Animal lovers across the city gathered at the Legislative Building on Saturday afternoon to demand that the Liberal government stop the export and slaughter of horses.
Supported by a rescue horse named Dayo, about 100 people gathered carrying signs with slogans such as “Canada ships horses to their death” and “We betray Canada’s gentle giants”. The protest was the first of its kind, one the Winnipeg Humane Society hoped it would not have to organize after the federal Liberals and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau pledged to ban the export of horses at the end of last year.
“To deliberately breed draft horses and ship them overseas for slaughter is the ultimate betrayal after all they have done for us over the past few centuries,” the CEO of the Humane Society told the crowd. , Jessica Miller. “We will not sit idly by and allow this inhumane practice to continue.”
Winnipeg Richardson International Airport is one of three Canadian airports currently assisting in the export of horses, and up to 5,000 horses are shipped overseas for slaughter in Canada each year.
Horses are bred specifically for export and are generally used as meat, especially in Japan, France and the United States, where there is a high market demand for fresh horse meat. These horses are voluntarily fattened before being slaughtered. The process of transporting horses is traumatic for them, Miller said, as they have to endure more than 30 hours of travel without food, water or rest.
The United States banned horse slaughter in 2007, but approximately 13,000 horses are imported into Canada from the United States for slaughter each year. Approximately 25,000 horses are slaughtered in Canada each year.
Winnipeg-based animal rights lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell filed more than one complaint with law enforcement as she witnessed the loading of horses onto flights, where she said they had been staked with metal poles and placed in cramped wooden boxes.
“I’ve been to the airport, I’ve been there time and time again to see these horses arrive in trucks and be unloaded, and for nothing all be shipped around the world to be slaughtered and eaten like a treat,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
She said she had reached out to federal and provincial leaders on the matter with no response.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a ban on exports of live horses for slaughter, along with other demands, in a mandate to Bibeau in December. Change hasn’t come fast enough and horses continue to be exported, Mitchell said.
“We are grateful to the federal government for their commitment to ban this practice, but now is the time to act,” she said.
“No other horse should be subjected to this cruel treatment.”