Demand Canadian Government Take Action
Why Are The Wheels Turning So Slowly?
“It’s wrong on every level,” states a horse defender to our Agriculture Minister. She is talking about the shipments of live horses to Japan for slaughter and the red tape involved in putting a final end to this horrific trade.
The mandate to stop the shipments was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in December. So why are the wheels moving so slowly?
If you would like to get in touch with Minister Bibeau her contact information can be found on the Live Exports page on our website.
From: “Minister” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: xxxx xxxxxxxxx
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Subject: Your correspondence to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food – Quote xxxxxx
Dear Ms. xxxxxx
Thank you for your follow-up email regarding the export of live horses for slaughter. I regret the delay in this response.
As you know, a commitment to ban the live export of horses for slaughter was included in my mandate letter from the Prime Minister. The Government of Canada is currently in the early stages of analyzing this commitment. The Government acknowledges the need to develop effective and science-informed policies and strategies and values the perspectives of stakeholders who are affected by its decisions. Stakeholders will be engaged in consultations, as applicable. In the meantime, CFIA will continue to enforce the Health of Animals Act and the Health of Animals Regulations and to verify that exported horses are fit to travel and are transported humanely.
I am pleased to report that the federal government has allocated over $430,000 in funding to develop and update the Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals during transport and the care and handling of equines in Canada. Beneficiaries of this funding have included the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC), whose operations now fall under Animal Health Canada, and the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.
Under the AgriAssurance program, the CAHC was granted approval for funding of up to $4.5 million for its project focusing on animal welfare entitled “Advancing Animal Welfare and Public Trust Through Codes of Practice.” With this funding, the CAHC will develop or update four codes of practice for the care and handling of farm animals, including for dairy cattle, goats and animals from aquaculture production, as well as for the safe transport of animals (including horses). The CAHC will also provide the necessary communications to support the successful development and updating of these codes.
The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada was also approved to receive funding for up to $316,956 under AgriAssurance for its project to increase awareness of the welfare and health standards as defined in the Code of Practice for the care and handling of equines for equine owners, custodians and the public.
I trust that this information will be of assistance. Again, thank you for writing.
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Date: Thu, Jul 7, 2022
Subject: Re: Your correspondence to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food – Quote xxxxxx
To: Minister <email@example.com>
Cc: Prime Minister, Premier Ministre <PM@pm.gc.ca>
The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Thank you for your reply. I really do appreciate it.
I also have to say I commend you that there are some steps that are being taken regarding this very upsetting industry.
I understand the red tape that has to be gone through to stop this horrific practice which brings in a great deal of monetary value, I’m sure. It affects many people who rely on the income from this industry, as well as the jobs.
However, the bottom line is, it is to be banned and it is wrong on every level. The money and time that it takes to analyze this commitment is costing more and more horses a horrific end and also costing the government extra funds that in the end will have the same results.
We have no control of what happens to them once they land in Japan. How they are treated, as well as slaughtered… alive, I’ve heard. That would make for the freshest meat. Any slaughter for a horse is not a humane one. Anywhere. Even here in Canada. The kill pens are not set up properly for this. Horses do not die instantly and are more often than not slaughtered while still conscious, pregnant and giving birth. This should also be in the study. We have laws in Canada against animal abuse. To drag a horse to it’s slaughter is morally wrong. To keep a horse in a holding pen, with little food, water and letting it’s hoofs get so long it can hardly stand or walk…is wrong. I could go on but I think you get the picture.
However, so much funding is being poured into humane transportation, which is really hypocritical when you look at the big picture. Albeit anything to make the suffering less…but who actually watches to see if these rules are abided by?
Are random checks actually done? This I would be interested to find out.
There are lots of avenues in agriculture where there are money making ventures…most are legal, but some are illegal…some are unknown…and then there is a situation like this where Canadians are speaking out, our Prime Minister has promised it to be banned, and yet there are still horses going for slaughter. Is it to appease the Canadian public by saying it is going to be banned? But meanwhile, we’re going to start a very slow process that will take years to keep this promise, say that we are putting money into the care and transport of these equines that are going to slaughter, but it isn’t ending. It is not being banned…for who knows how long?
Please speed up this process and ban the export of horses for slaughter as the Prime Minister has put in his mandate for you to accomplish. Preferably this year…or this month. It should be immediate. At least the shipments should be cut back.
The actions of the United States can be used as an example to do this. How some are getting around it to send horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter is also being looked into. These doors must also close.
Their horses are not to be shipped for slaughter within the United States or to other countries. They have respect for these animals that have worked to settle the land and have worked side by side with settlers, soldiers, are used for equine therapy, and have statues built for famous horses. You do not see statues of cows, pigs, or sheep. They are also to be treated with care and dignity, but a horse is different.
Our Minister of Agriculture should be touring these facilities where horses are being slaughtered, being held in holding facilities, touring horse auctions, being at an airport when horses are being loaded into crates, seeing how long and what kind of conditions they endure while waiting to go on a plane – the noise level alone is absolutely terrifying for a horse. Never mind not being able to lie down for days…and if they do they can’t get back up…there is no room or they are absolutely overwrought with terror. And that is just the beginning to what awaits them. Even watch a video of what they go through, the one of dragging a horse 40 feet off of a trailer and then also attend a horse auction. That alone speaks volumes to watch this and be able to say that it is okay to do this. We’re in Canada. This should not be legal. If you don’t take the time to actually see what is happening…how can you respond honestly to these letters you are receiving?
If you would make that effort to show that you are deeply concerned of what is happening here and to understand why you are getting the letters, postcards, emails, instructions from the Prime Minister to ban the export of horses for slaughter, invites from Humane Societies, talk shows, radio stations, etc. then this whole practice would be more out in the open and the public would see that you are a caring person who really does want to make a difference and are working with all Canadians.
I hope I have not overstepped my boundaries in this letter but I find it so frustrating why this is happening and is continuing to happen after hearing the news (which was such a HUGE relief), that it is being banned.
I cannot believe how long this has gone on. In this day and age, I will never get over hearing on the radio two years ago how those horses with in crates in -50C sat on the tarmac for hours at the Winnipeg airport at 3 a.m….while a Korean airliner pulled up along side them and slowly loaded them…never mind the flight…no food or water for hours, maybe days, what they landed to and endured until their final death. I honestly couldn’t believe it was even legal…in Canada of all places! This was my introduction to the world of horses being exported for slaughter.
And this is only one horror story…the more I look into this…the stories are even more horrific. From slaughter houses in Alberta and Quebec, to auctions across the country.
I thank you for your time in reading this letter.
I hope someday it will make a difference. And I pray that day will come soon.
Government Update on Live Horse Exports for Slaughter
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:
House of Commons
(No postage required!)
Phone: 1 613 995-2024
Main office – Sherbrooke
175 Queen Street
Sherbrooke QC J1M 1K1
Phone: 1 819 347-2598
You can reach the office of Marie-Claude Bibeau at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Your name, address, and e-mail]
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.
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.
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.