Horse News

Leading Horse Slaughter Proponent Calls Undercover Video a Fabrication

Press Release from the Equine Welfare Alliance

CHICAGO, (EWA) – The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) recently released hidden camera footage from an investigation that took place at the two largest horse slaughter plants in Canada, Bouvry Exports and Viande Richelieu.

So horrific are the conditions depicted at both plants that they have prompted Bill desBarres, Chairman of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC) and a long time proponent of horse slaughter, to declare he believes the footage was fabricated by groups opposed to “any animal agriculture”.

Bill desBarres and his organization have repeatedly praised the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and its inspectors for their diligence in assuring that horses are treated humanely at the slaughter plants and his organization lists the CFIA as a “resource partner” on their web site. The Horse Welfare Alliance appears to be nothing more than a front for the horse slaughter industry.

CHDC’s Eastern Region Director, Shelley Grainger said of the footage, “The evidence provided compelling proof that puts into question the effectiveness of the assembly-line slaughter of horses. The evidence demonstrates that both the facilities in Alberta and Quebec fail to meet humane slaughter standards.”

The footage is incontrovertible. In a court of law it would stand the test of cross examination as evidence.

Now, faced with such absolute evidence of the true nature of the slaughter process, desBarres has elected to use the Nixon Gambit and make the outrageous suggestion that the video is somehow fabricated. “One has to wonder,” says EWA’s John Holland, “does desBarres believe the CHDC tortured horses in staged mock-ups of the plants or does he think they hired Steven Spielberg to produce a digital fantasy?”

“The evidence obtained on the footage at both facilities was random – these instances we see of horses suffering terribly happened on those random days, and we can be certain they happen every day. As there are only two government-approved methods of stunning horses in Canada – captive bolt gun and rifle – and both methods have been shown to cause prolonged suffering in horses, it is evident that these animals cannot be slaughtered humanely in today’s slaughterhouse assembly lines” says Grainger.

Grainger’s conclusion is supported by similar under cover footage from a Mexican slaughter plant and appalling photos of horses at a US plant released by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) under a response to a citizen request through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

The revelations are even more problematic for the CFIA who has yet to respond publicly to findings of a study published recently in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology showing that horses given the banned carcinogen Phenylbutazone had routinely slipped through the inspection process and been slaughtered for human consumption.

The CFIA has been more circumspect than the HWAC, indicating only that such actions are unacceptable and that they will investigate the abuse issue.

Shelly Grainger commented, “As of July 31st, all slaughter bound horses in Canada must have an Equine Identification Document (EID) verifying they have not received Phenylbutazone, Clenbuterol, or various other drugs and steroids. As well, there is an extensive list of medications that require a 6-month withdrawal period.”

The dual controversy comes as bills have been introduced into several state legislatures in support of horse slaughter. “They are just ignoring reality,” says EWA’s Vicki Tobin, “They can’t keep ignoring the drug concerns, the horrific conditions at the slaughter plants and the cruelty inherent with the entire slaughter pipeline. The only states that want horse slaughter are those who have never experienced it.”

It is time to take back our horses from the predatory slaughter industry. EWA urges all horse owners to contact their legislators and insist that the federal horse protection legislation be passed immediately.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues free, umbrella organization with over 100 member organizations and hundreds of individuals worldwide. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.

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15 replies »

  1. The FOIA shows horses bound for slaughter in the U.S. endured shockingly cruel treatment. Photographs documented horses with legs ripped off, eyeballs hanging on their cheeks and other severe injuries.Earlier GAO documents raise additional disturbing humane issues. A 2004 GAO report found horses were slaughtered while conscious, which are considered significant violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.Sonja Meadows, Executive Director of Animals’ Angels, a Maryland based animal welfare organization, said, “We are asking the GAO to thoroughly examine the ineffectiveness of laws in preventing documented cruelty and inhumane practices. It seems clear from the USDA FOIA, earlier GAO reports, ours and others’ investigations, that horse slaughter is a predatory business whose economics require cruel and inhumane practices. It is definitely not, as horse slaughter advocates would have the public believe, a service motivated by altruistic concerns or humane practices.”Horses are slaughtered for consumption overseas, primarily in parts of Europe and Asia. A USDA study shows that 92% of the American horses at slaughter are young, healthy and without behavioral problems, refuting claims that horse slaughter provides a service in disposing of horses that are old, lame, sick or crazy.Meadows said, “Irrefutable evidence of brutality is already quite plentiful, unfortunately. We believe the GAO’s report will be the definitive wakeup call to the new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Obama administration to push for an immediate ban on CRUEL-COWARDLY-BRUTAL HORSE SLAUGHTER BE GREEDY PREDATORY INTERESTS.


  2. Why doesn’t he go work at one of the slaughter plants for a month and then tell us if it is a fabrication or not?


  3. FABRICATED??!!!! OMG,
    On a personal level; I am making it a point to find out how the meat I buy is raised and how it is processed; yes, it’s more expensive, but I refuse to support factory farms and the horrific slaughter of any animal. I wrote to the representatives in IL when there was a push to reopen the Cavel horse slaughter plant here earlier this year; the sponsor of the bill wrote back that it would be more humane to kill them here, rather than send them to Canada or Mexico. I replied that NO slaughterhouse involves humanity for horses; and it is really an inhumane and horrific death for ANY animal. There are other options besides this.


    • jan eaker: please take this in the spirit in which it intended.
      I love you, I love you, I love you!!!
      THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!! Knowin’ who & how, supportin’ the li’l guy or at least a big guy with a sense of responsibility, an actual dyed-in-the-wool Rancher.
      A fella what doesn’t see the need to vaccinate his livestock with every nostrum known to humanity, who runs his livestock on his own land & knows the lineage of his animals, a testament to Animal Husbandry. A Craftsman, if you will.
      They make Dairymen, too, guys who know the names of every cow on their property, who feeds them grass and grain, not growth hormones. And Organic Farmers, who grow actual vegetables and fruits with no genetic enhancements.
      Ok, off my soapbox now. But I do so appreciate your committment. Maybe we can nickle-and-dime these muthers out of existence.


  4. I would be highly offended to think this man who even insinuate that horse advocates could do these things to a horse–but then I consider the depraved humans who can stand up, without a bag over their head to hide their identity, and try to justify their position on horse slaughter being humane. If they can do that I guess they can do anything. Once again I shake my head.


  5. lisa, THANKS!
    I live in a south suburb of chicago, all the farmers around here are like that, they know their animals, the chickens and pigs and cows are out in pastures; i was absolutely horrified when I saw how these factory farms are run, the cruelty driven by greed and who knows what depravity; what’s put in the animals when they’re alive, and then what’s put in the processed meat to kill all the nasty germs(Food, INC is the movie, you won’t eat hamburger again!) I had to put my money where my mouth is. I hope enough people will do this, it would be good to drive some of these places out of business; they are heartless AND what is worse, soulless.


  6. Wow! That’s a lot of footage to stage! Aside from anything else, Mr. desBarres must believe that the CHDC is rolling in dough to be able to produce something like that. I guess that goes for all the other undercover footage that has been coming out for years.

    Utterly ridiculous to try to pretend you think ALL this stuff was staged. But then, look who we’re talking about. I suspect nothing is beneath him.


    • I had to stop viewing these because they made me physically ill. I agree, it would take a mighty expensive and conspiratorial effort to stage all the undercover videos over the years. Maybe some “Undercover Boss” should work on the floor of his own plant for a while, and see if the profits justify the pain and abuse. The owners are most likely absentees. They count the dollars and don’t want to hear about or see the cruelty “up close and personal”.


  7. “Horse – it’s what’s for dinner!” Good luck to any ad agency that trys to make that one fly. The test market would be a nightmare, never mind the campaign.

    On the other hand, it might make an interesting campaign AGAINST horse slaughter. The t-shirts alone would be horrific, but they’d certainly get attention!


  8. A fabrication? Ah, that is the logical explanation. Of course it is, because something this horrific is just not something that ANYONE can begin to wrap their brain around! This man is a coward. He is too afraid to consider the idea that this scene is for real, because my God, grasping that could just about kill you. I know that every one of you reading this had a piece of you die on the day you first learned about what horses suffer, by going to slaughter.


  9. The nerve of this man to use the tactic that the video is a fake! everyone should post on any news stories and comment venues this man has!

    If it is ‘fake’ why doesn’t he charge the animal abusers with crimes.

    They can start with the man whipping the mini pony so much it was running/crashing into the exit door trying to escape.


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