Articles on this Page
- 08/08/16--13:52: _Rescue Reality
- 08/22/16--16:11: _Embryo Transfer – A...
- 09/15/16--11:15: _Horse “Passports” C...
- 09/30/16--08:14: _No Leaping Bunny Aw...
- 12/14/16--10:07: _Equine Cushing’s An...
- 01/05/17--11:25: _Horse Welfare 2016 ...
- 01/23/17--09:33: _Canadian Horses Bei...
- 03/09/17--12:51: _The Science Is In: ...
- 08/16/17--12:10: _New ASPCA Study Exa...
- 10/19/17--11:39: _Access-To-Informati...
- 08/08/16--13:52: Rescue Reality
- 08/22/16--16:11: Embryo Transfer – A Shadowy Market Ripe for Exploitation
- Trade name: Regumate®, Depo-Provera® (medroxyprogesterone)
- Class of Drug: Hormone
- Use: Clinical uses include synchronizing the ovulations of a donor mare with a specific recipient mare. It may also be used to alter or manipulate the estrous cycle of a mare for a scheduled breeding due to stallion availability.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: 42 days withdrawal
- Trade Name: Banamine®
- Class of Drug: non-narcotic, nonsteroidal, analgesic agent with anti-inflammatory and antipyretic activity
- Use: Reduces moderate inflammation by stopping the formation of prostaglandins, which are mediators of inflammation. They also reduce the formation of certain pain-causing products of inflammation. Embryo recipients may receive flunixin meglumine i.v. at the time of transfer.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: IV – 10 days/IM 30 days
- Trade Name: Quadrisol, VETRANAL™
- Class of Drug: Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory agent, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, NSAID
- Use: For the control of inflammation and relief of pain associated with musculo-skeletal disorders and soft tissue injuries in horses
- CFIA Withdrawal Prohibition: 21 days (oral and IV)
- Trade Name: Chorulon®
- Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
- Use: Can also be administered to mares to accelerate ovulation selectively where needed to improve the degree of synchrony between the donor and recipient mares. Induces ovulation in mares. Induction of ovulation is advantageous if a mare is in a timed breeding, shipped semen, frozen semen or embryo transfer program.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: 0 days
- Trade Name: Ovuplant™ SucroMate™
- Class of Drug: Gonadotropin releasing hormone or GnRH
- Use: A potent, synthetic form of GnRH. The drug is administered as a subcutaneous implant.The most common use in a breeding program is the induction of a timed ovulation, such as when mares are being bred with cooled-transported semen or frozen semen
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on CFIA website but listed with a “WARNING: For use in horses (estrous mares) only. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. For intramuscular (IM) use only. Do not administer intravascularly. Not for use in humans. Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.”
- Trade Name: Lidoject, Lidocaine HCI 2% etc.
- Class of Drug: Local anesthetic and anti-arrhythmic agent.
- Use: Skin block for sutures and implants
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: 7 days
- Trade Name: Lutalyse®, Prostin®, Estrumate®
- Class of Drug: Fatty acid compounds with varying hormone-like effects
- Use: Prostaglandins are commonly administered to mares in a timed breeding program or after having missed a breeding opportunity to bring mares back into estrus. Prostaglandins are one of the most widely used hormones in equine reproduction.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on website, but listed elsewhere. “must not be slaughtered for use in food for at least 2 days after the latest treatment with this drug.”
- Trade Name: Equidone®
- Class of Drug: Dopamine antagonist. Neurotransmitter
- Use: Modulates or suppresses production of the hormone prolactin from the pituitary. In breeding programs it stimulates lactation or the induction of lactation in nurse mares or the induction of follicular development. Also used as a preventative for fescue toxicosis.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: “no known manufacture for veterinary use in Canada”
- Trade Name: OxoJect™, Oxytocin-S
- Class of Drug: Hormone
- Use: Administered to mares for evacuation of uterine fluid and treatment of retained placenta. It may also be used for induction of labor in late term mares and milk let-down.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on website: 0 days
- Trade Name: FOLLTROPIN®
- Class of Drug: Hormone
- Use: Facilitates “superovulation” – ovulating from more than one follicle at a time. Development of a s protocol to superovulate mares would allow a top mare to produce several foals in a year, or to have several embryos frozen for later use. The hormone is extracted from porcine pituitary glands.
- CFIA Withdrawal/Prohibition: not on website but listed elsewhere. “Treated animals must not be slaughtered for use in food for at least 10 days after latest treatment with this drug.”
- 09/30/16--08:14: No Leaping Bunny Award For Donkey Milk and Horse Oil Skin Products
- Contains protein and lactose proportions close to those of woman’s maternal milk (I say so what? Milk is species specific food for infant animals, not for washing your face with)
- Is hypoallergenic (To determine if a product is hypoallergenic a company usually performs a patch test on 100-200 subjects and records how their skin reacts).
- Nourishes and regenerates the skin deep down (Where is the proof that the product penetrates the skin or accomplishes “nourishment,” whatever that means?)
- Slows down the skin aging process (It’s a pretty extraordinary claim to make that donkey milk does this, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence).
- 01/05/17--11:25: Horse Welfare 2016 – The Year In Review
- Horsenetwork reported that Pfizer Canada has announced it will increase the amount of pregnant mare urine (PMU) it collects from its facilities in the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 2016 and 2017. Demand for conjugated equine estrogens declined in recent years following a 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study that PMU drugs were linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (In 2012, the North American Menopause Society released a position statement that continues to support hormone therapy).
- Horse tendons are now being made into an anti-aging therapy to rival botox. The popularity of horse oil from slaughtered animals has increased exponentially and is sold extensively on Amazon, eBay and elsewhere.
- A video released in October showed the appalling treatment of horses at antitoxin and antivenom manufacturing facilities in India. The facilities draw blood from the horses, many of them multiple times a month with heavy gauge needles, to manufacture antitoxin and antivenom drugs. The horses depicted in the video (link included below) had festering sores and low body weights.
- Throughout 2016, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition continued to release footage of live horse exports to Japan and petitioned Atlas Air executives to stop the practice, which does not adhere to IATA regulations.
- In August, U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS proposed changes to the Horse Protection Act that could stop the soring abuse for good.
- Anti-soring advocates got the Big Lick kicked out of the North Carolina State Fair
- In June, a butcher shop in Montreal was caught adding horsemeat to hamburger patties advertised as being entirely made of beef. An investigation by Radio-Canada found burger patties advertised as being 100 per cent beef from La Maison du Rôti, which supplied meat to many hotels and commercial establishments in Montreal. This is consistent with a study from 2015 that found that nearly 5% of all ground meat products tested in California had horse meat in the product.
- In Britain, two Britons and a citizen of Denmark appeared in court over allegations that they passed horsemeat off as beef. It took THREE YEARS after the horsemeat adulteration scandal in to get them this far.
- Britain’s food-policing unit, which was created in 2014 following the horse meat scandal has still not resulted in any new prosecutions despite costing the taxpayer £4m. The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) has not brought any criminal charges against anyone.
- Aaron Stelkia of the Osoyoos Indian Band, who has apparently provided no care to feral British Columbia horses, decided to claim them and began rounding them up early in the year. On the heels of this event, the RCMP in Penticton B.C., at the request of the CFIA, began investigating horse rescuer Theresa Nolet after she treated a free-roaming horse with phenylbutazone, making him unfit for human consumption. If the CFIA, the RCMP, or the SPCA actually had any concern for horses, they would require the Indian Bands to keep their horses contained and properly fed and medicated. It’s clear the intent was to harass Ms. Nolet, since the CFIA has no problem importing American horses whose drug history is completely unprovable.
- DNA genotyping of Alberta wild horses showed a connection to the Altai horse from Russia. These genetic markers permitted the placement of the horses on the endangered list by the Equus Survival Trust in North Carolina.
- Forty-five years ago the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (WFRH&B Act) was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971. The WFRH&B Act created the sensation that wild horses were to be protected on public land, but as it did not create actual defined parameters it has been left open to interpretation and/or lack of enforcement by the US judicial system.
- Now that the West African black rhino is extinct and the elephant is well on its way, donkey skins are the new rhino horn, and just like the rhino, the Chinese demand is unsustainable. To that end, a $3,000,000 slaughterhouse has just opened in Kenya – dedicated and purpose-built to kill up to 100 donkeys a day. China is presently responsible for slaughtering four million donkeys a year for traditional medicinal products made from their skin. Already, countries in Africa are seeing their donkey populations drop at an alarming rate – the appetite for donkey skins has risen to such a degree that a worldwide crisis is unfolding for donkey populations around the world. In the United States the population of donkeys is estimated to be between 250,000 and 400,000. The US’ wild burro population ranges between 4,000 to 10,000 total on all BLM public lands. The entire US population of donkeys could theoretically be wiped out in a matter of weeks at the current rate of slaughter.
- The infamous Stanley Brothers have been shipping horses to slaughter for quite some time and also have a long history of animal welfare offenses, among other questionable activities. Boots Stanley, the son of one of the Stanley Brothers, who became millionaires selling horses to be killed, was arrested along with his pal Steven Sadler, for aggravated animal cruelty after slitting a defenseless dog’s throat on the family’s kill lot in Bastrop, Louisiana. Someone who enjoys inflicting pain on an animal may well be a danger to their community soon.
- “Big Lick” supporter Sandra Darlene Wood will be serving jail time for the crime of Animal Cruelty – starving Tennessee Walking Horses that were seized from her farm on April 6, 2015.
- Logan Allen, a “horse trainer” who won 1st place in the 2013 Iowa Horse Fair found himself under fire after he posted pics to his Facebook wall of a horse with the caption “bad boy…” The horse lay on the ground, his legs were bound, his tongue hung out of his mouth and he had been sprayed with a hose, hence the treatment of the horse was referred to as “waterboarding.” The dismissal of Allen’s case sends the clear message to those in Iowa that abusing animals is acceptable in the state.
- The story of Lily, the little pony mare who appeared to have been shot up with a paintball gun and then abandoned at New Holland in Pennsylvania, was a simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking narrative. The mare, who was rescued and subsequently endured an eye operation for painful uveitis inflammation and days of dental work, was elderly and in poor condition overall. In May, Philip Price Jr. of Rhode Island, (previously convicted of animal abuse) was convicted on all counts related to transporting her to New Holland. He was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution for Lily’s recovery care costs. Lily was then adopted by former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart and his wife. Although her quality of life appears to have been quite low for some time, she knew kindness and care before she died a short time later in Stewart’s sanctuary.
- In June, officials with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture charged trainer Maria Borell and her father, Charles Borell, each with 43 counts of second-degree cruelty to animals in connection with the apparent abandonment of horses at a 121-acre farm in Central Kentucky.
- 40 deceased and decaying horses were found on a property near Melbourne Australia. Bruce Akers, was charged with 92 counts of animal cruelty and criminal damage.
- Another 40 horses (and 15 dogs) owned by a previously convicted mother/daughter team of animal hoarders were seized from a Virginia property.
- In July, horse rescuers saved from slaughter several horses formerly owned by the Arnold Reproduction Center, which specialized in cutting horse breeding. A herd of horses bearing the brand of center ended up scheduled for shipment to slaughter, according to social media posts, which the business acknowledged in a statement last week, calling the slaughter designation unintended. Photos posted by the Kaufman Kill Pen Facebook page showed show at least a dozen horses bearing the brand and/or distinctive shoulder numbers, with some described as recipient mares.
- Several horses that had been seized from the Peaceable Farm rescue in 2015 have again been taken by authorities from New Beginnings Horse Rescue, where they had little or no food and water. Over 80 horses were originally removed from Peaceable Farm and 11 of those horses went to New Beginnings (the other horses were distributed to other rescues). It’s been a horrible 2 years for some of the rescues in Virginia.
- Approximately 550-650 “wild” horses of varying ages, some mares with foals, went up for auction in December when approximately 30 were found starving or eviscerated on the bare dirt pastures of the ranch belonging to the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs and Burros in South Dakota. With no plan in place to prevent breeding and insufficient range land for the number of horses, the pastures had been eaten down to dirt. Photos on social media show severely thin horses, some of them dead, with their ribs and hip-bones protruding. Some have grotesque wounds and injuries or wildly overgrown, untrimmed hooves. A few had been eviscerated, presumably by wild animals. Guidestar shows that despite the charity taking in $600 – $700K in donations per year, there were always feed emergencies – this appears to be another hoarding operation with charitable status. Resources are finite everywhere – uncontrolled breeding with no place to go eventually means there will be a population crash.
- Of the most immediate concern to animal advocates may be the virtual certainty that a Trump administration will work to reopen horse slaughter in the U.S., to “dispose” of the 45,000 wild horses who have been removed as “surplus” from the BLM. Furthermore, in 2009 VP-Elect Pence voted against protecting wild horses and burros on America’s public lands. He opposed the “Restore Our American Mustangs Act,” which was introduced to amend the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971. Simply because you see a picture of someone on a horse, it does not make them an advocate.
- It has been announced that the European Commission is set to adopt stricter regulations on the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries following its latest audit, which found that Canadian horsemeat may not meet EU food safety standards. Horses destined for slaughter in non-EU countries but for export to the EU, must undergo a minimum six-month residency requirement. It’s unclear how either the slaughterhouses or the CFIA will control for this requirement.
- The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition met with MPs in Ottawa in October on the dangers of horse meat consumption. The CHDC was registered to lobby with Aaron Freeman of Pivot Strategic Consulting. The CHDC continues to consult with legal counsel in a continuing effort to explore legal strategies to stop illegally-conducted live shipments of horses to Japan for slaughter.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency suspended the slaughtering license of KML Meats in British Columbia temporarily, due to the absence of an effective HACCP program.
- The CFIA proposed changes to the Health of Animals Act and Regulations, thereby recognizing that the transport of animals in Canada is not aligned with those of other countries (World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE) nor do they align with the National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice (NFACC) or international trading partners such as the US and the EU. Furthermore, transport guidelines, such as they are, do not reflect current science regarding the handling of animals by land, sea, and air.
- The March to DC on behalf of the SAFE Act took place September 22nd. Thank you to the dedicated people who were able to attend. Many SAFE-type bills have now died and alternative approaches are needed to make the rest of the US population aware of the atrocities of horse slaughter.
- The tall metal fences, chained gates, and decaying metal buildings that were an embarrassment and constant reminder of horse slaughter in Kaufman Texas are now gone. The old Dallas Crown slaughterhouse was torn down.
- In Ontario, “horse rustling” has received new attention after two horses, who were temporarily loaned/boarded, disappeared from the same farm and are presumed sold for slaughter. Sargon, owned by Kim Wilson, and Apollo, owned by Kayla Whatling were loaned to the same individual, who told police she sold Sargon to a kill buyer for slaughter without permission and with a faked EID.
- The EQUUS Film Festival, dedicated to equestrian-themed film, fine art and authors was subject to controversy in 2016. Noted Equine/Human Chiropractor Dr. Jay Komarek, declined to accept the Equus Film Festival Award for “Best Documentary” Film citing festival organizers for accepting money from two corporate sponsors, “Protect The Harvest” and “Farm Paint,” as his reason for doing so. The sponsor’s principals are Mr. Forrest Lucas (Protect The Harvest and Lucas Cattle Company) and Mr. Duke Thorson (Farm Paint and Thorsport Farm). Slaughtering and soring horses do not create a better world for them and were therefore incompatible sponsors for the event. Clant Seay, a reporter for Billygoboy.com, also had the microphone aggressively grabbed out of his hand by former Sue Wallis buddy Dave Duquette at EQUUS. A positive outcome was that the film “Kill Pen” signed a worldwide/international distribution agreement to circulate the film across the US and Canada, into Europe, and beyond.
- 03/09/17--12:51: The Science Is In: Exposure To Bute In Horsemeat Still A Big Problem
- Route of entry into the body – orally, inhalation, etc
- Amount or dose entering the body
- Chemicals that are weakly toxic require large doses to cause poisoning, Strongly toxic chemicals only need small doses to cause poisoning
- Chemicals that are broken down by the body into sub-products before being excreted may be more or less toxic than the original chemical
- Biological variation in the person consuming the chemical/drug determines response – slow metabolizers may be affected in addition to those who have susceptibility to phenylbutazone due to different metabolic genes (polymorphisms) that encode enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of drugs.People who are poor metabolizers of a drug may overdose while taking less than the recommended dose. Altered or enhanced drug metabolisms in individuals have been known to cause fatal drug reactions.
Several competitive markets for horses have emerged as a result of the opportunities gleaned from social media sites like Facebook. Kill buyers outbid private buyers at auctions on horses that they think they can flip. People are buying horses at outrageous prices and paying phenomenal amounts of money that could be used for feed and vetting, to ship them halfway across the country only to sometimes find that they are sick. In many cases the horses that arrive bear little resemblance to their photographs, may be misrepresented and sometimes must be euthanized upon arrival. After passionately giving themselves to their previous owners, these horses do not deserve to die.
We have largely forgotten about the horse rescues who have to confront this competition for resources and face challenges that surpass those of humane societies and shelters. Most rescues and sanctuaries rely on public donations rather than government funding, and they require commitment, passion and business acumen in order that they be sustainable. Private rescues are often run by a single person or a small group rather than a large board of directors. Most of their expenses cannot be discounted, and veterinarians and farriers usually don’t work for free.
Many horses waiting for homes at rescues are registered, sound, very rideable, beautiful, kind, and healthy after months of care. Rescues restore horses to good health, evaluate them for a variety of different types of riders, put training on them, and often provide warranties for a price that doesn’t reflect the investment of time. Yet the perception exists in public realm that rescued horses are devalued or marginalized as old or dangerous, when in fact they are usually quite the opposite.
I really believe that we need to be careful what we allow, as it is what will continue. If we choose not to support rescues, they will all go away….
Tanya Boyd of Kindred Farm Rescue will no longer offer adoptions through her rescue. In her own words, she explains why she is decertifying her not-for-profit and her former rescue operations will now operate for-profit. (We are trying Tanya….)
“I have been running a horse rescue for just over four years. Effective today, that comes to an end. From now on, any horse that I “purchase” will be rehabbed and marketed as for sale for a price that is in line for their true value. I will no longer operate as a rescue, because, for some reason, potential buyers think that these horses/ponies are less than, and are not as valuable as horses of the same quality, advertised on the open market.
I cannot put in words, just how emotional this is for me…showing my horses to potential buyers…knowing full well the value of any of my “rescues”, on the open market…and I am singing their praises….and offering them up for free or for $500. and still no buyers. I will do this no longer. I am simply not going to give horses away for a song anymore.
If you were an orphan…or adopted…are you worth any less? Many horse rescues in this area, and beyond, are giving it up. Why? Because there is no funding…because acquiring and maintaining Not for Profit Status or Charitable Status….for horse rescues is extremely time consuming, in terms of the administrative requirements. I know…been there, done that…cannot commit the time required to fill out paperwork. So, I sent off my letter to dissolve my Not for Profit Status. Not worth the time and energy required. Sadly, horses do not rate, in terms of rescue organizations…they are still deemed as livestock…and livestock is butchered…..and that will not change until the public demands that it change.
Frustrated, yes. Sad, yes. But I do not see a move towards any change of status for horses in sight . They are indeed, the forgotten. Where would we be now without them?. I am truly heartbroken that in the four years I have been doing this, nothing has changed. And the public is no more aware now, than it was then, of the degree to which we subject horses to so much pain and abuse. It seems that it really doesn’t matter. I feel so defeated. What does it take to get people to understand that horses are not meant to be slaughtered so inhumanely….and transported so inhumanely. Along with many other animals that we ship in transport trucks, packed full, in 35 degree weather….for hours and hours.
What have we become, as a society, that we close our eyes to this abuse….it makes me so very sad. We are allowed to ship animals for 36 hours, without water, without feed….and in this heat. And that is considered to be ok. Again….in 4 years of doing this…this horse rescue…I have seen no change in our approach….no real concern about what we subject both horses, and other farm animals to in terms of humane handling…prior to being butchered for our consumption. Are we really that unfeeling? Or do we really not want to know.
Time to ask yourself these questions.”
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
We’ve known for many years that farm animals have been exploited to produce more meat, milk, wool etc. Embryo transfer in horses is another technology that is unrivalled for its inefficiency and costliness. There’s also some evidence that embryo transfer (ET) is exploitative because it can be painful, requiring analgesics. We recently read about the cast-off recipient mares (the “gestational” carriers that give birth to foals of a different mare/stallion) from the Arnold Reproduction Center who were consigned to the Kaufman kill pen/kill buyer Mike McBarron for eventual slaughter. Once exposed on social media platforms, veterinarian Leea Arnold responded:
“I recently sent some mares to the Cleburne Horse Sale. I certainly never intended for them to end up in the slaughter pen. Many of these mares came to me through the sale barn system, were sick, completely unbroken and certainly destined for slaughter at that time (15 or so years ago). As long as these mares are reproductively sound, they stay in my herd – many probably longer than they are useful. My staff and I have taken the time, money, and resources we have to help these mares become useful and give them a viable purpose.
“I will use another avenue to re-home these mares in the future. If you are a non-profit organization and have your 501(c)3 at hand, I would be more than happy to donate any older or reproductively unsound recipients to your facilities as they become available.”
Dr. Arnold did not otherwise offer to help the animals that were scheduled to be sent for slaughter.
In addition to horses, mules are also being used in at least one euphemistically named “mule mom” program using embryo transfers from gypsy vanner mares. The Gypsy Gold breeding program in Ocala Florida charges up to $14,000 for a purebred gypsy vanner foal carried by a mule, who is often shipped to and from the Gypsy Gold Horse Farm and the contractor of their service. They also helpfully offer a service for purchasers of the gypsy foal who are not satisfied with the quality of their new purchase – they will connect you with an “appropriate buyer” – quite possibly the same buyer who will purchase the mule moms once their fertility wanes. At the moment, this farm offers 11 mares for breeding, so one can only imagine how many times they are being flushed out and the number of “mule moms” that are being used as gestational carriers.
Currently, most equine breed associations permit embryo transfer. Notable exceptions include the Jockey Club (thoroughbreds), the United States Trotting Association, and the American Miniature Horse Association. Brazil and Argentina are currently the leaders in equine ET, although it’s believed that about 10,000 embryos were collected and transferred in the USA in 2014. The practice seems to have become more widespread in 2015, with more countries reporting embryo transfer activities, including Canada, South Africa, France, Poland, Switzerland, the USA, and Mexico.
Why is Equine Embryo Transfer Also A Welfare Issue?
Because veterinarians can only flush fertilized eggs (embryos) from the uterus of a donor mares at specific times the cycles of one or more recipient mares must be synchronized with the donor mare. This is why reproductive vet clinics tend to have a wide selection of recipient mares from which to choose. The number of mares that some vet clinics keep on hand for this purpose varies from dozens of mares to hundreds. In many cases the donor mare is synchronized with two or more recipient mares in the event that multiple embryos are recovered from the donor mare. Obviously, these mares’ “jobs” come with no guarantee of a home placement after their careers are over and may easily fall into the wrong hands.
There are potential welfare issues for a donor mare, including those associated with the flushing procedure and with repeat injections to attempt to induce ovulation when used. Because more than two mares may be involved, the number of invasive rectal and ultrasound examinations is increased. Where recipient mare numbers are limited, greater pharmacological manipulation (often involving repeated injections) may also be used to achieve ovulatory synchronization between donor and recipient mares.
While there are apparently no studies on whether ET is painful in mares, it is known to be painful in other species, especially those in which embryo flushing is a surgical procedure. Perhaps because of this it is common practice to sedate mares both during flushing and ET.
Transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicular aspiration in women is known to be associated with pain, the severity of which is dependent upon needle design. In sheep and goats, repeated surgical egg retrieval has been associated with the development of adhesions. In a study of pony mares who were the subject of invasive follicular procedures, it was observed that heart rates and cortisol levels increased considerably as soon as a needle was introduced into the procedure.
Lastly, the development of the “super ovulation” protocol and the resulting production of more oocytes (cells that develop into an ovum/egg) will heighten the possibility of more foals using larger herds of recipient mares, greater numbers of horses born that aren’t needed, and more slaughter after the recip mares are no longer required.
Drugs/Hormones Commonly Used in Equine Reproduction Practices and Their Withdrawal Times
Sources for withdrawal times were the Meat Hygiene Manual of the CFIA or drug datasheets. It is important to note that withdrawal times are often extended when drug
combinations are used. Drugs used off-label in unapproved species may have differing withdrawal times even though appropriate dosage is given and whether used in combination with other drugs. The dose itself along with the frequency of use (repeated oral administrations can greatly extend withdrawal times) are two of the most important factors. Compounded drugs (as opposed to generic or branded drugs sold OTC or through veterinarians) can vary widely in potency as well. The amount of body fat, the breed, gender and health of the horse are also factors that affect kinetic decay of drugs. Lastly, the amount of stress that the horse is subject to may also affect withdrawal times. And even though a pharmacological effect on the animal may be over, the drug and its metabolites may still be detectable, and those metabolites may also be prohibited. The CFIA manual doesn’t tell anyone this, nor could they expect the lay horse person to understand any of the factors that also affect withdrawal times and drug tests,
Altrenogest/Progesterone/ Medroxyprogesterone (synthetic variant of hormone progesterone)
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
The welfare of the animal is always compromised when greed is involved. The ability for breeders to implant multiple embryos with no limits caters to the wealthy individuals in the industry. While one might argue that ET is less risky than foaling for a mare, horses should not have litters, especially since there is some question whether it is humane to repeatedly subject both recipient and donor mares to invasive procedures, after which many horses are dumped. The worst but hardly the only offender of this practice, the AQHA, allows multiple-embryo-transfer rules that facilitate overpopulation by allowing mares to have more than one foal per year. Rules about using frozen semen or eggs from long-sterile or dead animals have allowed horses to breed from beyond the grave. Consider that First Prize Dash, a 1988 quarter horse mare – produced 44 offspring! Her sire, Dash for Cash, sired 1,233 foals!
It is also very doubtful that either Canadian or Mexican slaughterhouses have tested for some of these lesser used or less obvious drugs or hormones. Since some drugs/hormones are not even line items in the Meat Hygiene Manual, it would be easy for sellers of horses to plead ignorance of the requirement to disclose on an EID. Embryo transfer therefore facilitates an already unsavory horsemeat industry in novel, previously unanticipated ways.
heatherclemenceaumare-servicesgypsyMost donor mares are sport horses, Arabians or Quarter Horses. It’s an appealing option for those who can afford it, since it allows the option of the owner taking their mare out of competition for only about a week in order to produce a foal. Rakhassa Bey
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Hat Tip: Debby
The Johnstone Auction Mart in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan sells over 1,000 equines per year in lots or as riding horses – minis, yearlings, bucking stock, mares and geldings in both “medium” and “good” condition. Selling prices range from about $25 up to $4,400 (more for lots). The average prices for horses they advertise as “older” is $200-$400, which of course are within the realm of slaughter prices.
Like most auction websites, they provide a link to the Equine Information Document (EID) which the CFIA has always told us is mandatory for slaughter-bound horses. But auction management have a rather unique way of interpreting who needs to fill one out.
Their website states:
“Horses sold at Regular Horse Sales must have the following document filled out regarding and drugs [sic] which may have been given to the horse in the previous 180 days. Although not mandatory, it is in the seller’s interest to fill one out for each horse so the price is not discounted.
Yearlings, and miniatures and donkeys do not need an EID form.”
This statement struck me as extremely odd, mainly because they touted the EID as a “mandatory, yet optional” document, and also because they indicated that it was not required for yearlings, minis, or donkeys. It is the slaughterhouses’ responsibility to ensure that a valid EID has been submitted for each equine they receive, but if it is only optional at any auction, who will collect it if not the sale barn itself? And why were some equines seemingly exempt? Both the Meat Hygiene Manual of the CFIA and farming Codes of Practice, when referring to equines, consider that the term “horse” refers to all domestic equine species, namely horses, ponies, miniature horses, donkeys, mules and hinnies.
After navigating my way through the CFIA’s new phone system with 78 menu options and 7 levels, designed to discourage all but the most indefatigible caller, I was transferred to various people whose mailboxes were all full and there was no way to backtrack. The whole idea of all the options and levels is to deter you from actually getting anything done. It cuts down on the number of complaints and support that must be provided. Normally, to get the fastest service I would press any number that indicates to the organization that I am likely to spend money on more service, but that clearly won’t work with the CFIA. Ignoring the menu options and sitting on hold waiting for someone to answer won’t work either. When when I finally reached a live person they both grilled me to find out why an Ontarian would have any interest in something happening in Saskatchewan. How about just answering the question?
I finally spoke with two veterinarians, neither of whom appears to have any idea what really happens at a horse auction even though both were familiar with this particular business. Dr. Allison Danyluk Ross, a supervisory veterinarian for the western operations of the CFIA helpfully reassured me that not all horses at auctions go for slaughter. She reiterated that it was not the auction mart’s responsibility to collect EIDs at all, but that somehow, they must arrive with horses presented for slaughter. So it’s the owner’s responsibility to fill out the EID, but it’s not mandatory, and it doesn’t have to be filled out at the actual auction, so by what other means would it arrive at the slaughterhouse if the horse is sold to a kill buyer? (that’s a rhetorical question, dear readers).
Once again, any form that only asks for voluntary declaration of drugs is unlikely to be complied with when the seller wishes
to dispose of the horse for profit. I had to ask Dr. Danyluk Ross twice why minis, yearlings, and donkeys do not require EIDs at this auction before she finally responded that she would pass my concern onto the Red Meat Specialist. Obviously Dr. Danyluk Ross believes everything is fine because the CFIA audits the paperwork – audit reports are only useful if someone in authority at the CFIA reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results. Indeed, Canada’s food safety system is a patchwork of third-party audits, personal assurances (like Dr. Danyluk Ross’ email), and profit before protection.
When veterinarian Dr. Harry King was asked why Johnstone Auctions would indicate on their webpage that minis, yearlings and donkeys brought to the auction would not require an EID, he replied, “because we don’t slaughter them in Canada.” He also said that Johnstone Auctions focuses primarily on goats and cows and not horses, and that they are not a “horse slaughter auction.” Dr. King is dead wrong, since the Donkey Sanctuary in Guelph acknowledges rescuing donkeys from slaughter (albeit, in the province of Ontario) and kill buyer Eddie Kohlman is known to frequent the Saskatchewan horse auctions.
So much energy is spent on denial rather than enforcing legislation and regulations that already exist. Any belief or
suggestion that EIDs are consistently completed by owners invites some serious criticism. In the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s investigation – “Pasture to Plate,” there can be no dispute that, when reviewing the EIDs included in the document, a pattern emerges and it is very clear to see that some EIDs have obviously been “pre-written” across the top with “Drug-free six months,” and the appropriate boxes checked to agree with this information.
Why did the CFIA inspectors and slaughter plant operators not flag this for concern? What remedial actions have the CFIA taken against auctions and owners that have submitted incomplete, incorrect or falsified EIDs? In addition, what actions has the CFIA taken to ensure Canadian and American horses sold at auctions have EIDs that are filled in completely, correctly and truthfully by their owners?
Epiloque – September 21, 2016
Apparently the CFIA decided to act quickly on this one. Johnstone’s horse auction page with incorrect EID instructions was quickly modified to remove the references to donkeys, minis, and yearlings. You can see the change has been made here. I believe someone at the CFIA intended to let me know of the outcome by phone, as I had received a call, but no one left a message.
heatherclemenceaularry_the_cable_guy_health_inspector_xlgjohnstone-auction-marteid-from-meat-hygiene-manualMini horses are uneconomical to ship long distances to slaughter. But if an opportunity presents itself, they are still considered to be “meat on the hoof.” Photo courtesy of Tierschutzbund (Switzerland) taken on a feedlot in Alberta.These young mules were photographed by me at the OLEX auction in Waterloo Ontario on July 5, 2016. I was unable to stay to find our whether they went to a private home or were sold to a kill buyer. The fact that they are mules is not an impediment to slaughtering them, despite what the CFIA thinks.
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Hat Tip: Paola
The origin of the word ‘quack’ comes from the Dutch quacksalver, literally meaning “chatter salve” or someone who prattles or boasts about the efficacy of his remedies.
The next big wave in skincare comes straight from cottage industries in Canada and countries like Korea and Japan. More paleo than vegan, some of these products are not for the faint of heart. Instead of plant-based oils such as coconut or argan, oils from the rendered fat of horses and milk from donkeys are the new “natural” alternatives. Dreams of soft, smooth skin are interrupted by visions of Black Beauty shedding a single tear.
Shamâne Cosmetics is a company located in Quebec and like another company in British Columbia that used horse milk in their skin care products, they are adding donkey milk to their skin care line. Like Spa Creek Ranch (who were forced to remove unsupported claims on their website by Advertising Standards Canada) Shamâne have made some rather extraordinary claims about the supposed benefits of washing yourself with soaps made with donkey milk. Claims made by Shamâne were referred to ASC, who will referee their statements. I attempted to contact the company to find out how many donkeys they had and what they did with the foals, but they did not return my phone call and their email is defunct.
Their website tells us that the product:
The company makes additional claims about the powers of donkey milk, based on testimonials from the 1700s! Back then microscopes were a very new invention, and the most popular methods of treating patients included bloodletting and blistering. But the assertion that the product will slow down the aging process is probably the one thing that will get some of the statements removed from Shamâne’s website with prejudice, by Advertising Standards Canada.
According to the ASC:
“Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to any identified or identifiable product(s) or service(s).
Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable. If the support on which an advertised claim or representation depends is test or survey data, such data must be reasonably competent and reliable, reflecting accepted principles of research design and execution that characterize the current state of the art. At the same time, however, such research should be economically and technically feasible, with due recognition of the various costs of doing business.”
Although relatively unknown in Europe and the UK, horse oil is a popular and widely used beauty product in Asian culture. It’s the latest craze in Korean skin care. No, it doesn’t give you long, pony-tail like locks. It’s rendered horse fat, quite likely made from American and Canadian horses who were exported for live slaughter. Horse oil products are sold/marketed by a variety of names – Guerisson 9 Complex Cream with horse oil is readily available at the Pacific Mall in Toronto, along with many other products containing horse oil from Korea. Horse oil is also sold as “Son Bahyu/Sonbahyu” on both Amazon and eBay. Once again, miraculous claims are made about these products, none of which are substantiated. There may be little we Canadians can do about products that are not produced in Canada and where claims are made on websites in Korean or Japanese languages.
There is no reason to assume that donkey milk or horse oil have any beneficial properties other than possibly as emollients, and we have plenty of cruelty-free products that already accomplish this. In order to satisfy some of these claims, the constituent ingredients in the milk and oil would have to be absorbed by the skin past the epidermis (the outermost layer). The rule of thumb is that anything smaller than 500 Daltons can penetrate the skin while anything larger cannot. A Dalton is the standard unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale.
If the milk and oil molecules in question were small and permeable (under 500 Daltons) they would be uptaken into the skin cells and possibly into the bloodstream. If not, the ingredients may just penetrate through the top layer of skin only and will just be sloughed off as part of the dead skin cells. Even if they can be absorbed there is no evidence that they will have any sort of positive impact or that they will suspend the aging process. Myths that your skin absorbs large amounts of chemicals are NOT true.
Even people who eat animals often realize it’s ridiculous to add them to skin care products. We already have the option of plant-based products that can be absorbed into the skin and may even provide some protection against essential fatty acid deficiency. We don’t need milk or horse oil or other animal products added to soaps or lotions.
Always remember that oftentimes these claims about skin care in particular have little to no research behind them and they may be based in superstition, popular trends, or “traditional medicine.” Please buy cruelty-free products wherever possible. And Pubmed is great for advanced reading to help substantiate claims.
originalheatherclemenceauMadame Delphine LaLaurie is a character in American Horror Story: Coven portrayed by Kathy Bates.15mam-14-kh0375-01pdsc_0001dsc_0032crueltyfreelogo_jpg
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
All images: ECIR Group Inc.
If you’ve owned a cushinoid or laminitic horse or pony, you may already be familiar with the mission of the Equine Cushing’s and Insulin Resistance (ECIR) Group Inc. The ECIR Group is an all-volunteer organization, founded by Robin Siskel, and born out of a desperate need for solid, scientific information and solutions to help horses with Cushing’s Disease/Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction and other metabolic disorders (metabolic syndrome is characterized by a cluster of disorders, such as reduced glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertension, visceral obesity and lipid disorders) and prevent laminitis.
“Halfway measures get halfway results,“ is a phrase frequently used by Dr. Eleanor Kellon, co-owner of the ECIR outreach group. An Honours Graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Kellon received special training at the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery. Kellon is an established author who has written on the subject of equine podiatry, keeping older horses, drugs and vaccines, radiography, and rehabilitation of laminitic equines.
The ECIR Group has just completed a short film that will be used to further spread the message of hope for people with cushionoid/PPID equines. The film is the first in a series that the ECIR Group hopes to produce to help people with proven, science-based protocols for caring for equines with metabolic disorders. This first film was made possible because of donations from friends of ECIR and supporters at California Trace, Forageplus, and Uckele Health and Nutrition. In order to fund the future films, ECIR needs to raise more funds. Their benefactors have agreed to donate $5,000 if the group can raise an additional $5,000 before December 31, 2016. So – very time sensitive in terms of raising funds!
The first movie is available here:
All research and information provided by the ECIR Group is a direct result of the work of volunteers whose goal is to prevent the suffering caused by laminitis. The most current estimates are that 10% to 15% of horses will suffer from laminitis every year, with 80% to 90% of the cases caused by endocrine disease. That is, on average, one million horses in the US alone. It can be a death sentence if not diagnosed and managed correctly.
This group has improved the welfare of equines with metabolic disorders by focusing on prevention and treatment, helping caregivers to learn and recognize the importance of diagnosis, diet, trimming, and exercise. If you’re a “Foot Soldier” or “Hoof Hero” and you’d like to help them reach this goal, you can make a donation and watch the fund-raising progress in real time. In 2008/2009 I personally benefited from the resources of the ECIR back when the only presence they had on the internet was a Yahoo group.
Sharing is Caring! Thank you for helping improve the lives of horses….
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Because most efforts at altruism are applied to human suffering, when it comes to horses and other animals, we still face the problem of convincing people that the suffering of horses is worth considering at all. Our legal and legislative efforts can be effective ways to achieve goals for the horses, but most campaigns are lower visibility when compared to shelter pets, and they may only yield results if completely successful. After observing how horse advocacy functions for a few years now (but I am still a relative newbie compared to the seasoned experts who have been advocating for horses for decades) I want to make the following observations on the year 2016:
To be effective, we must continually find the root causes of systemic problems, such as corrupt or indifferent government officials, hoarding issues, and our often reactionary approach to kill buyer sales programs, which are now entrenched methods of adopting horses. This is no small feat considering how decentralized horse advocates are – each person is often doing their own thing and advocating for horses in their own way. As a result, preventative approaches are sometimes overlooked within the movement. Despite exhaustive work by many people, SAFE Act-type legislation, which could provide the best results for horses in the US, hasn’t passed.
We may best be able to capitalize on shifts in the way people think about all animals and their status in society. Results in Canada have been achieved when contracts for horsemeat are lost due to the exposing of cruelty and food quality/feedlot issues. Meat-swapping is also an issue that usually gets a lot of publicity. The supply of horsemeat already exceeds demand otherwise we would see fewer substitution issues – many people are realizing that they are eating horse unintentionally and this causes them to reconsider buying meat in general.
Unfortunately, 2016 heralded in new administration that is not friendly to animals. P-E Trump is known to receive advice from conspiracy theorists and the radical far right – it’s true that we have become a “post-fact” world. Knowing this, how can we best advocate for horses in 2017 and beyond? There mere suggestion that there may be jobs to be found in the horse slaughter industry could be incentive enough to resuscitate it in the US, even though it is a poor investment.
“Donald Trump…represents perhaps the greatest threat ever to animal protection policy making at the federal level. His campaign surrogates and the names being floated as possible Trump cabinet picks for the very agencies that oversee such policies include the most ardent anti-animal voices in the country. Advocates for puppy mills, factory farming, horse slaughter, and trophy hunting of rare species such as leopards and elephants would be at the steering wheel of a Trump administration.” ~ Michael Markarian, the Human Society Legislative Fund
Here’s my summation of 2016, with articles arranged in Storify:
The Chemical Horse:
Live Horse Shipments:
Decimation of the Donkeys:
Cruelty Cases, Horse Seizures, Abandonments, and Hoarding:
Legislative and Public Relations Issues:
EQUUS Film Festival:
Please read more about these and other headlines from 2016, arranged chronologically, in Storify
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Hat Tip: Lisa
In Japan, “premium consumption,” a philosophy in which consumers do not mind spending large amounts of money on trendy products or services, is on the increase. The Japanese are embracing “members-only” clubs and resorts to the tune of ¥355 billion ($4,176,200,000 CDN), up 13 percent from 2015. Horsemeat is increasing in popularity in Japan due in part to a boom in sushi restaurants and exclusive dining clubs, and is sold as sakura nikku (cherry blossom meat) or raw as basashi.
The English language paper The Japan News, provides a first look at these exclusive and often very secretive restaurants serving what must be our Canadian draft horses, who are live exported almost every week on 16-18 hour flights during which time they are neither fed nor watered, generally by Atlas Air. Prior to shipment to Japan, our “gentle giants” are fattened up to gross proportions, and at risk for laminitis. Each horse is worth approximately $20,000 CDN.
In Tokyo, The Roast Horse is a members-only restaurant that has a set course menu of ¥7,500 ($88.00 CDN). The Roast Horse solicited its clientele via crowdfunding to collect money for a custom-made stone oven. The restaurant was able to generate about ¥6 million ($70,000 CDN). Membership at the restaurant is considered a privilege for the investors.
“As the door opened, all 30 or so seats in the restaurant were occupied. Owner Mineyoshi Hirayama was serving customers a series of horse-based dishes, such as raw and roasted horse meat, while describing the details of the horseflesh he bought and the cooking methods. “What’s great about this restaurant is that it is exclusively members who can book a table. What’s more, we can taste horse meat that can’t be eaten at any other places,” said information technology journalist Masakazu Honda, who is a member. “All the people I have brought here have been delighted. This is a special restaurant.”
Please read more here.
If you’re not familiar with the entire sordid live horse export business to Japan, please read the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition’s comprehensive investigative report here.
Call To Action:
Please sign and share the active petition to Atlas Air to end the horrid practice of live export to Japan.
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Phenylbutazone or “bute” was at one time marketed for humans use under the trade name of Butazolidin. It was a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) used for arthritis and other inflammatory ailments that worked by inhibiting an enzyme that synthesizes chemical mediators called prostaglandins. It was ultimately withdrawn by the FDA for causing a wide range of serious side-effects. It remains however, on the market for treatment for horses and is an effective anti-inflammatory. It is also prohibited in the food chain as residues of bute and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone are not known to have safe limits. None of this is new information to experienced horse advocates. Therefore, it’s always personally surprising to me when I come across another horse advocate who takes the position that we needn’t be concerned about bute adulteration in food. It’s a pretty rare position to take, IMO, and reaffirms to me that not all champions of the horse are on the same page when it comes to advocacy. This position not only harms our advocacy, it’s also scientifically illiterate IMO.
Writing in a recent blog post, Founder and President of the Equine Rescue Network Janine Jacques goes all-in and on the record as being in doubt that bute is harmful to people. Jacques also assumes that the only possible toxic result from consuming bute or metabolites can be aplastic anemia.
“How did the consumption of over 16 million pounds of horsemeat impact the health of those who consumed horse meat tainted with bute? ~ If Google search deaths from phenylbutazone you will find no relevant deaths for humans.”
While investigation and surveillance of overdoses and poisonings by phenylbutazone are available, there is a tendency to believe that, in order to be hazardous to health, only large amounts of a chemical are needed to cause poisoning. This is not necessarily so. A highly toxic chemical can have a low health hazard if it is used with proper precautions and care. On the other hand, it is possible that a chemical of low toxicity may present a high health hazard if it is used inappropriately, such as in the food supply. The domain of published works in the field of toxicology contain many presuppositions such as this; regulators have always had difficulty establishing acceptable levels of chemicals and they are expected to show evidence that a level of exposure is harmful before they can ban its use.
Virtually all evidence we have about harmful dosages of drugs come from animals where extrapolations are made from high doses (LD50, Draize, and ADME – Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion tests for example) . It is also said that effects found in animals in relatively short-lived species cannot necessarily be used to estimate the effects in a long-lived species such as human. Humans live much longer than most of the species used for drug testing, so we have a longer period of time in which to manifest disease. Compounding this, we know that much of human disease is idiopathic in nature – without known causes. Forensic toxicology testing can detect drugs in the blood stream or urine and overdoses in the emergency room, but it can’t predict the cause of idiopathic disease.
What makes chemicals poisonous?
There are several factors which can influence the degree of poisoning caused by a chemical.
Another layer of complexity is added when humans are exposed to chemicals at very low doses – the chemicals may reside in certain regions of the body that are more susceptible to organ damage which is impossible to measure directly. Studies have shown that many chemicals impact cancer-causing pathways at low doses. Taken directly, phenylbutazone is associated with various hematologic disorders, including aplastic anemia. Bute is also a cause of agranulocytosis, which can also be fatal. Hypersensitivity reactions can include anaphylactic shock, arthralgia, fever, angiitis (polyarteritis), vasculitis, serum sickness, adenitis, hepatotoxicity, allergic alveolitis, lymphadenopathy, Lyell’s syndrome, activation of systemic lupus erythematosus, and aggravation of temporal arteritis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. Asthma may be precipitated or aggravated by phenylbutazone, especially in aspirin sensitive patients. We also know that phenylbutazone interacts with many other drugs. When administered to lactating cows, it was found that phenylbutazone was distributed into their milk.
When the drug was used therapeutically in humans as Butazolidin, the dose rate would have been around 2 to 6 mg/kg, similar to the current dose for the horse of 4.4 mg/kg. The question is whether the presence of bute in horsemeat can present a risk to human health even in small amounts. Around the time of the 2013 horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU, the highest amount of bute found in a horse carcass was 1.9 mg. If a human had been taking Butazolidin in the 50s, they might have taken 200-400 mg a day in total, if we compare it to the current-day dosage of Tylenol or Advil. Obviously, we would have to consume a significant amount of contaminated horsemeat in order to reach the level of a therapeutic drug dosage. What is not clear, despite reassurances, is the level that is necessary for the average person to consume in order to experience a toxic effect. If a therapeutic dose of Butazolidin was once considered “safe” at 200-400 mg, then how do we know that some individuals are safe at 1.9 mg? If Butazolidin was withdrawn from the market as being unsafe for some people at that dosage, we don’t know whether sensitive individuals may have experienced toxicity at lower levels as well.
If it still seems as though a negligible trace of bute in meat might not be enough to cause harm, there is an analogous cautionary tale of another NSAID – diclofenac, which was also used in human medicine for decades, and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India. Obviously, the dynamics are not the same, but vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses, their main food source, and this has accounted for death by renal failure of many vultures examined in a three-year study by the scientific journal Nature. Further investigation showed tissue residues in livestock treated at the labelled dose rate were sufficient to cause death in vultures. These findings confirmed that diclofenac is the primary cause of the Asian vulture decline.
“Diclofenac is toxic to vultures even in small doses, causing kidney failure. That results in uric acid accumulating in the birds’ blood and crystallizing around their internal organs—a condition called visceral gout.”
Food safety laws are clear. Companies that produce, trade or sell food or food ingredients are legally obligated to implement a quality assurance system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), which maximizes food safety by minimizing chemical, physical and microbiological hazards. There is something wrong with a food system whereby the food animal must sit on a feedlot for six months in order that veterinary drugs “degrade” before it can be eaten.
For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison, which still holds true for many drugs and chemicals. But one key message there is that source or origin of a chemical usually tells you very little if anything about its toxicity or ability to cause harm. We now live in a time where exposure to chemicals is unavoidable and we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation. Having said that, bute is not a chemical that is ubiquitous in the environment like other toxins we are exposed to – we can avoid it by not eating horsemeat and not killing horses for food. In the final analysis, no one is really in a position to make broad statements about the safety of horse meat. Conrad Brunk, the co-chair of the 2001 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, wrote that:
“When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks; the mere absence of evidence is not enough.” This is the essence of the Precautionary Principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” The toxicity of a chemical cannot be changed, but the hazard it presents can be controlled.
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
Simply offering a horse for sale is no guarantee of finding a suitable home for that animal, even if young and sound. The process is even more challenging if the horse is older, untrained, or has behavioural or physical issues, or if the economy is poor. While most shelters and rescues are likely at capacity, a study conducted by the Research and Development/Community Outreach arm of the ASPCA found that there do appear to be untapped resources that could be called upon to re-home horses within the general public.
The question posed by the study is whether there are enough private homes to accommodate the number of unwanted American horses currently being sent to slaughter. Using Edge Research to conduct a telephone survey, the researchers attempted to pre-qualify people who would be willing to adopt unwanted horses, determine what characteristics were required of horses to be considered “adoptable” in the respondent’s opinion, and whether potential adopters thought they had adequate resources to keep a horse. The criteria for establishing initial interest was that the respondent currently owns a horse, has owned a horse in the past 5 years, or is interested in acquiring a horse in the near future.
From the Abstract: “Estimating the Availability of Potential Homes for Unwanted Horses in the United States”
“There are approximately 200,000 unwanted horses annually in the United States. This study aimed to better understand the potential homes for horses that need to be re-homed. Using an independent survey company through an Omnibus telephone (land and cell) survey, we interviewed a nationally projectable sample of 3036 adults (using both landline and cellular phone numbers) to learn of their interest and capacity to adopt a horse.
Potential adopters with interest in horses with medical and/or behavioral problems and self-assessed perceived capacity to adopt, constituted 0.92% of the total sample. Extrapolating the results of this survey using U.S. Census data, suggests there could be an estimated 1.25 million households who have both the self-reported and perceived resources and desire to house an unwanted horse. This number exceeds the estimated number of unwanted horses living each year in the United States.
This study points to opportunities and need to increase communication and support between individuals and organizations that have unwanted horses to facilitate re-homing with people in their community willing to adopt them.”
The ASPCA estimates that a more realistic, true count is more likely to be about .72 million households. Still, these numbers may not reflect an objective set of adopters though, since people often overstate or overestimate their ability or available resources to care for a horse properly, or their circumstances change after the survey. Nevertheless, the study results suggest that new channels of communication between potential horse owners and organizations/rescues are needed to grow the horse industry by engaging new audiences and creatively promoting horse adoption.
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
“…all horse meat producers must obtain the health and medical history – complete with information on all drugs and vaccines used – of each horse for the 180 day period before consumption.”
– standard form letter response from Conservative MPs – 2016.
Whenever I read documents obtained through an Access-To-Information request, I think the bar for this industry cannot go lower. The ATI documents included here covered all Equine Lot Inspection Audits for the years 2015-2017 year-to-date, and captured conversations between CFIA veterinarians and feedlot/auction staff. These Lot Inspections are audits that are carried out approximately once a year, although it appears that our favourite Farmville operators, Bouvry Exports’/Prime lot is being audited more frequently. When you read the audit reports, you’ll understand why – the CFIA appears to be doing a fair bit of manual checking of their record-keeping.
It should really come as no surprise that feedlots and auctions have a perpetual struggle with the paperwork required to track horses from receipt to slaughter. Kill buyers are bottom level feeders who travel from auction to auction picking up horses. They have no idea where these horses come from, nor do they care. Auctions and feedlots typically will complete just enough paperwork so that can scrape by, and they’re going to fill it out in the way that it needs to be filled out so that it meets the CFIA criteria. Sometimes though, they can’t even meet the minimum standard and even the CFIA has to write them up when uncomplicated record management tasks are turned into Sisyphean clusterfucks.
So what is the Lot Program and how does it work?
The lot program is used by high volume accumulators of horses for the purpose of slaughter. It’s really a sort of “express lane” in that these producers use a group declaration (the Lot-EID or LEID) in lieu of individual EIDs. The program requires at least a 180 day recorded history prior to slaughter. Lot inspections review the procedures maintained in Lot Programs for equine feedlots – this covers the control of EIDs (Equine Information Documents), vaccines, medications, movement of horses in and out of each lot and a few other criteria. Please note that the lot program does not verify the health of any equines or the condition of the feedlot itself. The CFIA describes the process in more detail if you need it.
If you’re new to the horse slaughter issue, here’s a bit of history on the EID – its implementation was announced by then-Director of the Meat Programs Division of the CFIA, Dr. Richard Arsenault, in a response letter to the European Commission on October 23, 2009. Arsenault announced that, in order to meet EC requirements for exporting horsemeat, every equine presented for slaughter as of July 31, 2010 would be accompanied by an Equine Information Document.
Fast forward to 2014 when the European Commission’s Food and veterinary Office released an audit in 2014 that raised concerns about the tracking process. In 2011 the same issues were raised, so you could say there’s little evidence of improvement. You can read the final report, the response, and the CFIA proposed changes.
The audits reveal that, shockingly, Bouvry Exports/Prime Feedlot holds anywhere from 7,000 – 10,000 horses at any given time. According to the audit reports, a total of 52 lots of horses are sent to their deaths each year (1 lot per week). Additionally, horses who receive any medication while on the lot are subjected to painful branding and re-branding as part of the record-keeping process.
Forms Are So Hard And Confusing!
The February 2016 audit of Bouvry’s Prime Feedlot (where the report indicated 10,000+ horses were on-hand) contained some findings flagged as “unacceptable” by the Veterinarian-in-Charge:
Finding #6 and #7 (see pages 31 and 35): – “…drug list was changed in August but not updated. CFIA wasn’t informed. Instead of Derapen (penicillin G Procain) which is no longer available, Biomycin is used since August 2015. Biomycin is not authorized to be used yet.“ At the time of writing, Biomycin is not even listed on the Meat Hygiene manual for equines. The manufacturer of Biomycin states that is has a withdrawal time of 28 days (for cattle).
Finding #20 (see page 32 and 36): – “One of the records reviewed was not transferred from daily vaccine application records (lot records) to a Lot Equine Information Document. Fluvac vaccine application was missing. All other records verified during the audit were accurately transcribed.”
Finding #25 (see page 33 and 36): – “No EIDS on file, none reviewed. [Redacted] said the horse [kill] buyers did not supply any of EIDS [SIC] along with horses purchased. This issue was discussed at the previous audit and Prime Equine Lot.”
So there were no EIDs on file for an entire lot of horses? What happened to slaughter-bound horses without them? There is no mention of what became of them, or whether anyone attempted to locate the missing paperwork, although I presume the horses were slaughtered anyway, no matter how laughably incomplete or non-compliant the paperwork was.
“It is the responsibility of the Lot Program management to request EIDS and verify for non-permitted drugs.”
Supplemental Export Reports for a May 2016 visit that summarizes communications with regards to an Operational Guidance protocol distributed in February 2016. (page 45-47)
Perlich Bros. Auction gets called out for not collecting EIDs:
“[Redacted] contacted [redacted] of Perlich auction market over the phone in April 2016 (specific date unknown). The purpose of the call was explained, and [redacted] was asked about the creation of EIDs at his auction market. [Redacted’s] response was that, while [redacted] staff were happy to handle any EIDS that are submitted with equines for sale, no effort is made to ensure that horses enter auction with complete EIDS, that is is [SIC] “not their job,” and that the responsibility for obtaining valid EIDS lies with the buying agent. Very few are thus processed at [redacted] auction.” At this late stage (7 years after the implementation of the EID), how is it that the incomprehensibly stubborn auction staff can give the standard disclaimer, “that’s not my department?”
CFIA resorts to googling kill buyers/plant management for follow-up information:
“On 12 April [redacted] received a list of buying agents for the Bouvry plant from [redacted] who was, at the time, a CFIA meat hygiene inspector at the plant. When contact information was requested for these individuals, so that upcoming verifications could be discussed, it was requested that an explanation/reasoning for the request be sent directly to plant management. This was done by [redacted] on 13 April. Having not received a response by early the next week, a Google search was conducted to find a contact number for [redacted] spoke to [redacted] over the phone on 18 or 19 April. The potential for CFIA presence at upcoming horse auctions was discussed, as was the method with which he goes about obtaining EIDS for slaughter horses. [Redacted] reply was that [redacted] no longer buys horses for this purpose (slaughter) at Perlich auction because of the difficulty of obtaining EIDs. [Redacted] rather focuses on the Innisfail Auction Market (IAM) where all horses enter auction with EID unless explicitly declared by the owner that the animal is not for meat sale. There [redacted] is able to enter the ring and verify that the EID is acceptable before bidding on the horse.”
So who is “redacted” in this scenario? Clearly there is more than one person whose name has been concealed. Either this person is a kill buyer(s) or plant management, in which case, if they didn’t respond to the CFIA enquiry, that’s pretty inexcusable.
“[Redacted] encouraged the CFIA to audit [redacted] activities at the IAM.”
CFIA to Bouvry – EIDs must accompany all horses to the feedlot:
“It was felt that in order to conduct the verification task correctly, the district needed to be clear on whether or not it was permissible for horses bought in Canada to enter the feedlot system without an EID…” “The response was that unless there was some other auditable means (on file) of ensuring a history of no non-permitted substances in the horse(s) no horse without a valid EID is allowed to enter the feedlot, despite a six-month waiting period.”
The CFIA’s attempt to enforce what must seem like an unfathomable bureaucracy apparently perturbed staff at Bouvry’s, who sent an inquiry to the CFIA asking why [redacted] was “asking so many questions.” Due to the difficulties with paperwork at the Perlich auction, the CFIA discussed attending their auction on overtime and it was decided that this was not a valuable use of CFIA resources. Recommendations were passed to the Red Deer CFIA office for a vet inspector presence at Innisfail.
The confusion that continues to this day over the EID and other paperwork is evidence that inputs into the food chain are not something to be taken casually, yet that is exactly what is happening. The doubts highlighted in these reports leave another cloud over the already sordid industry – something policymakers need to pay attention to.
Despite this, Dr. Richard Arsenault, former director of the meat programs division for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), thinks that the regulations are working. “It’s extremely well respected in terms of compliance” – a statement that he has continually championed throughout the years. This is basically the same feeble confirmation that is echoed by anyone in charge of any aspect of the meat program at the CFIA. Downstream, MPs may take months before they reply to our complaints about horse slaughter, and if they do it’s usually nothing more than the standard form letter that doesn’t even address the concerns raised by the constituent. Instead, the response parrots the same impotent reassurances put out by the CFIA.
The horse slaughter pipeline is one of the most unregulated livestock venues in North America. There is absolutely no desire or motivation on the US side to enforce EID authenticity because Americans do not eat horsemeat. There is no resolve on the Canadian side because they are importing horses for the purpose of (primarily) exporting the meat. Regulating this paperwork would cost everyone money, and no one wants to do that.
You may also download these documents here.