An End to Canada’s Horse Slaughter Industry in Sight?
Orangeville, Ontario: On May 31, 2012, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) released its report “CFIA and the Art of Evasion”, http://canadianhorsedefencecoalition.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/cfia-and-the-art-of-evasion.pdf, in response to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s deflection tactics to questions concerning the welfare of horses in Canada’s horse slaughter plants, as well as the safety of horsemeat for human consumption.
On the same day, the Daily Racing Form reported that two slaughterhouses, Bouvry Exports in Fort Macleod, Alberta, and Viandes Richelieu in Massueville, Quebec, will no longer be accepting Thoroughbreds: http://www.drf.com/news/canadian-slaughterhouse-firm-no-longer-accepting-thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbreds comprise approximately 14% of the total number of horses slaughtered in Canada for the meat market. The vast majority of horsemeat is shipped overseas to Europe and Asia for human consumption. It is a known fact that 99% of Thoroughbreds in the racing industry, at some point in their careers, have been administered drugs such as phenylbutazone, which are prohibited from entering the food chain.
Today we ask the CFIA: What now? This news may be the beginning of the decline of the horsemeat industry. Thoroughbreds are not the only horses to receive drugs prohibited from being used for human consumption. Horses from all directions enter the slaughter market. They come from trail riding businesses, family farms, the rodeo circuit, and other facets of the racing industry, such as Standardbred harness racing and Quarter Horse racing.
The CFIA relies heavily upon an Equine Information Document (EID) system to determine whether horses headed for slaughter have been administered drugs. However, this faulty system is, in turn, reliant upon the honesty of irresponsible owners wishing to offload their horses, as well as unscrupulous feedlot operators whose only interest in horse slaughter is the profit that can be made from this practice.
The safety of Canadian horsemeat cannot be guaranteed. Neither is equine slaughter a humane process. It is fraught with animal welfare violations, as proven by numerous undercover investigations: http://www.defendhorsescanada.org/investigations.html
Today, we further ask the Thoroughbred racing industry: What now? The slaughter option has been removed from two large Canadian slaughter plants. Will the industry now begin to truly work to protect its race horses through industry subsidized adoption programs and promote responsible horse husbandry that will include retainment and rehoming of Thoroughbreds, instead of silently allowing the untimely deaths of the very horses who make their industry possible?
The Canadian government can run, but it cannot hide from the truth. There is no such thing as the humane slaughter of an easily-panicked flight animal such as the horse. Further, there is no way to guarantee that the meat of horses can be free from drug contaminants. They are our companions and our working partners, and many have been medicated with substances that can be risky to human health if consumed.
Canada must abolish horse slaughter without delay.