Photo courtesy of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.

    The large majority of Canadians are opposed to horse slaughter, and yet it’s still a thriving industry in Canada. Here’s why it’s more important than ever to take a stand against this deplorable practice.

    In Canada, we celebrate our horses as companions, performance athletes and therapy animals. But Canada also slaughters horses, despite a recent NANOS poll that revealed that approximately 70% of Canadians are against horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter. 1 This begs the question: why is horse slaughter such a prevalent issue in a country whose residents are so widely opposed to it?

    Three steps forward, two steps back

    Fortunately, thanks to the initiatives of individuals and organizations such as the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition to raise awareness for the Canadian horse slaughter industry, small strides are being made. Since 2016, the amount of horse meat exported by Canada has decreased from 10.3 million kg in 2016 to 5.3 million kg in 2018.  Revenue from horse meat exports decreased from $76 million in 2016 to $31 million in 2018. 2 The number of horses slaughtered in Canada also dropped from 113, 334 in 2008 (when the US defunded meat inspectors at horse slaughter plants) to 54,100 in 2016. 3 However, as of 2017, the Canadian government refuses to release horse slaughter statistics citing privacy concerns as one family, Bouvry, owns the remaining two slaughter plants in Canada.

    Poor traceability makes horse meat dangerous for human consumption

    Horse slaughter isn’t just antiquated and cruel – the meat that’s produced is also dangerous for human consumption. Canadian horse meat is exported mainly to Japan, Belgium and other overseas countries, but it’s also consumed in Canada. Unfortunately, horses are the only large animals slaughtered at Canadian plants with extremely low traceability. Several inquiries to the Canadian Meat Council regarding how much horse meat is consumed in Canada reveals that they do not keep track, whereas statistics on how much beef is consumed are readily available. 4

    Not only is traceability low in terms of where the meat is sold in Canada, but so is the tracking of medications administered to horses. While traceability policies and practices for beef, dairy, and sheep are improving, traceability in the Canadian horse meat industry remains problematic as horse owners routinely administer drugs such as phenylbutazone (Bute), and dewormers marked with the strict warning ‘not to be administer to animals for slaughter.’

    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) insists it tests horsemeat for chemical residues but admits to testing only .5% of horsemeat since 2010. 5 While every horse sold at slaughter must have a completed Equine Identification Document (EID) in which the owner attests that the horse has been drug-free for a minimum of six months, Global News reports that kill buyers admit that the document can easily be tampered with. 6 Furthermore, a recent ATI reveals that the CFIA and auditors have documented horses at Bouvry’s with incomplete EID’s. A CFIA inspection report reads:

    The information in EID documents is based purely on the horse owner’s declarations.  The CFIA verification of authenticity of declarations on the EID documents, as provided in the CFIA’s National Equine Identification and Traceability Program and related CBS tasks, does not constitute a strong government control.  

    Treatment of slaughter horses is deplorable

    In 2019 investigators from the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), Animals’ Angels, and Tierschutzbund Zurich (TSB) documented conditions at three Bouvry-owned feedlots, one in Montana, and two in Alberta.  The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Equines requires that horses in feedlots receive adequate shelter, veterinary and hoof care – but these are clearly lacking in the Bouvry feedlots, where horses are lame and unable to rise from recumbent positions. A recent Access to Information request by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition revealed that the CFIA has routinely documented filthy and empty water troughs at Bouvry’s slaughter plant in holding areas.

    Canada’s horse meat industry is in a deplorable state in which human health may be at risk due to poor traceability and horses suffer from CFIA documented inadequacies at feedlots and slaughter establishments.  For more information, please visit: .


    2 See:  Statistics Canada, Canadian International Merchandise Trade Data Base



    5 See:  Global News: 16×9 investigation: Canada’s horse slaughter industry under fire

    6 Ibid.

    Why do they slaughter horses in Canada?
    Horses are slaughtered in Canada primarily to provide horse meat to European and Asian countries. Horses are brought to slaughter in every possible condition—old, young, sick, healthy, injured, and even pregnant. more
    What was Canada called before Canada?
    the North-Western Territory Prior to 1870, it was known as the North-Western Territory. The name has always been a description of the location of the territory. more
    Who owned Canada?
    Great Britain began acquiring territory in what is now Canada in the 1600s. In 1867, four British colonies (Quebec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, & New Brunswick) joined together as the "Dominion of Canada" and became a self-governing state within the British Empire. more
    Does Canada slaughter horses for meat?
    Text: CALGARY -- Canada - and in particular Alberta - is one of the world's biggest suppliers of horses for meat. More than 25,000 are slaughtered annually. more
    Who Owes Canada?
    China still owes Canada $371 million in loans it incurred decades ago, and is not expected to repay them in full until 2045. more
    Does slaughter hurt?
    The slaughter process has two stages: Stunning, when performed correctly, causes an animal to lose consciousness, so the animal can't feel pain. The law states that, with few exceptions, all animals must be stunned before 'sticking' (neck cutting) is carried out. more
    Is Canada overpopulated?
    Canada's net migration rate is 6.375 per 1,000 people, the eighth-highest in the world. Unlike many other countries, Canada is “underpopulated” and celebrates a growing population. more
    Why does Canada allow seal slaughter?
    Seals are killed primarily for their fur, which is used to produce fashion garments and other items. There is a small market for seal oil (both for industrial purposes and for human consumption) and seal penises have been sold in Asian markets as an aphrodisiac. more
    Who found Canada?
    In 1604, the first European settlement north of Florida was established by French explorers Pierre de Monts and Samuel de Champlain, first on St. Croix Island (in present-day Maine), then at Port-Royal, in Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia). In 1608 Champlain built a fortress at what is now Québec City. more
    Is Canada corrupted?
    Transparency International's 2019 Corruption Perception Index ranks Canada as the 12th least corrupt nation out of 180 countries, a drop from 9th in 2016. more
    Does Canada slaughter horses for meat?
    Text: CALGARY -- Canada - and in particular Alberta - is one of the world's biggest suppliers of horses for meat. More than 25,000 are slaughtered annually. more


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