In late February 2010, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) received hidden camera footage of horse slaughter practices at Viande Richelieu in Quebec and Bouvry Exports in Alberta – the latter known as the largest exporter of horsemeat in North America.

The CHDC has compelling proof that puts into question the effectiveness of the assembly-line slaughter of horses. The evidence demonstrates that both the facilities in Alberta and Quebec fail to meet humane slaughter standards used by the CFIA to audit Canadian slaughterhouses.

To view compilations of the footage obtained, please click on the links below.

WARNING: Content is very graphic and could be disturbing to some viewers.

As of April 9th and 10th, 2010, YouTube had removed the links to our horse slaughter footage.

(Viewers can still access that footage on another site simply by clicking on the links above.)

There have been tens of thousands of hits on these videos since they were originally posted, which leads us to wonder: could YouTube be caving to industry pressure?

These segments include very disturbing footage, including that of a worker being kicked by a horse who had been improperly stunned, then suspended. Her suffering as she hangs upside down, attempting to right herself, is clearly intense and prolonged.

This segment also illustrates the dangerous nature of a job that involves the assembly-line slaughter of horses.

Link to Photo Slideshow
Photo stills on Flickr
Walk-through footage at Viande Richelieu

For footage indexes, report and photo stills, click links below:

Bouvry Transcript
Richelieu Transcript

In recent media, Bill desBarres of the Alberta Equestrian Federation and the Horse Welfare Alliance has attempted to cast doubt upon the authenticity of the footage captured at Bouvry Exports. We are pleased to dispel all such doubts by posting a song list dated February 19, 2010 and obtained from Lethbridge radio station 107.7 FM The River. The list matches the songs heard in the hidden camera footage taken that day.

Update May 23, 2010: A forensic video analysis and authentication has now been received and is posted here. Since Mr. desBarres has admitted to media that the footage contains “unacceptable treatment of animals, absolutely”, and given that evidence of authenticity is now available, we hope that he will take this new knowledge seriously and use it to protect horses in the slaughter industry.

Also see Equine Welfare Alliance’s media release posted on Harness Link:  Proponent – under cover video fabrication.


CBC:  Horses mistreated?  CFIA Breaking the Rules

More from CBC:

No Country for horses.

Alberta horse slaughterhouse probed by RCMP.

Animal cruelty ruled out at Alberta horse slaughterhouse.

CTV Calgary:

Statement from World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is appalled by evidence of grossly inhumane slaughter of horses taking place in Canada. We have been sent video footage that is stated to have been taken recently in Bouvry Exports Calgary Ltd slaughterhouse in Fort Macleod, Alberta and Viande Richelieu Inc./Richelieu Meat Inc. slaughterhouse in Massueville, Quebec. 

It is clear that neither the facilities nor the behaviour of the personnel shown are suited to the humane slaughter of horses, and that extreme suffering results for many individual animals. Problems include failure to restrain each animal’s head properly before shooting, shooting from too great a distance, shooting in the wrong part of the head or body, failure to follow up with an immediate second shot in animals that were not killed by the first, hoisting apparently conscious animals, and – in the case of the Richelieu plant – cruel handling and treatment of the horses, including excessive whipping and overuse of an electric prod as well as an apparent callous disregard for the animals’ suffering. An additional cause of very major concern is the presence of what appear to be either plant supervisors or inspectors who observe the employees’ actions and yet do nothing. 

The WSPA calls on the appropriate authorities to take immediate action to close both these plants down and ensure that those responsible are disciplined. Neither plant should be reopened until or unless they have been redesigned to meet humane slaughter standards, and all staff in contact with these intelligent animals have been trained to treat them with the dignity they deserve. 

Furthermore, as we understand that these are the two largest of only four slaughter plants federally registered and licensed to export horse meat abroad, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food should revoke their registration as well as any export permits immediately. To ensure that similar problems are not occurring at the two other federally registered horse slaughter plants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) should commission independent audits of those as soon as possible. 

Measures must be taken to ensure that procedures at the slaughterhouse are carried out in accordance with legislation, including the Canadian Meat Inspection Act which requires that all animals should be slaughtered humanely. We understand that slaughter should be overseen by the CFIA. That oversight should guarantee avoidance of practices that inflict extreme pain and suffering on slaughtered animals, such as those witnessed here that affect hundreds of animals. The WSPA would be happy to provide advice on appropriate facilities and training for humane slaughter, if required, to help protect animals from needless suffering.

MVDr. Rasto Kolesar
Farm Animal Programmes Manager
World Society for the Protection of Animals
222-236 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB
Direct: +44 (0) 20 7239 0566
Switchboard: +44 (0) 20 7239 0500

Patrick Tohill
Programs Manager
WSPA Canada
World Society for the Protection of Animals
90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 960
Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3
p: (416) 369-0044 x104
f: (416) 369-0147
tf: 1-800-363-9772