Jann Arden calling for end of live horse air shipments for human consumption

A Juno Award winning artist is lending her voice to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition to call on the federal government to end the transport of live horses to Japan for human consumption.

Jann Arden and the coalition are sharing a new petition, alleging the Canadian Food Inspection Agency isn’t following its own animal welfare regulations when the horses are transported.

The singer and songwriter says large draft horses, from Calgary, Winnipeg, and Edmonton, are crammed into wooden crates with no food, water or companionship, when they’re being shipped overseas from Canada.

“They’re supposed to be in their own crates — that never happens. I’ve been at three loads at the Calgary Airport, they’re stuffed three and four at a time. They’re supposed to be able to move their heads, they don’t have that. So these horses don’t have any food, any water,” Arden says.

“Please, sign the petition, it takes a couple of minutes… I know it’s a pain in the butt, but these horses endure, you know, a two-day journey,” Arden says, adding they spend months in a foodlot, “they never see really the light of day.”

“More often than not, they are deceased when they arrive, or very very terribly injured,” she says.

“We’re not telling Canadians what to eat, but we’re talking about this very small shard of 2,500 horses that are shipped by air every year — and it’s appalling, it’s beyond inhumane, it’s completely cruel, and the government, like I said, doesn’t even follow their own guidelines, that’s what this petition is about,” Arden says.

Arden is hoping the petition receives 100,000 signatures by the end of March so they can take it to the government to end the transport.

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“The CFIA is aware that some Canadians object to the export of horses to Japan because they do not consider horses to be food animals,” the government says in a statement.

“Whether considered a competition or companion animal, or livestock, the transport of any horse must be completed in a safe and humane manner, in compliance with federal regulations,” the CFIA says.

CFIA says veterinary inspectors are present at airports for each shipment of horses to Japan to make sure the export meets the Health of Animals Act and its regulations, and to make sure the horses are fit and will be transported in a humane way.

The CFIA says inspectors are on site to make sure the horses are fit to travel humanely — and they have enough room in crates to protect themselves from injuries.

It adds exporters must not exceed 28 hours without feed, water, and rest for horses — adding total travel time from a farm in Canada to a feedlot in Japan for most shipments is around 22 hours.

“Horses are herd animals and usually travel three to four in a crate. Once loaded, the animals are visually inspected to verify that each animal can maintain its referred position or adjust its body position in order to protect itself from injuries. The crate is weighed to further verify that it is not overcrowded. If required, the combination of horses in a crate is adjusted,” the CFIA says.

The CFIA says there have been five horse deaths related to air shipments to Japan since 2013, and approximately 40,000 animals have been transported in that time, making a mortality rate of 0.012%.


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