The 2017 Year End Review is a small representative of significant events taking place last year.
It has been compiled to remind people what happened last year – some events, as the EU new regulations beginning in March were profound and continue to resonate through the horse slaughter industry. Other events are equally interesting, perhaps not as profound but informative.
We urge you to go to our blog or to our facebook site and backtrack to those events that made up the year 2017.
Some will amuse, some will appall, all will enlighten.
Thank you all for your support for the past year.
Effective January 1, 2017, Quebec’s Order of Veterinarians adopted new rules forbidding ear cropping and tail docking for dogs, cats, cattle or horses with a penalty as high as $40,000 for any person that performs these procedures. Such procedures are not disallowed federally, but are covered by provincial laws.
In January a new equestrian association was launched, the Alternative Community of Equestrians (ACE) that was formed in order to take a stand against horse slaughter for human consumption.
The Wild Horses of Alberta Society (WHOAS) released confirmation that there would be no wild horse capture to cull during the winter months.
On January 30th, the CHDC released a Youtube video to explain who we are and what we do.
PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE HEALTH OF ANIMALS ACT:
In January 2017 we asked supporters to have their say with the Canadian government’s proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act. The proposed changes, originally scheduled for release in the fall of 2017, have been delayed and are expected sometime in the spring of 2018. Because of the push back in the livestock industry, it is unlikely any meaningful changes will come into force for horses. We will keep you informed once the proposed changes are made public via the Canada Gazette.
Although the Canadian government accepts e-petitions, having them move forward in the House and getting the government to respond, seems to be problematic. Over a year ago, on January 3, 2017, E-116, the e-petition sponsored by MP Mark Holland calling on the government to amend the Health of Animals and Meat Inspection Act prohibiting the importation and exportation of horses for slaughter was certified. As of today’s date, E-116 has not been presented in the House, therefore the government has yet to table its response.
Also in January of 2017, MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Liberal MP, Beaches/East York, ON) sponsored an e-petition E-718 which addressed animal cruelty in Canada and petitioned the government to update its archaic legislation dating back to 1892. E-718 closed out with 32,201 signatures, and also to date, the government hasn’t tabled a response.
The CHDC’s change.org petition to Atlas Air to end the shipment of live horses initiated in the summer of 2015, continued to gather speed and closed out 2017 with over 41,000 signatures. If you haven’t it signed, please go to this link.
AVAAZ launched an international petition and campaign to stop the pregnant horse blood trade. View the Youtube video here. The petition is still active so you can sign here (see also Canada’s link to this in November 2017).
CANADIAN HORSE MEAT RECALL:
The first of three RASFF Alert recalls for horse meat from Canada occurred February 17, 2017. The recall was for oxyphenylbutazone in horse meat exported from Canada to Belgium, notification from Belgium. A second update was issued on February 23, 2017 that included not only Belgium but distribution countries Italy and Switzerland.
A two-year investigation (2015-2016) into horse slaughter involving a coalition of North and South American and European animal welfare groups was released on February 14, 2017, with a heavy nod to the Canadian horse slaughter industry. The findings can be downloaded here and you can watch the Youtube video here.
The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) and the Canadian Quarter Horse Association (CQHA) wrote separate letters to Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Agriculture Minister, as a preemptive strike to plead with the Liberal government to maintain the status quo as far as horse slaughter is concerned. In 2014,, both MP MacAulay and then leader of the Liberal party, MP Justin Trudeau, voted unanimously in favour of anti-slaughter legislation and supported Private Members Bill C-571, which was defeated in May 2014.
Also in February, Dr. Angela Pelzel-McCluskey, equine epidemiologist with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, published a report on the serious biosecurity risks with horses in the slaughter pipeline.
HORSE PRODUCTS OTHER THAN MEAT:
In one of the stranger stories to emerge last year was the village in Viet Nam that breeds white horses to make bone glue (as well as supply horse meat).
And, although mare’s milk isn’t news, Chilean donkey milk is now being touted as the latest fad.
Advocate Heather Clemenceau blogged about donkey milk on January 24 when she complained to Canada’s Advertising Standards Canada about the alarming and exaggerated claims made by one supplier, Shamane Cosmetics.
NEW EU REGULATIONS/EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT REPORT:
The new regulations from the European Union took effect requiring all horses destined for slaughter be domiciled in Canada for six months prior to slaughter. This bold move was welcomed by advocates on both sides of the border as roughly two-thirds of all horses slaughtered in Canada ship from the U.S.
The EU restriction was largely implemented as a result of poor traceability issues in the Canadian horse slaughter industry.
In a rather bizarre twist, European Ministers of Parliament were advocating for the easing of drug restrictions for horse slaughter when they presented the report to the European Parliament. Read Horsetalk.co.nz’s article and this European Parliament report.
CANADIAN HORSE MEAT RECALL:
As if to reinforce the necessity for the EU’s new restrictions, on March 3, 2017 there was a second RASFF Alert for horse meat from Canada, distributed to France and Italy, for the substance phenylbutazone.
CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY:
In a March 16th Globe and Mail article, it was revealed how close the CFIA and meat industry colludes when it illustrated the former ‘bowing to the meat industry’ with regard to animal transport rules.
U.S. HORSE SLAUGHTER:
Also in March, it was learned through the U.S. based Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was tasked to provide an updated report on the state of equine welfare from 2010 to the present date in an effort to study the possibility of renewing domestic horse slaughter.
KML MEAT PROCESSORS LTD.:
Horse slaughter plant, KML Meat Processors Ltd. in Westwold, B.C., had its license suspended on March 23rd due to the ineffective stunning of animals prior to slaughter. The license was reinstated on March 29, 2017.
LES VIANDES DE LA PETITE NATION:
The newspaper La Petite Nation announced the temporary closure of Les Viandes de la Petite Nation (LPN) in Quebec. LPN was at the centre of the CHDC’s 2011 investigation ‘Pasture to Plate’ that showed horrific abuse, as well as serious violations and fraud with Canada’s Equine Information Document program. The closure was alleged to have been the result of the March 2017 directive from the EU (see March above).
CANADIAN HORSE MEAT RECALL:
The third horse meat recall involving Canadian horse meat occurred on April 14th, once again for the drug oxyphenylbutazone (bute). It has been apparent for years that Canada is not equipped to monitor the drugs found in slaughtered horse meat, and drug testing for horse meat is woefully inadequate.
HORSE PRODUCTS OTHER THAN MEAT:
PeTA released a report stating that the Animal Welfare Board of India had found widespread abuse of horses at the Chennai-based Mediclone plant resulting in the suspension of Mediclone’s license to produce antitoxins and antivenins using horse blood.
The Ontario Racing Commission published 13 years of data from the Ontario Racing Commission Death Registry which neglected to show the entire picture of horse deaths that happened on Ontario racetracks.
Retired CFIA veterinarian and former inspector, Dr. Maureen Harper, penned a letter to the Agriculture Canada committee regarding the proposed changes to transport times for slaughter animals, advocating for a reduction in allowed transport times.
KML MEATS AND BOUVRY EXPORTS:
Troubled B.C. slaughter plant, KML Meats, was removed from the CFIA’s registered list of slaughterhouses permitted to kill horses (see March above).
Animals Angels released an article detailing a new pro slaughter coalition ironically entitled Respectful Life Project, The coalition includes multi-national horse slaughter giants including Canada’s own Bouvry Exports and Richelieu Meats (Bouvry’s Quebec plant).
HORSE MEAT RESTAURANTS:
Readily available at some foodie-type restaurants in major Canadian cities and also at food chains in Quebec, horse meat is relatively rare on restaurant menus. The Horse reported that a Pittsburgh eatery sparked a federal investigation after it served horse meat as a specialty. The meat was sourced from Alberta.
Two separate caleche accidents in Quebec City re-ignited the controversy over the horse drawn carriage industry in Quebec.
There were a reported 1,202 feral horses counted during Alberta’s annual free-roaming feral horse count.
U.S. HORSE SLAUGHTER:
The American magazine, The Atlantic, ran a story on ‘The Troubled History of Horse Meat in America’ with reference to the new political regime under President Trump.
HORSE TRANSPORTATION VIA AIR:
On June 8th, Global News covered the live horse exports for slaughter industry to Japan in print, video and on radio with Dr. Maureen Harper. Dr. Maureen Harper joined Katie Dangerfield on CJOB Radio Winnipeg.
On June 21st, CTV Edmonton also reported on the live horse exports for slaughter issue.
On June 22nd, CTV Edmonton released another video with a statement from the CFIA regarding the live shipments and in rebuttal interviewed Dr. Maureen Harper and Dr. Judith Samson-French.
SHORT STORY CONTEST:
In June, the CHDC launched its Short Story Writing Competition, open to both Canadian children and adults. The theme was required to be horse rescue, although the story could be fictional or non-fictional. The contest’s original deadline was December 15th, and was subsequently extended to January 15, 2018.
WILDFIRES IN WESTERN CANADA:
Wildfires continued to devastate Western Canada, particularly across the northern part of B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan. B.C. lost 1.2 million hectares and declared it the worst wildfire season in B.C.’s history.
KML MEAT PROCESSORS LTD.:
KML Meats’ licence was suspended as a registered slaughter plant by the CFIA. The suspension would be permanent until it could meet the requirements set out by the CFIA (see March and May above).
Equine Infectious Anemia continued to be detected in Western Canada, as well as the Yukon and Quebec.
In an alarming post, Psittacosis or horse chlamydia, was found to be the source for human infection of this disease in Wagga, Australia. The transmission from horse to human was believed to be a world-first.
Yet another horse was put down due to a broken leg in the 2017 Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon race.
Abusive to the animals and hard on humans, rodeo had an ‘a-ha’ moment with the suicide death of bull rider Ty Pozzoban. His brain revealed chronic traumatic encelphalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease caused from repetitive brain trauma.
As the UK court case for the 2013 European horse meat scandal was ongoing, it was reported that the discovery of three horse ID chips helped to break the case.
Three months after the new EU regulations came into effect (see March above), Canadian statistics showed a significant decrease of 39.1% in the number of horses slaughtered from the same time period a year earlier. U.S. imports decreased by 66.3% and exports 10.2%. Advocates were bolstered by the news that the U.S. Senate has voted to defund the money for horse slaughter inspection, effectively preventing slaughter plants from re-opening in the U.S.
MARIE DEAN HORSE PROTECTION INITIATIVES LAUNCH:
On July 24th, the Marie Dean Horse Protection Initiatives (MDHPIC) was launched, a charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency named after former CHDC director and horse advocate, Marie Dean, who bequeathed a portion of her estate for the charity. MDHPIC’s purpose is to provide assistance to horse owners needing assistance at times of financial strain, as well as provide education on horse care.
CHDC DIRECTORS ON THE MOVE:
On August 3-6, two CHDC directors attended the Animal Right Conference in Alexandria, Vermont. Loni and Paola’s observations from the conference can be read here.
For the 2nd year, the CHDC was present at the 3rd annual Dog Tales festival on August 26 and 27. Dog Tales is a world-renowned rescue and animal sanctuary located in King City, Ontario. They provide a permanent home to 70 horses, the majority of which came directly from auction. This year, staff created a memorial courtyard highlighting the issue of horse slaughter. Access our pictures here.
Researchers at the University of Guelph released their study that found 20% of sausages sampled from Canadian grocery stores contained mystery meats not declared on the label. Of the 100 sausages tested, one contained horse meat.
LIVE HORSE EXPORTS VIA AIR:
Sinikka Crosland, CHDC Executive Director, wrote an informative and thought provoking article in Westmount magazine entitled ‘King of the Wind…or Basashi with Rice’ regarding Canada’s live horse exports to Japan.
The CHDC released two Youtube videos regarding Canada’s live horse exports to Japan. The first video shows an Atlas Air Cargo 747 slamming hard on the tarmac, and although this plane did not carry horses, one can speculate what might happen if horses were on board.
TRADE AGREEMENTS AND ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS:
The Animal Legal Defense Fund released their 2017 Canadian Animal Protection Laws Ranking report, detailing the best and worst provinces in Canada for animal laws.
Multi-national trade agreements (NAFTA, CETA and the TPP) were perhaps the largest issue in Canadian government in 2017. While some have definitely stalled, others are moving ahead. This article from ipolitics regarding Canada’s lax animal welfare regulations is insightful.
MONTREAL’S NOMADFEST RODEO:
Montreal planners decided to host a rodeo in celebration of that city’s 375th anniversary on August 24-27. Controversy on the inclusion of rodeo in the summer festivities began in early spring and protests took place during the event. A law professor and his students were seeking an injunction to stop the rodeo, however caved under pressure – some speculate was largely due to financial constraints.
MONTREAL’S CALECHE HORSES:
Allegedly due to extreme fatigue, another caleche horse fell to the ground, re-ignitating yet again that province’s horse drawn carriage industry (see also May above).
The Equine Disease Communication Centre reported five cases of the West Nile Virus in Ontario, bringing the total number of cases to twelve.
In Manitoba for the first time in over a decade, Equine Infectious Anemia reared its head causing 14 horses to be euthanized during 2017.
The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) came into provisional force on September 21st, which will provide unlimited duty-free exports of Canadian horse meat.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provided a grant worth $83,200 to the pro-slaughter organization, the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada. Animal advocate, writer and Director of Animal Alliance of Canada, Georges R. Dupras, wrote a letter to MP (Hon.) Emmanuella Lambropoulos stating his disdain of this grant.
A new documentary narrated by Willem Dafoe ‘Do Donkeys Act’ was released, introducing us to donkeys recovering from abuse and neglect in sanctuaries across the UK and including Canada.
We learned about the brutal trade in donkey skins via several media outlets, including the one here from National Geographic. Donkey skins are used in traditional Chinese medicine (ejiao) and the South African trade has drawn world-wide criticism for those involved in their trafficking.
Animal advocate, barefoot farrier and CHDC director, Paola di Paolo, released her children’s book ‘Alfred’s Special Place’ , which is available to purchase on amazon.ca. The book is about a neglected donkey who eventually learns to trust again. Sales of this book help to fund donkey sanctuaries and is available in either Kindle or paperback.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY/PREMARIN:
Alternet published an alarming report on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) written by Martha Rosenberg about the push for big pharma to continue with this lucrative, and in some cases deadly, medication.
Tuesday’s Horse published a scathing rebuttal to the new study published in the Journal of American Medical Society (JAMA) on September 12 claiming that HRT is ‘not the villain it was once thought to be.’ The article is written by Jane Allin, who has written numerous reports on HRT/Premarin for Tuesday’s Horse.
In 2012, the decision by the former Liberal government in Ontario to terminate the revenue-sharing union between slot machines and horse racing tracks resulted in unexpected losses to many in the racing industry. The greatest loss of all was undoubtedly the deaths of thousands of race horses who were sent to slaughter. The standardbred horse breeders filed a $65-million suit against the province and the OLG in 2014. In October 2017 – three years after the filing – the Divisional Court upheld the ruling that allows key evidence to be heard.
The previous month, the 2016 Ontario Horse Racing Industry Survey results were published. The survey included ‘Racehorse Well-Being’ and about 96% of those that responded agreed that a retirement/re-homing program is a good solution.
As honoured as it was to have The Canadian or Cheval Canadien named Canada’s official horse in 2002, it was extremely endangered and has just been brought back from the brink over the last few years.
Another extremely rare breed of horses are Lac La Croix or Ojibway ponies. It was reported that some were set to be auctioned off at the Grunthal, Manitoba auction, but thankfully advocates stepped in to prevent them from being sold, quite likely to slaughter. Twenty horses were distributed across Canada and the U.S.
We learned in the summer that members of another rare breed of horses, the Suffield Mustangs, was moved from Alberta to Ontario to help propagate and protect the breed.
Also in the summer, we learned that a couple in Nova Scotia were raising and breeding a rare Danish horse, the Knabstupper of which they are only 500 left world-wide.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION DOCUMENTS:
In October, the CHDC released for public viewing several Access to Information (ATI) documents. Heather Clemenceau blogged her reactions on her blog post.
The first ATI was a request on Quebec slaughter plant and target of the 2011 CHDC investigation ‘Pasture to Plate’ Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc. The time period covered the months of November and December, 2015. It clearly illustrated that horrific abuse was still apparent at the plant, four years on. This ATI can be found in its entirety here – warning graphic images.
The second ATI was the Ante Mortem and Post Mortem Inspection Reports for Bouvry Exports Ltd. in Fort Macleod, Alberta. The time period was for January 1 to March 30, 2016. The report can be read in its entirety here.
CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY:
Dr. Maureen Harper, DVM, published a critique of the horse slaughter industry in the Canadian Veterinary Journal.
Dr. Judith Samson-French, DVM, was featured on Alberta Primetime which focused on the live export of horses to Japan in a debate with Bill des Barres, HWAC and slaughter proponent.
Journalist Jim Romahn published the results of the Agricultural Review Tribunal’s decision not to move forward with their case against Ricky Bates, judged for transporting a lame horse across the border at the Kingsgate border crossing in BC. Romahn quotes Bates as thinking he was ‘targeted by CFIA people who oppose horse slaughter’, which is one of the more mysterious and frankly humorous lines we’ve come across in a long time.
ADVOCATING AGAINST HORSE SLAUGHTER:
Several advocates spoke out against horse slaughter in different venues. Notary Public, Patti Thomson, had her say in the winter edition of The Scrivener magazine for the Society of Notaries Public in BC. Julie MacMillan, advocate and horse rescuer also spoke out against horse slaughter in the November 6th edition of The Tyee, an independent newspaper out of BC.
We learned from Statistics Canada data that farmers reported owning fewer horses and donkeys in 2016.
We also learned that in November, there will be a new five-year study conducted by Paul Boyce, PhD student from the University of Saskatchewan, on the wild horses in the foothills of Alberta.
An interesting post from CBC news also caught our eye, remarking on newly discovered ice age fossils from the Yukon’s Klondike goldfields that alters the known family tree of North American horses, considered to be an evolutionary dead-end and unrelated to any modern species.
It was a small step in the right direction to learn that Defra, the British equivalent of the CFIA, would be installing CCTV cameras in all English slaughterhouses, effective in the spring of 2018.
Better late than never, we also learned that phenylbutazone that has been banned for human use in Canada, the UK and the US for decades, has now been banned in Thailand.
CANADA’S LINK TO PREGNANT MARE HORSE BLOOD INDUSTRY:
A public awareness campaign conducted by Swiss-based organization, Tierschutzbund Zurich and Germany-based Animal Welfare Foundation brought to light the treatment of mares in the Uruguayian and Argentinian PMSG industry. Read about their findings here and here. The mares are impregnated and their blood is withdrawn sometimes twice a week using 25% of the mare’s blood volume in order to produce Pregnant Mares’ Serum Gonadotropin or PMSG. The blood helps to stimulate follicle development in the ovaries of cows, ewes and sows. The mares’ pregnancies are routinely and manually aborted with no pain medication or compassion. Available in Canada, Novormon is produced by Boehringer Ingelheim.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION DOCUMENTS:
The CHDC released another ATI document that asked for the rejected loads of horses designated for slaughter from the US for the time period June 8-20, 2015. Three of the rejected loads were destined to Bouvry Exports in Alberta, one to Richelieu Meats in Quebec and the fifth to Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation, also in Quebec. With these documents was a separate one obtained from the US under their equivalent system, the United States Freedom of Information Act. The documents can be viewed here.
From Horsetalk.co.nz in New Zealand, we learned of a rare parasitic infection of a three-year-old filly that was slaughtered in Japan. Capillaria Hepatica has only been reported two times before, in British and Canadian horses. This filly did not have clinical signs of disease and passed pre-slaughter inspection.
Effective June 2018, Barcelona, Spain has banned horse-drawn carriages. In Canada, they are still permitted in Montreal and Quebec City in Quebec, and in Victoria and Vancouver, in BC.
The major British retailer, TK Maxx, has removed Elizavecca Donkey Cream off their shelves that contained donkey oil, and we also learned that Ebay will ban donkey skin products containing ejiao from their site.
BC HORSE ANGELS:
The CHDC was proud to endorse a new organization, the BC Horse Angels headed by Belinda Lyall. The BC Horse Angels would like to expand its network and provide alternatives to slaughter by creating a network of sanctuaries and rescues across BC.
ANIMAL CRUELTY RANKING:
Lastly, we would like to remind animal advocates and would-be advocates everywhere – never become complacent in your desire to enact change with Canada’s archaic, cruel and heartless animal welfare regulations and laws. In this index selected for the Voiceless Animal Cruelty Index (VACI), Canada has slipped very near the bottom in ranking. Of the 50 countries evaluated that account for 80% of the world’s farm animal production, Canada is 45th. If this is any consolation, the US is below us, at 49. Kenya is at the top.
On a high note, although we won’t have the final statistics from Agriculture Canada until early spring on the final 2017 slaughter and live horse exports numbers, we would like to share with you that number of horses slaughtered in Canada up to November 2017 are down 38% over 2016. This represents the lowest number of horses slaughtered in almost three decades. Keep up the good work, friends!
From the team,
Always for the horses,
The Directors of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition