Horse News

Canadian Slaughterhouse Firm No Longer Accepting Thoroughbreds

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By Glenye Cain Oakford as published on the Daily Racing Form

“I had a lot of hassle with it…”

Viande Richelieu, the company that operates two of Canada’s four equine slaughterhouses, appears to be backing away from accepting Thoroughbreds for slaughter after their unusual move of returning slaughter-bound former racehorses Canuki and Cactus Cafe.

The two Thoroughbreds left Beulah Park’s barn area May 1 after their owner, Barbara Price, allegedly sold them to trainer Mark Wedig. Ohio stewards investigating the horses’ whereabouts ruled Price off for a year and fined her $1,000 for impeding the investigation and providing false information. About three weeks later, Wedig presented Canuki and Cactus Cafe to West Virginia state veterinarian John Day in connection with Mountaineer Park officials’ inquiry into the horses’ whereabouts.

According to a May 24 e-mail from Richlieu administrative technician Geneve Ethier to Mindy Lovell, a Canadian farm owner whom Ohio stewards authorized to contact Richelieu on their behalf, the Canuki and Cactus Cafe case “did occur major problems to us and a lot of time, efforts, and money consuming. So to avoid that in the future, the plant advises all his suppliers to not BUY those thoroughbred[s] and overall not have them ship to us. . . . For us, thoroughbred[s] are definitely banned from our premises.”

Viande Richelieu operates the equine slaughterhouses Viande Richelieu Meat Inc. in Massueville near St.-Hyacinthe, Quebec, and Bouvry Export in Fort MacLeod, Calgary, Alberta.

Asked whether Richelieu had told him to stop buying Thoroughbreds on the company’s behalf, supplier Bruce Rotz of Shippensburg, Pa., said: “They did. I buy horses for them. We never did bring them too many Thoroughbreds. We tried to stay away from them. They’re just aggravation. A lot of people don’t want them slaughtered, you know.”

Richelieu Viande declined to comment, but Ethier told Daily Racing Form : “Someone told me you already talked to our buyer in the U.S.A. . . . So you speak with someone, so you have your answer.”

About 90,000 horses of all breeds are killed annually in Canada’s four federally registered slaughterhouses, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and about 66,000 of those horses arrive from the United States. The federal agency did not provide information regarding the number of Thoroughbreds slaughtered in Canada each year. Canadians annually consume about 300 tons of horse meat, on average, the CFIA says, but most of the horse meat from Canadian slaughterhouses is exported to European food markets.

The use of North American horse meat for human consumption, and strict European Union protocols regarding food safety, form an important undercurrent in the debate over racehorse slaughter.

In July 2010, the CFIA began requiring that all horses presented for slaughter be accompanied by an Equine Information Document, including a description of the horses’ markings and a record of all their vaccinations and medications for the previous six months. Slaughterhouse operators are required to screen each EID, match it to the horse presented for slaughter, and then provide the document to a CFIA official for verification. Anti-slaughter advocates maintain that the EIDs can be forged or falsified, a federal offense in Canada, by owners or suppliers selling horses to slaughter. That, anti-slaughter and equine welfare advocates say, can allow drug-tainted meat to enter the human food chain.

Some drugs commonly administered to race and sport horses are considered safe in food animals, once certain withdrawal times have passed. These include ivermectin, furoseminde (Salix or Lasix), flunixin (Banamine), and altrenogest (Regu-mate). But others – including clenbuterol (Ventipulmin), boldenone (Equipoise), phenylbutazone (Butazolidin), and nitrofurazone (Fura-Zone or Furacin) – are not permitted at all in horses slaughtered for food.

“All carcasses are individually inspected to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” CFIA media relations official Lisa Gauthier said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, federally registered establishments where animals are slaughtered are routinely inspected to ensure compliance with the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations. The Agency also has a monitoring program to randomly test meat for the presence of pesticides, environmental contaminants, and drug residues. . . . When the CFIA detects results that are of concern, sampling frequency can be increased.”

It’s not yet clear whether concerns over drugs played a role in Richlieu’s apparent policy change on Thoroughbreds. Richelieu supplier Rotz says anti-slaughter advocates, not Canadian regulations, were his biggest headache in buying Thoroughbreds for slaughter.

“I had a lot of hassle with it,” he added. “I don’t even want one [a Thoroughbred] on my premises. These people that say, ‘Save the Thoroughbreds’ or ‘Save any horse,’ if they put 10 dollars a week to feed the homeless people and the mistreated children in this world, you know, this world would be totally different.”

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17 replies »

  1. So now they will just buy more of the other breeds putting non TB at even more risk, peoples pet companion horses. I just don’t see where switching from one breed to another for slaughter gains anything for the average horse owner or the horses. It is like to 90% verses the 10%. The upper 10% are doing well and the other 90% of us get the shaft.


    • Or they will reclassify, based on junk paperwork from the KBs and sloppy USDA/CFIA visual ID that TBs aren’t TBs.


  2. This is halfway good news. That’s a start. Our sheepish government won’t help so the Canadians do their jobs for them. We need to end this entirely though. The AQHA is the main culprit especially since they allow artificial insemination even in this sad economy. I agree with another post that back yard breeders are not the problem the mass breeders are because it pays them to dispose of their overstock with no responsibility or consequences for their actions. The ASHAMED has the highest percentage of horses going to slaughter according to USDA stats. I don’t believe in the poor horse owner theory who sells his horse to buy food for his kids. I do see evidence of people who sell so they don’t have to go out and feed or water in the dead of winter. 50+ years of experience shows this. Most horses end up at auctions after riding season is over they are treated like boats, motor cycles, and snow mobiles.


    • Wild equidae are not allowed by the EU. HOWEVER…..what happens to wild equines through multiple ownerships and the fraudulent paperwork shuffle is another matter.


    • My thoughts exactly. Remember the flyer we saw that had a picture of a mare and a foal on it being raised on grass that was labeled “Mustangs”. It was designed for a Belgium audience if memory serves me (I may have a hard copy). I believe the initial assumption was that this flyer represented false, misleading advertising. However, given hard evidence such as the 1997 White Paper Report about the wide spread secondary business of the BLM wild horse staffers who selected wild horses from the roundups and then snuck them out during the middle of the night to sell to KBers; the reluctance of the BLM to reduce herd sizes through the use of PZP, and their continued insistence on using helicopter roundups; the disappearance from some herds of large numbers of expected foals; the need to hold roundups on private ranches where the public is threatened with arrest and fines if they get lost on roads without signs.

      Until the Internet and a few dogged advocates and journalists refused to let go of this story, the BLM and their rancher friends had a nice little business dealing in horse flesh. But when it started to look like the BLM would have to bend to public pressure and use birth control to keep fewer horses from being born, the meat industry supplied by their BLM/rancher clients had to come up with another strategy. Enter United Horsemen, United Horseman’s Front, Organizations for the (dead) Horse, and choke (upside down, dangling by a hind leg, fully conscious, as my carotid artery is slit) the International Dead Equine Business Ass©.

      Of course, Secretary Salazar has done his best to keep the business of (dead) wild horses alive by sending them to Oklahoma and Kansas to fatten up. I wonder if the Nevada politician’s problem that led to the Burns’ Amendment was a living horse problem or a dead horse problem. Who would have benefitted most from the Burns’ Amendment? The high end meat industry.

      Thus, the late Senator Byrd’s question, “Who could kill a horse?” becomes highly rhetorical.


  3. It’s simple, ALL American horses are contaminated meat, with few exceptions. Stop this madness and get on the horn to your legislators. Serious public pressure is our ONLY hope.

    As for the jackass in this interview that assumes equine warriors do nothing for the homeless, poor and starving children of this world, I’d say that’s a pretty arrogant assumption on his part. Wonder what he does to help besides serve up toxic meat to innocent folks across the globe?


  4. BTW…everyone here knows where TBs will go, right?????? SOUTH!

    The Jockey Club, NTRA, TOBA, et al better develop a plan to euth humanely, track the owners and trainers….and the tracks that have their charges mysteriously evaporate.

    Hey AAEP (you ethically impaired scum), you better get involved in this mess.


  5. Give me a break!!! Your right, what doesn’t go North goes South of the Border…It appears that all our efforts are paying off. We should hound this guy about all the horses since the majority are coming from the United States. In fact, I think an email is in order for this gentlemen because he has seriously missed the boat. A horse even remotely cared for is given many of the pharmaceticals on the list. He certainly has it wrong because I think this country goes far beyond the norm when helping the poor. Yes, we could improve. What other country sends millions of dollars overseas to care for the poor like the United States? Bottom line Dude is that we love our horses, ALL HORSES WILD AND DOMESTIC!!! We also cannot leave out our historical burros. Mr Slaughterhouse Owner get your horses else where and STOP BUYING OURS! How does this Dude sleep knowing that he probably has stolen horses purchased under false pretenses? But, of course he doesn’t give a damn as long as his quota is filled. Well, now that we have HIS name and HIS company, I will definitely drop this uneducated man an email. Thanks again RT for keeping us so enlightened and informed.


    • That kill buyer is the same one prominently mentioned in the LaFever affidavit of probable cause,
      I’ll make you click on the affidavit.
      If you read related stories, he was also the girl’s boyfriend, so he pretty well knew that she didn’t have those 120 horses for six months each, and that they were stolen.
      It was probably him who talked her into doing it.
      ‘Course, who’s gonna prosecute him?
      Then again, I’d say he’s a good part of the reason his bosses are refusing tb’s.
      So now everybody else gets to worry more, and the tb’s get renamed warmbloods.
      Maybe the race horse folks could get better results by expanding to prevent all illegal slaughter, rather than just their current narrow focused, politically self serving approach?


  6. All carcasses are individually inspected to protect the health and safety of Canadians – or – When the CFIA detects results that are of concern, sampling frequency can be increased.” Well which is it?

    These people that say, ‘Save the Thoroughbreds’ or ‘Save any horse,’ if they put 10 dollars a week to feed the homeless people and the mistreated children in this world, you know, this world would be totally different.” What the hell does this have to do with issue? How much does he donate to charity? He’s the one feeding children toxic meat. Scumbag. Stop, drop, n roll won’t work in hell.


  7. As long as the blood thirsty horse slaughter crew is allowed to operate in this country, there is no good news. If you follow the history of ranchers before the WFRHA, you know that this Act was preceded by another Act in 1968 which was the original Wild Horse Annie Act. But there were loop holes, so the 1971 Act was written and followed. The ranchers challenged it all the way to the Supreme Court In 1976, the Supreme Court upheld the WFRHB Act as constitutional. So, in 1978 the ranchers and the BLM convinced Congress that wild horses and burros were sufficiently recovered, so it passed the FLMPA which undercut the priority status the WFRHB Act had given the wild horses and burros. If there is a regulation or a policy put in place to protect our wild horses and burros, the BLM and the ranchers will find a way to pervert it. If they need a new law to undo an old one, they will see that it gets written.

    How many you saw a Wyoming Senator is sponsoring a bill to make bison our national mammal? Is there anyone who’s having trouble seeing where this is headed?


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