Horses shipped to Japan for slaughter: animal advocacy group takes legal action

Animal welfare advocates in Winnipeg have filed a legal complaint with the federal government, after an inhumane shipment of live horses to Japan left them without food or water for over 28 hours. Alex Karpa reports.

By Alex Karpa

An animal advocacy group is taking legal action over what they call the inhumane transport of horses being shipped to Japan for slaughter.

A video circulating online shows horses being loaded into cargo boxes, which were then put onto an airplane at Winnipeg’s International Airport in December.

Animal welfare advocates have since filed a legal complaint with Ottawa because the shipment, which was transporting 79 horses, surpassed the legal 28-hour limit with the horses not receiving food, water, or rest.

“The conditions that these horses were put through are nothing short of horrific,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, the director of legal advocacy with Animal Justice Canada. “Canadian law is very clear: horses are not to be in transport for that long.”

RELATED: Exportation of live horses for slaughter must be banned: animal rights activists

Mitchell says the advocacy group, along with the Winnipeg Humane Society and several other groups, submitted a complaint to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. However, Mitchell says it was made clear to them that nothing would be done about it.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” she said. “And just last week, we learned that in fact three horses on that journey collapsed while in the air. This is completely unacceptable. We know that transporting horses for this long puts the horses at risk of injury, illness and even death.”

Advocacy groups, like Animal Justice, have been calling on the federal Liberals to stop the export of horses to Japan for slaughter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to banning live export during the 2021 federal election, and the commitment was included in the minister of agriculture’s December 2021 mandate letter, but no action has been taken.

Horses on tarmac for hours

Danae Tonge, with Manitoba Animal Save, captured photos and videos of the horses being transported. Tonge says the horses were left on the tarmac at the airport for three, four hours before even being loaded on the plane.

“Two-thirds of Canadians are against horse export for slaughter, and the Liberals promised on their re-election platform that this would be banned. We are a year-and-a-half into this and nothing has been done,” said Tonge.

“It’s heartbreaking, honestly. The horses are just being unloaded one by one, single file and you know what lies ahead for them.”

Tonge says there is at least one export each month during the winter in Winnipeg, shipping dozens of horses each time.

Thousands of horses are shipped by air from Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg every year, with majority of the air exports departing from Calgary.

“We’ve reached out to the minister so many times that I have lost count and she’s declined to speak with us,” said Tonge.

WATCH: Campaign to end horse exportation for slaughter

CityNews also reached out to Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Mitchell says Canadians need to speak out against the inhumane transport of live horses.

“It’s really difficult to imagine the fear and the suffering that these animals are enduring, for absolutely no good reason,” said Mitchell. “They are being shipped across the world, to satisfy a wealthy, niche market for raw horse sashimi.”

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today