CFIA Livestock Tracking Proposal

Maybe I’m naive but I like it when government agencies seek out the opinions of Canadians on pending or potential legislation.  It makes me feel like, well, like a citizen…a citizen in good standing who has an obligation to participate in the making of law, not just someone, who, by accident of birth, happened to be born on Canadian soil.  

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The Toronto Star features Horse Slaughter on Front Page

The Toronto Star features Horse Slaughter on Front Page

I was alerted to this information on the Cdn Horse Defence Coalition blog. A heartfelt thank-you to the two reporters, Robert Cribb and David Graham, who researched this article and to The Toronto Star for making it their front-page feature! I was particularly grateful to learn from the video that the reporters actually followed a horse transport to see whether the horses had been fed or watered at any point. (We know they aren’t, but having it published by the mainstream media has an impact.) I read some of the comments from Star readers and it fascinates me that the ratio of pro-slaughter to anti-slaughter is almost two-to-three. Since some of them claimed to be horse-owners, you’d think that the article would compel them to do their own research, but then again, the level of ignorance about nature in general was appalling, eg. “oh yeah…it’s less cruel than to let them be eaten in the wild by bears and wolves.” Huh? Then there was the horse-owner who never gives bute to his five horses…well, not never…well, only three of five…or two of four…or, not in the past four years anyway…or…I got dizzy with the changing stats. Then there were Americans who slammed Canada (“we don’t do it in our country”)…um, no, you send them to us so we can do it for you (shame on us!). Some Americans rightly pointed out that their ban on slaughter didn’t help since so many horses are now left to die, abandoned by a roadside. Overbreeding, anyone? Unable or unwilling to euthanize, anyone? Those with a good appetite revelled in their regular diet of horsemeat: bute a l’orange, anyone?  Here are the links:

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1032379–shooting-horses-canada-s-slaughter-industry-under-fire?bn=1

for the YouTube video:

http://www.thestar.com/videozone/1032378–shooting-horses

and for an exceptional study of, and keen statistical analysis of horse slaughter in the States, go to:

http://www.horsefund.org/horse-racing-through-the-slaughter-pipeline-part1.php by Jane Allin

I’ll blog more on the above shortly.  In the meantime, I’ll keep hoping that The Montreal Gazette will feature something similar; after all, the Massueville Abattoir owned by Viandes Richelieu Meats is one of the worst offenders in terms of the manner in which they slaughter horses.

 

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Memorial for Horses Lost to Norval Slaughterhouse

Norval Meats, the last of the horse-slaughtering plants in Ontario, was finally and permanently closed.  The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC) held a Memorial Service which is now on youtube.  These were some of the offerings by those who attended the service.

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Horse meat: A Deadly Mouthful

Horse meat:  A Deadly Mouthful

On ne mange pas son ami! shouted the citizenry of Montréal at a raucous demonstration held around Christmas time in 1759 after the Catholic Church had enjoined parishioners to eat their horses during a time when beef was scarce.  “One doesn’t eat one’s friends” arose from a set of rural values which held that your horse was essential to your livelihood as a farmer—as necessary to your survival as agrarian-friendly weather.  Still, traditional recipes passed down from one generation to the next show that at least some Québécois ate their horses, for whatever reason, at some point in Québec history.  In the early 1950s, my own mother’s obstetrician ordered her to eat horsemeat to “enrich her blood”, the very lean meat considered a natural remedy for anaemia.  Today, proponents of horse slaughter for human consumption argue that horse meat is healthier for you than beef, and at the end of his life, a horse can serve yet another human purpose:  to feed the hungry.  

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Wild Horse Annie (Velma Johnston)

I‘ve never been a big reader of biographies except for Margaret Forster’s who has covered everyone from Thackeray to Daphne du Maurier.  Forster’s skill at drawing the reader into the life of her subject and exposing the dramas, big and little, which fill out that life without exaggeration, without embellishment, is unparalleled.  Alison Griffiths and David Cruise, authors of Wild Horse Annie & The Last of the Mustangs. The Life of Velma Johnston have met, if not surpassed, such high standards–not only for the voluminousness of their research–but also for the quality and flow of the writing. There is no hint of sentimentalism in their account of a woman scarred early on by polio who took on the US Bureau of Land Management long before animal or horse advocacy groups were part of our culture. It’s a true David and Goliath story in which a seemingly nondescript American citizen (1950s homemaker, secretary) chances upon a horse transport and is so horrified by what she sees that she determines to stop it.  As it turns out, she changes the course of american law with regard to the treatment and slaughter of the American mustang. I can’t say enough about the authors’ handling of the many characters who flow in and out of Velma’s messianic mission, nor their deft presentation of Velma herself.  As a child, I was a great reader of Marguerite Henry’s classic horse stories for youngsters:  I loved them all.  But like most young horse-lovers, I didn’t know anything about the underbelly of the horse culture nor anything about how their slaughter came about initially to feed protein to our pet dogs. As the fast food burger outlets grew during that period, more and more land was taken over by cattlemen who claimed the mustangs were pests, using up pasture they needed for their cow herds. I learned a lot about the american mustang’s displacement from natural corridors which for centuries had been his home.  As my own novel, Ground Manners, approaches its publication date, I’m glad I didn’t come across Wild Annie before now:  I never would have finished my book.  And the few grisly scenes of slaughter in GM are more than matched by disturbing descriptions in Wild Annie.  I had polio as a child–a very minor case compared to Annie’s; and she died on my birthday. Another reason I feel close to her and her passion to save the mustangs.  But mostly, I am part of a readership grateful to Griffiths and Cruise for bringing Velma’s courageous mission back to the table.

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