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Animals Are Freezing To Death on Canadian Slaughter Trucks Right Now

Animal Justice January 5, 2018

Canada is experiencing an especially frigid winter, with temperatures feeling as low as -40° C even in southern parts of the country like Toronto.

Many people will ride out this cold snap in the comfort of their homes, or bundle up if they must face the frosty outdoors. Environment Canada issues extreme cold weather alerts to protect people from frostbite, cities open up warming centres for homeless individuals, and schools even cancel outdoor recess periods when the temperature plummets.

But for the millions of chickens, pigs, and cows trucked to slaughterhouses everyday in Canada, it’s business as usual—even in frigid extremes.

Canadian animal transport slaughter truck slaughterhouse livestock

Animals are routinely transported to slaughter in open-sided vehicles, with no heating systems to protect them from the dangerous cold.

Canada’s animal transport laws are among the weakest in the western world, and there are no restrictions that lay out minimum or maximum temperatures in which animals can be transported. In brutally cold weather, animals routinely arrive at slaughter frostbitten or even dead from weather exposure. Workers at Canada’s largest slaughterhouse, Maple Lodge Farms, which kills half a million chickens every day, have described chickens arriving to slaughter, frozen solid like “hockey pucks” and “popsicles”. Government statistics show at least 1.59 million animals arriving dead at slaughterhouses every year.

Canada’s outdated transport laws haven’t been revised since the 1970s, and a recent proposal by the federal government to update the rules still fails to restrict animal transport during extreme weather, or require climate control for trucks.

Existing transport laws are ineffectively enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and even when investigations and prosecutions do take place, penalties are not strong enough to motivate industry to protect animals from the cold. Maple Lodge Farms, for example, has been repeatedly convicted and fined for allowing animals to freeze to death, yet still operates using the same inadequate trucks.

In 2018, Animal Justice will continue to fight archaic transport laws, and to protect millions of animals from the extreme suffering they endure on Canadian farms.

To help, please sign up to our mailing list and stay tuned for ways to get involved.

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Animal Justice

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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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