CHDC MEDIA SUMMARY
CHDC MEDIA SUMMARY
Who Are We?
Established in BC in 2004, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), a federally registered non-profit organization, is a collective of people and groups working to ban the slaughter of equines for human consumption in Canada, as well as the export of live horses to other countries for the same purpose.
Our Board of Directors are across Canada, residing in BC, Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick.
Our mission is to work collectively with individuals and groups to help protect equines in Canada from slaughter and the export of live equines for slaughter by raising public awareness through education, and helping to achieve the enactment of legislation that will ban these practices in Canada.
What are the Issues?
Horses, considered to be man’s second best friend, are companion and sport animals and most are not raised for human consumption. The majority of horses sent to slaughter were once children’s riding ponies, competitive sport horses, work horses, pleasure horses or companion animals. In 2018, approximately 31,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada. Every year, about half are imported from the US where no identification system is in place. This means horses given drugs harmful to humans, and banned for human consumption, are used for food for people. There are instances in Europe where banned substances have been found in horsemeat exported by Canada. The majority of Canadians believe that this industry must be abolished. A Nanos poll taken in June 2019 reveals that 69% of Canadians polled said they would like to stop the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption.
Undercover investigations have provided compelling evidence of horses suffering injuries and maltreatment during transport to slaughter and at slaughter plants. Thousands of horses destined for slaughter reside on feedlots in Alberta and neighbouring Montana. The very basic Canadian guidelines specified in The Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines are far from being met. Shelter, veterinary and hoof care are clearly lacking in these feedlots, and horses are fed to the point of obesity.
Horse slaughter is not a solution for unwanted horses. Healthy horses are sought by kill buyers, not old and sick ones. The horse slaughter process itself is not humane euthanasia. It is a predatory business that sustains a culture of cruelty to horses.
Canada’s Horse Slaughter Industry at a Glance
Since 1989, over 2.2 million horses have perished in Canadian slaughter plants. The industry has been on a steady decline since its peak in 2008, after the US had stopped slaughtering horses. In recent years, the numbers have been down significantly. Even so, it is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 horses are slaughtered annually in Canada. Exact numbers are not released by the Canadian government because of a so-called consolidation of the industry: the two remaining equine slaughterhouses in Canada are now owned by the same family.
The drop in recent years is due to the tightening of European Union regulations. Any horse going to slaughter must now have an accompanying document including a declaration of any vaccines or medications administered in the previous 6 months. In 2017, an additional rule was implemented whereby Canadian establishments that export horse meat to the EU must ensure that horses imported into Canada are resident in Canada for six months before slaughter and export.
At one time, over 60% of horses slaughtered in Canada were imported from the US. That percentage has dropped in recent years to less than 50% due to the new EU regulations.
The two plants that are federally licensed to slaughter horses in Canada (one in Alberta and one in Quebec) are both owned and operated by Bouvry Exports. At one time, there were six plants (2 in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, one in Ontario, and 2 in Quebec).
In 2021, 2,001 draft horses were shipped by air cargo from Canada to Japan for slaughter. Horses destined for Japan reside on vast feedlots in western Canada and most of them have been bred for the trade.
Former NDP MP Alex Atamanenko previously introduced 3 bills to end horse slaughter in Canada that did not gain the needed support in a Conservative majority government. Under the current Liberal majority government, we must now re-establish legislation to end this industry in Canada.
The CHDC Sues the CFIA for Overcrowding of Horses Exported for Slaughter
In September 2018, the CHDC filed a lawsuit against the CFIA, stating that violations of the law are occurring when horses are overcrowded and when horses’ heads touch the tops of crates. Horses are shipped by air cargo to Japan in small wooden crates, 3 or 4 per crate. Representing the CHDC is Breder Law based out of Vancouver, BC.
The CHDC lost the first battle in federal court but is currently awaiting an appeal date in early 2023.
Fundraising for this initiative is done through our GoFundMe page.
The Prime Minister’s Mandate
In December 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued mandates to his Ministers. Included in these was a ban on the shipment of live horses overseas for slaughter. We are awaiting forward momentum on this from Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and continue to lobby both her and Members of Parliament for a rapid end to the cruel exports.
Access to Information Reporting
The CHDC continues to expose the conditions horses must endure when transported by ground and air to slaughter. ATI findings can be found under ATI on the CHDC website.
We report on the horrific ongoing conditions of feedlots and the substandard care provided to horses. In June 2019, the CHDC was part of an International Coalition of animal welfare groups that exposed the neglect and suffering happening on Canadian feedlots. Aerial drone footage captured in summer 2021 can be found here: https://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.org/lacombe-alberta-feedlot/.
Release of Nanos Poll Findings
In June 2019, a Nanos Poll was conducted by Ottawa lobbying firm, The Parliamentary Group. Findings reveal that the majority of Canadians have a problem with the slaughter of Canadian horses for human consumption. Just over two-thirds of Canadians say they are uncomfortable or somewhat uncomfortable with the export of horse meat from Canada for human consumption. Nearly seven in ten Canadians say they would most support stopping the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption rather than continue the policy.
Canadians are over four times more likely to say they would have a more positive impression rather than a more negative impression of a politician that supported a ban in Canada on the slaughter of horses for human consumption. When asked about the continuation of this practice, 69% said they would like to stop the slaughtering of horses in Canada for human consumption.
Engaging the Public
The CHDC continues to inform the public and provide information on how to approach MPs to speak out against horse slaughter. We encourage Canadians to communicate with government and be the voice for horses.
Acclaimed singer/songwriter Jann Arden has joined the battle for protection of horses shipped live to Japan for slaughter. Her popular website, horseshit.ca, focuses on ending this cruel trade.
In February 2021, “Flight Animals” (an episode about the live shipments of horses to Japan) aired on W5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZsKhXll-8w.
Please contact the CHDC’s President, Sinikka Crosland at email@example.com