Canadian horsemeat not drug-free, European audit finds

By: Feature reporter, News, as published on The Star

European Commission monitors have “serious concerns” about Canada’s ability to track health and treatment of horses

 MICHAEL BURNS / MICHAEL BURNS PHOTO Thoroughbred race horse Backstreet Bully finished first in this August 2008 race at Fort Erie. The race horse changed ownership after retirement and was sent to slaughter, despite frantic last-minute pleas to save his life by people who knew the horse had been given veterinary drugs over his lifetime that made him unsafe for human consumption.

Thoroughbred race horse Backstreet Bully finished first in this August 2008 race at Fort Erie. The race horse changed ownership after retirement and was sent to slaughter, despite frantic last-minute pleas to save his life by people who knew the horse had been given veterinary drugs over his lifetime that made him unsafe for human consumption.

Exported Canadian horsemeat intended for human consumption cannot be trusted to be free of toxic drugs, according to a recently released European audit that cites “serious concerns” about the integrity of Canada’s food safety measures.

Among the reported findings, auditors discovered that slaughterhouse tests conducted two years ago on horse carcasses poised to enter the human food chain showed residues of prohibited substances, including a commonly used veterinary medicine called “bute.” Phenylbutazone, or bute, has been linked to bone-marrow disease in humans if eaten in meat.

“It cannot be guaranteed that horses (slaughtered in Canada) have not been treated with illegal substances within the last 180 days before slaughter,” the audit states.

The report also described the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the country’s food safety watchdog, as having “shortcomings” in its ability to accurately trace horses’ identities and complete medical histories.

All horses butchered in Canada for export as human food, including horses imported from the United States, must be accompanied by an equine identification “passport” completed by the animal’s last owner. Owners must truthfully declare on these signed affidavits that their slaughter-bound animals have not been given prohibited drugs for the previous six months and are, therefore, eligible to become human food.

A 2013 Star investigation found these passports, called Equine Information Documents, are open to fraud and error. In European countries, in contrast, horse ownership and medical histories are tracked from birth.

European auditors, who police the meat coming into their market, gathered information from Canadian slaughter facilities during a two-week inspection in May of 2014. In their report, auditors expressed doubt about the ability of Canada’s food safety regulator to always provide untainted horsemeat to European Union markets.

“There are serious concerns in relation to the reliability of the controls over both imported and domestic horses destined for export (to EU markets),” the European report states.

Auditors also found that in Canada “there are no official checks to verify the veracity of the (equine passports) or whether the horses actually match the identifications registered” on the passports.

“The information contained in several (equine passports) checked by the … audit team appeared incomplete, unreliable or false. It can therefore not be ensured that horses slaughtered in Canada for export to the EU have not been treated with substances which are not permitted in the EU, in particular hormonal growth promotants.” Testosterone was mentioned as a prohibited growth hormone in EU meat.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, responding to written questions from the Star, declared that horsemeat exported from Canada is safe to eat.

“Canada has a strong and robust food safety inspection system in place,” the agency said in statement.

“This includes effective ante and post mortem verification and frequent sampling and testing of meat to detect residues with CFIA inspectors and veterinarians present on a daily basis. The number of samples taken is consistent with international standards.”

The federal food safety agency also stated it “welcomes feedback from the audit and is committed to addressing opportunities for improvement identified within the report.”

Horsemeat is Canada’s top red meat export to European countries.

The audit team attached to the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office evaluated the sanitary measures and control systems in place for fresh meat exports (including horse, bison and cattle) from Canada to Europe.

With respect to horses, the European team visited unnamed slaughterhouses, feedlots and one border crossing (the majority of horses killed annually in Canada are imported from the United States).

The vulnerability of Canada’s Equine Information Document was also a key concern in a 2010 European audit. That report found Canada’s ability to trace prohibited drugs in food-bound horses “is inadequate” to protect consumers.

Canada’s equine document is the first step in protecting the public from drug-tainted horse meat. A previous Star investigation found the horse passport that Canada relies upon to keep toxic meat off dinner tables around the world is easily compromised. The Star obtained 10 passports in 2013; nine were incomplete or error-riddled.

The 16 carcasses with bute residues identified in the recent audit were tested in 2013 at one unnamed slaughterhouse. The auditors noted the slaughterhouse operator conducted its own investigation of the owners of the 16 horses who submitted the non-compliant equine passports.

Auditors noted that while “the CFIA puts the responsibility for follow-up of non-compliances largely on the shoulders of the slaughterhouses, the CFIA does not always fulfill its obligations for verifying and ensuring the effectiveness of the follow-up investigations and corrective actions.”

Inside Texas horse “nightmare” after massive animal seizure

Source: Houston’s ABC Channel 13 News

“We’re hoping today is the day life changes for them.”

Click image to view video

Click image to view video


Husband-and-wife farm owners Herman and Kathleen Hoffman are each charged with three counts of animal cruelty. They were arrested late last night and bonded out jail today. However, even though they bonded out of jail, they are not permitted back on the property. Officers will be at the farm around-the-clock to make sure they don’t try to take any of the horses or tamper with evidence.

Houston SPCA on the scene today removed horses in the worst condition and fed the rest mounds of hay. The horses Eyewitness News saw fed for hours.

Houston SPCA says they hope this will be the start of a new life for these animals.

Horses are starved to death in some cases. Flies swarmed around some of the animals’ open wounds. President of the Houston SPCA Patricia Mercer told Eyewitness News, “When you get to a point when you don’t have any muscle mass left, it’s really hard to stand.”

“We have over 200 horses and we are going to be doing blood work, diagnostics on these horses, farrier work,” Mercer continued. “Horses should have their feet trimmed every six weeks. Many of these horses it’s likely that they’ve never had their feet trimmed. They’re in very bad condition.”

Montgomery County Attorney JD Lambright said, “There is evidence of bones on the acreage out here, but just from that alone, that really don’t tell you anything, so that investigation will be ongoing.”

Lambright said earlier in the day, “The logistics – just, you can imagine the nightmare involved of getting this many horses in this condition off the premises and getting them some place for care…(they) will be taken to a medical care at the (Houston SPCA) facility.”

Mercer also told Eyewitness News her team is collecting evidence for the county attorney’s office and the district attorney’s office in anticipation of a custody hearing on Tuesday.

“We have a huge job ahead of us,” she continued. “It’s unusual to do a seizure on site, but because of the sheer number of horses involved, we’ve elected to take the most critical horses back to the Houston SPCA — all of these horses need care, all of these horses are in need of veterinary care and so we’ll be providing care on site here…but we’ll be taking about two dozen of them.”

Asked what she’s seeing at the farm, Mercer said, “(The horses are) in varying stages of neglect. Horses are very expensive to care for. We see a lot of hoof issues with these animals. Certainly some emaciation, poor nutrition issues and it’s really hard to pinpoint at this point. We’re doing cursory examinations….We have horses with a lot of health issues.”

Mercer added, “We’re hoping today is the day life changes for them.”

Mercer said she hopes Houston will step up to help with the care of these animals.

To help the Houston SPCA, go to their website.

Ongoing Regulation Violations and CFIA Whitewash Confirmed by Access to Information Documents on Air Transport of Horses for Slaughter

SOURCE: Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

ORANGEVILLE, ON, June 25, 2015 /CNW/ – The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) has discovered gruelling evidence of multiple horse deaths connected to air transport to Japan, and attempts by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to cover up the truth.

defendhorsescanada.orgAccess to Information (ATI) documents reveal that three horses died as a result of a landing accident and six horses perished in flight on August 1, 2012, “due to a combination of a substantial delay, the large size of the horses, and significant stress levels in the animals”.  However, a placating form letter dated November 2012, and later sent to inquiring members of the public, indicates that “the CFIA is not aware of any injury or undue suffering due to lack of segregation of horses over 14 hands in height.”

Further ATI findings include:  “…horses usually go down during take off and landing”, and one horse evidently died on a trip from Calgary and was found upside down in his crate.  Of ongoing concern has been breakage of the wooden crates, especially with stressed horses rearing up and falling against the crates’ wood strips covered in netting.  Past instructions from the CFIA to exporters have included repairing the broken shipping containers with duct tape.

The CHDC also notes that, in spite of lengthy debate within the agency concerning overloading the crates with four heavy horses, the practice is still continuing.  In fact, The Health of Animals Regulations stipulate that horses over 14 hands high (56″ high at the base of the neck) must be segregated for air transport, and they must be able to stand in a natural position, without coming into contact with a deck or roof.  Both laws are being broken on an ongoing basis, with the CFIA fully aware of this and, on horse shipment formwork, noting the segregation regulation under “Description of Non-Compliance“.  Further, for their own purposes, the agency has added wording to the Health of Animals Regulations that has not gone through official legal channels.

Attempts have been made by at least one agency official to install cameras in aircraft and to initiate a study regarding equine welfare associated with air transport.  Both proposals were turned down.  ATI findings indicate that the reason could have been “siding with exporters”.

CHDC Executive Director, Sinikka Crosland, states:  “In 2014, over 7,000 large draft horses shipped from Canada to Japan under these circumstances. It is clear that international trade and profit take precedence over animal welfare, possibly even human safety, and that the CFIA is turning a blind eye, circumventing laws and misleading the public.  We have strong evidence of the agency failing to follow its own regulations concerning the live transport of horses for meat, and even lying to the public to cover deviations from the law.”

The CHDC calls upon the Minister of International Trade, Hon. Edward Fast, and Bruce Archibald, President of the CFIA, to demand that the practice of sending horses overseas by air cargo for slaughter be stopped on humane and legal grounds.

ATI documents and video evidence can be found at this link:

SOURCE Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

For further information: Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Phone: 250.681.1408, Email:

Texas Ranch owner, wife taken into custody during investigation into horse neglect

Author: Syan Rhodes, Reporter,
Phil Archer, Reporter,  as published on

“Sadly, this is right in our own backyard…you just never know the depths of depravity that human beings have the ability and desire to sink to.” ~ R.T.

Investigation in alleged neglect of 200 horses widens

Click image to view video

Click image to view video

CONROE, TexasA Montgomery County couple faces several counts of animal cruelty after local officials seized control over 200 horses from their property at the Premium Star Ranch near Conroe.

Herman Hoffman and Kathleen Hoffman were taken into custody just before 10 p.m. Wednesday at their ranch off League Line Road. They are each charged with three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to livestock. Bond has been set at $30,000 each.

County Attorney J.D. Lambright was among a small army of law officers who served a search warrant at the ranch around 2 p.m. Wednesday, including Montgomery County District Attorney Britt Ligon, deputy constables from Montgomery County Precinct 4 and 5, investigators from the Houston Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and two veterinarians.

“Some of the horses are thriving. There are obviously some that are not in good shape at all,” Ligon said.

Investigators seized the ranch business records and brought in a backhoe to dig for carcasses that may have been buried.

During a previous investigation in October, Precinct 5 deputy constables found malnourished horses on the ranch and ordered owner Herman Hoffman to comply with a reasonable standards of care.

The new investigation was sparked by the death of a 3-month-old colt over the weekend, as reported Tuesday by KPRC 2 News. The horse was rushed to a Navasota veterinarian clinic on Saturday by animal rescue volunteer Christal Griffiths but died a few hours later.

“He was extremely emaciated with rain rot, lice all over his body. He could barely walk, barely stand,” Griffith said. “He died within a few hours.”

Dr. Benjamin R. Buchanan said that the horse weighed 94 pounds at the time of death. A normal weight for a horse his age would have been between 150 to 175 pounds.

Buchanan stated in his report, “This colt appears to have been starved to the point of death.”

The district attorney also took statements from five former ranch employees, who told KPRC 2 News Tuesday more than 30 horses had died at the ranch since March due to neglect and malnutrition.

“Most of them are emaciated. Their tail bones are sticking out, their rib bones, their back bones, you name it. You can count every bone on their body,” former employee Kayla Kidd told KPRC 2 News Tuesday.

Ambulances were called for Herman Hoffman and Kathleen Hoffman, but only Herman was taken to the hospital to be checked out for chest pains.

Kidd and several other employees quit their jobs Saturday after they say Herman Hoffman fired two shots into the ground from a small caliber pistol after becoming angry. Hoffman said he fired the shots to demonstrate to his wife that the gun was loaded. Montgomery County Precinct 5 deputy constables responded to the disturbance but made no arrests.

Hoffman blames Kidd and the other employees for the colt’s death. He claims they didn’t give the horse appropriate feed as instructed and didn’t feed him regularly.

“They did not do what they were told,” Hoffman said. “They did not feed the animals they were told. They were lying to us.”

Hoffman admits about 10 horses have died on the ranch since January, but not the 30 plus claimed by former employees. He insists none of the horses died as a result of mistreatment.

Hoffman’s horse operation was investigated by Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable David Hill in October after neighbor and former employee J.J. Hill alleged many horses were undernourished.

“I’ve been around horses my entire life. They’re not supposed to look that way. Period. They need proper foot care, proper feed, proper hay,” Hill said.

The district attorney is now trying to determine if any criminal violations have been committed since the October visit.

“We are looking for destruction of any evidence, tampering of any evidence, moving carcasses, those types of deals,” Ligon said.

Late Wednesday, a judge issued an order granting Montgomery County control over the animals, which will be kept on the property until the Houston SPCA can help find other housing.

U.S. Horses Deserve Lasting Protection

by as published in the Huffington Post

“During those long-distance trips, horses are treated as if they’re already dead, kept in crowded containers and denied adequate food, water, and rest…”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Last year, the federal appropriations bill for 2015 renewed a ban on the use of tax dollars for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, keeping the vile horse slaughter industry from operating anywhere in America… for a time.

This September, that ban expires, putting horse slaughter facilities once again in a position to potentially reemerge in America, and putting the burden on Congress to reinstate its temporary halt.

But while renewing the ban every year stops slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil, it cannot prevent American horses — approximately 150,000 every year — from being legally trucked to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.

Even when horse slaughter plants were allowed in the U.S., tens of thousands of horses were still exported annually for slaughter, and several thousand were actually imported for slaughter.

During those long-distance trips, horses are treated as if they’re already dead, kept in crowded containers and denied adequate food, water, and rest. According to the USDA, 92 percent of these horses are in good physical condition and could go on to lead productive lives in loving homes.

Horse slaughter is also a threat to human health because horses are routinely given hundreds of drugs and other substances during their lives that have not been approved by the FDA for use in animals intended for human consumption…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story…

TN Grand Jury to decide on charges in Walking Horse protest incident

Story by James Bennett as published on the Daily Herald

“I witnessed him cut his truck hard left into the area where Ms. Teresa Bippen was standing…”

Teresa Bippen, right, of Hillsnoro, Mo., outside St. Louis, alleges a world champion trainer tried to intimidate her while she was protesting at Maury County Park on May 30. (Contributed photo)

A Tennessee Walking Horse protester who says she nearly was run over by a trainer last month will have her case taken before a Maury County grand jury, District Attorney General Brent Cooper said Sunday.

Teresa Bippen, 58, of Hillsboro, Mo., was among animal welfare activists picketing the Spring Jubilee at Maury County Park on May 30 when a truck driven by Jamie Lawrence, 42, veered toward her, according to a Sheriff’s Department report of the incident.

Lawrence, of Vinemont, Ala., and a world champion rider and trainer in Racking Horse competition, was pulled over by a deputy who allowed him to continue with the show. Lawrence was not arrested.

“I motioned to him to bear to the left, and as he came closer to me, I witnessed him cut his truck hard left into the area where Ms. Teresa Bippen was standing,” wrote Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Jackson, who was directing horse trailers and other traffic into the park. “Then he cut his wheels back hard right. I could not tell how close he came to Ms. Bippen.”

Jackson and two Columbia Police officers approached the truck, the report said…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and to comment at the Daily Herald

The Neighs Have It: Horse Outruns Man, But Just Barely

Report by Adam Cole as Broadcast/Published on Health News from NPR

“We’re essentially the tortoises of the animal world rather than the hares,”

Horses, riders and runners crossed three streams in the course of their 22-mile race through the hills of central Wales. The average finish time was the same for both species — four hours. Ryan Kellman and Adam Cole/NPR’s Skunk Bear

The Man v. Horse Marathon starts out like a typical cross-country race. Hundreds of runners stream past the starting line, through the town of Llanwrtyd Wells and then up into the Welsh hills.

But 15 minutes later, a second set of competitors takes off. Fifty horses and their riders chase the runners up and down ridges, across streams, and past hundreds of bewildered sheep.

This bizarre race was created in 1980 to settle an argument between a local pub owner and an opinionated customer. The outcome seems obvious — horses are bigger, stronger and much faster in a sprint. They’ve been bred for centuries to help humans get around faster.

Humans, on the other hand, aren’t that speedy. Sprinter Usain Bolt — the world’s fastest man — would have trouble outrunning a lot of house cats, let alone a cheetah.

But scientists say when it comes to marathon distances, humans might actually have an edge.

“We’re essentially the tortoises of the animal world rather than the hares,” says Dan Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University. “We have a series of adaptations that are literally from our heads to our toes that make us superlative at long distance running.”

Specialized structures in our inner ears keep us balanced as we lope along; our springy arches and long elastic tendons make running more efficient, and our big muscular bottoms help stabilize our trunks. And then there’s the way we keep our cool. Millions of years ago we traded in fur for a naked body covered in sweat glands. The result: We can lose heat while we run.

Losing heat’s not so easy for quadrupeds like antelopes, zebras and horses. They need to pant to really cool off, and that’s difficult to do when they’re moving at top speeds.

“The guts — the huge viscera — slams into the diaphragm with every step and prevents the animal from panting while galloping,” Lieberman says.

When it’s hot out, quadrupeds need to slow down to cool down. Humans sweat and keep going. And all that sweating probably helped our ancient ancestors survive.

“Running was important because it helped us become better hunters,” Lieberman says.

His research supports the theory that early humans were “persistence hunters.” On hot days, he says, people would chase animals across the African savanna. Unable to rest, the animals would eventually collapse from heat exhaustion, and the hunters would have fresh meat.

The Man v. Horse Marathon is a less violent analogue of persistence hunting. Horses are the ones chasing humans over a 22-mile trail, but temperature still plays an important role.

“The few occasions where humans have beaten the horses have been on hot days,” Lieberman says. “And that makes total sense.”

This year, the Man V. Horse Marathon took place in a light, refreshing rain — bad news for humanity. Still, the first racer to reach the finish line was human: a 30-year-old civil servant named Hugh Aggleton.

This was Aggleton’s third time entering the race, and in previous years he’s had some close encounters.

“When you are overtaken by horses you can feel the ground sort of start to shake, as the galloping horses come up behind,” Aggleton says. “Then you hear their breathing and you think, ‘All right, gotta get going.’ ”

This year, Aggleton managed to stay ahead of the cavalry, completing the course in 2 hours and 30 minutes. But that wasn’t quite fast enough. Leo the horse, ridden by Geoff Allen, reached the finish just five minutes after him. After subtracting the human’s 15-minute head start, the horse had a time of 2:20, and it was crowned this year’s champion.

Still, Aggleton managed to beat a lot of the other horses in the race.

“I might make that a sort of tag line,” Aggleton says. “Faster than 46 out of 50 horses.”

That means if he had lived long ago, he probably would have been able to chase down dinner.

WY Gov Continues War on Wild Horses

Source: Multiple

“Welfare Ranchers” Root Cause of Wild Horse Court Case

Gov Matt MeadWyoming Gov. Matt Mead is appealing a federal judge’s recent dismissal of a lawsuit the state filed seeking to force the federal government to remove more wild horses from public lands in the state.

“The situation has not changed,” Mead said Friday in announcing the state’s appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

“The (U.S) Bureau of Land Management has still not properly managed the wild horse population in Wyoming,” Mead said. “Mismanagement of the herds can have adverse consequences for the range and other species which share that habitat. The BLM’s approach fails to comply with the applicable law.”

U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal of Cheyenne in April granted requests from the Interior Department and wild horse advocacy groups to dismiss the state’s lawsuit. She ruled the BLM wasn’t required to remove wild horses from areas where it had determined they were overpopulated.

In asking Freudenthal to dismiss the state’s case, the federal government and animal protection groups pointed out that the BLM may consider several factors before it decides to proceed with roundups under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.

“If wild horse management could be distilled to a numerical calculation, there would be no reason for Congress to have specified the various factors for consideration in the determination that an overpopulation exists and that action is necessary to remove excess animals,” Freudenthal wrote.

The ruling was a setback to Wyoming ranchers concerned that too many wild horses are harming grazing lands. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association had filed a friend of the court brief on the state’s side.

During the case, lawyers for the state had reported to Freudenthal that seven of Wyoming’s 16 wild horse herd management areas were overpopulated by anywhere from 4 percent to 106 percent.

Earlier this spring, Freudenthal upheld a BLM roundup of about 1,300 wild horses east and south of Rock Springs last fall that had been contested by horse advocates.

Michael Harris is legal director for the group Friends of Animals in Colorado, a group that entered the state’s lawsuit against the BLM to argue against the state’s push to round up more horses.

“We’re sort of shocked,” Harris said Friday of Mead’s decision to appeal. “I think the case that he brought was a long shot, and it was easily shot down by the district court. And we think that the governor should instead work with the Bureau of Land Management to better protect wild horses.”

Harris said he believes Wyoming needs to realize that wild horses belong to all everyone.

“Americans want to see places for wild horse in the West, and all states in the West need to share in and contribute to providing land for a species that Americans dearly love,” Harris said.

Recent Wyoming Stampede of Wild Horses – photos by Carol Walker

PA Woman, 84, rides horse one more time thanks to Twilight Wish


“I’ve always been good to horses, and they’ve always been good to me,”

WYANO, Pa. — Patricia Glasser, of Greenburg, Pennsylvania understands that she is living in her twilight years. However,  that didn’t stop her from doing what she wished to do again for nearly a decade.

Glasser’s wish was a simple, yet extraordinary one. She simply longed to ride a horse, at least one more time.

She got to do that Wednesday afternoon at Bogley Ranch in Wyano, just outside of Pittsburgh.

“I’ve always been good to horses, and they’ve always been good to me,” Glasser said.

Her passion for horses and riding began at age 10 and that passion hasn’t wavered for over 70 years. She believes that her relationship riding with horses over time has been a symbiotic one that has kept her happy and at peace while being able to give the horses a good exercise.

“I used to ride all day,” Glasser said.

Nowadays, a good horseback ride is rare for Glasser, but as she dismounted her horse on Wednesday, she was faced with the reality of the aging process.

“I used to be able to jump on a horse real quick and jump off real quick, but I’m getting older,” Glasser said.

Despite her age, she got up and rode around the ranch for about 15 minutes. When time was up, she wasn’t shy about asking for more time. Of course, she got it, thanks to Twilight Wish, a nonprofit that helps grant wishes to senior citizens.

“I am so thankful for Twilight Wish for doing that,” Glasser said. “They took the time to let me ride again, and I really felt like I was younger again.”

She remembered everything about horse-handling, as if she’d been riding normally for the past 10 years.

Perhaps the reason for that was because she and her husband, Harold Glasser, owned horses for years before he lost part of his leg to blood clotting. After her husband fell sick, Patricia Glasser had to give up her horses to stand by her husband’s side.

A few years ago, Harold Glasser, passed away. Without him, horses and much of the rest of her family living in Texas, she didn’t have much of an opportunity to ride, especially considering her age.

When Glasser arrived at the Bogley Ranch Wednesday, her face lit up. She fed, pet and spent time with several horses, and when it was time for her ride, she was ready to go.

For the 15 minutes that followed, Glasser rode and rode, doing the one thing that she loved so much – one more time. She was back on the ranch, back in the saddle. For that moment, she was home.