WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Humane Society and national animal law organization Animal Justice are calling for urgent action from Canada’s Minister of Agriculture to end the cruel shipment of live horses from Canada to Japan for slaughter. Horses exported to Japan often spend more than 24 hours in transport, during which time they are forced to go without food, water, and rest. They are slaughtered in Japan to be eaten as raw horse meat.
During the 2021 federal election, the Liberal Party of Canada committed to banning the live export of horses for slaughter. Yet the practice continues, with yet another shipment of horses leaving Winnipeg International Airport earlier this morning. Today’s shipment of horses is one of many that have left Winnipeg and other western Canadian airports for Japan since the 2021 federal election. The Winnipeg Humane Society and Animal Justice are deeply concerned that the number of live horses being exported appears to be increasing based on data from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
“Footage has surfaced of reluctant horses being forcibly prodded and jabbed as a means to get them to unload off the trailers,” said Brittany Semeniuk, animal welfare consultant with the Winnipeg Humane Society. “Horses are incredibly sensitive animals and panic easily in unfamiliar situations. Once off the trailer, the horses were loaded into wooden crates, and placed on deafeningly loud tarmacs to await their gruelling journey across the world for slaughter. Subjecting Canada’s gentle giants to such inhumane conditions, after relying on them heavily to build this country, is the ultimate betrayal.”
The continuing export of live horses from Canada poses serious risks to animal welfare. Hundreds or even thousands more horses may needlessly fall victim to live exportation despite the federal government’s ability to immediately ban this practice.
“Enough is enough. The time to act is now,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, Winnipeg-based staff lawyer with Animal Justice. “Despite repeated requests, Minister Bibeau has refused to meet with Animal Justice and the Winnipeg Humane Society to discuss the export of horses and when the promised ban will be put into place. Further delay in ending this cruel practice will doom even more horses to needless suffering and death.”
Footage of horses arriving and being unloaded at the Winnipeg Airport on March 6, 2022 is available upon request.
Animal welfare consultant, Winnipeg Humane Society
Staff Lawyer, Animal Justice