Is Horse Slaughter Now a Cottage Industry? Revised

On my earlier posts about the repealing of Section 33 of the Meat Inspection Act of 1990, Alert! Horse Apartheid, and Are you Eating Beef Laced with Horsemeat, there was a revealing comment shared by Theresa Anne Nolet, a horse advocate.  This is what she wrote:

Good day Cynthia just received an email response from Dr.Brian Evans of CFIA in response to an email I had sent him.

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Don’t Let Harper Cut the CFIA

A dear friend of mine who observed and monitored feedlots and horse slaughter in Western Canada for years before the CHDC or myself or any other group that I know of warned me just recently that while we’re busy maligning the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the horsemeat industry is well and even thriving.  Her comments brought me up short.  One of my own chief arguments has been how absurdly understaffed the CFIA is, but it’s been too easy to pursue them and their shortcomings rather than the Government of Canada itself or an industry which closes ranks like a secret society whenever the public demands specifics–and gets away with it.

I replied rather sheepishly to my friend by saying that Canadians have every right to expect their own food safety agency to protect our health.  And we do, and it should.  But you can’t get blood from a stone.  That’s why the cuts to our food safety program that the Harper government is planning are so scary:

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Gazette Food Critic Enjoys Horsemeat

Lesley Chesterman, food critic of The Montreal Gazette, reviewed a restaurant in Montreal called “DNA”.  This is what she wrote about the horse filet dish served by chef Derek Dammann:

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Avon & China: the Economics of Harm

UPDATE from In Defense of Animals, posted on FB, July 2014. China Stops Cosmetic Animal Testing The Chinese government just passed a law that removes animal testing requirements on cosmetic products. With a $1.7 billion cosmetics industry, this is a major change that will save countless animal lives. This is a huge reversal from China’s 2012 animal testing mandate for all cosmetic products, which prompted companies like Avon and Estée Lauder to drop their cruelty-free policies and start animal testing in order to tap into the growing Chinese cosmetics market. Due to loopholes in the law, experts warn that some animal testing may continue, but it’s a big step in the compassionate direction.
Let’s leave the subject of animals for a moment, and focus on the specious arguments by which multi-national industries get away with murder, so to speak. In the late sixties, when I was about 16, I watched a TV documentary on how cosmetics and beauty care companies experimented on animals to both test and improve their products (at the time, as I recall, “hypoallergenic” shampoos were the newest thing). TV images in that doc of cats with their skulls prised open and electrodes attached to their brains, eyes, and faces left me in shock.
I had only just begun wearing makeup (strict upbringing) and was now faced with what I thought was a moral dilemma. I had already joined the second wave of feminism and would shortly be working with other young women to set up a Women’s Centre at my local college (CEGEP). Wasn’t that enough? Some of the more militant feminists had already eschewed cosmetics, but for completely unrelated reasons.

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Ohh, Radio-Canada (Mar 1st, 7pm)

I must apologize to Claude Brunet, interviewer/host of the recent Radio-Canada broadcast, Bien dans son assiette (see When Reporters Get it Wrong )–at least, in part, and I’ll tell you why shortly.  First, I’d like to address a few questions that have come my way, especially since so many are sharing this blog in cyberspace (and, it would be nice if some of you new visitors would actually buy or even read my novel because more than half of what I post here already appears in Ground Manners. A Novel …but I digress).

Q:  Why have the numbers of horses slaughtered in Canada decreased between the years 2008 and 2009?

A:  There were seven slaughterhouses killing horses in Canada; then there were five; then there were four.  

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Bear Witness to the Facts

Recently, I’ve received emails saying that I should have been clearer about the non-relationship between abattoir closures in the US in 2007 and the phenomenon of horse abandonment.  (I don’t know about that.  I thought my Primers on Horse Slaughter on this blog and published on The Stablewoman Gazette clearly showed that there was no relationship.  But I tend to live in my head, so I may be wrong about how clear my writing was.)

So, according to the US government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report:  “The total number of US horses sent to slaughter in 2006, the last full year of domestic slaughter [the last abattoir closed in late 2007, thus not giving a full year’s numbers. my italics]…(gives) a total of 137,688 horses.  Taken together, the 137,984 US horses that were sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico in 2010 is approximately equal to the total number of horses slaughtered in 2006.”  GAO Report

Again, look at the numbers:  (2006)  137, 688    (2010) 137,984   A difference of 296 equines. For 2011, go to the EWA site; they always update their stats.  Now the GAO is no friend to horses, which perhaps is as it should be.  It is an agency which, in this case, was mandated by the US government to study the distaff side of the US horse industry, so it must be objective and neutral on the subject under its scrutiny.  We can safely say, then, that its figures are accurate as far as numbers legally recorded by authoritative agencies can be–especially since, if you collate numbers gathered by non-governmental, industry-specific, and advocacy groups, the numbers are readily corroborated (at least on paper).

The report is flawed, however, in other respects, and I invite you to read the Position Paper co-authored by the EWA and the Animal Law Coalition (ALC) called:  An Analysis of the GAO Report on Horse Welfare:  Disturbing Omissions and Cover-up.  (visit the EWA site)

See…a difference of 296 equines.  As a horse advocate, I cry for one just as I do for ten, for tens of thousands.  They are all precious to us.  But in terms of keeping the record straight and arguing from a strong position, the numerical difference is clearly insignificant.  Most importantly, it refutes the pro-slaughter argument that the closing of US abattoirs increased horse abandonment.  It didn’t; there is no such relationship.  People have always abandoned their pets (illegal, to begin with); people have always overbred horses; and those specific pathologies are social phenomena unrelated to food slaughter.

 

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