On May 11, 2020 another 114 horses were shipped by air from Canada to Japan for slaughter for human consumption.

Through Access to Information (ATI), the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) has recently received Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reports as well as correspondence regarding this flight and the condition of the horses. These documents reveal one horse died.

Upon their arrival in Japan, five horses were not standing in crates and one was dead. Four others “did not show physical strength although they stood up for unloading”.

Back in April 2020 blood samples were collected from 141 horses of which these 114 horses were a part. The blood was taken to determine eligibility for export to Japan in order to meet the Veterinary Health Certificate for Export of Horses to Japan (VHC) requirements. The blood draw was accomplished by restraining the horses in a tilting hydraulic chute system.

One gelding went down in the chute post testing. The chute’s floor was dropped, the chute lifted and the horse was able to stand on his own and walk away.

At this time it was noticed there were two horses with the same brand number (#315). Both horses were subsequently included in the Addendum for animals not shipped list (p. 53).

Of the 141 horses sampled, four were pulled due to positive test results:

More confusion arose over whether horse #147 had in fact been loaded. Clarification was sought when it was discovered that the Health Certificate addendum indicated he had not while the ‘packing list’ showed he had. (p 16, 19).

In keeping with the VHC for the export of horses to Japan, those deemed eligible for export entered isolation on May 4.

  1. Each animals was kept isolated from any other animal not intended to be exported to Japan for at least seven (7) days prior to shipment on premises approved for this purpose by an official of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and, during that period, was inspected by a salaried veterinarian of the Government of Canada and found to be in good health and free from any evidence of communicable diseases.

-From the Veterinary Health Certificate Export Horses to Japan

The Veterinary Health Certificate Export Horses to Japan form can be found on pages 43, 44 of the release package.

The horses on this flight were young, described on the Specimen Submissions form as Crossbreds born in 2018. One mare was 17 months of age, all others were 18 months.

  • At 3 p.m. on May 10, 2020 the horses were loaded on trailers for transport to the airport. According to the Inspector Report, six trucks carrying 114 horses arrived at the Winnipeg International Airport that night between 9:30 and 10 p.m.
  • From 10:30 p.m. on May 10 to 1:45 a.m. on May 11, thirty-three crates were loaded, each one holding 3-4 horses.
  • At 2:30 a.m. the crate to aircraft loading procedure began. The plane departed at approximately 4:55 a.m.

The above timeline of events can be found in the Inspector Report, page 55 of the release package.

The same report also references an e-mail from the importer which stated “Total five horses not standing in the crates and one of those (#47) was dead during transportation to the quarantine station. Other four horses did not show physical strength neither although they stood up for unloading”.

According to the most recent information we have, the crates used in these shipments measure 9.5 feet by 7 feet for floor space and 7.6 feet high.

A re-fueling stop in Anchorage was scheduled, meaning an additional landing and take-off the horses had to endure.

The plane remained on the ground there for a little over 2 hours. Including this period the total flight time was approximately 14 hours, 46 minutes.

The Humane Transportation of Animals form shows the start date/time of loading to be May 10 at 15:00 (3 p.m.) and end date/time of loading as May 11 at 04:00 (4 a.m.).

Added together, from the time they were loaded on trailers to their arrival in Japan, the total time the horses on this flight were without food, water or rest is 28.67 hours. This does not include unloading time at the Kitakyushu airport or travel to the quarantine facility in Japan.

It is unclear where/when exactly the death of the young gelding occurred. While the importer was quoted as saying the horse (#47) was dead during transportation to the quarantine station another email portrays a different version of the ‘unfortunate incident’.

  1. 19, 20- It seems like the dead one laid down right after departure and has been doing so all the way to Japan, so we assume it got sick before or during loading process.

But they were hopeful the other four horses would recover soon.

It appears that a company called Sea Air were the handlers of this shipment (P17).  Their web site claims that they take very special care of horses.

All released documents associated with this request may be viewed here.


 Last year, 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.

While we wait, the animal welfare issues surrounding these flights continue to loom. The latest documents obtained through Access to Information clearly illustrate endemic problems within the live horse export industry. The horses shipped on the May 10, 2020 flight were young – 17-18 months of age. One died and numerous others experienced difficulty with the flight.

No wonder, as all were crammed into small crates without access to food and water for over 28 hours. This did not include unloading and transport in Japan, and further suffering during transfer. To say nothing of the confusion that reigned over identifying documents!

This kind of scenario simply should not happen, given that these animals are being exported for human food and need a clear paper trail showing their origins and health history.

What more is needed to prove that the export of horses overseas cannot be made humane? What is the government of Canada waiting for?

The political climate in our country is more than a little chaotic with Covid-19 and other threats looming at this time. No doubt many Members of Parliament are worried about a possible fall election, whether their party will win, and what Canada’s future will look like as 2021 approaches.

NOW is the time to let your MP know that it is not OK for Canada to participate in this cruel trade, and that your support is contingent upon your political representative’s integrity and compassion.

The horses deserve kind treatment, not a one-way ticket to slaughter in a foreign country. Covid-19, the WE scandal and other threats are no excuse for politicians to ignore animal welfare concerns.

Contact your MP today by telephone, by e-mail, or by post.

PLEASE do it for the horses!

Surprised that horses are slaughtered in Canada for human consumption? Learn more about this barbaric industry here.

AND be sure to look at the 3 blog posts immediately below….

Want to know what you can do to help put an end to this barbaric practice?

Please scroll down or visit this page.

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Our Patron

"I’ll be in touch tomorrow to donate to this important cause. How cruel and unnecessary Horse slaughter is. Modern society was built on the back of the working horse - and this is how we repay them. Classy."

"Canada should be leading the world when it comes to animal welfare— and yet we drop the ball in so many ways. We ship thousands upon thousands of live horses for the overseas meat trade and grotesquely fail with their treatment. Often in tight cages of three or four - for days."

"This is an amazing, important organization... donate if you can. Even a toonie makes a difference."  

Highlights of the CHDC lawsuit against the CFIA and the Minister of Agriculture regarding live draft horse shipments to Japan for slaughter for human consumption.

Update on the CHDC lawsuit against the CFIA:

Unfortunately, on December 10, 2019, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) lost the horse slaughter lawsuit against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency regarding the live draft horse shipments to Japan for slaughter.

However, an appeal was subsequently filed and on October 16, 2020, the Memorandum of Fact and Law (our lawyer's argument) was submitted to the Federal Court of Appeal.  The CFIA then responded with their own argument. 

As of December 2020, we are currently waiting for the Court to set our appeal date.

This is what the CHDC’s lawyer Rebeka Breder had to say in December 2019:

"The court found that the CFIA does not have to follow its regulations and that it has the discretion to decide how to enforce them. We strongly disagree.

In this particular case, the law is abundantly clear that inspections of all horses must be done (by CFIA inspectors) prior to all shipments, and that all shipments must be certified as being compliant with the law.

For years, these inspectors have been certifying these shipments, even though horses were being shipped contrary to the law (ie, crammed horses into small crates, instead of being separated to avoid harming each other; and not providing enough headroom)."


December 10th, 2019. Rebeka Breder writes:

"We are incredibly disappointed to learn that we lost the horse slaughter lawsuit against the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.  The court found that the CFIA does not have to follow its regulations and that it has the discretion to decide how to enforce them. We strongly disagree.

In this particular case, the law is abundantly clear that inspections of all horses must be done (by CFIA inspectors) prior to all shipments, and that all shipments must be certified as being compliant with the law.

For years, these inspectors have been certifying these shipments, even though horses were being shipped contrary to the law (ie, crammed horses into small crates, instead of being separated to avoid harming each other; and not providing enough headroom).

In 2018 the CHDC sued the CFIA.  This is the original press release:


September 6, 2018 · by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

For Immediate Release September 6, 2018

No More Horsing Around – Animal Protection Group Sues CFIA for Overcrowding of Horses Exported for Slaughter

Vancouver, B.C.: 

The not-for-profit Animal Protection group, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), filed for judicial review in the Federal Court.  The lawsuit challenges violations of two sections of the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) and names the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food as the respondent.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Health of Animals Act and the HAR.

“The law in regard to the live export of horses for slaughter is clear. Sections 141(8) and 142(a) of the Health of Animals Regulations say that horses over 14 hands in height (the size of a large pony) must be segregated, and horses must be able to stand in a natural position. These provisions exist to ensure the humane transport of horses, yet the CFIA consistently violates the law by allowing the overcrowding of horses and by allowing horses’ heads to touch the tops of crates, when live horses are shipped by air cargo to Japan for slaughter” states the lawyer for the CHDC, Rebeka Breder.

Since 2012, the CHDC has studied conditions under which live horses are exported to Japan for human consumption.  Photographic and video evidence has consistently revealed that even large draft horses have been crammed together for export purposes, sometimes as many as three or four per wooden crate, and that the ears of very tall horses have been seen to breach the netting covering the tops of crates. There is also evidence of horses dying and injuring themselves.

“This legal challenge certainly pits David against Goliath,” observes Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director of CHDC.  “But the CFIA is not above the law.  The government has certain legal and ethical obligations, which cannot be swept under the rug.”

Please consider donating to the CHDC to support this legal challenge.

For more information, contact:
Breder Law (attention: Rebeka Breder)
Solicitor for the Applicant (CHDC)
Phone: (604)449-0215
E-mail: rbreder@brederlaw.com


Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition
Phone: 250-833-1964
E-mail:  sinikka@defendhorsescanada.org


It may be hard for some to believe that tens of thousands of horses, are routinely slaughtered in Canada, for human consumption.

Some of the meat is consumed in Canada, and much of it is shipped to the European Union, and other markets, including  Japan.

This barbaric practice is currently banned in the United States, so horses from the United States are shipped to Canada, and to Mexico, to be slaughtered.

In addition Canada allows for the transportation of live horses to Japan, and South Korea to be slaughtered for human consumption, and unfortunately the transportation of horses destined for slaughter within Canada, and by air, is far from humane.



Videos taken at Canadian and Japanese airports show many horses in these crates don’t have sufficient head clearance, with their heads touching the roofs and ears protruding through the crates, contravening IATA regulations;

and Flights are 10.5 to 13.5 hours long.

Additional hours must be considered for ground transportation, loading into crates, and loading and unloading crates from planes.

During this time, horses have no access to food or water.

It takes less than 5 minutes to contribute to Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's legal fund and every little bit helps.


Rebeka Breder
Breder Law Corporation
Vancouver, British Columbia

“One of my bigger cases now is acting for the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition. We are suing the federal government for violating animal transportation laws.

This is a groundbreaking case as it is the first time an animal protection organization has sued the government over the way it transports animals."

"People are surprised to learn that horses are being slaughtered in Canada [for human consumption].

Perhaps even worse, they are being exported in crammed conditions, to Japan [and South Korea] to be slaughtered for meat.

Horses that may have been someone's pet."  

January 2nd, 2020:  Rebeka TWEETS:

Starting #NewYear2020 w/ a bang!  Just filed the ⁦@defendhorsescan

#horse slaughter appeal @ the #Federal Court of Appeal, w/ #family in tow, while visiting them in my hometown of #Montreal.  And now ending day loving #vegan #sushi in #OldMontreal at Bloom. #animallaw

January 4th, 2020

CHDC Director, Sinikka Crosland writes:

It’s official!  Notice of Appeal Filed on Behalf of Horses Transported for Slaughter

On December 4, 2019, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition learned that we had lost our lawsuit against the Canadian government with regard to how horses are transported to Japan and South Korea for slaughter.  However, it was felt that the judge had made some reviewable errors that could be appealed with some hope of success.

We are therefore pleased to report that our lawyer, Rebeka Breder, has filed a Notice of Appeal in Federal Court January 2, 2020.  The notice advises that legal proceedings have been commenced against the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and asks that the previous judgment be set aside, based on numerous points forming the grounds of appeal.

It is imperative that we see this through to the end.  As Rebeka states, “Declining to hear this matter would send a chilling message to the public that animals do not matter.  With respect, doing so would be wrong.”

Please donate to this crucial campaign that could prove pivotal for animals of the future.  Help right the wrongs, and protect horses from harm!

IN 2018  3,396 HORSES WERE




Every year, Canada ships thousands of horses overseas by air cargo so that they can be slaughtered for human consumption.

In 2016 public records show that 5,839 horses were shipped to Japan for this purpose, 4,846 in 2017.

2018, 3,396  horses were shipped to Japan and South Korea to be slaughtered for human consumption.




These horses are crammed in wooden crates that are too small for large draft horses.

Only 1 large draft horse is to be shipped per crate, yet 3 and 4 are being shipped per crate.  International and Canadian shipping regulations are being broken.



YOU can help Canadian Horse Defence Coalition win a ground breaking legal battle for horses and force the Canadian Government to abide by international and national transportation regulations.  YOU can help stop the  inhumane export of live horses for slaughter.

Ontario provides funding for equine riding businesses impacted by COVID-19. Investment of $3 million will allow these businesses to keep up with the costs of animal care so they can maintain their horses and be ready for when activities can start up again

RCMP investigating death of horse. If anyone has information, regarding this incident please call Vermilion RCMP at 780-853-4441.https://www.lakelandtoday.ca/local-news/rcmp-investigating-death-of-horse-3252477

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