The Graphic Truth About Horse Slaughter

According to information at its website, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, an association of organizations opposed to slaughter of horses, in February 2010

received hidden camera footage of horse slaughter practices at Viande Richelieu in Quebec and Bouvry Exports in Alberta – the latter known as the largest exporter of horsemeat in North America.

Here is a link to a webpage at the CHDC’s site that includes links to the footage, and this warning:

WARNING: Content is very graphic and could be disturbing to some viewers.

The footage was also posted to YouTube but was recently removed, apparently on the basis that it violated YouTube’s terms of use.  Bill desBarres, chairman of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC), reportedly told the agricultural trade magazine “The Western Producer” that he did not believe the footage accurately depicted conditions at the two facilities.  He said:

I’m not convinced that those pictures were taken at Fort Macleod.

The claim that undercover footage of slaughter facilities that shows horses suffering has been somehow fabricated or manufactured by animal rights activists, vegans or vegetarians is one that has been made before by people who should and probably do know better.

I attended a Society for Range Management (SRM) conference entitled Wild & Feral Horse and Burro Management and Policy on November 3-5, 2009, at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino and Hotel in Sparks/Reno, Nevada.

I went expecting to hear about the science of managing wild horse and burro populations on the western U.S. range.  What I found instead was a two day excoriation of Congress, the horses themselves, wild horse advocates and the people who brought about the closure of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S..

A two-page memorandum of Summary Points from the Conference published on November 23, 2009, concluded with this paragraph:

the majority expressed the opinion that Congress cannot continue to mandate BLM management of wild horses while depriving BLM any of the management options authorized in the 1971 WHB Act and withholding adequate and consistent funding.

There was no vote taken at the conference to support this statement, but most people who chose to comment or participate as panelists expressed the strong desire that the BLM not be “deprived” of the “management option” of sending wild horses to slaughter.

The Conference itself was a parade of people mocking Congress, animal rights and welfare advocates and the horses themselves.  Congress was described as “idiots,” advocates as soft-headed, and the horses as vicious, rapacious and capable of reproducing like rabbits (a biological impossibility).  The repeated demand that the BLM be “given back” “all the tools” they need was a drumbeat that started to sound like “kill them, kill them.”  And the claim made by horse welfare advocates that slaughter was inhumane was dismissed by panelists and people commenting as the wailings of the overly emotional or a fabrication by “extremists” whose ultimate goal is to create a nation of vegans.  I was (still am) astonished that these charges of fabricated footage of slaughter atrocities could be made with a straight face, but the forces of commercial agriculture are getting desperate and absurd.  As Equine Welfare Alliance president John Holland put it

One has to wonder, does desBarres believe the CHDC tortured horses in staged mock-ups of the plants or does he think they hired Steven Spielberg to produce a digital fantasy?

3 Responses to “The Graphic Truth About Horse Slaughter”
  1. I’m afraid I have to agree with you, Shari. Even if they started telling the truth, I could never trust them. Too many lies for too long.

    • theandbetween says:

      Our “use” and abuse of the equids–wild, feral or domestic–is so widespread and persistent that it is almost impossible to know where to start to correct the injustices. But the injustices will be addressed. I am certain of this. And the people who stand in the way of the inevitable better day for horses, burros and humans that is on the horizon will find themselves standing with a smaller and uglier group of people by the day. It is irrelevant whether this or that individual, lawmaker, government official or agency tells the truth or can be trusted. The truth is out there on the range. And everyone knows it.

      • I have been a horse lover since birth. I’ve owned horses for over 30 years, and I’ve often thought that the horse is both the noblest AND the most abused animal that ever lived. This saddens me more than I could ever express.

        I do what I can, but it seems so little. At least I can guarantee my own horses that they will NEVER be exploited or abused.

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