CFIA discourages use of firearms in horse slaughter but allows plants to use them

The CHDC is surprised and dismayed to read that the CFIA Meat Hygiene Manual specifically states that, with respect to firearm use in horse slaughter,  “Firearm use is discouraged.  Perforation and ricochet are a safety concern;  therefore,  the slowest velocity and minimum energy required to effectively stun the animal.”

Why then is the .22 calibre rifle the weapon of choice for Canadian horse slaughter plants?

In the past, the CHDC has published video evidence showing that Canadian horse slaughter plants have indeed used the .22 calibre rifle to stun horses and its use is still in evidence.  Since 2007 inspectors have been banned from the kill floor for their own safety since the adoption of firearms has been implemented to stun animals, so their role is basically an administrative one now.  In effect,  inspectors cannot intervene when humane incidents have occurred, as revealed by a CBC probe.  Here Dr. Brian Evans, former CFIA Chief Veterinarian confirms that inspectors are not always present in the kill room.

richelieu_shooterBoth the Bouvry and Richelieu plants were using rifles in 2010 as evidenced in the Chambers of Carnage video.

In February 2012,  after a CHDC report exposed poor stunning rates at Les Viandes de le Petite Nation Inc. slaughterhouse, it was revealed that the LPN slaughterhouse had shut down temporarily to review their operating procedures and re-opened with the announcement that they were now using a .22 calibre rifle to stun horses.

Commenting on the slaughter at the Bouvry and Richelieu plants using rifles was Dr. Mary Richardson, DVM, former chair of the Animal Welfare Committee of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, former chair of the Animal Care Review Board for the Solicitor General of Ontario, former board member of the Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare at the University of Guelph.

“The American Veterinary Medical Association published a document titled ‘The AVMA Panel on Euthanasia.” It is considered the gold standard on humane ways to kill an animal. It clearly states that there should be little or no anxiety before death. The death must be quick. The death must be painless. It is clear that these tapes from Bouvry show an unacceptable level of suffering.

Regarding the Richelieu plant in Massueville, Quebec, although the level of suffering does not appear to be as high as at Bouvry, I still have concerns.   When the first shot fails to render the horse unconscious, there is too long a span before the next shot is fired.

I never witnessed anyone checking to ensure the horse was unconscious before being dumped out of the kill-box, which may lead to the horse being shackled, hung, and bled while still conscious.

Respectfully submitted by Dr. Mary Richardson, DVM, April 17, 2010”

As well, Dr. Henry M. Richardson of California stated, regarding Bouvry Exports and Richelieu Meats’ use of rifles:

“The practices currently in place at these horse slaughter operations are not consistent with AVMA guidelines for euthanasia of horses. As a United States Department of agriculture accredited veterinarian in California, I can safely say the slaughtering of horses at Bouvry and Richelieu does not fall under anyone’s idea of ‘Best Practice Guidelines.’

 Henry Melvyn Richardson, DVM”

175 shot but angle is still wrongIn addition, Dr. Debi Zimmerman, who also reviewed slaughter footage at Richelieu and Bouvry, states that:

“Every second a horse must remain isolated and confined in a strange situation, can be agonizing. Many horses were left over 3 minutes prior to being shot, including one horse left while workers hosed down the kill floor and went for their 10 minute break (#75), and one horse at Richelieu (Horse #1) which was left in the stun box for 20 minutes. One obviously panicked horse at Richelieu, flailed about in the stun box for nearly 3 minutes, before the shooter finally attended to him.”

“At Bouvry, many horses demonstrated voluntary movements, or obvious rhythmic breathing, upon being suspended. This indicates these horses were likely conscious as they were being hoisted high into the air with one leg bearing their entire weight, and while their necks were slashed on both sides (which entails using a sawing motion of the knife). A full bleed out takes minutes, and as some horses had their feet chopped off within 45 seconds of the throat slash, some horses may also have experienced the pain associated with this procedure as well.”

“[The shooter] allowed a horse that became cast in the stun box, to flail about for almost 3 minutes while he carried on a casual conversation with a co-worker; he forced horses to step over the legs of fallen horses which had not yet been removed from the now very crowded stun box, and, he led horses through improperly closed gates on which they subsequently struck their heads. The shooter also whipped an older and obviously lame horse (#93) 19 times.”

“The fact that a .22 calibre rifle does not typically deliver a kill shot, along with the high rate of mis-shots delivered by the shooter, this excessive time lag between stunning and bleed offers numerous horses the opportunity to regain consciousness while they are being processed.”

“In addition to this psychological pain, these horses also suffered physically in numerous ways. These included slips and falls, fractures, numerous mis-shots with some horses requiring a second or even third bullet; some horses regaining consciousness before or while being suspended by one leg, and/or when their throats were being slashed: excessive traumatization during assembly; excessive whippings of their bodies and across their faces (Richelieu), and excessive use of electric prods (Richelieu).”

If you are concerned about the CFIA not following up on their own directives, which discourage firearm use in horse slaughter, please send a complaint to Dr. Harpreet Kochhar.

The CHDC and other groups have continuously proven that assembly-line killing of horses, no matter what the method, is ineffective and inhumane, therefore, we ask that you continue to demand that this industry be shut down for good.

Please keep on contacting your MP on this issue.


  1. […] CFIA discourages use of firearms in horse slaughter but allows plants to use them […]

  2. […] CFIA discourages use of firearms in horse slaughter but allows plants to use them […]

  3. Cynthia Caceres Curtis · ·

    sick sick sick of this shameful shenanigans, horrible way for these horses to meet their death

  4. Betty MacDonald · ·

    I am sicken by these details. How can we call ourselves “human.” These men are heartless creatures. I hope they get theirs in the end.

    No animal, especially ones that have been loyal friends should endure this pain-physically and mentally.

    Our government officials should be a shamed for allowing this to continue.

  5. Amanda · ·

    F**king disgusting

  6. Marilyn Wilson · ·

    My email bounced too! Can we get a good email addie.
    This shit makes me so sick I can hardly bare it! I could really hurt these people.

    1. sporthorse · ·

      This is cruelty at its worst. These people need to be slapped hard up side the head with a 2×4.

  7. Anne Streeter · ·

    Hi Sinikka,

    I just wrote Dr.Kochar but the e-mail was returned saying that it wasn’t a good address. Will try again. What happened to Evans and did they ever install cameras in the plants?


    1. Please try the link again. Part of the email address was missing. It has been corrected.

  8. This study should again point out that it is not possible to “humanely” slaughter a horse because of the nature of the horse itself as a flight animal who senses the approach of Death, like a human being, from afar. It does not matter what weapon is used to stun. It does not matter what method is used to kill. It does not matter what method of transport is used to bring the horse to slaughter. Horses like human beings know they are being sent into danger from the moment something new is introduced into their world: the transport truck. Their neophobia is the emotional equivalent of heightened self consciousness in the human being. Just as it is not possible to humanely execute a human being, because they are aware of what is happening to them, so it is not possibly to humanely slaughter a horse. Therefore both should be abolished for the same reason: it causes cruel and unnecessary suffering for no reason which could possibly redeem or excuse the action.

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