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.  

Read More

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.

 

Read More

A Primer on Horse Slaughter (B)

A few notes before we continue.  Evelyne Villers, horsewoman and Editor-in-Chief of Les Hebdos du Suroît which produces a number of local papers widely read throughout the Vaudreuil-Soulanges riding where I live, wrote an excellent piece on Horse Euthanasia in January 2010.  For those of you who read French, go to Blogue Equin on the Premiere Edition website, and enjoy Evelyne’s comprehensive take on life with horses from natural horse training to events coverage and horse health and husbandry.  I admit it:  I’m a Villers groupie partly because her articles are extremely well-balanced regardless of her personal view of horses, which really is what a good reporter does:  presents the facts without interjecting one’s own opinions.  Very few reporters remain out there in media land of such professional calibre.

It’s because of something I read in that article, almost two years ago, that Q&A, Part B, begins with the fallout in the US after horse slaughter was banned on US soil (now be careful:  there’s a big difference between rumour and fact.  I’ll get to that shortly).  

Read More

A Primer on Horse Slaughter (A)

First published in early November of 2011 – I have put this post up front because it has become buried beneath my more recent posts and readers often have to search for it.  Enjoy and don’t forget to check Primer part B, part B+,  part C (The Last Part – Possibly) and appendices, as well as the ‘Slaughter Stats and Facts’ category for updates. I have also created a ‘Featured Articles’ page to display popular blog posts.

Before I set up the Q&A format, let me say that, at no time, does this primer refer to animals traditionally raised for, and used as, food for human consumption.  Horses fall into a unique category, as North American pets such as dogs and cats fit into their own special category, justified by the place horses have always held in the history of civilisation, the building of nations; service, military and sport roles.  Even if (or especially if) you don’t agree with that statement, stay with me anyway and see if your pro-horse slaughter argument still stands in the face of the facts presented.  So, if you’re clear that we are not, at any time, talking about animals purposely bred for food, and that we are only talking about equines (vegetarians, leave the room and go have a smoke), let’s start with a few questions and then some definitions:

Read More

American Cousins

American Cousins

Yes, it’s true…I’m one-quarter American (or one-sixth or some fraction thereof).  Maternal Gran emigrated to Youngstown, Ohio, married a distant cousin in Philly, PA (no Deliverance jokes, please!), moved to TO or Montreal (I forget which was first) but ended up, anyway, in Montreal, and bore seven children, one of the last two of whom was my mother.  Mum was a helluva dancer and singer…so much so that, in her heyday, she was spotted by a talent scout from New York who tried to persuade her father that she had a career waiting in New York.  It was a different era then, so of course, Grandpa felt that only hussies were actresses and singers, and so on.  Mum went on to marry my father, and I’ll save her story for another time.  

Read More