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Access to Information Documents Reveal Sobering Government Collusion with Big Ag

Animal Justice February 15, 2017

Access to information documents obtained by the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals and reviewed by Animal Justice reveal that new proposed animal transport regulations were drafted in collusion with the animal agriculture industry itself.

In correspondence to the public, Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay states that the proposed regulations establish “science-based requirements.”

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request

In reality, far from reflecting the latest science, the proposed regulations virtually ignore a vast body of science relating to transport times without food, water or rest; exposure to extreme temperatures and weather; and severe overcrowding aboard jerkily moving vehicles.

Instead, the access to information (ATI) documents reveal that the government’s primary concern was appeasing the industry by ensuring they would be required to change very little, if anything.

For example, spent hens—the young but fragile chickens “used up” by the egg industry—are so debilitated by the time they’re sent to slaughter that the brutal transport conditions can kill them. In fact, the ATI docs show that in 2014, loads of spent hens were arriving dead at slaughterhouses at rates of up to 51.59 percent. This wasn’t an anomaly: 17.4 percent of shipments had dead on arrival rates higher than 4 percent, the rate at which regulators step in to investigate, assuming negligence. These suffering-to-death rates are a direct result of transport conditions.

Yet, the ATI docs reveal that instead of mandating a 12-hour limitation on transporting these vulnerable birds without so much as a sip of water, the government caved to industry pressure in mandating a 24-hour limit—a timeframe that is guaranteed to sentence millions of animals to extreme suffering and even death.

For example, in the ATI docs, the government admits: “While a 12 hour… time is supported by science… the initial proposed maximum time of 12 hours has been significantly increased to 24 hours;” “As a result of industry feedback, CFIA adjusted its original proposal from 12 hours to 24 hours without [food, water or rest];”  and “CFIA is now proposing 24 hours as a result of industry concerns.”

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request. The science supports not exceeding transport times in the column on the right.

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request. The science supports not exceeding transport times in the column on the right. As such, the proposed regulations can’t accurately be called “science-based.”

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request. Industry concerns dictated transport times.

Internal Government Doc From Access to Information Request. Industry concerns dictated transport times.

After making adjustments to appease industry, the government reported internally that these transport time limits “could be met by industry with minor management changes and limited additional costs.”

In one document, the government assured industry reps that on-farm feed and water withdrawal times are “not strictly enforced” (this is the period of time animals are deprived of food and water before transport. These withdrawal times will be included in the new transport time limitations).

Talking points prepared for the government to communicate with industry send subtle clues that almost no changes will be required of them: “practices [are] already used by most industry stakeholders;” the proposed regulations “balance the needs of animals during transport [with] the realities of transporting animals in Canada;” and amendments are based on “current industry practices.”

Any discussion of weather exposure was also strikingly absent. Evidently, the government didn’t even consider meaningfully regulating this primary source of suffering and agonizing death.

Ultimately, the lives of animals used for food are characterized by misery and deprivation from birth to death. So why the focus on transport?

One document conceded that transport is a “high priority issue” for the government, not because of the inherent animal welfare concerns, but because “transport is highly visible to the public. While other points in a food animal’s life are relatively unknown to the public ie on farm and at slaughter; transport remains the one aspect that is accessible to the public.” (Errors in original.)

In other words, the government needs to deal with transport to maintain the illusion of animal welfare in our animal agriculture system.

Image: Severely crowded young chickens being transported into an egg-laying barn; Alberta 2013. Via Mercy For Animals.

Animal Justice

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New Rules Proposed for Religious Slaughter; Animal Justice Calls for Outright Ban

Animal Justice January 12, 2017

OTTAWA—National animal law organization Animal Justice is calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter as new draft guidelines on the practice are open for public comment. The draft guidelines have been developed by the Federal/Provincial Animal Welfare Group, which includes the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Under federal law, the default rule is that animals must be rendered unconscious before being bled. However, an exception is provided for ritual slaughter in accordance with Judaic or Islamic law: it is permissible to restrain and cut the throats of fully conscious animals.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to slaughter without stunning because “it causes avoidable pain.” Even the new draft guidelines concede that pre-slaughter stunning is “the best method to control anxiety, pain and suffering”.

Lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy for Animal Justice, said: “Globally, there is near-consensus amongst veterinarians that non-stun slaughter causes additional fear and pain to animals. Religious freedom is an important Canadian value, but it should not include the right to harm animals.”

Many countries have already banned or restricted non-stun slaughter, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia.

Animal Justice is also calling for a ban on religious sacrifice of animals.

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Comments from the public will be accepted on the draft slaughter-without-stunning standards until January 27.

Animal Justice is encouraging the public to ask Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay to ban slaughter without stunning under the Meat Inspection Act.

For more information, contact:

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

Animal Justice

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Authorities Investigating After Live Chicken Goes Through Sanitizing Washer at Vancouver Slaughterhouse

Animal Justice June 27, 2016

VANCOUVER—The BC SPCA is investigating an incident of a live chicken going through a sanitizing washer at Hallmark Poultry in downtown Vancouver. The aftermath of the incident was captured by photographer Kornelia Kulbacki, who was at the slaughterhouse as part of a demonstration against cruelty in the chicken industry. Her photo showing the soaked and distressed chicken has since gone viral on Facebook (see here and here).

“I was horrified to see a live animal huddled in the corner of a crate being stacked with other empty crates,” said Ms. Kulbacki. “I pleaded with one of the workers in charge to let us rescue the animal and take him or her to a sanctuary, but he refused. Science has shown that chickens are emotionally complex individuals who have the capacity to suffer, just like our beloved dogs and cats at home. At slaughterhouses, the sentient animals we call ‘food’ are treated like mere commodities by workers desensitized to the overwhelming violence of the system.”

“This incident appears to be a clear violation of both federal and provincial laws that protect animals,” said lawyer Anna Pippus, director of farmed animal advocacy with Animal Justice. “Allowing live animals to be exposed to the scalding water and chemicals of sanitizing washers is blatant animal cruelty. Law enforcement authorities must act to hold the slaughterhouse accountable for its callous disregard of living animals.”

Ms. Kulbacki has reported the incident to the BC SPCA, which enforces provincial animal welfare laws, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which enforces federal slaughter laws at meat processing plants. The BC SPCA has commenced an investigation.

For more information:
?
Anna Pippus
Director of Farmed Animal Advocacy
apippus@animaljustice.ca

Animal Justice

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