Media Releases

Federal Charge Laid Against Live Horse Exporter

WINNIPEG—Animal Justice laid a charge today in Winnipeg under the federal Health of Animals Regulations against Carolyle Farms—a live horse exporter located in Swan River, Manitoba. The charge stems from an air shipment of horses which unlawfully exceeded the 28-hour maximum time limit for transporting horses without food, water, and rest. At least three horses collapsed during the flight on their journey to Japan for slaughter.

In the early hours of December 12, 2022, Carolyle Farms was arranging a shipment of live horses to be flown from Winnipeg to Kagoshima, Japan, where they would be fattened, slaughtered, and eaten as a raw delicacy. The plane was to stop in Anchorage on the way, but heavy snowfall made this impossible. Carolyle Farms decided to reroute the plane even though the delay meant the horses would be forced to go without food, water, and rest for well over the legal limit of 28 hours.

Animal Justice—along with Winnipeg Humane Society, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, and Manitoba Animal Save—filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) over the unlawful conduct. After the CFIA refused to take enforcement action, Animal Justice began the months-long process of laying private charges. Today, after a pre-enquete hearing, a judge of the Manitoba Provincial Court allowed a charge under section 138.2 of the Health of Animals Regulations to be laid, for failing to have a contingency plan in place to respond to unforeseen delays that could result in the suffering of an animal.

The federal Crown stayed a further proposed charge under section 152.2(1)(c) of the Health of Animals Regulations for exceeding the maximum time limit for a transport, on the grounds that the CFIA was complicit in the discussions that led to the decision to go ahead with the unlawful shipment. The provincial Crown also stayed a proposed charge under the provincial Animal Care Act for causing distress to animals due to jurisdictional concerns.

The case is a rare example of a private prosecution, in which a private individual, rather than public authorities, is permitted by the court to lay a charge for an alleged offence.

“Animal welfare laws are meaningless if they are not enforced,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, director of legal advocacy with Animal Justice. “It has been over a year since this unlawful shipment took place and it is deeply troubling that the CFIA did not take enforcement action against Carolyle Farms. These gentle horses were forced to endure more than 30 hours in transit without food, water, and rest, and at least three horses collapsed on the flight. We want justice for these horses and look forward to having this charge further considered by the courts.”

“I vividly recall that cold winter night one year ago,” said Danae Tonge, organizer of Manitoba Animal Save who observed and documented the unlawful shipment in 2022. “I am relieved that the court is allowed this charge to be laid and look forward to the next steps in this case.”

The charge was laid by Animal Justice’s executive director, Camille Labchuk, who is represented by lawyer Peter Sankoff.

Related video footage and still photographs can be found here.


Kaitlyn Mitchell
Director of Legal Advocacy
[email protected]