05/31/2012 2:27PM

Canadian slaughterhouse firm no longer accepting Thoroughbreds


Viande Richelieu, the company that operates two of Canada’s four equine slaughterhouses, appears to be backing away from accepting Thoroughbreds for slaughter after their unusual move of returning slaughter-bound former racehorses Canuki and Cactus Cafe.

The two Thoroughbreds left Beulah Park’s barn area May 1 after their owner, Barbara Price, allegedly sold them to trainer Mark Wedig. Ohio stewards investigating the horses’ whereabouts ruled Price off for a year and fined her $1,000 for impeding the investigation and providing false information. About three weeks later, Wedig presented Canuki and Cactus Cafe to West Virginia state veterinarian John Day in connection with Mountaineer Park officials’ inquiry into the horses’ whereabouts.

According to a May 24 e-mail from Richelieu administrative technician Geneve Ethier to Mindy Lovell, a Canadian farm owner whom Ohio stewards authorized to contact Richelieu on their behalf, the Canuki and Cactus Cafe case “did occur major problems to us and a lot of time, efforts, and money consuming. So to avoid that in the future, the plant advises all his suppliers to not BUY those thoroughbred[s] and overall not have them ship to us. . . . For us, thoroughbred[s] are definitely banned from our premises.”

Viande Richelieu operates the equine slaughterhouses Viande Richelieu Meat Inc. in Massueville near St.-Hyacinthe, Quebec, and Bouvry Export in Fort MacLeod, Calgary, Alberta.

Asked whether Richelieu had told him to stop buying Thoroughbreds on the company’s behalf, supplier Bruce Rotz of Shippensburg, Pa., said: “They did. I buy horses for them. We never did bring them too many Thoroughbreds. We tried to stay away from them. They’re just aggravation. A lot of people don’t want them slaughtered, you know.”

Richelieu Viande declined to comment, but Ethier told Daily Racing Form : “Someone told me you already talked to our buyer in the U.S.A. . . . So you speak with someone, so you have your answer.”

About 90,000 horses of all breeds are killed annually in Canada’s four federally registered slaughterhouses, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and about 66,000 of those horses arrive from the United States. The federal agency did not provide information regarding the number of Thoroughbreds slaughtered in Canada each year. Canadians annually consume about 300 tons of horse meat, on average, the CFIA says, but most of the horse meat from Canadian slaughterhouses is exported to European food markets.

The use of North American horse meat for human consumption, and strict European Union protocols regarding food safety, form an important undercurrent in the debate over racehorse slaughter.

In July 2010, the CFIA began requiring that all horses presented for slaughter be accompanied by an Equine Information Document, including a description of the horses’ markings and a record of all their vaccinations and medications for the previous six months. Slaughterhouse operators are required to screen each EID, match it to the horse presented for slaughter, and then provide the document to a CFIA official for verification. Anti-slaughter advocates maintain that the EIDs can be forged or falsified, a federal offense in Canada, by owners or suppliers selling horses to slaughter. That, anti-slaughter and equine welfare advocates say, can allow drug-tainted meat to enter the human food chain.

Some drugs commonly administered to race and sport horses are considered safe in food animals, once certain withdrawal times have passed. These include ivermectin, furoseminde (Salix or Lasix), flunixin (Banamine), and altrenogest (Regu-mate). But others – including clenbuterol (Ventipulmin), boldenone (Equipoise), phenylbutazone (Butazolidin), and nitrofurazone (Fura-Zone or Furacin) – are not permitted at all in horses slaughtered for food.

“All carcasses are individually inspected to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” CFIA media relations official Lisa Gauthier said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, federally registered establishments where animals are slaughtered are routinely inspected to ensure compliance with the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations. The Agency also has a monitoring program to randomly test meat for the presence of pesticides, environmental contaminants, and drug residues. . . . When the CFIA detects results that are of concern, sampling frequency can be increased.”

It’s not yet clear whether concerns over drugs played a role in Richelieu’s apparent policy change on Thoroughbreds. Richelieu supplier Rotz says anti-slaughter advocates, not Canadian regulations, were his biggest headache in buying Thoroughbreds for slaughter.

“I had a lot of hassle with it,” he added. “I don’t even want one [a Thoroughbred] on my premises. These people that say, ‘Save the Thoroughbreds’ or ‘Save any horse,’ if they put 10 dollars a week to feed the homeless people and the mistreated children in this world, you know, this world would be totally different.”

Patricia Cremona More than 1 year ago
Any unwanted animal that cannot be placed should be euthanized. That is the logical and humane solition A wuick painless death is better that being shipped hundreds of miles to be killed by some guy who couldn't care less about the feelings of an animal Would you do that for a living, shoot a captive bolt in horses heads all day all week? The last thing your woe yor horse is an honorable death. And being dead rather than alive and unwanted and bounced around in inhumane conditions is not a way to live.
Carol Lucas More than 1 year ago
Cynthia Longo More than 1 year ago
Re: the last sentence of the article - Most people that have compassion for animals also have compassion for humans AND also contribute to their care and welfare as well.
Vicki Laudadio More than 1 year ago
People have the brains and ability to care for themselves, those who mistreat children can go to jail (or sent for slaughter), People have caused the over population of horses and are therefore responsible for them, they cannot look after themselves. I do not know of any canadians that knowingly eat horse meat. if you can spend the money the horse makes for you, then you can find a home for it when you no longer want it. Food animals are raised for food, horses are not. And as for Anonymous-you are an idiot. Did they have a whole lot of choice during world ware II, do you know why the bison became almost extinct? Maybe you also agree with cannabalism?
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
This is certainly not a victory for the thoroughbreds... I said early on ... " they will simply ship them to Mexico now and it will be worse for them" Rotz said he was NOT BUYING ANYMORE thoroughbreds but guess what??.. he had one a week later and guess what he was trying to do with her? Send her all the way to Mexico... once again horse advocates try to make changes that sometimes fail the horses and the fate is worse. People need to think things through and do the best thing for the horses. By the way, he is still buying thoroughbreds .. Rotz is a liar .. certainly not what I would call a victory as some said it was!!!
Sarah Dyck More than 1 year ago
When an animal has a name, wears shoes and a halter and has learned to trust humans; this is a companion animal. Period. Not food. There are countries where eating cats and dogs is considered acceptable. Does this mean that we (North Americans) should equip animal shelters with slaughter equipment to supply cat and dog meat to those countries? I think not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What makes a horse any different from any other animal we slaughter? is it because Americans do not eat horse meat? In World War II, people ate horse meat to survive. How can you cut horses out of the animals we slaughter; cows, lambs, bison etc.. Is it because these other animals cannot run as fast? Talk about blinkers on!!!!! Is it because these animals cannot compete for the triple crown?
Vicki Tobin More than 1 year ago
It's because US horses are not raised or regulated as food animals.Our food sources do not have careers and are not raised for any purpose other than food. US horses are raised as non-food animals and should be humanely euthanized as we do with all non-food animals in the US.
Mary Adkins-Matthews More than 1 year ago
Vicki you are so so right... and these are issues that pro-slaughter activists will not address time and time again.
kittlekat More than 1 year ago
Anonymous, do you not read anything of the comments and articles before writing? This isn't about cultural taboos about eating horses. This is about overbreeding of horses and a throwaway attitude toward animals we've created for use in sport, as pets, and the like. And using slaughter methods designed for cattle etc. that do NOT work in a humane way on horses. This is about waste and cruelty, not fashions among foodies, or eating horses to survive during wartime. Do some reading and research before you post hackneyed bursts of outrage.
willington_bob More than 1 year ago
I'm wondering how many of you people have ever actually owned a horse? Horses are livestock. Yes they are more of a pet to some people but I've seen people who had pet cows as well so are we to quit eating them as well? To be honest eating horse meat doesn't appeal to me at all but I'd much rather see an animal going to a slaughter facility than starving to death because someone can't afford to feed it or just doesn't want it anymore and can't get rid of it. And don't evensay there's plenty of shelters there's not. And euthanizing with a vet costs hundreds. Also I think you'll find that when horses were slaughtered in the U.S. There were laws to make it as humane as possible. But we couldn't have that so let's stop it and let them be sent to where there are no laws like that as well as send all that money out of the country and wreck te horse market. Take a look at the condition of the horse population noe compared to when the kill markets here were good. It's horrible. Much better to be dead than starving and hurting to me. At least there's no more pain. And if it can be done humanely before they are starved like before well where's the problem? Haven't we all made it worse for the horse?
Suzanne Moore More than 1 year ago
I've been a horse owner for 35 years, Bob. That answer your question? Didn't you READ the above comments? There has NEVER been a loss of the slaughter option. To say or imply otherwise is a LIE. In fact, we are sending more horses to slaughter now than we were when the domestic plants were open. SO, you CANNOT blame lack of slaughter option for any abuse or abandonment, now or any other time. In fact, statistics have proven that horse abuse INCREASES in the areas around slaughter plants due to the "throw-away" atmosphere they engender. Besides, another LIE is that slaughter plants would even accept this type of horse. Slaughter plants have never accepted old, sick, injured, crippled, abused, starved, or even skinny horses. They never have and never will accept them. What we are seeing are the horses that have already been REJECTED by the slaughter plants and that the killers themselves have abandoned. That's what kill buyers DO. I lived near both slaughter plants in Texas, and I tell you right now, they were no more humane than the commercial plants in Mexico - where our horses go - or any of the plants in Canada. In fact, all these plants are owned by the SAME COMPANIES that owned our domestic plants - a Belgian based consortium. They are governed by the same body - The Commission of the European Union - as our domestic plants and the rules are exactly the same. The USDA did nothing for our horses then and they won't if plants are here again. See: http://kaufmanzoning.net Remember, I was THERE - in Kaufman and at Dallas Crown - searching for friends' stolen horses. You seem to have no understanding of the difference in regulated food animals like cattle and unregulated non-food animals like horses. Cattle are under very strict regulations from birth to slaughter. Horses are NOT. The killers scavenge them wherever they can - including stealing and purchasing under false pretenses. These men know nothing about the horses they are selling for human food, and having no scruples at all - routinely forge any documentation needed. In fact, the USDA permits the killers themselves to affix the "USDA Inspected" sticker on their horses! They might as well be selling road-kill for humans to eat. All this is VERY well documented, including the fact that horse slaughter is horribly cruel and cannot be made humane because horses are high-strung creatures of flight that panic if they can't run. This makes the LEGAL use of the captive-bolt pistol and mandatory head restraints impossible. Horse slaughter does NOT comply with the law regarding humane handling of slaughter animals. Humane euthanasia and disposal does not cost nearly as much as you have posted. It's about as much as caring for a horse for another month. If you are running as close to the margin as that you can't afford to own a horse in the first place. YOU are the one who has never owned a horse. In any event, the EU - our largest customer for horse meat - having found contamination and forged documentation in our horses in their plants in both Mexico and Canada, have stated that they will no longer accept our horses after July 1, 2013 unless we have implemented a traceability system comparable to the burdensome and expensive passport system used in the EU. This would cost millions of tax dollars on top of the millions of tax dollars it will cost just to inspect any plants that do open. This when the USDA doesn't have enough funds to properly inspect OUR food supply! There is no future for human consumption horse slaughter in the US.
Suzanne Moore More than 1 year ago
Bobby Boy, I've owned horses for over 30 years - that long enough for ya? Euthanasia does cost some money-about as much as keeping a horse for a month. If a person can't come up with THAT, how were they keeping the horse in the first place? Your excuses for you load of pro-slaughter crap are old and worn out. Have you ever heard of RESPONSIBILITY? That's what you take on when you freely and of your own volition decide to become a horse owner. I'm sick of the whine, whine, WHINE! The OWNER is responsible for his animals - in sickness or in health, life AND death. There are NO excuses. And for God's sake, get off the idiotic pet cow glop. Cattle are BRED to be food animals. If someone wants to make a pet our of a cow, great, but the doesn't change the fact that cattle are bred to be food animals and horses are NOT. At least the person with the pet cow doesn't have to worry about their pet being stolen and slaughtered. It's different with us horse owners - since horses are NOT raised as food animals, the kill buyers have to prey on US. I lived between the two horse slaughter plants in Texas for 15 nightmarish years, and during that time, FOUR of my personal friends had their horses stolen, and my own horse barely escaped the same fate. I SAW horse slaughter in Kaufman and the infamous Dallas Crown slaughter plant there. The plants in Mexico and Canada are regulated by the SAME companies - Belgian/Dutch from the European Union. Ours were just as bad, if not worse. Horse slaughter is NOT HUMANE! It's impossible to humanely slaughter horses in a fast paced, assembly line structure of the commercial mass kill slaughter plants - especially using equipment that was designed for cattle - a VERY different species. Go watch it sometime. I dare you. The kill markets were fantastic until the horseburger scandal broke in the EU. You are either an idiot or a pro-slaughter troll - or both. Either way, you need to update your propaganda.
marcferrell More than 1 year ago
I am a breeder of thoroughbreds and do not agree that it is the breeders who are the only problem. We breed our mares to stallions and sell the horses to others who intend to race them. i think that there should be a tax placed upon horses at every step of the way to deal with this issue. From the stud fee, to the sales ring to every race a horse runs, this could generate enough money to offer farms with extra space the ability to care for retired or unwanted horses. A National Retirement Foundation can be formed who will provide oversight and payments to the farms and also accredit them to ensure they meet certain standards. If we took $1.00 from every horse sold, and for every horse who raced, this should provide the needed funding to establish this type of organization.
Katie Farone More than 1 year ago
No, not the only problem ... but the start of the problem. It is all for $$$$.
Suzanne Moore More than 1 year ago
Good suggestions but I doubt they will ever fly with the AQHA, Sue Wallis and others who WANT horse slaughter for profit and nothing else matters to them. Not food safety, not the fact that there is no such thing as humane horse slaughter, not anything. And, they have the $$$ to by lobbyists to make it happen. I wish.....
Dena More than 1 year ago
Marc, I think this great idea and interested in any way to help start the process. It has to start some where. The thoroughbred industry with financial resources is good place to start. As, for Sue Wallis we can only hope that she will get it some day but until then the blood is on her hands.
Monika Paulino More than 1 year ago
Although there are many compassionate horsemen and women who support horse slaughter for practical reasons, it is not an issue that can be addressed with logic alone. Horses, and our relationship with them, have been an integral part of the history of humanity. And there is, in fact, a bond with them that has developed for centuries. I believe the answer, as others have pointed out in this post, is to start at the beginning and look at the breeders. Not just the extravagantly wealthy breeders of professional athletes, but also the backyard people who breed their mare because it would be "cute" to have a foal. It would also be appropriate for those who invest tremendous funds in breeding for them to also invest in retirement homes and sanctuaries for horses who no longer have a "useful" purpose in the human scheme of things. I believe that slaughter, which is not the most humane death, is a quick fix to a problem for which there are far better solutions.
Katie Farone More than 1 year ago
Why is it that no one will go after the Thoroughbred Breeders! That is where the problem begins!! Are we that selfish that we need to breed thousands of horses just to try and get a 'winner'? It is ridiculous! Then the Thoroughbred industry just throws away the ones they no longer want and expects someone else to care for them. Start with the Breeders and go from there. Until they stop over breeding, there will always be a need for slaughter houses - open your eyes!!!!!
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Kind of puts me in mind of puppy mills. :\