August 2021,

“…in order for an exporter to export horses for slaughter in another country, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) must successfully negotiate an animal health certificate and conditions with the importing country.”

Dr. Harpreet S. Kochhar

Former Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada

In order for horses to be exported to Japan for slaughter a completed Veterinary Health Certificate Export Horses to Japan form (HA1138) must accompany each shipment. Vaccinating against Equine Influenza is one the requirements for each horse selected.

Upon arrival in Japan, the horses undergo a mandatory quarantine period at which time blood is drawn for disease testing.

Photos: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Animal Quarantine Station

From Japan’s Animal Quarantine Service 2017 report we learn of a case of one positive influenza result on the first day of quarantine for 114 “Canadian fattening horses”. During this time the highly contagious infectious disease quickly spread and 5 horses died. 

It was believed that the level of immunity as a group upon arrival in Japan was insufficient, and the infection spread rapidly.

It was considered a big deal.


From the autopsy findings of the 5 animals who died during the mooring period, the involvement of EI was suspected.

Photo: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Animal Quarantine Station

On January 30, 2020 the Japan Livestock Industry Association posted a video depicting the work carried out by animal quarantine stations and their role in detecting and preventing infectious diseases from entering the country.

Footage showing the unloading of crated horses from an Air Bridge Cargo aircraft is included and begins at approximately the 21:32 minute mark. The flight’s origin is not disclosed. The horses are loose in crates that are almost identical to those used to transport horses by air from Canada to Asia, to be slaughtered for human consumption. A recent article published in The Guardian reported that France is now also involved with the air transport of live horses to Japan for slaughter.

Next, the horses are shown being transferred to trucks for transport to the quarantine facility.

Inside the building, horses can be seen tied to the metal bar in front of them and several are filmed having blood drawn for testing.  It is unlikely that these are the same horses observed earlier being unloaded from the Air Bridge Cargo aircraft, you will notice that they are wearing rope type halters while the crated horses have nylon type halters.

Two panicked horses are seen pulling back, rearing, falling on the cement floor and struggling to get up as the animal quarantine staff attempt to collect their blood to be tested

The narration is in Japanese but the English translation for comments made during this segment are: We are now collecting blood.  Animals can be scared and rampage. Blood sampling is also dangerous.

Horses kept on feedlots may not be accustomed to being handled or restrained. Documents the CHDC has received through Access to Information report “squeeze chutes” are used by some Canadian exporters for haltering and to accomplish the blood draws that are necessary to determine a horse’s eligibility for export. See: Horse Dies on Korean Air Flight from Winnipeg to Japan   

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition has been investigating the air transport of horses to Japan for slaughter and making available their findings since learning of them in 2010.

In 2018, CHDC took the government to court over violations to the Health of Animals Act involving the exportation of horses as air cargo to Japan and South Korea for slaughter. Unfortunately, we lost the case but launched an appeal shortly thereafter. We agreed with our lawyer that this avenue was worth pursuing, as some factors appeared to have been overlooked by the presiding judge. We are presently waiting to hear when our appeal will be heard.  You can learn more about this on our website.

For more information about horse slaughter and the live horse shipments to Japan and South Korea please visit our website, blog,  archived blog  and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.