Earlier this week, thousands of Canadians gathered outside an Alberta abattoir, a Toronto restaurant, a Vancouver butcher shop and on street corners in a handful of other cities to demand that the Canadian horse-slaughter industry be stopped.
The protests followed on the heels of the outcry created last spring by a national television broadcast that showed images of the animals in the minutes before they were put to death at two Canadian slaughterhouses - videotaped sequences of horses being whipped, poked with electrical prods, and hung to bleed.
The protests also underscored larger concerns in Canada about the broader issue of animal rights.
"When the undercover investigations came out, we all thought that horse slaughter would be shut down in Canada because of the cruelty that happens," said Emily Lavander, the organizer of the protests, who also volunteers at a horse shelter near Alexandria in eastern Ontario.
"We're asking that Canadians write or call their MPs and demand that they support Bill C-544 to end the horse slaughter in Canada."
Bill C-544 is a private member's bill drafted by Alex Atamanenko, an NDP MP from the British Columbia Interior who is also his party's critic for agriculture and agri-food, as well as food security.
His bill does not call for an end to the slaughter. Rather, it aims to end the import of horses to be killed in Canadian abattoirs and to end the export of the meat to markets in Europe and Asia where there remains a strong demand.
The slaughter of horses has been banned in the United States since 2007, so about 50,000 of the animals are sent across the border to Canada to be killed here each year.
To animal rights activists, this is only one of many issues of concern.
Earlier today, we hosted a discussion with Gina Petrakos, legislative assistant to Mr. Atamanenko; race horse trainer Alex Brown; John Holland, president of the Equine Welfare Alliance; Dr. John Sorenson, a professor and writer on animal rights issues; Shelley Grainger, vice-president of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition; and Kurt Vogel, a Ph.D candidate who studies management practices in the commercial livestock industry.
Ms. Petrakos, in her role as a legislative assistant, is responsible for providing Mr. Atamanenko with relevant research that will enable him to respond to issues that are brought forward in the House of Commons and at the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food (SCAAF).
Mr. Brown worked at Woodbine race track in the Toronto area during both the 2008 and 2009 meets. He is currently writing a book Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and his Legacy, which will be published in April 2011. Part of the book details the issues regarding horse slaughter and why it should be banned. His argument is a food-safety argument: Is the horse a food animal or a non-food animal?
Mr. Holland is president of the Equine Welfare Alliance, an umbrella alliance of more than 100 member organizations and hundreds of individual members. The organization is dedicated to the protection of domestic and wild equines including the abolition of horse slaughter.
Dr. Sorenson is a professor in the department of sociology at Brock University. His latest books are Ape and About Canada - Animal Rights.
Ms. Grainger joined the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) in 2006, became Eastern Region Director in 2008, and is now Vice-President. Her work involves investigations, writing papers, conducting research, and networking with horse welfare advocates, organizations and rescues.
Mr. Vogel is a Ph.D. candidate under Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State University. His studies have focused on the impact of management practices on the welfare of livestock in commercial production systems.
You can use this link to follow the discussion on our mobile site.
The following is an edited transcript of the live discussion.
Jim Sheppard, Executive Editor, globeandmail.com: Welcome, panelists and readers, to our live discussion today on horse slaughter in Canada and the broader issues of animal rights that it raises. First of all, let me ask our panelists to give a brief outline of how they got involved in these issues and how they would like to see Canadian laws changed.
Shelley Grainger: Thank you, Jim. I'm a horse owner and knew vaguely that some horses go to slaughter. Back in 2006 I began my research and found the anti-slaughter group, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), headed by Sinikka Crosland out of B.C. Knowing the agile and flighty nature of horses, everything that concerned me about how horses get slaughtered turned out to be a grim reality. Everything from feedlot conditions, to treatment at rural auctions, to crowded transport conditions _ including by double deckers not intended for horses _ and finally to horribly cruel treatment and unacceptable killing practices in the slaughterhouses. The goal of my work and the CHDC is to help expose these conditions, educate people about these realities and to help facilitate the passing of legislation to ban horse slaughter in Canada.
Kurt Vogel: It is a pleasure to join in today's discussion. Just to give a brief introduction, I am currently finishing a doctoral program in livestock behavior and welfare under Dr. Temple Grandin at Colorado State University. I became involved with the Canadian horse slaughter issue when I was asked to review footage of the Viandes Richelieu and Bouvry Exports slaughter facilities in February, 2010, for the CBC. After reviewing these videos and drawing from the experiences we have had in the U.S., I believe that improved oversight of horse slaughter procedures and improvements in handling facilities and stunning methodology would greatly improve equine welfare during slaughter. This issue is certainly multifaceted and complex, but great discussion helps us to address the issues and find reasonable and fair solutions.
Gina Petrakos: Thanks for the opportunity to participate in what I'm sure will be a lively discussion. Mr. Atamanenko and I became interested in the business of horse slaughter after hearing from and receiving information from constituents and activist organizations. This of course was accentuated by exposés which uncovered abuses that were going on at slaughterhouses and aired in the news which I`m sure we are all familiar with.
John Sorenson: Thanks for inviting me to join this discussion. Like most Canadians, I'm concerned about the slaughter of horses because it's cruel and unnecessary. But that applies to other animals as well. I'd like to see Canada's laws changed to reflect the fact that animals are not simply property, not just commodities, but living beings with their own interests, which should be respected. Obviously, such changes will take a long time to achieve but banning horse slaughter would be relatively easy. It's obviously cruel and brutal, most Canadians don't like it and the industry is not well-entrenched. Nobody would miss it except the few who profit from it.
John Holland: I have owned horses all my life. In 2003, I became aware of the slaughter issue and quickly realized that it was more complex than I had thought. As I studied it, I became very upset by the dishonesty I found on the part of the pro-slaughter camp. Since then, I have spent a good deal of my time researching the facts.
Alex Brown: Thank you for inviting me to the panel. I became interested in the horse slaughter issue in 2006. I manage a large website where many horse advocates have congregated to help end the practice of horse slaughter. While many of the debates regarding the issue remain emotional and debatable, I am now focused on whether a horse is a food or non-food animal, and the subsequent implications.
John Sorenson: Alex, I disagree with the labelling of some animals as "food animals." If you spent some time with pigs or chickens or other animals, I'm sure you'd come to appreciate their special qualities just as much as you appreciate those of horses.
Alex Brown: John, I guess my point is this: If an animal is born as a food animal, it is treated as such, and this includes the drugs it receives. I don't doubt other livestock can be engaging, fear slaughter etc.
Jim Sheppard: My co-host today is Judy Malone, a Toronto-based writer working on these issues.
Judy Malone: John, would you give us a brief summary of how the 2000 U.S. state ban came into place?
John Holland: Many articles simply say that the U.S. banned slaughter in 2007, but that is very misleading. It just happened that all our plants were closed down that year.
John Sorenson: Thanks Judy. The solutions are the same as with every issue of social injustice and oppression. Dedicated people will have to work hard and consistently over a long period to change attitudes and practices and to build solidarity to achieve mutual goals. Since profits are involved, there will be strong opposition.
John Holland: The history of the closings began in a living room in Texas back around 2004. A group of activists (I was not one) got together to study Texas law in hopes of finding a way to close one of the Texas plants. To their shock, they found the selling and transport of horse meat was already illegal because of a 1949 law. They contacted the Texas Attorney General who agreed and ordered the plants closed. The plants appealed and years passed. The lower court ruled for the plants but then the state appealed and won at the appeals level. That is what closed the Texas plants in February 2007.
John Holland: The Dallas Crown plant in Kaufman had already compiled a long record of pollution and sewer violations and had already been ordered closed almost a year earlier by the town's board of adjustments. They had managed to tie the town up in court and almost make it go bankrupt by insisting each violation be a separate case.
John Holland: The focus then turned to the remaining plant (Cavel in DeKalb, Ill). They too had a very long record of pollution and sewer violations, so a committee formed to try to get the local government to enforce the laws they were violating. The fines began doubling. Then the Ensign Byrd amendment to the federal meat inspection budget kicked in and closed the plant, but it sued and reopened under a TRO. Then a state law was passed and it finally closed.
John Holland: So, there never was a "federal ban" though there has been a law pending in every congress for a decade.
Jim Sheppard: This question comes from Lori Walker who writes:
"What really needs to be discussed is how the federal government's shockingly lax enforcement of slaughter regulations allows this sort of cruelty to occur.
"Canada's slaughter regulations clearly state that animals must not be caused avoidable distress or pain, and must be quickly and humanely stunned (rendered unconscious) before being killed. Those rules are supposed to be enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. But the CFIA states that inspectors are only required to watch ONE animal being stunned per day at each plant, among the hundreds or thousands of animals that pass through. It's no wonder that horses are being handled so callously. Surely cows, pigs and chickens suffer a similar fate.
"The CFIA admitted recently that it doesn't even know how many inspectors it has to enforce animal transport & slaughter regulations, and the government refuses to do anything to fix the problem. Anyone outraged by the abuse shown in those videos should be giving an earful to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz."
John Sorenson: In response to Lori Walker's question, I too am disappointed by the performance of CFIA inspectors. Government sees its role as providing services to industry, not as protectng animals. And I agree that that treatment of other animals is equally as brutal.
Kurt Vogel: In response to Lori's comment, enforcement of humane slaughter regulations is vitally important to maintaining animal welfare in any species. The solution to lax enforcement requires effort by the CFIA to improve oversight of stunning and handling procedures. There must also be pressure put on plant management to care more about animal handling and stunning. Dr. Grandin and I have agreed many times that plant management is the greatest dictator of animal care on the farm, during transport, and at the slaughter plant.
John Sorenson: In response to Kurt Vogel, I find it an astonishing contradiction to discuss "animal welfare" in the context of an industry that is based on killing them.
John Holland: The old argument "what are we going to do with the old and sick horses is a myth. The Grandin study on horses arriving at slaughter put that myth to bed years ago, yet I still see it in print.
Shelley Grainger: Perhaps the CFIA does not want to say how many inspectors there are, since the number may be lower than what should be in place. The CFIA said that six inspectors were present at Bouvry and Richelieu. Then, the CBC revealed on a follow-up program that no inspectors were allowed on the kill floor _ and all insiders knew that. It is too dangerous, they said, to be in a room with a shotgun going off every two minutes. They were supposed to build an enclosed viewing area, which was done only after the expose.
stoptheslaughter: Question to Dr. Sorenson: Given the Canadian government's current policy and inability to move forward on all aspects of animal cruelty from the seal hunt to vivisection on down, I'd like to know if you have any solutions beyond what we are doing?
stoptheslaughter: As a concerned Canadian, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has put out false information regarding the number of inspectors in Canadian horse slaughter plants. On camera in early summer, the union rep admitted the inspectors were not on the kill floor due to safety reasons (because of the inaccuracy of the gun's trajectory). Last month, Gerry Ritz could not give a definitive answer on the number of inspectors in the House of Commons in response to a question from MP Malcolm Allen. Regarding the testing of drugs and in particular Bute on carcassas, the testing is not done on all horses slaughtered, only a very small sampling supposedly meeting Canadian and EU standards. I would like everyone to comment on this if they can.
Shelley Grainger: To stoptheslaughter: The CFIA has written to the CHDC and admitted that only 698 horses have been tested in the last five years. That is 0.18% as 385,339 horses have been slaughtered in that time. How can they say that adequate testing has been done?
Sue: Were all these plants foreign owned or just some?
Mary Addison: Why are PMU farms still churning out grad colts that end up in slaughter? This is like factory farming horses
Shelley Grainger: Mary, the number of PMU farms are now reduced to 38, I believe. That number used to be in the hundreds, so it is still in a downward trend that hopefully continues. PMU horses are definitely a big part of the horse slaughter problem.
John Sorenson: Mary Addison is correct. The problem of "surplus" horses has been created by other industries that exploit animals.
Jim Sheppard: Our next question comes from Grace 1006, who writes:
"There is no correlation between slaughter and neglect. There continues to be an increase in neglect while slaughter remains an accessible option in North America. Also, the types of horses sent to slaughter aren't necessarily old or sick. In fact, they are usually young, viable, healthy horses siphoned into the food chain by kill buyers who attend weekly auctions buying horses to meet their slaughterhouse quotas. I've seen full-term mares, yearlings, Amish work horses, racehorses, children's pony, mules, donkeys and the list goes on being sold by the pound for their meat at OLEX. This is where the problems begin. Kill buyers know nothing about the horse's history. They cannot comment on illnesses or medications and frankly they don't really care. Their priority is getting the cash. Food safety is the CFIA's problem but it appears they don't really care either. This industry is all about the profits and addressing the rampant cruelty that exists would cut into these profits."
Comment from a Guest: I am a horse lover and am all for animal rights. However, the terrible abuse that occurs to horses on the way to slaughter is not my only reason for objecting. I have been to OLEX (Ontario Livestock Exchange) many a times to witness their auctions for meat. Many of these horses are injured, it's true. But many of them are also healthy horses who can go on to recover from their injuries and lead new lives. Horse slaughter should not be an easy way to get rid of unwanted, old, sick or injured horses. If you take on the responsibility of owning a horse, you should be responsible for providing it with medical care and a humane death. There is also the issue of unregulated meat for human consumption. Horses, especially those from the racetrack are exposed to many drugs, both legal and illegal that are not required to be reported. These drugs make it into the food chain and to consumers who are not aware of the potential dangers of what they are eating.
stoptheslaughter: This question is for Alex Brown: Earlier this year, you stated that "99 per cent of horses that started in California last year raced on bute." Considering that many race horses are slaughtered in Canada (there are no definitive slaughter stats on race horses but some estimates are as high as 30%), I would like to ask if Mr. Brown has information that he can share on horses that go directly to kill from the race tracks he's worked on.
Alex Brown: To stoptheslaughter . . . I cannot see how any racehorse is viable for slaughter. As i stated, 99% of runners in California pre-raced on bute in '09. Pre-racing is only one event where a racehorse gets bute. i also assume many other pleasure, sport and work horses get bute at some point in their life. We know bute is banned, by the CFIA, regardless of when it is administed for slaughter-bound horses. No six-month quarantine. These horses are simply NOT viable for slaughter
Jim Sheppard: Our next question/comment comes from silke who says:
"The article is not about whether or not readers should continue to enjoy eating horse meat. Some of you seem confused.
"This is about the violence of the slaughter that is now taking place in our slaughterhouses. These animals are very often fully conscious before "processing," to say nothing of the savage beatings and abuse they commonly endure prior to their deaths.
"Educate yourselves. Thanks to the internet _ youtube especially _ graphic evidence is now abundantly online. This is not about meat eaters vs vegetarians. It's about humane treatment of all living beings.
"If our slaughterhouses had glass walls, the system would collapse. Canada must exert leadership and pull its head out of the sand on these issues of barbaric and inhumane slaughter."
John Sorenson: In response to slike, I do not think that you will see much in the way of "humane treatment" in any slaughterhouse. I think vegetarianism, or rather, veganism, is central to this issue. If people buy meat, they support the industries that torture and kill animals.
Judy Malone: Gina, can you tell us why Bill C-544 did not ask for an outright ban rather than simply restrictions on animal transport?
Gina Petrakos: I initially requested research from the Library of Parliament on how best to put an end to the whole practice and we determined that the most defendable approach we could take, that would likely garner the most support among Parliamentarians, would be to concentrate on the human health aspect. The meat from horses is entirely unsuitable for human consumption due to some of medications horses are commonly administered that are totally prohibited for use (even once) in any animal destined for the food supply. This avoided a lot of issues especially in terms of provincial jurisdictions which all have their own regulations.
Gina Petrakos: I think we have to look at approaches that are the most difficult to argue against. It is much harder for either side to win when the debate is centered on emotion. Bill C-544 would benefit horses by effectively shutting down the practice of slaughter. Allowing toxic meat to be sold to consumers is completely indefensible. This is a sad statement but one I believe is true.
Shelley Grainger: I agree with you, Gina, that Bill C-544 had to be written as it was
Judy Malone: John, is it fair to say that Canada has inherited this problem because of the U.S. ban?
John Holland: No, Canada has been slaughtering our horses for a very long time and we had even been importing yours for slaughter. Certainly it sent a lot more horses your way, though.
Kurt Vogel: Dr. Sorensen, part of maintaining animal welfare is ensuring that the animals are protected from undue pain and suffering. When humane slaughter procedures are performed, we are maintaining animal welfare by quickly rendering them unconscious and insensible to pain.
John Sorenson: Mr. Vogel, you are not maintaining the welfare of animals by killing them. No doubt it is better to slam them into unconsciousness before killing them but neither of these constitutes "welfare" in my view.
John Holland: In response to Kurt, the cruelty does not start with the stunning process. It begins at the slaughter auctions where every single investigation finds new horrors. It then continues through the KBs pens and on the trucks and even the holding pens at the slaughter house. There is a 900-page report available on horses arriving at slaughter in the U.S. that documents how horrible it was for some of the horses. You can find it on www.kaufmanzoning.net
Judy Malone: One of our readers, Canadiana, takes issue with the views of most of our panelists thusly:
"Horse meat has been around in Europe for 'eons.' If these clowns want to save the horses, why not go one step further and protest slaughter of animals, period? I'm sure that pigs, chickens cows, turkeys, etc, etc, etc, want to stay alive, too. Then see just how far your misguided bunch get! Can't you guys find something intelligent to do?
Alex Brown: Canadiana, while I do see some of your point, I believe horses are different for a variety of reasons _ a key reason being they were not bred as a food animal ... and as a consequence there is no guarantee they are a viable meat product once slaughtered.
John Sorenson: In response to Canadiana, I do not see compassion as clownish. Nor do I regard consideration for the interests of animals as misguided.
MisD: A message for Canadiana: While nobody here supports the inhumane treatment of any animals sent to slaughter, this discussion is about horses. Horses are companions. Each is an individual with a name, trained as individuals much like a dog would be. Horses serve humans by helping to police our cities, carry our RCMP, search for missing people in rural areas, and all around entertain us. They are held to a different standard in human history _ more so than any other animal. They are not like cows, pigs, chickens. So please, try to stay on topic!
Alex Brown: I recently visited OLEX and New Holland. Loose horses are now being sold as "drug free" for six months or not. This information is now part of the sale. I have seen the forms and talked with a kill buyer about how this has changed things. it seems they are only interested in the drugs that have a quarantine period, NOT bute and such which does not have a quarantine period.
Shelley Grainger: Canada slaughter numbers: in 2005 _ 48,715 horses were slaughtered. In 2006 _ 50,242. That jumped to 79,613 in 2007, then peaked in 2008 at 112,957. 2009 dropped to 93,812 _ taking in to account the # of plants and market conditions.
Jim Sheppard: In the same critical vein, Randal Oulton writes:
"It's worth remembering that activists against horse meat, foie gras, etc, are actually against *all* meat consumption. Realizing that they can't get there right away, they focus on the hot-button issues that they can start building up victories on. Maybe we need to get to no meat consumption; maybe we don't. Greater minds than mine can figure it out. Just pointing out the broader strategy at play here."
Alex Brown: Randal, while I agree that some of the anti-horse slaughter movement is against all slaughter, many of us do see a distinction between horses and other food animals. i am not a vegetarian, which may or may not be good!
Mary Addison: Could there not be a easier way, that is not to expensive to have your horse euthanized humanely and disposed of. Many, I know, think auction is more convient and the only way
Shelley Grainger: Absolutely. Mary. The footage at Natural Valley, Richelieu and Bouvry all proved that horses cannot be humanely killed in an assembly line fashion
Shelley Grainger: Mary, TRACS out of BC has a euthanization subsidy, and the CHDC would like to see horse federations and associations create similar programs. Horse owners also know the cost of upkeep, and if euthanization is the cost of one month's board, then surely people can afford to give their horses a humane death by this means, after years of faithful service and enjoyment.
Sue Hamilton: How much does the U.S. terrible economy factor into this? Or does it?
John Holland: Sue, I worked on three studies on the relationship of slaughter to the number of cases of abuse and neglect. We found no relationship between the two, but a strong link to the unemployment numbers. You can find the studies on www.equinewelfarealliance.org under the "Studies" tab. I have never seen anything beyond anecdotal stories to link slaughter to any improvement in neglect.
Alex Brown: Sue, while I think the economy exacerbates this situation, we would still have slaughter in a great economy. It is a demand-driven business. We slaughter the numbers demanded by our markets. no more, no less.
Judy Malone: Alex, can you describe what you have seen at kill auctions _ companion horses bought for meat etc.?
Alex Brown: Judy, I am not sure what a companion horse is. All horses I have seen would likely fit that category, even our fast racehorses.
Alex Brown: Judy, to continue, at OLEX, horses are hearded into the ring, one by one, and sold by the pound ... then hearded out. The transaction takes about a minute or two. The main buyer is the kill buyer, so the auctioneer will always have an eye on him. Those bought for kill are then herded into larger pens with other horses bought by the same kill buyer etc.
Kurt Vogel: In response to John, I fully agree that cruelty can occur at any point during the life of the animal and that auction facilities have been regularly identified as a place where this occurs.
empairror: What is stopping horse meat coming to our supermarket shelves? They are not endangered, neither are they game meat. So where is the problem?
Alex Brown: empairror, I am sure if there was enough demand, you would see it on your supermarket shelf. It's mostly a cultural thing _ some cultures eat horse meat, some don't.
John Sorenson: In response to empairror, one problem is that we do not need to eat horse meat, just as we do not need to eat the flesh of any other animals. Since we do not need to inflict cruelty and death on other beings, we should not do so.
Judy Malone: A comment from Chills:
"I don't have a problem with eating horse meat (once I get past the Black Beauty theme): but I do have a problem with abuse in slaughterhouses for any type of livestock.
"I obviously cannot comment on what the writer saw (or was told what happened without actually witnessing it himself).
"Occasionally electric prods may be used to move animals along, also whips can be used to make a loud noise to move animals along. And all animals are hung after they have been slaughtered, that's normal practice...nothing unusual there.
Shelley Grainger: Chills, is toxic horse meat OK too?
Gina Petrakos: It is my understanding that horsemeat is mainly a niche market in most of Canada with the exception of Quebec where it is displayed in meat counters.
Joey Bell: In my opinion, the EID system recently implemented to address the EU's concerns over the safety of horse meat is seriously flawed and in no way addresses the EU's concerns. Does anyone know why the EU finds the EID system acceptable and are they aware that the determination of whether or not a horse is viable for slaughter lies with those outside of the CFIA.
Judy Malone: Gina, we see that the EU is a major consumer of horse meat sent from Canada. Do they also slaughter their own horses there?
Gina Petrakos: I agree with Joey. the EID is a complete smokescreen.
Alex Brown: Joey, I agree with you. The kill buyers are only concerned that the horses they buy have the form signed off on, so they are not liable if there is a problem. And again, it seems to ONLY address the drugs that have a quarantine period, and NOT drugs like bute.
Shelley Grainger: Joey, since the EID system has just been implemented, the EU and Canada will have to actually see if it is effective. To allow horses with banned substances through the food system tells me and a lot of people that it is not effective. We have to keep pushing on this as time goes on.
John Holland: We have been watching the EID enforcement here and it is a meaningless exercise.
Gina Petrakos: They have a much stricter regime in the EU. Although I am not an expert I understand that they do not use bute but rely on other drugs which are approved for use in food animals. These are much more expensive however.
Joanne Vergeer: I am a Canadian living in the Netherlands. I see horsemeat in the grocery stores and, to some extent, understand it is part of the Dutch culture. However, the Dutch are also big animal lovers. If they knew how these horses were slaughtered, I think there would be a huge reaction. We must make the Europeans aware of how these animals are slaughtered so cruelly.
John Holland: Joanne, you are so right. We cannot solve the problem at this end without working at that end. It will be a long process.
Shelley Grainger: Yes, more lobbying needs to be done with the EU. We need to lobby on a CDN and EU front
Kurt Vogel: Joanne, pressure from the clients that are purchasing the horse meat is one of the most effective means of improving practices within the plants. We witnessed major improvements in U.S. beef plants in 1999 when McDonalds started animal welfare auditing. The loss of a multi-million-dollar contract is quite powerful.
John Sorenson: Joanne, I agree. Many people do have positive feelings toward animals and, with some reflection, would oppose these brutalities inflicted on them.
John Holland: Public education is the key, but it is very difficult to get the truth out when millions are being spent by the AVMA and the AQHA to lobby for and promote the myths of horse slaugter. It is all about money and nothing else.
John Sorenson: In response to John Holland on public education, please think about attending the Thinking About Animals conference to be held at Brock University in St. Catharines on March 31 and April 1, to talk about these issues.
John Holland: John S., thanks I would love to attend that if possible.
John Holland: It is kind of ironic that when I got into the anti-horse slaughter movement, it was focused solely on horses, but the proponents of slaughter kept saying we were a vegan movement. It was not accurate then and is not today, but I can say that no few people struggling against this brutality have decided to become vegetarians.
John Sorenson: Alex, yes, many animals are born into these categories, just as some humans are born into classifications that mark them for brutal treatment, enslavement, etc. But we shouldn't just accept this.
MisD: Shelley or anyone, are horses live shipped from Canada to other countries to be slaughtered? I have heard that foals are live shipped from the Winnipeg airport but I wonder if adults are too, and if they are also sent offshore by boat and shipped to other countries?
Shelley Grainger: MisD, yes, live horses are shipped to Japan and go out of Calgary I believe. Some may be coming from Manitoba _ PMU victims.
MisD: Thank you, Shelley. In the case of horses being shipped live from Canada for slaughter, does that mean that horses do not have to meet the EU requirement for drugs if they are coming to Canada only to be exported to Japan or elsewhere, as long as it is not the EU?
Shelley Grainger: MisD, he horses that are shipped to Japan, I believe, are purpose bred _ for breed and are drug-free.
Rosesette: All american horses would not be fit for human consumption if the EU could truly trace their origin. Most have had the banned drugs!
Alex Brown: Rosesette, I agree wholeheartedly. To me, that is the key argument to end horse slaughter.
Sue Hamilton: What are the banned drugs?
John Sorenson: In response to Rosesette about most horses receiving banned drugs, a report in the May 2010 issue of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology found that 100% of the horses tracked in the study had received PBZ.
Alex Brown: Here is the list of permanently banned drugs.
John Holland: Alex, you are so right, and we all know bute is banned. It causes aplastic anemia (bone marrow suppression), live failure, and a host of related blood disorders. It is also a known carcinogen. And we both know race horses continue to be slaughtered.
John Sorenson: Sue, phenylbutazone (PBZ) is a commonly used anti-inflammatory drug given to horses and it has serious effects on humans. Of course, horses receive a wide variety of other drugs for parasites and various ailments.
Gina Petrakos: Getting back to an earlier question, The EU will be constantly reassessing the implemetation of EID in the next three years to ensure compliance of their expectations I believe.
Shelley Grainger: To Joey Bell: I have the numbers in 2010 up to the end of August from AG Canada. I checked today and the September # won't be avail till next week. The #'s have been up and down compared to last year. For instance in July 2009 - 5375 horses, but in July 2010 - 6689 horses. In August 2009 - 6597 horses, in August 2010 - 5347 horses.
Joey Bell: Thanks, Gina and Shelley!
John Holland: The reason that the CFIA does not find bute in the horse carcasses they test is the same reason that the USDA doesn't find it. They use an inappropriate test and test the wrong tissue (fat). PBZ (bute) does not take up in the fat. Convenient...no?
Shelley Grainger: CFIA tested 143 samples of horsemeat out of almost 94,000 horses - an unimpressive 0.15%
Judy Malone: I'd like to get back to a key question about the level of awareness of these issues in Canada. Was there public demand for change in the U.S. before the ban was introduced? How did public awareness in the U.S. get raised to such a high level?
Alex Brown: Judy, be careful about the use of the term "ban." Horse slaughter is banned only in a few states.
Jim Sheppard: Panelists and readers: We are nearing the end of this fascinating hour-long discussion. What are the next steps Canada should be taking in this area?
Shelley Grainger: Jim, the CHDC is reaching out to MPs, particularly NDP and Liberals, to reintroduce Bill C-544 and move it further along in Parliament. Gina, do you suggest anything?
Alex Brown: In terms of next steps, I really do believe increased focus on the drug issue can and will end horse slaughter.
Gina Petrakos: I think the pressure on all levels of government must continue. For instance, one city council has actually passed a resolution to support Bill C-544. Maybe others can be moved to follow.
John Sorenson: As for the next steps, I will repeat my invitation to those opposed to horse slaughter to attend the conference at Brock University to raise those issues there. I hope that Jim and Judy will continue to follow up on these issues at The Globe. And I look forward to hearing of new initiatives from Alex, John and Shelley that we can support.
Sally Sheppard: The CFIA testing regime needs to be altered. Has any group gone directly to them for a discussion about this?
Kurt Vogel: This has been a very interesting and lively discussion. It is important to remember that horse slaughter can be used as a means to an end in transition of the horse to full companion animal status. The unwanted horse issue is very real. Otherwise, the rescues in the U.S. would not be filled beyond capacity with 50,000 horses per year being shipped to Canada for slaughter. Two vital components to solving this issue are stronger regulation and oversight of slaughter facilities and responsible horse ownership.
Alex Brown: John, I think that is our hope, and something we need to keep pushing for.
Gina Petrakos: I hope to continue this conversation with everyone after this conference. I have learned more than I was able to share in this forum and realize I have much more to learn. I hope you will all contact me in Mr. Atamanenko's MP office in Ottawa.
Shelley Grainger: The CHDC will continue to help raise awareness and work to get the petitions in to the MPs. Canadians as a whole need create a dialogue with their MP and show that their constituents do not support horse slaughter. 2/3 of Canadians oppose it
John Holland: Thanks for the opportunity to be here! I have very much enjoyed the discussion.
Shelley Grainger: I look forward to speaking with you, Gina. I know you have worked closely with Sinikka and I thank you for your hard work on Bill C-544
Shelley Grainger: It's been a good, lively debate. Thank you, everyone. Thank you, Jim and Judy
Kurt Vogel: Thank you all for the discussion.
Jim Sheppard, Executive Editor, globeandmail.com: Thanks to our panelists for an incredibly lively discussion. And thanks to our readers for your questions and comments.