Christmas is fast approaching, children are sending lists off to the North Pole, waiting to zoom with Santa to tell him their heart's desire. Many will be asking for a pony and some lucky children will receive one. Youngsters and parents will spend the next years taking lessons and collecting ribbons to decorate bedroom walls. Once off to college the horse that meant so much that Christmas morning will become part of their past with no place in their future, put away with all of the other symbols of their youth. The parents making the decision to sell the horse and if lucky, successfully finding someone to love and take care of him, if unsuccessful the horse will be sent to auction.
What people do not know is that 85% of horses that go through auction are purchased by kill buyers, people who buy low and sell high to slaughterhouses. Agriculture Canada reports over 18,000 horses were slaughtered for export of their carcasses with over 6,000 shipped alive to Japan for slaughter in 2019 a total of 24,581 averaging 98.5 horses killed each workday.
Agricultural Canada no longer provides actual numbers of horses slaughtered they only report metric tonnage of meat exported which does not account for horse meat sold within Canada, we are left to estimate, and we do not have any information of horses consumed in Canada, however, 19,322 horses arrived in Canada from the US in 2019.
Horse meat is mainly exported overseas but is also consumed within Canada for human consumption.
Horses come to the slaughterhouse from various sources – ex-racehorses, breeders, and unwanted Christmas ponies. Horses are given many drugs during their lives, many are banned from entering the human food chain even if given only once in their lifetime. The government allows slaughter based on an Equine Information Document. The language is loose, using wording such as “during the time you owned the animal”, yet the Canadian government turns a blind eye on a document which states “to my knowledge” selling meat with unknown quantities of drugs for human consumption.
Want to help stop the slaughter of past Christmas ponies? Please write your local politician telling them to stand up against horse slaughter. To learn more here.
Speak up for these beautiful creatures that deserve so much better than to end up on a plate beside the mashed potatoes. Surely that is no child’s Christmas wish.
Theresa Nolet, O.A.T.S Horse Rescue