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Inhumane Horse Slaughtering in Quebec

Inhumane Horse Slaughtering in Quebec
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The horses are old or ill or just no longer useful to their owners. Often thin, heads hanging low, ribs protruding, they stand quietly, dejected. You can see the fear in their eyes as they enter the stun box. If they are lucky, they lose consciousness after one jolt with the bolt gun. Sometimes they stumble and are stunned repeatedly. Sometimes they cry out.

They arrive weary, after being trucked from all over the States to destinations in Mexico and Canada. The U.S. banned horse slaughterhouses in 2007, but the demand for disposal of unwanted equines continues unabated. Out of sight of the owners who have sold them, they would have no advocates except for the determination of animal welfare groups such as the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC), which tracks their treatment in Canada.

On July 13 and 14, 2011, CHDC carried out an undercover investigation of a Quebec slaughterhouse. This is the fourth plant the coalition has studied. Although the industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency keep promising to improve standards, footage from Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation in St. Andre-Avelin shows they have a long way to go.

The video below is from the two-day tracking of the fate of these unwanted horses. If the horror of their experience is too painful to watch, try the sad but less graphic videos at the bottom of “Pasture to Plate” on the CHDC Web site.

Drugs in Horse Meat

As if the mistreatment of horses were not enough to shake up the industry, CHDC cites a shoddy tracking system that is supposedly in place to protect human health. Horses that end up in these slaughterhouses are not raised for food. Although owners are required to provide complete medical histories, their reports are not verified. Gary Corbett, president of the federal union that represents slaughterhouse veterinarians, is quoted as telling the Toronto Star on July 30, 2011:

(Veterinarians) do rely a lot on the records of the horses kept by the owners coming into the country and there are questions about how accurate or up to date they are.  It’s at the discretion of the owner.  There’s no regulatory framework to monitor it.  It’s kind of like an honour system.

As a result, meat from these slaughtered horses may enter the human food chain tainted with drugs. Calling on the government to immediately shut down the industry, British Columbia MP Alex Atamenenko cites one potentially dangerous example of “horse aspirin” or “phenylbutazone.” The common pain medicine could easily end up in horse meat, and even small amounts of the substance can cause anaplastic anemia in children.

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Photo from iStockphoto via Thinkstock

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230 comments

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10:32PM PDT on Oct 17, 2014

Kristi D., you rock! I could not have said it better myself.

I think that the real problem here is that our government puts dollars ahead of everything else. What we need is a new system - one that is based on compassion instead of greed. People need to let go of their fear, fear of losing jobs and being poor.

8:58AM PDT on Oct 17, 2014

Let's do not forget, the slaughter of most animals is inhumane and torturous. The difference here is the animals have to be trucked so far for slaughter whereas other livestock does not. The slaughter of horses is no different for me than the slaughter of cows, sheep, goats, chickens or pigs. The majority of them are treated horrifically as well. Are we humans so desensitized that we think all sentient beings cannot smell the blood of those being butchered ahead of them? The only reason I do not support a slaughterhouse being opened here is we do not humanely slaughter these currently being killed here. How is it people feel it is fine to buy the cheapest chicken, pork or beef at the grocery store but find it appalling to hear about dogs or horses being slaughtered? Why do you think the meat is so cheap? Because they are mass produced without a thought being given to the fact that they are living creatures!

And they say being a vegan is a fad or we try to come across as superior? No, we just feel as if ALL SENTIENT BEINGS should be respected and not tortured for human gain. Do not even get me started on the environmental degradation issues related to factory farming.

2:11PM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

So felony wrong.

7:02AM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

Oh! Dear Lord! This is too cruel to even absorb into the human mind.
This should never at any time for any reason ever be allowed.
I am disgusted at some of the things that are being used against animals that feel with intelligence to feel with their nerves. Have we actually become substandard in our feelings towards animals with no care at all? I am ashamed to be called a member of the human race and allow this to continue. It must END!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4:08AM PDT on Oct 16, 2014

All horse slaughter is viciously cruel and inhumane. There is no possible justification for it, ever.

6:30AM PDT on Oct 15, 2014

OMG !!! poor horses !!!

5:31AM PDT on Oct 15, 2014

How can this inhumanity still exist in this modern world?

4:56PM PDT on Oct 8, 2014

Atrocious.

12:29PM PDT on Oct 8, 2014

I disagree with the slaughter of horses especially for their meat. These poor horses are starved almost to death to begin with and then put through further abuse bu using stun guns.This is cruel and totally inhumane, and must be stopped. Torture is cruelty and persons carrying out these acts are criminals!

6:35AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

wish i was there with a bolt gun, guess what id use it on?? not the animals but the ones using it on the animals. id tell them how do you like how it feels?? grrrrr

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