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Government Update on Live Horse Exports for Slaughter

March 2022

Since government has indicated that they will be consulting with industry, now is the time to make sure that the Agriculture Minister and Members of Parliament know the views of horse advocates across Canada.

Please contact your MP and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, to express your opinion on behalf of the horses.

To send a letter to your Member of Parliament, please visit www.horseshit.ca and complete the form, to have one sent on your behalf.

The letter we are posting below can be copied, or used as a guide when writing to Minister Bibeau.


Dear Honourable Minister:

I am writing to you today with regards to the very troubling practice of sending draft horses to Japan and South Korea for slaughter.   There is no doubt in my mind that citizens of other countries view Canada as a progressive and humane nation, but the callous disregard with which these noble animals are treated is not beneficial to Canada’s international reputation.

I am sure you know that up to four large horses are forced to travel together in wooden crates smaller than a single horse stall, and some of them are so tall that the tops of their heads reach the ceiling of their crates, forcing them to stand for 10-12 hours in a position that is not natural to the horse.  Add to that another 10 hours at least on the tarmac as the horses wait to be loaded onto the aircraft, as well as travel time to and from respective feedlots in Canada and overseas.

Take-off and landing is particularly stressful for these animals because it is difficult for them to maintain their balance.  Indeed, over the years there have been documented cases of horse deaths while in transit to overseas destinations for slaughter.

According to new transport regulations, horses can still be deprived of food, water and rest for up to 28 hours.  This is unhealthy for these highly mobile animals who are naturally accustomed to grazing and consuming food and water over extended periods of time.

Knowledgeable horse owners are aware of the sensitivity of horses in this regard, that deadly colic can occur if feeding practices are irregular.  In fact, knowledgeable horse owners take meticulous care when needing to ship their animals anywhere; the horses are transported singly in specially designed equine containers, and food and water is provided for them.

Furthermore, Canada has no jurisdiction over feedlot and slaughter practices in countries like Japan and South Korea.  Therefore, the horses are at the mercy of whatever end-of-life horrors await them at that end.

I would like to stress that in response to my concerns, I wish to receive a thoughtful reply, not your standard form letter, which insists that the government of Canada takes animal welfare seriously and that there are veterinarians on site at the airports to ensure that no infractions take place.

I want you to consider the fact that the very practice of prolonged crate confinement is stressful and hurtful to horses, and that it is no wonder that concerned celebrities such as Jann Arden, Kate Drummond, Bif Naked and Rachael Ancheril have joined the chorus, insisting that this practice should stop without delay.  I would like you to give serious thought to what they and a growing number of Canadian citizens have to say about this matter.

I look forward to your well-studied response, not a form letter.  Thank you.


Minister Bibeau’s contact information:

Ottawa

Marie-Claude Bibeau

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON

K1A 0A6

(No postage required!)

Phone: 1 613 995-2024

Constituency

Main office – Sherbrooke

175 Queen Street

Suite 204

Sherbrooke QC J1M 1K1

Phone: 1 819 347-2598

E-mail

You can reach the office of Marie-Claude Bibeau at marie-claude.bibeau@parl.gc.ca

Yours truly,

[Your name, address, and e-mail]

April 29, 2021:
 
Open Letter to Canada’s Agriculture Minister
This sign-on letter, supported by numerous animal protection organizations throughout Canada, has been sent today to our Agriculture Minister and various government offices listed. We are deeply thankful for the wonderful show of participation that the campaign against exports of live horses for slaughter has achieved amongst those who work tirelessly for the welfare and rights of animals. Let’s do everything we can to get this over the finish line and finally end the ongoing betrayal of the gentle draft horses who are victims of this cruel trade!
MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s sponsored e-petition 3187 can be found here (and is currently at approximately 32,000 signatures)
**PETITION NOW CLOSED
 Please keep sharing this link to achieve even more signatures before the petition deadline of June 18, 2021.
Those wishing to show their support of the sign-on letter are encouraged to forward the pdf copy to their Member of Parliament.
On behalf of the horses – thank you so much!

February 27, 2021: 

W5 investigates Canada’s controversial practice of flying live horses around the world to be slaughtered for fresh, raw, horsemeat. The campaign to stop the live horse export has ramped up with the celebrity endorsement of Canadian singer Jann Arden, who calls it the ‘sinister side of agriculture.’
Please contact your MP to give your opinion on this trade.  Your MP can be found here.

February 18, 2021 **PETITION NOW CLOSED 

REGARDING THE LIVE DRAFT HORSE SHIPMENTS FOR SLAUGHTER SPONSORED BY MP NATHANIEL ERSKINE-SMITH

All Canadians concerned about the protection of horses:  please sign this crucial petition, sponsored by MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and supported by numerous Members of Parliament.  Speak out now against the live exports of our Gentle Giants for slaughter.  Help get this cruel practice stopped!   Please click here to sign.

January 24, 2021: Posting about a  Calgary to Japan Flight Cancelled When Crates Break During Loading

January 21, 2021:  All-Party Animal Welfare Caucus meets to discuss the live exports.

Tamara Goertz: Whistleblower from Beyond

Tamara Goertz was a tenacious, committed, gutsy advocate for animals who took mega hours of footage and volumes of photographs at Calgary airport, relentlessly documenting over the years the air shipments of live draft horses to Japan for slaughter.

She was also an employee of Air Canada, but please note that Air Canada was in no way responsible for these shipments.  Her undercover work was extremely risky, as being discovered would have placed her livelihood in peril.  Further, she was in physical pain due to a debilitating medical condition. Yet she persisted and was responsible for well over a decade of activism, even following the crated horses to their final destination in Japan.

In 2010, the CHDC was provided with the first of many images showing firsthand the suffering of the draft horses in crates at Calgary airport.  Without this documentation, we would not have been able to begin the process of raising public awareness about the industry.

Tragically, Tamara passed away on August 14, 2020, and it is not until now, posthumously, that we have permission to publish the evidence that she obtained during the time of her employment with the airline.

On April 10, 2021, CHDC received a directive from a close relative of Tamara.

In Tamara’s own words:  ” I can’t stress enough to make sure my horse footage…gets out, so at least my life wasn’t for not.  I feel that if this contributes change to those illegal shipments, then I would have contributed something worthy and positive to this earth.”

We publish this article with mixed feelings of grief and gratitude, knowing that ending the cruel treatment of horses in this trade was Tamara’s fervent wish while she was alive.

Even after her passing, the message is clear:  Tamara wants justice to be done and the truth to prevail.

The horses have an angel, and the movement to end these shipments has been granted wings.

Since 2008, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) has been following the international trade in horses for slaughter and has been working to end it.  This trade is inhumane, unethical, and problematic for the health of humans.  Draft horses, known as the Gentle Giants, are live shipped in wooden crates to Japan and, occassionaly to South Korea for slaughter for human consumption.

For a history of this vile trade, please go here.

From 2014 to 2019 approximately 27,700 draft horses have been live exported by air primarily to Japan for slaughter.  Over TWENTY SEVEN THOUSAND!

Many people are asking, where are the horses coming from.  There are a few sources feeding this trade.  Ex-PMU farms, horse auctions and those who are purposely breeding for this trade.

These horses are taken to filthy feedlots to be fattened up for the Japanese market where the fatter the horse, the better, as the customers prefer their meat marbled, which, apparently, this overfeeding creates.

More on the Japanese appetite for horses can be found here.  This article states that over 60% of their horses for slaughter are imported from Canada.

It also can create painfull ailments such as laminitis.  Once on the feedlot the horses receive very little, if any veterinary care.  They do get a shot of “something” that can cause some discomfort.  The “something” has never been revealed but was mentioned in an Access to Information (ATI) document that the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) received some years ago.

The horses are also crudely branded with an “inventory” number so that when the horses are selected they become a number on a form.

Its highly unlikely that the horses receive anything for the pain. For some time they are kept on the feedlot with no protection from the elements or biting insects in the summer. Draft horses with short tails have come from somewhere where they have interacted with people as a short tail indicates a horse who was intended to be used in harness either for work or show.

In the images on the left, we can see horses in a feedlot with docked tails.  In the heat of summer they have no ability to swat at flies making it very uncomfortable for them.  In the image on the right is a horse with a brand on his hindquarters.  The brand is an S over an A.  This is the brand of Schorno Agri-Business of Yelm Washington.

Here are videos that have been captured over the years highlighting this trade from feedlot to their final destination at a Japanese slaughterhouse.

On January 4, 2021, advocates attended at the well-known Flewelling feedlot in Lacombe AB to witness the loading of draft horses for a flight to Japan for slaughter.  The advocates were intimidated by people working there which, sadly, happens very frequently.  These folks obviously don’t want attention drawn to their activities.

This video shows a These folks obviously don’t want attention drawn to their activities..  Its only 5 seconds long but must have seemed longer for that poor horse.

Video of young horses at the Summerview Feedlot.  From here horses are taken to Calgary Airport for transport to Japan.

Early video of the MEAT TRADE

The first footage that we received from Calgary Airport.

From feedlot to Calgary Airport

The loading in Calgary and unloading at Kagoshima Airport in Japan.

Unloading and to the quarantine station where they stay for a week or two.  Its unclear how long they are there for.  This video shows Willjill Farms of St. Thomas as the consignor.  Willjill use the Grover family as their agents in Alberta.

This video shows loading in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg with some points about the treatment of the horses and how the shippers are disregarding regulations regarding transport of horses. 

The background noise in this video is overwhelming and must be agonizing for the horses who have very sensitive hearing.  

At the end of this video you can see a horse with his head out of the crate.

Footage showing Edmonton and Winnipeg loading.

This disturbing video shows the final destination for our horses at Senko-Farms in Japan.

Typical feedlot conditions are shown below.  The rate of acreage for draft horses is 1.5 acres for 1 horse.  (Source:  Draft Horses, An Owner’s Manual, Beth A. Valentine, DVM, PhD, Page 5)

These images show that this guidline is obviously not adhered to.  Horses on these feedlots are not provided proper farrier or veterinary care.

The CHDC has written many articles about the live exports.  They are available here.

This page is dedicated to Tamara Goertz for first getting the word out about these shipments and doggedly pursuing the truth.

RIP, sweet Tam, and the horses thank you.