Judith Samson-French, MSc, DVM, recently appeared on Alberta Primetime, a feature program of CTV Alberta. The program focused on the live export of horses to Japan and was presented as a debate over horse treatment between Dr. Samson-French and horse slaughter promoter Bill desBarres.
In the 8 minute program, which is viewable here, Dr. Samson-French outlined the major concerns:
- Horses over 14.1 HH are not universally segregated
- Horses are not trained or exposed to transportation
- Horses have been not been able to hold their heads in their natural upright position
- Repeated branding is a welfare issue – pain cannot be alleviated using drugs since that would taint the meat
- In Canada the limit is 36 hours, compared to 24 hours in the EU and 28 in the US. Science has shown us that after 24 hours without water, horses become compromised. The business model of transporting horses is not easily accomplished within the 36 hour limit unless those limits are reset/bypassed entirely.
Dr. Samson-French concluded her presentation by offering that Canada was relegated to the position of “janitor” – cleaning up all the unwanted horses in North America, with no traceability of horsemeat.
Mr. desBarres provided little rebuttal to these very specific issues, other than to say that the regulations are fine the way they are, and that we had no right to interfere with the democratic process of a commercial business, provided that the process is “regulated and enforced by the scientific authorities.” If Mr. desBarres were attentive to the issues Dr. Samson-French had brought up, he would realize that the 36 hour transport timeline is not scientifically supported, and other regulations are not being adhered to. Furthermore, the conditions horses experience are regulated by rules that are decades old.
In this study, horses transported for “only” 24 hours showed “changes in muscle metabolism, stress indices, dehydration and immune parameters, and body weight.”