the throats of cows and pigs is a quick death, or wringing the necks or cutting-off the heads of chickens is instantaneous demise? Sit-back and give serious thought to all animal slaughter solutions, not just that of horses; if you’re going to sympathize with one species of animal, sympathize with them all; but the end result and reality-check has been the same for thousands of years of animal slaughter for human and animal consumption. Citizens within the U.S. need to ban together and offer better solutions to the overall humane slaughter of animals for whatever the meat by-product use is and not the concentration of one species.

  5. One can only hope. In the USA here are some contacts and petitions to sign.

  6. Shirley Buchanan · ·

    This may seem too far to the left, but I think that horses should not be racing for the entertainment of humans, period. From beginning to end, this is another form of entertainment that, hopefully will be phased out in time. Have you ever seen documentaries of wild horses? Wild horses are wonderful to watch and of course, have their own social lives, with their own rules. I hope that animals at some point in time will be allowed to just BE.

  7. shoshone · ·

    Lets hope this is the beginning of the end of horse slaughter for human consumption. They admit there is a problem with Bute in thoroughbreds at long last. Now the government has to realize that there is a problem with bute in every horse that has ever been trained and handled by either men or women. That leaves very few horses left for slaughter

  8. The other two plants will simply run 7 days a week round the clock to kill what the other two plants won’t take and the overflow will be hauled to Mexico. The track that’s a no kill can’t police the trainers/owners. They can haul the horses down the street a block and hand then over to a KB and there really isn’t any thing the track managers can do about it, I wish there was. But this is a start. The more the public finds out what has been happening to the TB’s all these years it just might wake a few politicians up especially if they are up for reelection.

  9. Jo-Claire Corcoran · ·

    Richeleiu and Bouvry no longer accepting TBs, came about because of the work of a group North American Thoroughbred Aftercare Coalition which was formed trying to save two horses Canuki and Cactus Cafe from the slaughter pipeline. These two horses came off of Beulah Park, a no slaughter track, and had been abandoned by their trainer/owner, Barbara Price, a member of our group had been asked to find homes for the two horses and by networking within a couple of days, we had not one home, but three possible homes for the horses. Then a known middleman/KB trainer paid the trainer/owner for the two horses and took them to an offsite holding facility for a couple of days and where he then took them to a contracted KB.

    Those horses were saved, thanks to help from the track, our canadian member and the work of our group in tracking the horses…. those horses were at the slaughter plant and were returned by the plant because we were able to provide medication history on the horses.

    This is the first step in many to end horse slaughter, changing the culture of the racing industry is a very big beginning.

  10. That is fantastic news. Congratulations, this is due to your hard work, CHDC.

  11. I think the best thing that could happen to everyone in any country’s government who promotes horse slaughter is to insist that they have a fillet of a ten-year old thoroughbred (just retired) race horse every day. Since they think it is perfectly ethical to feed contaminated horse meat to the rest of the world, let’s make sure that members in the Canadian Parliament, the U. S. Congress, United Horsemen, the owners of the horse slaughter plants, be forced to consume the same toxic meat they are marketing, stamping as inspected and found safe, for their own consumption. Perhaps we could pass a law that anyone who votes to support horse slaughter should have to feed Meat of Thoroughbred to his or her children or elderly relatives.

    While the use of phenylbutazone is pervasive across all breeds and uses for our equines, when it comes to consuming Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, or Quarter Horses who have been trained using the harsh methods that are used by many QH trainers in performance horses, phenylbutazone might be the least of consumer worries.

  12. Heather · ·

    Wow let’s keep those petitions coming in to Alex!

  13. Paula P · ·

    Thats an excellent start…… lets move on to the standard breds used for racing as well as racing 1/4 horses, dressage horses etc. I would also venture to say about 90% of racing fans/alot of owners, probably came near to a heart attack when they read this in DRF………….as most are unaware we even have slaughterhouses that kill horses in Canada, never mind thoroughbreds. Ty DRF for the article and big wake u call to a ton of people who are unaware this goes on. Can only help the cause.

  14. lynda hankins · ·

    All horses must not be slaughtered not just a percentage……there are still healthy horses being killed……time now to put it all to a stop……

    1. You are right it is time to relize they have to put a stop to all the slaughter houses!

  15. Shelley Bryant · ·

    Would love to see the day “SLAUGHTER” of all horses ends!!

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