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Winnipeg Humane Society takes stand against export of horses for slaughter

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Humane Society takes stand against export of horses for slaughter'
Winnipeg Humane Society takes stand against export of horses for slaughter
Video of over a hundred horses sitting on the freezing tarmac of Winnipeg’s airport has led animal rights activists to call on the federal government to change what they call archaic rules surrounding horses. Global's Joe Scarpelli has the story – Feb 10, 2021

Video of over a hundred horses sitting on the freezing tarmac of Winnipeg’s airport has led animal rights activists to call on the federal government to change what they call archaic rules surrounding horses.

The footage, shared on the Winnipeg Humane Society’s social media profiles, shows dozens of crates allegedly filled with live horses sitting in the cold overnight, preparing to be shipped for slaughter to countries where horse meat is served and eaten.

Read more: Live horses shipped from Canadian airports to Japan for slaughter

In a statement Tuesday, the WHS said it’s calling for an end to the practice of exporting live horses for slaughter.

“Exposure to severe weather conditions, excessive travel and loading times, lack of accountability, and prolonged exposure to stressful environments make this industry indisputably inhumane,” the WHS said.

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“The Winnipeg Humane Society pledges to continue to address the issue of horse exportation until this inhumane practice comes to an end.”

Animal welfare consultant Brittany Semeniuk told 680 CJOB that advocacy groups like the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition have also documented numerous instances of mistreatment.

“Horses are only supposed to be loaded one horse per crate. They’ve documented multiple instances of horses being crated two to three horses per crate,” said Semeniuk.

“They’ve also received documentation showing horses being severely injured during the loading process, horses that have died during the transport process.

“Even if we tried to improve the regulations on how it was running, it would still be incredibly inhumane to subject these horses to 30-plus hours of air travel just to be slaughtered for another market.”

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Semeniuk said it’s time for the federal government to step up and move horses out of the “livestock” category, and also take a hard look at how other species are treated.

According to a 2017 letter from Canada’s then-minister of agriculture and agri-food, Lawrence MacAulay, when horses are shipped to Japan by air, professional judgement and previous experience indicate that the horses can travel safely and comfortably without segregation.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) told Global News it doesn’t have the authority to deny export shipments if they’re in compliance with the regulations and requirements of the importing country.

“Any Canadian exporter who has successfully negotiated a commercial contract with an importer in Japan and who can comply with Japan’s import conditions (as specified in an established health certificate) may export horses to Japan,” said a spokesperson for the agency.

The spokesperson also said the CFIA has veterinary inspectors present for each air shipment to ensure they’re up to requirements of the Health of Animals Act and Live Animal Regulations.

“The horses that were recently exported from the Winnipeg airport live outdoors and are therefore acclimatized to Manitoba weather conditions.

“The loading of the crates at the airport was completed with oversight from a CFIA veterinarian and the crates were loaded on the plane within two hours of being assembled on the tarmac.”

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A notable advocate for horses is acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Jann Arden, who tweeted Tuesday, in response to the Winnipeg video, that shipping horses overseas for slaughter is a ‘betrayal’ to Canada’s horses.

“Horses… have pulled our carts and our families and our belongings for thousands of miles across the most rugged terrain on the planet,” she said.

“And we fly them to Japan to be killed and eaten raw.”

Click to play video: 'Live horses shipped from Canadian airports to Japan for slaughter'
Live horses shipped from Canadian airports to Japan for slaughter

With files from Katie Dangerfield

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