Five Trailers Carrying US Horses to Canada For Slaughter Refused Entry

November 2021

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.

 Source: Import Conditions for Horses From the United States for Immediate Slaughter

On March 1, 2017 the European Union (EU) directive of a six month residency requirement for horses imported into Canada came into effect. This meant that Canadian establishments exporting horse meat to the EU must ensure that horses imported into Canada are resident in Canada for six months before slaughter if their meat is to be exported to EU countries. 

Figures released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada show a reduction in the number of horses exported by U.S. to Canada for immediate slaughter since implementation of this requirement – down from 12,273 horses in 2017 to 6,919 in 2020.

In the period between January 1 and June 30, 2021 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reported 2,799 horses had been imported to Canada for immediate slaughter from the United States. This represents a decrease of 2.6 % from the same period in 2020.

Through Access to Information the CHDC has obtained documents containing information regarding five trailer loads of horses being transported for immediate slaughter but refused at Canadian designated ports of entry from January 1 to June 30, 2021.

The reasons for refusal varied: a deceased horse, facial laceration, fetlock laceration, a non-ambulatory horse and lameness. 

  • On February 10, a trailer carrying 20 horses (US Health Certificate number 1295384205) was refused admittance under section 18.1 of the Health of Animals Act.  

A 14 year old roan Quarter Horse mare (neck tag #1951) was found deceased and a Notice to Remove from Canada order was issued. 

Later that day, a second attempt was made to enter Canada with 19 horses and refused again, due to a non-ambulatory horse. This horse is described as 19 year old chestnut Quarter Horse gelding (tag #1962) on the accompanying Veterinary Health Certificate. Another Notice to Remove was issued, under Health of Animals Act 18.1 and Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) 139.

The horses listed on the US Veterinary Heath Certificate for this conveyance were    

Quarter Horses: 12 mares and 8 geldings, from 10 years to 17 years of age.

Feb 10- trailer carrying 20 slaughter horses refused entry due to a deceased horse (HC#1265384205)

Feb. 10 (Second attempt to enter Canada) – trailer carrying 19 horses refused entry due to a down horse (HC#1265384205)

  • On January 21, a trailer carrying 28 horses for immediate slaughter (US Health Certificate number 1306030238) was refused entry to Canada due to an injured horse.

    A 13 year old bay Quarter Horse mare (neck tag 36, back tag 9109) was found to have a laceration on her right front fetlock.

Notes indicate that it was suspected this mare had been down in the trailer based on shavings on her head, neck and mane. It was thought she lacerated the dorsal fetlock on the wall of the trailer while struggling to stand. The compartment where she was grouped had a large amount of fresh blood in lower wall section of one area. “The body condition of this horse, based on CFIA’s Humane Transport Regulations, is questionable as well.”

This load was divided in four trailer compartments and were grouped 1/8/15/4 horses per section. The injured bay mare was in a group of 15 horses. It would have been difficult for her to stand while confined in such a small space with so many other horses.

The *Health Certificate recorded the breeds of the horses on this conveyance as Quarter Horses and Paint, between 4 to 16 years in age:

Quarter Horses: 19 mares, 9 geldings

*Some horses listed on Health Certificates may subsequently be removed from the load, their tag number is often crossed off on the Owner/Shipper form.


13 year old Quarter horse mare with laceration on fetlock

  • On January 26, a trailer carrying 26 horses for immediate slaughter (US Health Certificate number 1308187931) was refused entry upon finding a 13 year old sorrel Quarter Horse gelding (neck tag 002, back tag 9130) to be extremely lame.

The horses were loaded on a trailer at approximately 8:40 a.m. on January 26 at a location about 40 miles from the port of entry, where they were inspected cat 10:12 a.m.

The trailer was divided in three compartments, with 9/13/4 horses per compartment. One horse in the group of four horses, described as a sorrel gelding with neck tag #002 and back tag #9130 was extremely lame on a front leg. 

A Notice to Remove was issued, citing Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) 138.2(a):

138.2 Every commercial carrier and any other person who transports animals in the course of business or for financial benefit shall have a contingency plan that establishes measures that are to be taken in order to comply with the requirements of this Part if

(a) there are any unforeseen delays or circumstances that could result in the animal’s unnecessary suffering, injury or death; 

The horses listed on the Health Certificate for this load were of various breeds and ranged between 7 to 18 years of age:

Quarter Horses: 18mares, 6 geldings

Paint: 1 mare

Bucking Horse: 1 gelding (10 years of age)  

13 year old, extremely lame Quarter Horse gelding

  • February 18, 2021 A trailer transporting 25 horses for immediate slaughter (US Health Certificate 1303233430) was refused entry into Canada when a 12 year old sorrel/white pinto pony gelding (neck tag 053, back tag 9738) was found to have a laceration on the bridge of his nose.. 

The horses were loaded on the trailer at 9:10 a.m. on February 18 and arrived for inspection at the port of entry at 10:30.  The trailer was divided into 5 compartments with 1/1/7/12/4 horses in each compartment. The injured pony was grouped alone.

A Notice to Remove was issued on February 18, under section 138 (2)(a) of the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR).

The Veterinary Health Certificate describes the horses’ breeds to be Quarter Horse, Pony and Appaloosa ranging between 5 to 25 years of age:

Quarter Horse: 9 mares, 14 geldings

Pony: 2 geldings

12 year old sorrel/white pony with laceration on the bridge of his nose

  • On June 3, 2021 a trailer carrying 27 horses for immediate slaughter (US Health Certificate number 1264103412) was denied entry into Canada due to a down horse.  As the tag number was removed from the documents we are unable to identify the age, gender and breed of this horse.

The owner/shipper record indicates the horses were loaded at 8:40 a.m. on June 3.

A Notice to Remove was issued under Health of Animals 18.1 and Health of Animals Regulations (HAR) 139 (1),stating there was a non-ambulatory horse on the trailer. No other information was provided for his/her condition.

The breeds of the horses listed on the Health Certificate for this conveyance were Quarter Horse, Standardbred and Draft ranging in age from 2 years to 20 years.

Quarter Horse: 13 mares, 1 gelding

Standardbred: 5 mares, 4 geldings

Percheron: 1 mare

Belgian:  1 mare, 1 gelding

According to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) invoice, the value of these 27 horses was $10,800.00 ($400.00 per horse).

It appears that a second attempt was made to enter Canada later that day using the same Health Certificate (#1264103412) but with 26 horses, the non-ambulatory horse having been removed. 

June 3- Notice to Remove due to non-ambulatory horse on the trailer

June 3- Notice to Remove due to non-ambulatory horse on the trailer

By far the majority of the horses on the five refused loads listed above were described as Quarter Horses (104) followed by Standardbred (9), Paint (5), Belgian (2), Pony (2), Percheron (1), Haflinger (1), Appaloosa (1) and Bucking Horse (1).

Unfortunately, information regarding where the horses who were identified as the reason for non-admittance were taken was not supplied and is therefore unknown to us.

As we were, you will be disappointed to learn that even more information has been redacted from the documents when compared to files received in response to previous similar requests; missing are port of entry, tattoo numbers, state of origin, and destination. 

There is little transparency in this industry.

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