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WHS Calls for Stop to Inhumane Exportation of Horses

There is currently a very tragic situation happening in Manitoba, and we are asking your support to stop it. Purposefully bred horses are being shipped on very long international flights to be slaughtered and consumed, without proper access to water and food and with little regard for their overall welfare. The Winnipeg Humane Society opposes Canada’s lack of enforced regulation resulting in the inhumane exportation methods of horses.

Statistics Canada reports that Canada’s horse meat exportation industry generates roughly $80 million per year.  Japan is currently Canada’s largest purchaser of live horses (4,846 horses exported in 2017) and Canada standing as one of the largest exporters of live horses globally. Horses are commonly transported vast distances across the country and loaded into small wooden crates to airports located in Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg.

According to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, the last shipment of horses out of Winnipeg’s International Airport to Japan occurred on December 10th, 2018. Once horses have arrived at their destination country, there is no guaranteed way of confirming that their welfare concerns will be dealt with promptly, or that they will be slaughtered humanely.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is tasked with enforcing the Federal Health of Animals Act, which recently underwent revision with finalized amendments yet to be published. Investigations by various welfare organizations have revealed that the regulation or segregation of horses for transport is frequently violated, with photographs showing as many as three to four horses confined to a crate. From a welfare perspective, horses are naturally head-shy animals with strong fight or flight instincts which make them panic easily in unfamiliar situations. The tendency to ship them in confined crates for long periods of time, offers unnecessary and inhumane stress for these large, intelligent and sentient beings.

The Federal Health of Animals Regulations states that it is permissible for monogastric (single-stomached) animals such as horses to travel up to 36 hours without food or water. This time frame greatly compromises the welfare of horses and hopes the proposed revisions to the act will, at minimum, greatly reduce this duration of time. The Winnipeg Humane Society aims to collaborate with associated animal welfare organizations to focus on preventative measures to reduce the amount of horses sold for export and slaughter, as well as advocating for prohibition of Canada’s horse exportation and slaughter industries.

The Winnipeg Humane Society also acknowledges that the associated transport and welfare concerns described above are not limited solely to horses. Rather, the Winnipeg Humane Society advocates for improvements in transportation regulations, and overall welfare of all farm animals.

The Winnipeg Humane Society is now urging the public to take part in our advocacy campaign, by writing to Members of Parliament, to ask that they consider introducing legislation that would prohibit Canada’s exportation and slaughter of horses. Supporters are welcome to download, print and use the sample letters below to send to their Member of Parliament and to Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, to add their voice to this concern.

MP Sample Letter

Minister of Ag Sample Letter

Another way to spread the word about Canada’s horses is to sign and share the petition link below:

To find your MP online: Go to and you can enter your postal code to find our MP’s address.  Send emails and letters (postage is free), then follow up by phone.

To contact the Minister of Agriculture, go to:









More information:

The Health of Animals Regulations (HAR), under the authority of the Health of Animals Act, are intended to protect animals and animal health. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is tasked with enforcing the Federal Health of Animals Act. Section 141(8) of the current HAR reads:  Every equine over 14 hands in height shall be segregated from all other animals during transport by air. Section 141 is in Part XII of the HAR.  Part XII of the HAR will be entirely replaced by the pending amendments.  The draft amendments published for the purposes of obtaining public comment are currently available, but the finalized version has not yet been published in the Canada Gazette.  Assuming the final version tracks the draft version, the “old” section 141 becomes the “new” section 149.  New section 149 is more broadly drafted and does not contain a specific subsection dealing only with horses and the 14 hands reference no longer exists.

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From the book: Training Methods and Horse Welfare: “Many aspects of horse care and handling are based upon convenience and traditional practices. Many of these methods of management and practice do not take into account the natural behaviour of horses.”

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