Protecting the innocent

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Every day hundreds of horses die in Canada. Last year alone, there were 87,175 horses slaughtered in Canada.

FARM GIRL COLUMN BY CATHY WILKINSON

That is nearly 1,800 horses killed each week.

The horse slaughter industry thrives because of the demand for horse meat in Europe and Asia. Last year, there was a 47 per cent increase to Canada from the United States because of their ban on horse slaughter. It is illegal to sell or eat horse meat in the United States. Canada picked up the slaughter slack from the United States.

Hundreds of horses from the states still enter the Texas slaughter houses and come out in boxes stamped, “A Big Taste of Texas.” In Canada, there are four slaughter houses: two in Quebec and two in Alberta. Canadian animal transport services current regulations allow horses to be shipped for 36 hours without food and water. This allows for the long hauls from the United States to Canada. Even though there are only four houses in Canada, it has long been characterized as one of the largest in the world. Canada’s industry ranks among the top 10 producers of horse meat internationally.

There are many horses that go for meat in Nova Scotia and Canada, including retired race horses and family companions that are bought from rural auctions including horses that no longer can be cared for or people just getting rid of them. They are crammed into trailers meant for cattle and left for days without food, water or proper rest. Horses are taken from the track full of drugs and are used for human food. This is a shameful betrayal against our loyal companions.

There is however one good thing and that is horse meat is no longer used in dog food because it is worth so much more. The buyer of horse meat will pay up to $20 a pound so someone with a 1,000 or 1,500 pound horse is more likely to sell it to a meat buyer.

My Little Angel is one little pony that didn't make it to the meat truck. One Thursday afternoon, I went to the cattle sale in Truro. On this particular day, there was an abundance of horse and ponies, said to have come from Cape Breton. There were all shapes and sizes. There were very thin. There, standing in the herd, was a white pony with her solid black colt and her last year’s filly.

I fell in love and told my dad to bid on them. I took the three of them home and had nothing but joy since. The filly went to the home of Carolann and Jimmy McNeil of Merigomish. This is where she became Flicka and is treated like a little princess. The white pony and her black colt came home with me to Broadway.

She became Angel and brings great joy. She is a pony that is almost human like. In the summer, you will find her walking the deck looking for treats. She has become a friend for three little girls in Truro in the summer months and a full-time best friend to Whitney Cameron. She became a trail mate and stable companion to horses that need a friend. She even made it to school and birthday parties. She got her name Angel because that is what you feel when you’re around her. She has been a therapeutic pony for many, including myself. Her pure jet black colt became Sammy and is a Newfoundland pony that you will find in the pastures of Broadway.

Angel and her family are the lucky ones that escaped the meat truck. I can’t image not having her around. So if you ever want to go for a Sunday drive and feed carrots and donuts, or just about anything to two willing little ponies, you will find them forever in Broadway.

When and if it’s time to get rid of your equine friend, remember where they may end up. Let’s remember what may happen to them and save our gentle creatures from a horrible fate.  

 

Cathy Wilkinson of Broadway, Pictou County, teaches 4H in the county and has a small hobby farm she tends to when she isn’t working as a corrections officer. Her monthly columns will focus on farming community as well as 4H activities. 

Geographic location: Canada, United States, Texas Europe Asia Broadway Quebec Alberta Truro Nova Scotia Cape Breton Newfoundland Pictou County

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  • Suzanne Moore
    February 07, 2014 - 16:34

    While I certainly agree with the sentiments expressed in this piece, I must point out that there are NO horse slaughter plants in Texas or anywhere else in the US. There were two plants in Texas - with which I was VERY familiar, living between them - but they closed in 2006 when an old Texas law banning horse slaughter for human consumption was discovered and began to be enforced again. Those two merely moved across the border to Mexico and kill buyers here live ship horses to Mexico - and Canada as well. There are many places in the US that are closer to Canada than Texas.

  • Christine MacKenzie
    January 23, 2014 - 21:29

    Very insperational! Thank you for the uplifting story.