Media Releases

Animal Justice Files Legal Complaint After Horse Air Shipment Exceeds Time Limit

WINNIPEG—Animal Justice, the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition and Manitoba Animal Save have filed a legal complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) after another shipment of horses exceeded the 28-hour maximum time limit for transporting horses without food, water, and rest. The complaint stems from a January 22 flight from Winnipeg to Kansai International Airport in Izumisano, Japan where the horses were destined to be fattened, slaughtered, and eaten as a raw delicacy. 

Documents obtained by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition through an Access to Information request show that 99 horses were on the flight, loaded three per wooden crate. The horses’ flight from Winnipeg to Anchorage was delayed by two hours, making it a virtual certainty that the 28-hour legal limit for shipping horses without food, water, and rest would be violated. Yet the company decided to proceed with the shipment anyway.

In the end, it appears that the horses were in transport and denied food, water, and rest for over 30 hours. By the time their plane landed in Japan, they had been in transport for over 29 hours and they were not provided with food and water or given the opportunity to rest for approximately two hours more, once they were unloaded from the plane, loaded into trucks, and finally driven to and unloaded at a quarantine facility. 

The legal 28-hour maximum is already extremely long and out of step with generally recognized best practices of capping horses’ transport at 12 hours. Studies show that transporting horses for over 30 hours without food, water, and rest puts them at significant risk of injury, fear, pain, exhaustion, anxiety, thirst, and hunger. Horses have been known to collapse during the grueling flight and some have even died.

“Travel is an especially difficult and stressful process for these draft horses – animals who are not trained or conditioned for transportation, and whose biology makes them ill-suited for lengthy journeys in small wooden crates, causing them to be prone to dehydration, injury, and fatigue,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, lawyer and Animal Justice’s director of legal advocacy. “We have very few legal protections for these horses when they’re shipped overseas for slaughter. The absolute least we can do is ensure those laws are enforced.”

In the complaint, the groups call on the CFIA to investigate the alleged violation and to take enforcement action against the export company. After the federal agency refused to take action following a similar incident in December 2022, Animal Justice successfully laid a private charge against Carolyle Farms in Swan River, Manitoba. Carolyle Farms recently made its first court appearance on the charge.

Bill C-355, which would ban the air export of Canadian horses for slaughter, cleared the House of Commons Agriculture Committee last month.

Josh Lynn
Public Relations Manager
[email protected]

Kaitlyn Mitchell
Director of Legal Advocacy
[email protected]