Stop horse slaughter

letter to the editor from S. C. Casselli - Stop horse slaughter

A letter sent to MP Cathy McLeod:

Can you confirm to me and the two-thirds of Canadians against equine slaughter in Canada that you will fully support Bill C-322 and bring an end to the unnecessary torture of horses sent to slaughter facilities in this country or as live shipments to and from other countries?

When Canadians hung up harnesses and retired carriages and wagons to make way for modern mechanical farming and transportation, our horses, at that point in time should have crossed over to greener pastures to be removed from being classified as an agricultural animal to a companion and sport animal.  For over a hundred years horses have been the backbone of our country and as our final reward to the horse, we now are guilty of capitalizing off its flesh at inhumane slaughter facilities with the Canadian government’s stamp of approval.  We have failed the horse miserably as it carried us into the civilized world.  However, there is no civility in the videos or research papers telling of horses being grossly mistreated and inhumanely killed in Canadian slaughterhouses for the 18 per cent of the world’s population that actually consume horse meat, which is considered to be a delicacy for elite palates.

Horse slaughter is different than other animal slaughter.  Horses behave differently and are anatomically structured very differently than other meat producers causing their kill to be more difficult and inhumane.  Because of their differences, the kill is often poorly done causing a prolonged and agonizing death for the horse.  Some people have said there is no humane way to slaughter a horse.

I have viewed validated video footage taken of horses at slaughterhouses on Canadian soil and I am appalled that our Federal government condones this practice and considers it to be within acceptable levels.  I challenge you to view the videos and confirm that you consider the kills and the practices humane and within the acceptable limits of CFIA protocol,

After you have viewed these shocking videos please take time to review this 88 page document, “Pasture to Plate: The True Cost of Canada’s Horse Meat Industry”, which reinforces the mistreatment and too often the violent deaths the horses face at the slaughter facilities. The paper also identifies errors with animal identification, condition and in some instances age. The age of a horse can be an issue for export products as some countries prohibit older horse meat for consumption not to mention the questionable authenticity of the information.

Live equine shipment is another avenue we use to exploit horses and further capitalize from their life and blood.  Images of multiple horses squeezed together in wooden crates, transported by air for hours suffer with no water or food.  Those that do not perish on route will end their lives in Asia or Europe on a dinner plate.

Many people do not know that opportunist kill buyers find their horses at auctions and on-line classifieds and are horrified to learn that their horse was sold for meat.  Hundreds of companion, carriage and track horses take their final steps into a kill box at Canadian slaughter houses, most if not all have been treated with drugs and products banned from meat designated for human consumption.  How long will it take before human health issues occur as a result of the banned drugs contaminating horse meat and at that time will accusing fingers be pointing to Canada?  When this happens, will our entire agriculture trade be painted with the same brush?

A complete list of banned drugs can be found at

A US study (Holland, J. H. 2006.  A study of the relationship between horse slaughter and reported cases of abuse and neglect found at clearly shows the US was not flooded with so called “surplus” horses nor was there an increase in abuse and neglect with a two year closure of a horse slaughter facility in Illinois.

The study went on to mention that in the US horse brokers and feedlot operators dealing with slaughter horses tend to function at a low standard of animal husbandry.  Apparently the horse slaughter industry operates on a narrow profit margin, a volatile market can increase abuse and neglect within equine feedlots as they make efforts to capitalize on horse meat products.

The horse meat industry in Canada is contributing to a market the majority of Canadians do not agree with.  The capital this industry generates could easily end today and our economy would not even notice a blip because the lost revenue from rearing, slaughtering and shipping would be offset by what naturally happens when you choose to give a horse life over death, there will be less horse breeding occurring and more accountability from breeders, and more lives made richer through horse rescue – adoption – therapeutic applications – and of course, the addition to our economy with the maintenance costs of these horses, including the expenses of the longer living geriatric horse.

Because by-products of horse slaughter find a way into the market under a different guise, it becomes more relevant and necessary to ban equine slaughter in Canada and to stop contributing to it overseas.  These by-products re-enter the market in items such as gelatin, adhesive, bone meal, fertilizers, clothing, shoes, and natural hair brushes.  I can’t speak for every Canadian, but I am positive a large number of us prefer to not have any of these turn up as hidden ingredients in our desserts, on our envelopes, or mixed in our gardening products, nor do we want to wear it on our feet or on our backs or use it to create our next water colour masterpiece.  Additionally, I also don’t think very many Canadian’s want to be viewed by the eyes of the world that we are all horse meat eaters because a small minority group within our country chooses to dine on what most people consider companions.

As more of the public become educated to what is going on with their tax dollars, I speculate there will be considerable backlash and the Federal government will have to justify this shameful industry and trade they have allowed to continue.

This is the Chinese Year of the Horse; let it be the best year for them! Let horses have the legacy that they deserve by becoming companions, like our dogs and cats.  Please: Stop the carnage; Do what is morally and humanely right; and, Listen to the voting public!

After passing Bill C-322, do not grant a long phase out period, please act now!  Everyday Ottawa allows this to continue gives myself and thousands of other supporters more time to educate the current voting public and the upcoming youth vote with what is happening under the Conservatives watch.  PLEASE Support Bill C-322 and put a stop to Canada being the killing fields for horses.

I am currently securing a location to establish an information sharing and petition signing opportunity, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 31, and Feb. 1, in Barriere, and I welcome you to come and show your support for Bill C-322.

S. C. Cesselli

Barriere, B.C.