Why Did Canada Close Its Slaughterhouse Doors To U.S. Horses?

American horses shipped to Canadian slaughterhouses are being turned away, but authorities are a little confused as to why the horses have been given the sudden lucky break.

Sources from horse auction companies in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio confirmed late last week that U.S. horses were not being accepted by Canadian slaughterhouses. The news came so quickly, many horses were already on trucks being transported to Canada.

The first reports hinted that the slaughterhouse plants were shutting down, but later the Canadian Food Inspection Agency indicated the directive was coming from the European Union, who was banning American horse meat for human consumption.

Most of the horses slaughtered in Canada and Mexico are consumed in Europe.

While the EU has not confirmed an actual ban, their actions point to one and the reason might be that U.S. horses are sick. A report recently surfaced that showed that some American horse meat was contaminated with “phenylbutazone (a carcinogen) and clenbuterol (a steroid).”

Another report from the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate-General, which was released in Canada one day before the unofficial ban, stated that U.S. veterinary records were “insufficient” to guarantee the health standards and drug history of the horses.

The EU has a new policy that will go into effect July 2013 requiring countries that supply horse meat to come into compliance with their standards of having all animals micro-chipped so their medications can be tracked. There is speculation that the ban is an early start to those changes.

While it is confusing what is the exact reason the slaughter plants are closing their doors, it is pretty clear it will have a big impact on the well-being of the horses. In 2011, the U.S. exported more than 64,000 horses to Canada and 68,000 to Mexico. If the ban continues or is extended to Mexico, it will leave a big question mark about the fate of the tens of thousands of horses slated to be sold for slaughter. Currently there are an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 horses that were turned away from slaughter plants and are on transport trucks, without a home.

Habitat for Horses in Texas isn’t taking any chances with the lives of the horses. The organization is setting up a fund to start buying unwanted slaughterhouse horses. They also advise contacting a law enforcement agency if anyone sees horses being turned loose or denied food or water. The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA say they are also on standby to rescue horses if it becomes necessary.


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Photo Credit: SmabsSputzer


Cynthia B.
cynthia l4 years ago

Horses should NEVER be slaughtered

Linda F.
.4 years ago

Canada alone exports over 10,000 live horses... shipped overseas to be slaughtered! and butchered 82,195 more for horsemeat sent to #kazaknstan #Belgium,#France #Japan.

Bronwyn Mackay
Bronwyn Mackay4 years ago

Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour of mankind rode upon a donkey whilst on this planet however He is to return mounted upon a white HORSE! The horse is a magnificent, regal, intelligent, loyal and hard working animal that has been revered and loved since time began. No way should people be eating horse meat, no way at all. Only animals with cloven hooves are said to be suitable dietary meat for humans and this by Almighty God maker of Heaven and Earth and every living creature and being. Stop being so bloody ignorant and GREEDY, and start doing the RIGHT THING by these enigmatic equines before it's too late . . . you'll stand before God and give account for your decisions . . He told us to "BE GOOD STEWARDS OF THE ANIMALS" and good stewards do NOT eat them!!!

Rhonda H.
.5 years ago

Lorraine B ... your point is?

Mark Donner
Mark Donner5 years ago

Send a swat team to ship Canada's entire criminal government and the american vicious monsters making a profit from "shipping" them to Canada and Mexico to their own slaughterhouses..problem solved

Claudia Cavallo
Claudia Cavallo5 years ago

It's too sad to read about any animal to be slaughtered, I'm veg and I'm so happy to be it. How could I eat any animal, they deserve to live a good life and not to end up in our plate.

Dianne D.
Dianne D5 years ago

We need a ban on all horse slaughter worldwide. I hope we get those in Mexico shut down also. A friend of mine who defends horse slaughter says it's better than the horses starving to death, but I say start making the horse breeders be responsible for any colt they produce. I read the in the horse racing business over 75% of the colts are slaughtered because they didn't make the grade. We have to shut down horse racing, horse shows (take note Mrs. Romney - you are guilty of this as you show horses), and all activities that exploit horses. Right now, our government is selling our wild horses to those that buy them and take them out of the country to be slaughtered all so the ranchers can use OUR public lands for their cattle. Please stop eating beef and put the ranchers out of business and save our wild mustangs.

Nelson Petrie
Nelson Petrie5 years ago

There is enough land in the United States to accommodate all the horses that have been saved from slaughter. They can be released on this land. Unfortunately, both the Democrats and the Republicans are really not interested in the welfare of the horses (or for that matter other animals especially wildlife). They are interested on;y in preserving the opening ranges for the big oil, coal, BP petroleum, natural gas companies and so on. They are more interested in profit for the Koch brothers and all these American pirates. Wake up America before these politicians destroy the nation for greed!

Laurie H.
Laurie H5 years ago

I pray this is "New Path" for the world to be taking----No HORSES should be slaughtered for food ---they are NOT food animals--(in my opinion "No Animal " is.) I hope ALL the horses will find great forever homes and the future for horses will dramatically changed!!!!!!!!!!!~~~~ GREAT HAPPY NEWS---Thanks for the post, Sharon.~~~

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

Horses mustn't be slaughtered and eaten, period.