It’s Monday morning and, as I usually do, I check my e-mail and my Google alerts to see what is going on around the world with respect to animals. I typically sift through a variety of notices, from adoption weekend successes to spay neuter programs in third world counties to the latest on the “No Kill” movement.
On this particular morning, however, a headline caught my attention and I felt my blood begin to simmer as my usual disbelieving “really” comment crossed my lips. The headline in the Edmonton Journal was “More Canadians willing to try horse meat in the wake of scandal”.
The article suggests that some Canadians are now more interested in trying horse meat following a recent scandal in Europe. Thousands of “beef” products in Europe were found to be falsely labelled and in fact, contained significant amounts of horse meat. I was rather shocked to read that a scandal like that would actually pique people’s curiosity and prompt them to try horse meat as a protein source.
And then I began to wonder if most people are aware of some of the darker aspects of the horse slaughter industry. Perhaps these curious individuals simply don’t know how horses end up on the dinner table.
Slaughter is not a nice process for any animal. But for many species that humans consume, the process has been optimized to minimize or eliminate unnecessary fear and suffering. However, slaughter is a torturous nightmare for horses. Horses have a strong instinct of flight making it hard to stun them, and in many cases the horses are conscious during their dismemberments.
In 2010, the BCSPCA completed a report on Horse Slaughter Practices in Canada. The report outlines observations by a team of veterinary and behavioral experts that have highlighted serious concerns about the welfare of the horses being slaughtered in Canadian plants.
In 2007 the U.S. banned horse slaughter. The ban did not stop the slaughter, only added a lengthy export process, ensuring that the horses have to endure additional trauma being transported in crowded trucks and standing for hours or days on end before ending up at a slaughterhouse. Canada and Mexico still have several plants in full operation. Many people are simply not aware how cruel and inhumane the transport process is for the horses.
I find it interesting that more Edmontonians are considering eating horse meat and yet in the 1970’s it was outlawed from pet food in the US. On the flip side, many people still say that it is not acceptable as horses are considered pets here and should not be considered to be put on the dinner plate.
In the end, all I am trying to do is perhaps sway a few people that were thinking of trying it or adding it to their diet, unaware of the practices that are occurring. This is along the same lines as the awareness we keep building about the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores – a topic I have blogged about many times, most recently in ‘Don’t Shop – Adopt’.
In the end, people will make their own decisions. But I hate to see people make those decisions in ignorance. I firmly believe that, when given enough information, people will choose to do the right thing.