4/1/10

Canada's Chambers of Carnage

A Sweeping Undercover Investigation of Canada's Leading Equine Slaughterhouses

Horse Welfare Group calls for immediate closure of Canada's horse slaughter plants

Westbank, B.C., March 30, 2010: In late February 2010, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) received hidden camera footage of horse slaughter practices at Quebec's Viande Richelieu and Alberta's Bouvry Exports - the latter known as North America's largest exporter of horsemeat. The CHDC has asked a panel of veterinarians, the BC SPCA and the World Society for the Protection of Animals to review the footage, which contains numerous instances of improper stunning and horses showing signs of returning consciousness.

Early audit results of the footage show automatic failures of both facilities. The CHDC has compelling proof that puts into question the effectiveness of the assembly-line slaughter of horses. The evidence demonstrates that both the facilities in Alberta and Quebec fail to meet humane slaughter standards used by the CFIA to audit Canadian slaughterhouses. The CHDC's June 2008 report on Natural Valley Farms - the now bankrupt horse slaughterhouse in Saskatchewan (see story) documented the inadequate stunning of horses with the penetrating captive bolt gun. At both plants in the February 2010 investigation, a .22 rifle was used, and again horses were shot incorrectly, with some regaining consciousness. As stated by Alberta veterinarian Dr. Debi Zimmermann: "I conclude that the wary and flighty nature of the horse, coupled with the poorly designed kill plant systems currently in place at Bouvry Exports and Viande Richelieu, results in unacceptable levels of suffering endured by horses (both in number of horses and degree of suffering), and poses inherent dangers to plant personnel." Dr. Zimmermann adds: "The shooters are seldom able to adhere to the required protocols for euthanasia by firearm, due to a combination of horse and human factors."

As there are only two government-approved methods of stunning horses in Canada - captive bolt gun and rifle - and both methods have been shown to cause prolonged suffering in numerous horses, we conclude that these animals cannot be slaughtered humanely in today's slaughterhouse assembly lines.

The CHDC therefore calls for the immediate closure of Canada's horse slaughter plants.

For further information, please contact:
Twyla Francois
Central Region Director
T: 204-296-1375

Chambers of Carnage
A Sweeping Undercover Investigation of Canada's Leading Equine Slaughterhouses

In late February 2010, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) 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. The CHDC has compelling proof that puts into question the effectiveness of the assembly-line slaughter of horses. The evidence demonstrates that both the facilities in Alberta and Quebec fail to meet humane slaughter standards used by the CFIA to audit Canadian slaughterhouses.

To view compilations of the footage obtained, please scroll down.

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


  • Bouvry Part I of III






  • Bouvry Part II of III




  • Bouvry Part III of III




  • Richelieu Part I of III





  • Richelieu Part II of III








  • Richelieu Part III of III







  • Photo Slideshow





  • For footage indexes, report and photo stills, click links below: Bouvry Index Richelieu Index  


    Statement from World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)
      The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is appalled by evidence of grossly inhumane slaughter of horses taking place in Canada. We have been sent video footage that is stated to have been taken recently in Bouvry Exports Calgary Ltd slaughterhouse in Fort Macleod, Alberta and Viande Richelieu Inc./Richelieu Meat Inc. slaughterhouse in Massueville, Quebec.  It is clear that neither the facilities nor the behaviour of the personnel shown are suited to the humane slaughter of horses, and that extreme suffering results for many individual animals. Problems include failure to restrain each animal's head properly before shooting, shooting from too great a distance, shooting in the wrong part of the head or body, failure to follow up with an immediate second shot in animals that were not killed by the first, hoisting apparently conscious animals, and - in the case of the Richelieu plant - cruel handling and treatment of the horses, including excessive whipping and overuse of an electric prod as well as an apparent callous disregard for the animals' suffering. An additional cause of very major concern is the presence of what appear to be either plant supervisors or inspectors who observe the employees' actions and yet do nothing.  The WSPA calls on the appropriate authorities to take immediate action to close both these plants down and ensure that those responsible are disciplined. Neither plant should be reopened until or unless they have been redesigned to meet humane slaughter standards, and all staff in contact with these intelligent animals have been trained to treat them with the dignity they deserve.  Furthermore, as we understand that these are the two largest of only four slaughter plants federally registered and licensed to export horse meat abroad, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food should revoke their registration as well as any export permits immediately. To ensure that similar problems are not occurring at the two other federally registered horse slaughter plants, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) should commission independent audits of those as soon as possible.  Measures must be taken to ensure that procedures at the slaughterhouse are carried out in accordance with legislation, including the Canadian Meat Inspection Act which requires that all animals should be slaughtered humanely. We understand that slaughter should be overseen by the CFIA. That oversight should guarantee avoidance of practices that inflict extreme pain and suffering on slaughtered animals, such as those witnessed here that affect hundreds of animals. The WSPA would be happy to provide advice on appropriate facilities and training for humane slaughter, if required, to help protect animals from needless suffering. MVDr. Rasto Kolesar Farm Animal Programme Manager WSPA World Society for the Protection of Animals 89 Albert Embankment London SE1 7TP T: 0044 (0)20 7587 5053 F: 0044 (0)20 7587 5057 D: 0044 (0)20 7587 5053 rastokolesar@wspa.org.uk rastokolesar@wspa-international.org Patrick Tohill Programs Manager WSPA Canada World Society for the Protection of Animals 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 960 Toronto, ON M4P 2Y3 p: (416) 369-0044 x104 f: (416) 369-0147 tf: 1-800-363-9772 www.wspa.ca





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    1 comment:

    1. I can't watch the videos, they make me sick. I hope they close the facilities for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. If it's not practical to close them down then at least it should be monitored closely for their inhumane practices and implement a better humane way to do this.It's amazing how cruel some people can actually be, I wonder how they sleep at night.

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    "From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra