Horse Health

Horses Shipped to Japan for their Meat are Mistreated at Canadian Airport

as published at CTV

“They are legally allowed to go up to 36 hours without food and water,”

Animal welfare advocates in Calgary say that live horses being shipped to Japan for human consumption are being treated inhumanely at the Calgary Airport, but the airport insists all rules are being followed.

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition says a video its members shot recently shows horses being mistreated at the airport. They say the animals are kept in crates not tall enough for them to stand in. Thet also say the video shows de-icing fluid and jet blast from other planes drifting onto the crates as they’re loaded.

On Thursday, 15 protesters held a rally in front of Calgary’s Aero Space Museum, organized by CARE — the Calgary Animal Rights Effort — and the Lethbridge Animal Rights Effort. They waved signs that read “YYC flies horses to their death,” “Calgary’s Shame” and “Horse export is cruel.”

Maureen Hurly, with CARE, says horses are suffering during the long-haul flights and some have died en route.

“We’re concerned because of the inhumaneness of the entire operation from start to finish. They are legally allowed to go up to 36 hours without food and water,” she told CTV Calgary.

Hurly also brought her group’s concerns to the Calgary Airport Authority’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Garth Atkinson, the president and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority, told reporters that the airport authority has no jurisdiction over the handling of the horses; he says that’s a federal responsibility.

What’s more, he says, is the animals are treated well.

“As far as we know, everything takes place according to the law, and it’s very supervised and every complaint is looked into and addressed,” he said.

Hurly says she was disappointed by the airport authority’s reaction.

“I don’t feel like the airport wants to take any accountability for this at all. They just want to pass responsibility on to somebody else,” she said.

Live horse exports to Japan have jumped in recent years because of growing demand, rising from 2,200 animals in 2012 to 7,800 last year. As well, Canada exported 9,000 tonnes of already slaughtered horse meat, according to Agriculture Canada, to several countries, including Japan, Belgium and France.

Activists claim about 90 horses a week from Calgary are slaughtered in Japan to be used as raw sashimi, selling for about $25,000 a horse.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it inspects all air shipments of live horses and ensures they have food and water. It also reviews all complaints. The agency would not say whether any rules had been broken in the video shot by the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.

New York-based Atlas Air, the cargo line that ships most of the animals, did not return a request by CTV Calgary for comment.

34 replies »

  1. The airport and the government are lying through their wallets. And where is the jApanese statement. On the CDHC is a journal of one of the pilots of these meat planes. Many instances of dead horses. When the planes are full and a hitch in flight happens, horses die predictably on deck. Uness the plane is opened, and exhaust is pumped out. The condensation from the sweat of the frightened anoimals causes WET air. Mixed with what little urine they produce and manure, you have a quickly toxic air situation. Most planes do not have the capacity to push the air through and the horses asphixiate. Read the journal. I’d find it but my phone imits my research.

    The export of horses live for the pleasure of the Japanese is despicable. The Japaneses behavior with these animals and the public slaughter of dolphins and whales put this country and their greed on line with repulse. Disgusting dishonorable and predatory. Why do they insist on poaching every living thing for their eating pleasure. Are they so insecure as a nation that they MUST slaughter animals that Americans have forged relationships with? Look deeper into these issues and see the debilitating effect caused by their cannabilistic tendencies towards conscious beings. Canada is just as feeble – feeding them for paper – that is artifiicially valued – with the bodies of a congenial and societal species.


  2. First of all no transport of living beings to distant countries for the purpose of slaughter should EVER take place. If this must occur, butcher the meat in the country of origin.


    • Toni, most (if not all) of these draft type horses are raised from birth in Canada for slaughter and are kept obese and chemical-free for their Japanese customers.


      • Not true. Around 60% of horses slaughtered for consumption in Canada come from the US. Kill buyers buy horses at auction where they know absolutely nothing about the horse’s history, disease, medication, dewormers, etc. Asian kill buyers have been buying up draft stock at auctions in the US, driving up the price so the people there to buy a team can’t afford them. That is not what the breeders wanted for those horses, and not what the auction attendees wanted for those horses. It’s not that type of auction. I passionately oppose the slaughter of horses for consumption for the same reasons that I oppose the same for dogs and cats. You trust your horse with your life when you ride him, so he should be able to trust you for his. I oppose end of the line auctions that the meat buyers attend, and I oppose meat buyers getting any horses in the US or elsewhere.

        If the Japanese are eating raw horse sashimi, then they are consuming chemicals, such as dewormers and medications, expressly warned on the label against using on animals destined for human consumption. Karma.


  3. It shudders me to try to watch this…the slaughter itself in another country makes me sick,I hate to know about this horrible abuse before the horrific nightmare that awaits such wonderful majestic and regal animals,the greed and misdeeds of the human race is so disturbing,God help us


  4. We have to start somewhere.
    This is part of what feeds the Horse slaughter industry

    Take horse urine out of hormone medication

    The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer makes about a $1 billion a year by abusing pregnant horses for their urine. Conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) is used in menopause and osteoporosis drugs for Pfizer, and if this sounds crazy, it is! As the founding President of The Horse Fund, an equine advocacy organization, I have followed this issue for years, and really need your help to get Pfizer to stop abusing horses.

    In this horrible industry, mares are repeatedly impregnated for an average of 12 years, and spend 6 months of their 11-month pregnancy confined to stalls so small they have difficulty turning around or lying down. Most of this time is spent standing up on cold concrete floors. They are permanently attached to cumbersome rubber urine collection bags hanging between their hind legs that chafe their flanks, cause infections and severely limit movement.

    The fate of the foals – the “by-products” of the industry – and the mares who cannot conceive is bleak. Most are sold at auction to “kill buyers” and ultimately end up at the slaughterhouse where they will be improperly stunned, dismembered, butchered and their meat sold for human consumption in countries where there is an appetite for it.
    Over the years, public scrutiny lead the makers of these products to change sourcing from horse farms in North America to overseas locations in places like China.


  5. Boycott Japanese cars and other products. Taking our Horses, whales, dogs, and returning radiation is too much. I will from now on never knowingly buy anything from Japan.


    • HD, agreed. I wish they could grow their protein in petri dishes and leave sentient animals out of the horrors they fully experience.


    • I’m a owner of 2 horses ( i love), I hate all people that eat horses and dogs, I’m vegan. Also here in Europe ( Italy and also Germany, some people eat horses, shame on you), but the worse is korea, where the skinned alive 5 mio dogs every year for meat!!! Than we have also boykott Samsung, LG etc.


  6. How can you say the rules are being followed.??? Who is looking at this video?
    How would you like to be treated like this or your family? These animals are on their way to be slaughtered and you treat them like this before this horrid death, Shame on you we are suppose to be the care takers of these animals not the source of abuse to them, in their final leg of life.


  7. As we always say – how low can humanity go. Every time you think you’ve seen the lowest, we continually fall even deeper. It’s too expensive to be humane and compassionate. Or maybe we aren’t even capable of it.


    • We aren’t capable of ethics either. As far as the Premarin, I hope women are intelligent enough to steer clear of it and to question their doctors. Menopause is a normal phase of a woman’s life. I wouldn’t use Premarin if I were dying! It’s like stealing the blood of young virgins in order to retain youth. Try sweet potatoes instead!


  8. All of the elderly women that end up in nursing homes with Alzhelmer’s probably was on one of the CEE drugs. It was never kept track of as far as I can find out. It was accepted as part of growing old so no one thought anything about it. Even now I doubt the public connects these drugs with Alzhelmer’s or breast cancer. Pfizer is still pushing their drugs on television and in the newspaper along with magazines.
    In their ads they have to list all of the side effects I believe because of the court cases over the years. Once the women in the countries where the PMU horses are I will bet their breast cancer rates go up and 20 years down the road their Alzhelmer’s cases will start to climb also and never connect it to Pfizer’s drugs.


  9. I have been trying for weeks to get information regarding the slaughter/transport of US Equines. I will say this for them, the Canadians are organized and protests get the attention. We need to seriously do something here. I have received NOTHING from the US Department of Agriculture so I sent a letter to my Senator asking for the information. I requested info from the European Union and received it quite promptly. If its our government that’s so lax, its one more nail in their coffin. I hope that their people are happy munching on cancer causing meat. Just disgusting!!! I will certainly be passing this info along. I have read certain foreigners prefer certain types of meat. I also call and write the television channels when I see Premarin or Prempro products advertised. We can only keep the fight up because sooner or later we will win just like we did in Texas and Illinois. What baffles me is how they can certify a horse/equine is free from pharma when they have no information at the auctions or feedlots. Just a total scam. We need to tell the foreign countries to hit the road! If the airlines cannot take care of small animals properly, I can only imagine what they do to the poor horses!


  10. People don’t seem to think that animals headed for slaughter are entitled to civilized, humane treatment – since they are ‘going to die anyway’. I’ve actually heard/read comments like that! I’m so glad I do not eat beef and do not contribute to the abuses of this amoral and without ethics industry.

    There’s no good quality anymore (Pink Slime), we feel we are above the laws of nature and feed herbivores animal by-products and waste materials and floor sweepings in order to save a buck (Mad Cow Disease), and even slipping horsemeat in to unsuspecting consumers.


    • Beautifully written piece. Now, the Interior Dept. is going to try to rid the public lands of wild horses in order to ‘protect’ sage grouse habitat. Beware.

      “Measures called for under the conservation plan for California and Nevada include management of livestock and wild horses to prevent their interference with the bird and habitat restoration projects, officials said.”


      • Ida, I think we should all remind those making decisions that horses and Sage Grouse evolved together… so horse removal should not be automatic. If poor management results in competition, then fire the managers and get someone on board who is up to the job.



    Who are we?
    Animal Rights for Japan’ was founded by Japanese and non-Japanese animal lovers in Holland and Japan.

    What are our goals?
    We would like to see stricter laws protecting animals against needless suffering.
    We would like to put an end to painful killing of healthy animals.

    Why Japan?
    Because of our strong connection to Japan, we believe to have a good understanding of their (difficult) culture.
    Only Cats and Dogs? What about other animals?
    Animal rights for Japan focuses primarily on pet animals, such as cats and dogs. However we are also addressing other problems such as fur for fashion, cruel animal testing and the horrid living conditions of animals for industrial mass production of meat.

    What can we do?
    We spread the word about the situation in Japan internationally.
    We collect and share information internationally and advocate good examples from other countries and how they can also be applied to Japan.
    We organize promotional events to promote animal rights for Japan.
    We support rescue operations and volunteers for animals all over Japan.

    Contacting us
    If you have any idea or suggestion, please contact us at

    Japan is a well-developed and rich country, compared to countries where war or poverty is making this difficult, they have a lot of potential to become a pet friendly country.


  12. Why don’t we pack Garth Atkinson, the president and CEO of the Calgary Airport Authority in those crates with the horses and still think that it is fine?


  13. Is someone breeding belgiums to do this? More bang for their buck with heavy horses?????? Need to find this out!!


  14. As a country Canada is in a position to set an example to the rest of the world regarding humane animal transport and treatment of these animals ( horses as well as other livestock). As an accredited veterinarian I am ashamed that our border veterinarians are apparently ok with the 36 hours without food or water rule. I cringe thinking about how they are treated when they reach their destination. This is NOT OK. Canadians are known for compassion and kindness. Why not use it here. These horses are not deserving of cruelty just because they are headed for slaughter.


  15. This needs to be stopped, it is cruel and disgusting, japanese people eat horsemeat raw!!!! How disgusting is that? And canada is compliant in this animal cruelty.


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