(Printed in Ontario Farmer, Tuesday February 15, 2022)
Thank you to Ian Cumming for his enlightening article, “Mandate letter instructs an end to horse export trade”, January 4, 2022.
I would like to point out that the annual number of live horses shipped by air cargo (only to Japan, not to France) was 1,606 in 2021 and 2,800 in 2020 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada).
The figure of 25,000 is considerably higher than what statistics actually show and I am wondering whether Mr. Cumming was instead referring to the approximate number of horses slaughtered domestically in Canada every year and whose meat is then shipped frozen to Japan, France and other countries?
Nevertheless, the article is an eye-opener. It illustrates certain troubling attitudes within industry that leave no doubt about the lack of importance of animal welfare in a sector where profits are the priority.
Let’s be clear: there is no comparison between the conditions under which expensive sport horses and horses destined for slaughter are flown. “Prize horses and Olympic jumpers” are housed in single containers for their journey and have food and water available as well as an attendant to oversee their needs.
On the other hand, horses flown to Japan for slaughter are crammed in multiples into wooden crates and can easily spend up to 28 hours or more in cramped confinement during ground and air transportation, having no food or water or space in which to lay down.
With approximately 30 crates fitted into the belly of an aircraft, there is little room for an attendant to help any horse in trouble amongst other horses stuffed into the same crate.
The handful of industry people who will be impacted by an end to the live horse export trade pales in comparison to the nearly 78,000 Canadian citizens who signed parliamentary petition e-3187, calling for the exports to stop on the grounds that the practice is cruel. Furthermore, the total number of signatures on various separate online petitions relating to the live shipments has now surpassed 838,000.
We no longer live in Paleolithic times. The world is evolving and modern society recognizes the importance of animal welfare.
If those involved in the trade choose to shoot their horses “in a very public way for politicians to witness”, then such a mass execution should certainly be monitored by the RCMP and the SPCA in order to ensure that no horse suffers.
In the meantime, I doubt that threats and bullying tactics are going to change anyone’s mind about whether the live horse export industry should end. On the contrary, such callousness illustrates the true colours of an industry that would send kind, gentle horses to a foreign country for slaughter.
Sinikka Crosland, President
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition