Updated on 10/16/2012 5:17PM

Canadian slaughterhouses resume deliveries from U.S.


Slaughterhouses in Canada resumed accepting U.S. horses Monday, just days after slaughter contract buyers and low-end horse auctions were thrown into confusion when Canadian slaughterhouses put the brakes on importing U.S. horses.

Claude Bouvry, who operates Canada's Bouvry Exports Calgary in Alberta, said Tuesday afternoon that the problem was due to a European Commission veterinarian in France having misread the EU's import requirements.

"It was a mistake by the EU," Bouvry said. "They have books and books and books of directives."

Bouvry said the EU official wrongly interpreted the regulations to mean that, because the horses originated in the United States, which does not have EU approval to export horse meat to Europe, the EU could not accept the horsemeat from those horses, even though the meat was imported from EU-approved slaughtering facilities in Canada. The official believed that "if the Americans cannot ship the meat to Europe, then you cannot ship from Canada, either," Bouvry said.

Earlier Tuesday, the EU's Directorate General of Health and Consumers denied that the shutdown on U.S. horses in Canadian slaughterhouses was because of an EU directive, according to Adriaan Brouw of the directorate, who said "there is no change in our policy."
"If slaughterhouses have decided to halt the slaughter of horses, it is due to a decision they themselves [or their governments] have taken, not because of anything the European Commission has done," Brouw said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Told that the EU was referring inquiries to the slaughterhouses, a woman who answered the phone (but did not give her name) at the Quebec slaughterhouse Viande Richelieu plant said, "That's crazy."

Several horse auctions across the country either canceled sales or alerted vendors not to bring horses after slaughterhouse buyers informed them they could not ship U.S. horses to Canadian plants. There was widespread confusion over the origin of and reason for Friday's directive, even among slaughterhouses and slaughter buyers, according to auctioneers, buyers, and horse welfare advocates.

Leroy Baker, who operates the Sugarcreek auction in Ohio, said his secretary received a call Monday from a plant manager at Viandes de la Petite Nation in Quebec, saying they were resuming shipments. Baker said he also had heard that the stoppage was because of an EU official mistake but that he had no first-hand knowledge of that situation.

"They called and told me yesterday, 'You can go,' and I thought, 'Okay,' but it wouldn't surprise me a bit if somebody called back today and told me it's over," Baker said. "I don't know why they shut it down in the first place. I've heard different things."

The shutdown came a day after the European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate-General issued a report that called verification of slaughter-bound horses' veterinary records "insufficient" in Mexican slaughterhouses. Both Canada and Mexico ship horse meat to the EU, which has expressed concern about drug residue in imported horse meat, including phenylbutazone and other medications banned in the EU food supply. Anti-slaughter and equine welfare advocates have pressed the EU on the issue of veterinary drugs in horse meat, and in July 2013 the EU will require more stringent record-keeping, including lifetime vet records for slaughter-bound horses.

But slaughterhouse operator Claude Bouvry said drug residues had nothing to do with the temporary closure. "Absolutely not," Bouvry said. "We used to test for [drugs] in the parts per thousands and millions, and now we test per billions."

Representatives from another major Canadian slaughterhouse operator, Viandes de la Petite Nation, did not immediately return calls seeking clarification or comment.

Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
What a barbaric practice by all parties in all the countries involved. This is disgraceful!
Jack More than 1 year ago
ALL Race Horses that run at ANY Track in the U.S. should have a RETIRMENT fund set up on their FIRST start. EVERYTIME that Horse makes a BUCK a certain % goes to their fund.Great loving People across this Country would Take care of them with MONEY recieved from these funds. They earned their MONEY. Damn GREEDY OWNERS...
Nancy Bowles More than 1 year ago
Good idea except that people already take these horses in and get monies through Non-Profit....the horses are neglected and the monies go elsewhwere. A perfect expample is a non-profit called TROT that allowed a person to taked care of one of their horses and she applied the money to her own horses and the horse she was responsible for suffered to th epoint of neglect and the problem was finally identified. Hoese racing should be banned, but it will never happen.
Margaret Lewis More than 1 year ago
I was ecstatic to learn of the shutdown! I wish it could be permanent. Horses are so full of toxic substances from worming meds and Bute--there are about 130 drugs that if given horses should disqualify them from slaughter. Americans don't raise horses for slaughter therefore we shouldn't even be considering sending them elsewhere to be slaughtered. And slaughter can not be don't be done humanely. That is proven. Breeders its time to act responsibly. No more breed incentives, no more embryo transfers. No more AG subsidies for breed breed breed. You breed what you can afford to feed and or sell. Quit dumping culls.
savvyhawk More than 1 year ago
I certainly don't like reading about slaughterhouses, but unfortunately I understand it continues to go on. What I absolutely don't like reading about or seeing on my local news (which happens here a lot) are horses that are found on farms that are malnourished and on the verge of dying because their owners have stopped caring for them or disappeared and left them behind to fend for themselves. So many people do not do the research or even consider the time, money and love it takes to care for such a wonderful creature. If I had the MONEY, my girlfriend and I would have already opened a sanctuary. We both have time and most definitely have the love of horses and all animals in general to care for them.
Debbie Coburn More than 1 year ago
The EU vet is right. When are the greedy people advocating horse slaughter going to get it - the rest of the world does not want to eat your poisoned meat. Time to take responsibility for our own horses.
PeterG More than 1 year ago
Somebody fire up the grill and let's have some horse steaks. I bet they are tasty. A little Bute isn't going to hurt anybody. Quit being wussies.
Margaret Lewis More than 1 year ago
Perhaps you didn't read about the lady who died in Indonesia from contact with Bute?
HonDr Vin More than 1 year ago
pretty soon,slaughterhouses in Alberta resume very busy deliveries from Ontario OUCHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Jade Sword More than 1 year ago
The slaughter of racehorses is barbaric and completely unacceptable.
Heather Clemenceau More than 1 year ago
Yes, you can certainly use highly sensitive tests for drug residues, but it's not terribly helpful if you only test less than 1% of all samples. What a red herring by Claude Bouvry.
Matt Zebriski More than 1 year ago
When it comes to racehorses, corrupt trainers, greedy veterinarians, and clueless racing management have all created a system of such inequalities that the majority of horse owners are stuck with racehorses that have no chance of paying for themselves...stuck with maintenance fees of between $2-4K a month, there is no other option I guess. Some of my friends have told me it is almost impossible to even give a racehorse away, even if it is useful, since the cost of training is so high.
Bo More than 1 year ago
if you have exhausted all avenues and death is the last option, the very last option......then don't give the money or foster a slaughterhouse by giving them any opportunity. have the horse at a farm that will work with you, call a vet to put it to sleep and bury the horse with some sort of dignity there at the farm. i hate this solution but, if you have seen what these guys do.....it is better their last minutes alive are peaceful.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Hey Matt, Please tell your friends to think of Ownership like parenthood... If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em. It's called responsibility.