February, 2023

… three horses were down in the crate when they arrived so we will keep watching them carefully.”

It is predictable that legal limits for food, water and rest are bound to be violated when horses are shipped as air cargo to Japan for slaughter. This report provides solid evidence of a recorded violation of the Health of Animals regulations – under the purview of the CFIA. We can only imagine the suffering that this group of horses endured after 30 hours of crate confinement and are not surprised that three horses went down during that stressful journey. 

Further, it is clear that the fox guards the henhouse where this industry is concerned. The CFIA relies on the exporters to provide details of time without food, water and rest. This partnership provides an effective but cruel way to keep the profits flowing while ignoring the suffering of animals


On December 11, 2022, trailers arrived at the Winnipeg International Airport, carrying ninety-seven horses who were to be flown to Japan the following day to be slaughtered for human consumption.

The horses were described as crossbreds and ranged between 19 months, 2 ½ years and 3 years and 4 months of age.

Shortly after their arrival that night, the process of unloading the horses from trailers and into crates began, finishing at 2 a.m. the next morning (Monday, December 13). Twenty-nine crates were towed to the aircraft loading area on the tarmac.

The Korean Air Cargo 747 (flight #9214) was scheduled to fly to Anchorage, Alaska, early that morning for refuelling before continuing to its destination in Japan. However, a snowstorm in Anchorage resulted in the airport there being closed.

Discussions ensued between redacted, the farm owner, and redacted Japan, and the decision was made to re-route the plane to Seattle for a crew change and fuel and then proceed to Japan. This decision was made despite knowing it meant the amount of time the horses would be without food, water, and rest would exceed the 28 hours Canadian regulations currently allow.

Eighteen horses (14,000 kg.) were removed from the load and returned to the farm.

After a delayed departure from Winnipeg, the plane finally took off with 79 horses on board on December 12 at approximately 9:18 a.m.

The total time the horses were without food, water and rest was reported to be 30 hours, thus exceeding the 28 maximum hours allowed. It is important to note that the CFIA relied on the exporter to provide them with the time the horses were loaded on trailers and when they last had access to food and water.

The time the horses were loaded on trailers at the feedlot or during ground transport to the airport was not provided to us.

Three Horses Were Down According to an e-mail sent on December 13, 2022, “three horses … down in the crate when they arrived so we will keep watching them carefully.”  No information on the condition of these horses was provided, if they occupied the same crate or how long they had been down.

Partial list of the horses who were selected for this export.
The horses were reported to have gone 30 hours without food, water and rest

Health of Animals Regulations Amendments

Amendments made to Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations (HAR), the Transport of Animals were published in February 2019, and came into force in February 2020. However, CFIA’s enforcement approach focused on “compliance promotion” for food, water and rest (FWR) interval provisions for an additional 2-year period following the coming into force in February 2020. This temporary, 2-year compliance promotion period on FWR interval provisions, ended on February 20, 2022.

However, when it comes to enforcement of food, water, and rest intervals, it would appear that the CFIA’s discretionary powers are all-encompassing:

CFIA inspector discretion with respect to enforcement of prescriptive FWR time intervals

  • If CFIA learns about a situation where the maximum FWR interval is exceeded, they will evaluate the situation and use discretion in taking enforcement action
  • Is unlikely that a notice of violation would be issued, based solely on exceeding the maximum FWR time interval provided these criteria are met
    • the incident is an infrequent occurrence
    • the incident is due to unforeseen circumstances and out of the regulated party’s control (examples include)
      • a breakdown of the conveyance
      • a traffic accident
      • an unexpected road closure when no other options for stopping are available (no alternate route was suitable to travel on)
      • if a driver had to change the route to care for an injured or suffering animal
      • if a load were rejected at the border (there may be limited options where you can re-route the animals to in the required time)
      • a medical problem with the driver
      • unforeseen weather events
    • the incident is deemed reasonable by the CFIA inspector under the circumstances
    • no other sections of the HAR were violated and animals are not suffering from nutritional deficiency, dehydration or exhaustion
    • the regulated party can provide evidence that the animals were monitored and measures were taken to minimize animal suffering

On December 16, 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued mandate letters to his Ministers. The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, was informed that the exports of live horses for slaughter are to be banned! This has not yet been implemented.

Until a ban is actually in place, phone calls, letters and emails to Members of Parliament and to the Agriculture Minister are needed; they can easily be sent using the links below:

To write to your MP: www.horseshit.ca or https://bit.ly/3AutWgn

To write to Minister Bibeau: https://bit.ly/3wzf5Pp For more information about horse slaughter and the live horse shipments to Japan and South Korea please visit our websiteblogarchived blog and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube and Vimeo.