Response from Bill desBarres; Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada

February 9, 2011 § 5 Comments

Following is the long, rambling response to my email to Bill desBarres of Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada regarding the fact that I was wondering why a group that promotes “humane handling of horses throughout all their life stages” is so pro-slaughter.  Please, read my original email to him if you haven’t already!

Hello,

Thank you for taking the time to contact the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) with your concerns about horse well being, processing and our organization.

HWAC, an alliance of provincial equine organizations and farm animal care groups was developed in 2008 in response to voids in the equine (livestock) industry that were not being addressed by existing organizations. HWAC’s purpose is the dissemination of accurate information related to the Canadian horse industry, to horse owners, the general public and legislators.

Our primary objective is to promote the humane handling of horses throughout all their stages of life. On our web site, www.horsewelfare.ca, you will find HWAC developed programs including the Caregivers’ Guide to Rehabilitating the Neglected Horse, the Horse Hauling Course for recreational and performance haulers and the Recommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for horses destined for processing. We also promote other industry programs including the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses, Body Condition Scoring for Horses, the Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses, Standards for the Care of Unfit Animals and the Certified Livestock Transport Training program (commercial haulers).

We work closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and continuously lobby for adherence to regulations.  We provide outreach via the web site, articles and media releases and participate in horse industry conferences and events to promote horse welfare practices at all levels of horse production.

Horse processing is an economically feasible end of life option for horse owners. We believe and statistics bear us out, that to ensure the well being of our animals we must provide viable end of life options. Also note that all horses going to processing are not unwanted or at end of life, there is a segment of the horse industry that breeds and raises horses solely for human food consumption. Horse processing is a legal and viable industry in Canada – in fact, horsemeat is our third largest exported meat.

Horse owners, caregivers, handlers, enforcement personnel, regulators, animal activist and the equine industry all have a role to play in ensuring horses are treated humanely and with respect throughout their lives. This includes on farm, during transport and at end of life, including processing. Our responsibility as a horse welfare organization is to develop and promote the necessary training programs and resources for all those involved in the equine industry to ensure the animals are receiving the best care possible.

Animal activists have a responsibility to accurately and immediately report any known cases of animal abuse or neglect. They must work with the animal agriculture industry to correct the situation and ensure all animals are receiving the care needed and sending the message that abuse in any situation will not be tolerated. This can be quite challenging though, as we work to sort out emotional based concerns from actual animal welfare concerns. This is difficult within the equine industry, more so than other industries as horses are identified in a number of ways – as companion animals, production animals, recreation animals, sporting animals or meat animals. Their identity often changes as their owner changes. No matter how someone identifies with the horse, or their purpose (breeding, competition, meat production) all horses must be treated humanely and with respect.

The equine industry will not stand by someone who intentionally abuses or neglects animals in any environment. It is the industry’s responsibility to fully investigate, assist with corrective action and support prosecution if necessary.

We also are very concerned about the consequences of irresponsible breeding programs. We believe this is a matter of horse owner education, though those who require the education are often the hardest to reach.  HWAC will be developing and presenting education programs within the horse industry including but not limited to breed associations, educators and horse owners to promote responsible breeding programs. Identification of the horse is one of the elements that will contribute to the education and management of breeding.

I hope we have responded appropriately to your concerns and have done so on behalf of our partners and constituents which number in access of 100,000 horse owners in Canada.

Happy Trails,   Bill desBarres

—————

Say WHAAAAT?

Ok, here’s my breakdown:

…dissemination of accurate information…

about horse slaughter

…promote the humane handling of horses throughout all their stages of life…

Yeah, the way you write it, only old, lame, broken down horses go to slaughter… NOT

…We work closely with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and continuously lobby for adherence to regulations.  We provide outreach via the web site, articles and media releases and participate in horse industry conferences and events to promote horse welfare practices at all levels of horse production….

Ok, so you are working closely with CIFA… why?  Because you promote horse slaughter!  That’s already obvious…  And promoting horse welfare practices at all levels of horse “production”??  What the fuck does that actually even mean?  Horse production… breeding?  Because that’s the only “production” I personally know about when it comes to horses!  If you mean “slaughter”, why in hell don’t you actually SAY slaughter!?  Oh, wait, there is the PMU industry… God help me, you don’t support that too do you?

…Horse processing is an economically feasible end of life option for horse owners….

Right, here you go.  Proof.  He’s using “horse processing” instead of “horse slaughter”.  This is an all-too-common turn of phrase pro-slaughter people are using to promote slaughter.  Slaughter is not processing.  Processing is what you do AFTER you slaughter an animal.  Fuck people.  This just burns my ASS.

…we must provide viable end of life options…

Yes, and as I stated, why not set up and “host low-cost euthanasia clinics (as well as low-cost gelding clinics)” <- from my original email.  Not that you even came close to touching that subject!  Not with a ten foot pole, huh?

…Also note that all horses going to processing are not unwanted or at end of life, there is a segment of the horse industry that breeds and raises horses solely for human food consumption….

Hmmm, the way you word that… damn you’re good.  “There is a segment of the horse industry that breeds and raises horses solely for human food consumption”… Yeah, that constitutes approximately THREE percent of the horses going to slaughter.  The three percent of horses that are raised for human consumption are mostly shipped live to Japan for slaughter there.  The rest of the horses in the slaughter pipeline arrive there after serving their owners faithfully, are riddled with Bute and other banned drugs, and are slaughtered in Canada and shipped to the EU.

And “unwanted or at end of life”??  Too many horses are being stolen and ending up at slaughter.  Too many meat buyers are using shady tactics to trick unsuspecting sellers into giving their horse to them (for the buyers fictional kid, grand kid, neice, whatever) and then drive them direct to the kill lot.  The meat buyers get more for healthy-weight horses, not underweight, neglected horses.  The buyers would prefer horses that look healthy.  They get more money for those horses.  Stop trying to pretend that the only horses that end up at slaughter are poor, neglected, abused, skinny, old, useless horses.  That is the biggest load of manure, and is SO old.

…end of life, including processing…

See, by “end of life” you mean “slaughter”.  I realize you don’t “like” the term slaughter, because that puts too much “emotional” weight on what you’re promoting.  But thanks for caring about my “weak constitution”.

…as we work to sort out emotional based concerns from actual animal welfare concerns…

Ah, here we go, throwing out the “emotional” word.  I also noticed the “activist” word.  I know what you mean when you use those words.  I’ve seen it everywhere.  Just because someone goes against slaughter, you want to label them “animal activists”, or even “terrorists”.  As well, you think by painting all of us with the “emotional” brush, you can brush us off as PETA members and silly little women.

…as companion animals, production animals, recreation animals, sporting animals or meat animals…

The vast majority of people consider horses companion animals first, and then there are those that also consider them sporting animals.  Some consider them “production” animals – in that they breed them.  There are also horses that are used in police work, search and rescue, many actual jobs.  Rarely, and I mean rarely, are they considered “meat animals” in North America.  Only pro-slaughter people consider them meat animals, and you are in the vast minority there.  So again, I ask, what part of an organization who promotes humane treatment of horses should promote slaughter?

…We also are very concerned about the consequences of irresponsible breeding programs….

Ok, so you’re “very concerned”, but no where, yet, have you done anything at all towards this “concern”.  You started with slaughter, and so far you’ve ended with slaughter.  Every program you’ve “developed” or promote, “Recommended Handling Guidelines and Animal Welfare Assessment Tool for horses destined for processing, Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses, Body Condition Scoring for Horses, the Humane Handling Guidelines for Horses, Standards for the Care of Unfit Animals and the Certified Livestock Transport Training program (commercial haulers)” is something that can be used towards the slaughter end (with the exception of rehabilitating the neglected horse and Horse Hauling Course for recreational and performance haulers).  I’ll believe you’re “concerned” about equine welfare when I see ANY information on your website regarding scaling back breeding, humane euthanasia, gelding, back-yard-breeders, etc.

…Identification of the horse is one of the elements…

I suspect that “identification” is going to be a major push for you guys soon, considering the EU has changed their demands regarding paperwork on horses that are being slaughtered for human consumption.  Not because they’re concerned about the humane aspect, but because they are realizing testing for Bute is not sufficient, and that North America does NOT actually raise horses specifically for human consumption.

The bottom line, for me, is that the “Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada” is a thinly veiled pro-slaughter group.  You have proven that in your website, and in your response to my email where you refuse to actually address the issues directly or honestly.  Especially since, not once, did you even mention humane euthanasia as an option for “end of life”.  You did not touch on the ecological and environmental issues surrounding horse slaughter, even though it was a huge part of my email to you.

Since I sent you my original email on January 14th, and you searched online successfully finding it here on January 19th, I’ll assume you wrote your response (quoted in its’ entirety above) knowingly, and intending it to be posted here considering you replied February 2nd.  I’ll also take your response to mean you harbor no ill will regarding the fact that my original email was posted here, with your name and links to your website – especially since you (a) responded and (b) made no comment or sent an email indicating otherwise.

I also note you looked for your response on February 4th.  Well, since you’re so excited to see it online, welcome and I hope you enjoy my response to it – I guess I don’ t have to email you a copy.  Oh, wait, you posted your response on your own website (http://www.horsewelfare.ca/news/213-hwac-responds-to-concerns-about-horse-welfare) so I don’t have to worry about posting it here!  Of course, your intro “Occasionally we receives letters of concern about the welfare of horses and the work being done by HWAC within the animal agriculture and equine industries. This is the response to some of the concerns presented.” doesn’t really cover the fact that you avoided talking about the main points of my original email.  It also doesn’t allow commenting, so of course I can’t even point that out.  At least here I leave it open to comments – feel free to comment if you like – must be nice…

Update

I see you were here today, February 11.  No comment?

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§ 5 Responses to Response from Bill desBarres; Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada

  • If, in fact, your global goal is to ensure the humane treatment of horses throughout their lifespan, I applaud you and those who comprise your Alliance. I must make clear that my personal view of the horse in Canadian culture, society, and history forbids their transport to slaughterhouses for rendering into meat for consumption, whether for domestic or international export. In this sense, your moniker “Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada” is mendacious at its simplest level: “welfare” describes “the well-being” of its subject (here, horses), and has nothing to do with promoting the “welfare” of those who would consume horses as food. You would do better to re-name your Alliance as the “Welfare of Humans Who Benefit from the Slaughter and Sale of Horses.” I implore you to revisit the wisdom of the work you have undertaken, particularly as you are in partnership with the CFIA, whose own union has admitted that their lack of manpower and policies of self-protection (as when onsite when 22 rifles, rather than stunguns, are in use) prevent them from overseeing whether the slaughter of horses is executed humanely or not. Please review whether current industrial and economic values will ultimately predominate in this growing culture which ethicalizes before it consumes.

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  • Not A Breed says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you wholeheartedly! Unfortunately, none of the pro-slaughter people will ever change their minds. It’s all about the almighty dollar for them, not about the horses.

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  • Chris says:

    The HWAC is definitely pro-slaughter. If you look at the list of resource partners it includes the North American Equine Ranching Information Council aka the PMU industry. I also love how they pull out the “Horsemeat is the third largest exported meat”. It is a tiny part of the meat industry. The beef, pork and poultry industries are huge then after that everything is small – horse, lamb, veal.
    Pork – $2.7 BILLION – 1.1 MILLION tonnes
    Beef – $1.35 BILLION – 392,859 tonnes
    chicken – 623 MILLION head
    Veal – 255,388 head
    Lamb – 171,042 head
    Horse – 111,236 head , 20,912 tonnes

    The horsemeat business in the large scheme of the meat industry is nothing. As per BD it is simply an “economically feasible end of life option for horse owners”

    http://www.cmc-cvc.com/english/industry_statistic_e.asp#Horse

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  • Chris says:

    Stats above are from 2008.

    Like

  • Not A Breed says:

    Chris, excellent stats!!!
    The pro-slaughter activists like to make a whole lotta something outta nothing!!

    Like

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