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Authorities Investigate Footage of Pigs Crammed in Sweltering Manitoba Transport Truck

Animal Justice August 3, 2018

BRANDON, MB—The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is investigating potential animal protection law violations after viewing footage showing pigs crammed into a transport truck, pushed together and climbing on top of each other, on a sweltering day in July. The footage was captured outside the Maple Leaf Foods pig slaughterhouse in Brandon, Manitoba by members of Manitoba Animal Save, who also recorded the temperature inside the truck at nearly 40 degrees Celsius.

“It was heartbreaking to see the animals crammed in next to each other in such unbearable heat,” said Cheryl Sobie, an organizer with Manitoba Animal Save. “Some animals were panting and foaming at the mouth, which we know means they’re heat-stressed. Others seemed to have given up. If this were a truck full of dogs, people would rightfully be outraged. There’s no reason not to extend the same consideration to pigs, who are equally sentient. Sadly, our group regularly documents farmed animals in similar conditions, leading us to believe it’s common across the country.”

“Federal law prohibits crowding animals in transport, and guidelines indicate that animals must be given even more space on hot days,” said Anna Pippus, an animal rights lawyer for the animal law non-profit Animal Justice. “However, animal protection laws in Canada are weak, vague, and under-enforced. This is a case in point. Business-as-usual in Canada’s animal farming system is in desperate need of an overhaul. Government must hold transporters accountable for routinely putting profit and convenience ahead of the basic needs of the vulnerable animals in their care.”

Pigs don’t have sweat glands and have no way to cool themselves in sweltering weather aboard unventilated metal trucks. Transport trucks aren’t equipped with fans or water sprinklers, but pigs are transported every day of the year regardless of weather.

Canada’s animal transport laws haven’t been updated in four decades and have been criticized by experts as being the worst in the western world. Pigs can be trucked for up to 36 hours without a break for rest, food or water. Government data show that in 2017, over 14,000 pigs arrived at slaughterhouses dead, having died en route.

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The footage can be seen here.

For more information, contact:

Cheryl Sobie
manitobaanimalsave@gmail.com

Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

 

 

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Minister of Agriculture Admits Government Isn’t Enforcing Horse Protection Laws

Animal Justice July 24, 2018

Every year in Canada, thousands of draft horses are exported by air to Japan, where they will be slaughtered for meat. Draft horses are by nature large. When horses of this size are packed together in small crates, they are unable to stand properly or catch their balance if they fall. If they go down during flight, a common occurrence recognized by the CFIA, they are unable to get back up. Aggressive behaviours are also heightened when horses are confined and under high stress, making injuries far more likely.

Canadian law requires every horse over 14 hands in height to be segregated from all other animals during transport by air, and able to stand in a natural position without coming into contact with the roof. Draft horses are always over 14 hands in height. Despite being a clear violation of federal law, for many years, draft horses have been transported by air in crates of three to four with inadequate head room, exposing them to enormous suffering. This has been well-documented by activists.

In 2012, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition obtained Access to Information documents that revealed that three horses had died due to a landing accident. On an August 2, 2012 flight, six more horses died, “due to a combination of a substantial delay, the large size of the horses, and significant stress levels in the animals.” Another horse travelling from Calgary was found dead upon arrival, completely upside down in his crate. This past year, video footage taken from the Edmonton International Airport, showed roughly 90 horses crammed into wooden crates, waiting on the hot tarmac for seven hours before being loaded onto the plane. The video shows three to four horses per crate, with their ears visibly touching the ceiling.

According to veterinarian Dr. Judith Samson-French:

By virtue of their size and strength, larger horses can do very serious damage to one another if they not segregated and particularly if they are semi-feral/ feral horses such as are many of the ones being shipped to Japan for slaughter. It is my understanding that the majority of these horses are being raised on feedlots.

Now, the Minister of Agriculture has admitted that current regulations are not being enforced. According to the Minister, exporting groups of larger breeds of horses by air was “not foreseen” when the regulations were put in place. Therefore, the CFIA has created an policy to opt itself out of enforcing the regulations.

But in Canada, the law is the law, and it cannot be superseded by agency policies.

Please sign our petition to the CFIA and the Agriculture Minister to let them know their blatant disregard for the law at the expense of these horses is not acceptable!

 

 

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What You Can Do About False Animal Welfare Labels on Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

Animal Justice May 3, 2018

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a “What We Heard” report about its planned overhaul of Canadian food labelling regulations. What We Heard reports are issued after stakeholders are consulted on proposed policy changes; themes in stakeholder feedback are identified and summarized.

What does food labelling have to do with animal protection, anyway? Meat, dairy and egg packaging often tries to present products as animal-friendly, using terms like “free range,” “cage-free,” “grass-fed” and “family farm.” These labels suggest to consumers that animals were raised in a certain way and may convince them to buy or even pay more for animal products with these labels.

If labelling laws are lax, there is no incentive for producers to improve conditions for animals, because they can mislead consumers instead of making actual changes. In addition, consumers who care about animals may be led to believe that so-called humane agriculture is kind for animals. The truth is that most consumers believe conditions for animals are much better than they actually are.

Now, the CFIA wants to make labelling regulations even weaker than they already are. It wants to make animal welfare and other so-called “consumer values” claims its lowest enforcement priority. Instead of proactively defining and standardizing claims about how farmed animals are treated, the CFIA thinks consumers should be forced to contact companies themselves to find out what their animal welfare claims mean.

But consumers have no way of verifying information provided by companies. Meanwhile, companies stand to benefit financially from misleading consumers.

Animal Justice participated in the CFIA’s labelling consultation. We told them that animal farming lacks transparency, that government must ensure consumers can make informed choices, that animal welfare claims must be regulated, and that regulation is the responsibility of government, not consumers or industry.

We also mobilized Canadians to take action, guiding you through the online feedback process.

It seems that our concerns have been heard: in its What We Heard report, the CFIA wrote:
“Many questioned how the model would achieve a consistent approach regarding the meaning of claims or criteria for making claims.”
“Some consumers and consumer associations thought they may not have the resources (e.g. time, influence, money, knowledge, education, access to information, etc.) to fulfill their role as part of this model. There were concerns that if this is the case, it could become “buyer beware” in the marketplace.”
“Stakeholders stressed the role of government in providing guidance on how to avoid misleading claims.”
“Effective enforcement was mentioned as critical to the success of the model and to avoiding consumer deception when CFIA intervention is needed.”

Unfortunately, however, the CFIA also noted that 84 percent of stakeholders were in favour of the proposed policy changes. Not surprisingly, support was greater among industry than consumers.

What can you do?

The CFIA has correctly identified the concerns with loosening labelling regulations. Now, they need to act on them. Tell the CFIA to crack down on misleading labelling by signing our petition!

 

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Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / Animal Equality

Animal Justice

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