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Horse Slaughter in Canada
 By Winniefield Park   •   26th Aug 2017   •   990 views   •   0 comments


While one newspaper described the horse slaughter industry as Canada’s “dirty little secret” in reality, it is anything but a secret. The horse slaughter industry in Canada, according to 2016 statistics brings in about $80 million dollars in exports. That represents about 12 million kilograms of meat (26,000,000 lbs) or about 65,000 horses earmarking Canada as a world leader in horse meat exports. There is a small market in Canada, mainly in the province of Quebec, although there are a few European style delicatessens and high-end restaurants that serve horse meat. Just as in the U.S.A. and elsewhere there are activists who are working to bring horse slaughter to an end. However, the movement has been slow to gain traction.

There are several auction barns in Canada well known for the presence of meat buyers. The most well known perhaps is the Ontario Livestock Exchange near Kitchener, Ontario. Here an average Tuesday sale sees between forty and sixty horses through the auction pen. Of these, according to OLEX published reports, anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of the horses sold go to kill buyers. And, by far the most common breed put through the sale are Standardbreds. Prices per pound can be as high as sixty to seventy cents.

Of the sixty to seventy thousand horses sold to kill buyers each year, roughly half are said to come from the United States. These horses are shipped from across the states and end up at one of twelve border crossings between the two countries. From there, a horse may be transported to one of the many rural auction barns, or they may be shipped to slaughterhouses.

Even more troubling for those against horse slaughter for human consumption is the number of live horses being transported by plane to Japan. According to one of Canada’s major news networks, Global News, at least two shipments of live horses are sent to Japan each year, destined to become sashimi, a raw delicacy. Over 300 horses were sent in 2016, mainly draft breeds. And while there are regulations in place to ensure the horse’s safety during the flight, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in charge of doing so appears to ignore their own regulations.

Activists
The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition is one group that is working to have horse slaughter for human consumption banned in Canada. Members of the coalition are working to have legislation pertaining to horses slaughter changed and promoting public awareness of the issue. Over the last ten years, three different bills have been put before the Canadian parliament with no effective change. The arguments against horse slaughter in Canada are similar to those in the U.S.A. While many people feel it isn’t right to eat horse meat and that horses are a companion animal, there is also a concern that the drugs given to horses throughout their lives make the meat unsafe for human consumption.

Before a horse can be slaughtered there are rules that must be adhered to about what drugs can be given, and what is a safe time period for the drugs to have cleared a horse’s body. Each horse going for slaughter must have proper documentation. But, it’s acknowledged that this paperwork is often overlooked, and enforcement is lackadaisical.

New regulations by the European Union means that it will be more difficult to export meat to European countries. The new rules stipulate that horses from the United States must be kept in feedlots in Canada for six months before slaughter. For kill buyers, this adds expense to their investment. But, what happens if horse slaughter is banned in Canada? Many worry that there is a worse fate awaiting horses facing slaughter south of the U.S. border. There, the treatment of animals is taken even less seriously and the regulations around slaughter less strict.
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