Ban Live Horse Exports rally in Calgary – November 23, 2013
The Lethbridge Animal Rights Effort is joining forces with Calgary Animal Rights Effort for a peaceful protest on November 23 from 1-3 pm on the green strip close to the Edward H. LaBorde Viewing area at Calgary Airport. The purpose of this protest is 3 fold:
* Request that Calgary Airport Authority ban all live horse Exports
* To raise general public awareness about live horse export
* Garner support for Bill C-322.
Please go here for detailed information on this upcoming rally.
For several years, CHDC has campaigned to raise awareness about the live exports of draft horses, affectionately called “Gentle Giants”, to Japan for slaughter. Repeated investigations have shown the dire conditions for these horses who are unfortunate enough to be shipped overseas by air cargo, then are slaughtered on another continent where Canada has no oversight and where our laws have no jurisdiction.
We have contacted various agencies, demanding to know why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has, once again, shirked its responsibility and allowed this trade to continue on. The agencies that we have written to are the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Calgary Airport Authority and the Animal Transport Association, as well as the CFIA itself.
IATA has never responded, even though their own rules of equine transport are being routinely broken with every shipment. This renowned organization sets out the international standards for Live Animals Regulations (LARs). The CHDC purchased the LARs for review and reference. IATA regulations for horses stipulate that they must be shipped individually and that they must have sufficient head clearance (their heads must not come in contact with the top of the crate).
Yet the CFIA continues to allow these horses to be grouped together, usually three at a time, in wooden crates with inadequate space and headroom. We have seen reports of up to five horses being shipped loose in these crates.
These flimsy, wooden crates are not IATA approved for equines being shipped by air. Click on this link to view the IATA regulations for transporting horses.
In response to ongoing concerns about the inhumane and potentially illegal methods used to ship horses by air cargo to Japan for slaughter, the CHDC sought legal assistance. Our lawyer wrote a letter of complaint to Transport Canada, but no reply was ever received. He also sent a letter to the Complaints and Appeals Office in the federal government and received a response directly from Dr. Ian Alexander, Chief Veterinary Officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. While we are pleased that the CFIA sat up and took notice, it is clear that Dr. Alexander’s response is nothing more than a whitewash.
In addition, regarding the horses who perished while enroute as mentioned by CTV Saskatoon and queried by CHDC lawyer, Nic Weigelt, Dr. Alexander does not answer Nic Weigelt’s question directly, but provides more hyperbole and subterfuge and states that the “CFIA has an Air Transport Working group that routinely meets to help achieve safe travel for all species by air.” It is unknown and likely to remain undisclosed as to how often horses perish in these shipments.
The first page of the response is largely devoted to government rhetoric regarding laws and standards for animal welfare in Canada. This begs the question – why does the CFIA violate its own regulations concerning the air transport of horses to slaughter? A clear admission of bent rules becomes evident as one reads further into Dr. Alexander’s letter. He blatantly defies the regulations, leaving it up to the discretion of the veterinarian in charge as to how many horses are housed together in a flimsy wooden crate. He states that there must be adequate headroom in the crate for each horse.
Then why do videos and photographs repeatedly depict equine heads touching the ceilings of the crates in the Calgary airport? What part of “adequate headroom” does Dr. Alexander not understand?
The picture below shows a Belgian horse, the breed of choice for these shipments, standing with his head unnaturally low so much so, that one ear sticks out of the crate.
Yet there is more to this story. The problems begin long before the journey to Japan is even imminent. Thousands of these horses are warehoused in primitive conditions on feedlots in Alberta prior to transport to the CFIA quarantine lot at Summerview. Please go here to view a video on the conditions on these feedlots.
Equine care is further compromised as soon as the horses are in the crates and are taken to the tarmac to be loaded onto the aircraft for transport. From the time they are removed from the Summerview CFIA-approved quarantine station near Brocket, Alberta, travel to the Calgary airport, are loaded in crates, endure inevitable flight delays, and eventually arrive in Japan, the horses’ transit time can easily exceed the legal 36 hour limit.
Dr. Alexander claims that these horses spend less than 24 hours in transport. This estimation is simply not logical, given the fact that a 16-18 hour flight time is not the only detail to be taken into consideration. Needless to say, these horses are not fed or watered or rested during this entire period of time.
This video shows the journey from the Summerview quarantine feedlot to Calgary airport.
Once loaded into the crates the horses are taken to the ramp area where the waiting aircraft is parked. This never before seen video shows the conditions the horses endure before being loaded on the planes.
If you are as frustrated by the CFIA’s refusal to take proper responsibility as we are, please feel free to express your sentiments to the Complaints and Appeals Office with the government of Canada. Email address: CAO_BPA@inspection.gc.ca
To learn more about this issue, please use the links below to research past articles: