January 2022

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 2,799 horses were exported from the United States to Canada for immediate slaughter from January 1 to June 30, 2021.

In November we reported on five instances within this time frame where trailers were refused admittance for varying reasons, including a deceased horse on board. You can read the report here.

Trailers that were admitted carried horses representing a number of breeds of all ages – Quarter Horse, Standardbred, Paint, Bucking Horse (categorized as such but not by actual breed), Belgian, Mule, Saddlebred, Appaloosa, Haflinger, Morgan, Pony, Percheron, Thoroughbred, Draft Cross, Cross Breed and Spanish Purebred. Various ailments of some were noted on the US Veterinary Health Certificates and shipper forms, including lameness and blindness in one eye.
The youngest horse shipped during this time was a chestnut Quarter Horse mare who was just one year old!
Although there almost certainly have been others, this filly is the youngest we have seen on the documents obtained through Access to Information. The oldest were 29 years old – a bay Quarter Horse gelding and a sorrel gelded Mule

One year old chestnut Quarter Horse filly

29 Year Old Sorrel Mule

“Horses must be sent directly from the Canadian port of entry, in a sealed truck and under licence to destination, to a slaughter plant approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) immediately after entering Canada. They must be slaughtered within four days of arriving at the plant.”

On March 17, fresh blood clots were noticed on the ground, approximately basketball sized, and dripping down the side of a trailer. Attempts to determine the source from the outside were unsuccessful so the trailer was partially offloaded.  It was noted that all fresh blood dripping had stopped. There was evidence of vaginal bleeding from a 16 year old bay Standardbred mare (tag # 2072), either by possible lacerations beneath or directly from her vagina.  No fresh blood was seen in pens.

The horses were reloaded and the truck was released, with conditions to check on the horses at determined stops and notify CFIA of any problems or bleeding.

On May 14, a trailer loaded with 16 horses arrived at one of eight ports of entry designated for slaughter horses entering Canada.  Breeds included Quarter Horse, Standardbred, Cross Breed and Morgan, ranging between 5 to 18 years of age.

On May 20 a Notice of potential enforcement action was sent by Registered Mail regarding a non- compliance related to this trailer’s design that had been identified by CFIA inspection staff on May 14.  The recipient was advised that, without adequate modifications made prior to transport, future attempts to enter Canada would not be authorized for this trailer. 


“The piped back door and slatted floor resulted in inadequate bedding and in the spread of excrement, urine and bedding into the environment. The uneven floor also prevented some of the horses from having secure footing.”

Despite these concerns, the trailer was permitted to enter Canada on May 14 and continued on to the slaughter plant.

On April 9, 2021 a trailer loaded with 21 horses for immediate slaughter was admitted to Canada.

The remarks section of the Owner Shipper Certificate for this load indicate that a 5 year old sorrel stallion (possibly Belgian) had a “big right hind leg”.  Upon examining the Humane Transport of Animals form we find the possibility of lymphangitis with fibrosis mentioned although pain was not evident.

A partial inspection was conducted at the port of entry, the driver indicated the horse was not limping.  A complete final inspection was to be carried out at the destination

Some information was redacted but it appears there was communication to arrange for the horse’s inspection at the destination slaughter plant with a NSAID test to be performed for drug screening.

On April 26, a USDA Veterinary Health Certificate was issued for 31 horses including a 10 year old Belgian mare (tag USOD 2211).  Foundered, sore front feet was written in the additional description section of the form for this mare. 

On April 28 a trailer carrying 24 of the horses listed on this certificate was admitted to Canada for immediate slaughter. However, information regarding which horses were removed from the load prior to transport was not sent with the documents.  We surmise the foundered mare was not on this load as we again find the 10 year old Belgian mare, tag number USOD 2211 included in the list of 35 horses on a new Veterinary Health Certificate issued on May 24, with Foundered, sore front feet once again written on the form. 

At 7 a.m. on May 26 she and 26 other horses were loaded on a trailer at an unknown location in the United States, arrived at the US/Canada port of entry at 12:45 that day and admitted to Canada for immediate slaughter. 

“The terms “laminitis” and “founder” are used interchangeably. However, founder usually refers to a chronic (long-term) condition associated with rotation of the coffin bone, whereas acute laminitis refers to symptoms associated with a sudden initial attack, including pain and inflammation of the laminae.” –  

American Association of Equine Practitioner

It is disturbing to see the number of horses described as having various ailments on the forms being transported for slaughter.

We counted 63 horses who were blind in one eye, two horses with no left eye and two horses with no right eye.

Twenty-six horses were recorded to be lame or off. The term “off” is often used to indicate lameness or abnormality in a horse’s gait or the way he/she moves and can have many causes. 

It is the responsibility of The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to regulate the humane treatment of animals being transported into, within, and out of Canada by enforcing the Health of Animals Regulations (Part XII) Transport of Animals.

The following signs of unfit or compromised animals and their fitness for transport, as defined by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are described on their Transporting unfit or compromised animals page:

Signs of an unfit animal

  • is non-ambulatory
  • has a fracture that impedes mobility or causes signs of pain
  • is lame and exhibits pain in one or more limbs or cannot walk on all of its legs
  • is in shock or is dying
  • has a prolapsed uterus
  • has a severe rectal or severe vaginal prolapse
  • has nervous system disorder
  • is a porcine that is trembling, discolored and has difficulty breathing
  • has laboured breathing
  • has severe open wound ox severe laceration
  • has sustained an injury and is hobbled to aid in treatment
  • is extremely thin
  • exhibits signs of dehydration
  • is hypothermic or hyperthermic
  • exhibits signs of a fever
  • has a significant hernia that impedes movement, causes signs of pain, touches the ground when standing, or that has an open wound or infection
  • is in the last 10% of its gestation period or has given birth during the preceding 48 hours
  • has an unhealed or infected navel
  • has a gangrenous udder
  • has severe cancer eye
  • is bloated with signs of discomfort or weakness
  • is exhausted
  • exhibits any other signs of infirmity, illness, injury or a condition that indicates that it cannot be transported without suffering

Signs of a compromised animal

  • is bloated but does not demonstrate signs of discomfort or weakness
  • has acute frostbite
  • is blind in both eyes
  • has not healed after a procedure, including dehorning, castration, and detusking
  • lameness other than what is described in the regulation as unfit
  • has a deformity or a fully healed amputation that does not cause pain
  • is in a period of peak lactation
  • has an unhealed or acutely injured penis
  • has a minor rectal or minor vaginal prolapse
  • has its mobility limited by a device applied for treatment (for example, hobbles)
  • is a wet bird; or
  • exhibits any other signs of infirmity, illness, injury or of a condition that indicates that it has a reduced capacity to withstand transport

The CHDC is often asked about horse slaughter statistics by breed.  It is hard to be specific as the numbers change year-by-year, but for this time period, the Quarter Horse is the breed having the highest number recorded on the Veterinary Health Certificates, followed by Standardbred.

As noted in our rejected loads report, these documents are much more heavily redacted than those received previously. While identities of individuals and companies were generally removed from documents released, state of origin, port of entry, and tattoo numbers of Standardbreds (when supplied) remained.

This appears to no longer be the case.

The horses you see in the photos below are just a few of the thousands who were shipped to Canada from the United States and slaughtered for their meat, between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021.

We are making all documents (including more photos) available to members of the public. To request your copy please send an e-mail to the CHDC at info@defendhorsescanada.org    

Learn more about horse slaughter in Canada and the export of live horses abroad for slaughter by visiting our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.