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UPDATE: Support major changes to protect farmed animals in B.C.

New report recommends major changes to protect farmed animals in B.C. Add your name in support!

Following growing concerns about the state of farmed animal welfare in B.C., a committee tasked with reviewing the province’s farmed animal welfare framework has presented its recommendations to the Ministry of Agriculture. Join the VHS in urging decision-makers to prioritize next steps!

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Use the template message below to call on B.C.’s Premier and the Minister of Agriculture to take specific actions that build on these recommendations and to prioritize their implementation to meaningfully protect farmed animals from egregious cruelty and suffering.  

Live outside of Canada? You can email B.C.’s Premier at premier@gov.bc.ca and the Minister of Agriculture at AF.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Agriculture Ministry listening after years of welfare issues

In B.C. alone, near-annual undercover investigations over the last decade have revealed serious and systemic welfare issues within the animal agriculture industry. 

In late 2022, B.C.’s Ministry of Agriculture launched a review of the province’s farmed animal welfare framework. This week, a Ministry advisory committee released a new farmed animal welfare recommendations report that will be considered by the Ministry as part of the review. 

The report’s recommendations include a new government-funded inspection and enforcement function within the Ministry of Agriculture, which would take over responsibility for implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act with respect to farmed animals. Other recommendations include providing an annual public report around enforcement activities; an expanded range of enforcement options and penalties; animal welfare and humane handling training improvements; and continued support for the inclusion of farmed animals in emergency planning.  

Learn more about the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture’s farmed animal welfare framework review and the advisory committee’s recommendations report. 

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UPDATE: Bill to end live horse export for slaughter moves to next stage 

Photos: Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

Members of Parliament recently voted in support of sending Bill C-355 to the House of Commons Agriculture Committee for further review (181 yes-137 no). See how your MP voted!

This bill aims to end Canada’s highly controversial practice of shipping live horses overseas for slaughter. Your action is needed to support this bill as it moves through the legislative process. Call on the Agriculture Committee and your Member of Parliament to support Bill C-355 and end live horse export for slaughter once and for all!

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TIP: For added impact, edit the template message below to personalize your email to decision-makers. See the Learn More section for additional talking points.

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Many Canadians would be surprised to learn that Canada is one of the top exporters of live horses for slaughter. Every year, thousands of live draft horses are loaded onto planes, packed tightly with 3-4 horses per crate, and flown abroad where they will be slaughtered for meat. 

Horses’ journeys to slaughter are long and stressful 

  • Horses can be transported for up to 28 hours without access to food, water or rest. 
  • As sensitive prey animals with strong fight or flight instincts, this journey can be incredibly stressful. 
  • Deaths and injuries have occurred, including one known incident of damage to an aircraft, which led to an emergency landing and the death of the horse involved. 
  • There is also no obligation for countries on the receiving end to report back to Canada about the condition of the horses upon arrival. 

Canadians are calling for change 

Polling shows that a majority of Canadians are opposed to the practice of exporting live horses for slaughter. 

The VHS supports organizations including the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition who have long been calling for an end to live horse export for slaughter. In Spring 2021, the VHS signed a group letter calling on the federal government to end the practice. 

A federal parliamentary e-petition garnered more than 77,000 public signatures in support of a ban, making it one of the most popular animal-related federal petitions on record.   

In December 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directed the Minister of Agriculture to ban the live export of horses for slaughter. Still, horses continue to be shipped to their death as a result of government inaction.   

Finally, in 2023, two new bills were introduced that aim to end the controversial practice of exporting live horses from Canada for slaughter abroad. Senate Bill S-270, the Horse Protection Act, was introduced by Senator Pierre Dalphond and singer-songwriter Jann Arden, while private member’s bill C-355 was introduced in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Tim Louis.  

Bill C-355 has since been voted on by Members of Parliament (MP) to be sent to the next stage, which involves further study by the House of Commons Agriculture Committee. Find out how your MP voted on the bill at the second reading stage. 

Can you call on the Agriculture Committee and your Member of Parliament to support Bill C-355 and end live horse export for slaughter. 

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BC pig farm accused of cruelty—again

Photo: Animal Justice

Excelsior Hog Farm is in the news again after disturbing new undercover footage, allegedly filmed at the Abbotsford farm between April and June 2023, was released by Animal Justice.  

The footage shows:

  • cruel handling practices, including pigs being kicked in the stomach and face, and struck with metal rods and plastic boards;
  • injured pigs with hernias, pressure sores, open wounds and leg injuries; and
  • filthy conditions, including dead and rotting bodies of pigs and partially eaten bodies of piglets, and floors caked in feces and what appears to be blood and feces in some water troughs. 
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Call for meaningful action to protect farmed animals, including: 

  • Government-mandated and proactively enforced farmed animal welfare regulations;  
  • Publicly available reports of independent, third-party audits on farms and in slaughterhouses, including consistent video surveillance monitoring for real transparency; and 
  • Appropriate deterrents to prevent animal cruelty, including unannounced inspections and effective penalties for industry stakeholders who are found guilty of animal cruelty. 

Fill out the form below to send this important message to your Member of B.C.’s Legislative Assembly (MLA), B.C.’s Premier, and B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture. Feel free to personalize the message.

Live outside of Canada? You can email B.C.’s Premier at premier@gov.bc.ca and the Minister of Agriculture at AF.Minister@gov.bc.ca

Not the first time Excelsior accused of cruelty

This comes after a previous undercover investigation at the farm in 2019, which also showed concerning on-farm conditions and treatment of pigs. The footage included clips of dead and dying pigs in unsanitary conditions and cruel handling, including piglets being castrated without the use of painkillers.

Despite this evidence, the farm’s owners were never charged or held accountable. Instead, two advocates involved in a peaceful protest and sit-in that took place on the farm, have been convicted and face jail time. Both are appealing their convictions. 

Second major undercover investigation in B.C. this year

While the animal agriculture industry attempts to suggest instances like this are the exception to the rule and don’t represent the industry as a whole, the reality is that numerous investigations over the years have revealed widespread animal cruelty and welfare issues on farms and in slaughterhouses.  

In February 2023, undercover footage from a Pitt Meadows-based slaughterhouse, Meadow Valley Meats, showed animals being hit, kicked and thrown to the ground; inhumane use of an electric prod; frightened animals crowding together in the hallways and panicked attempts to escape; and improper slaughter techniques that led to significant animal suffering.

Like Excelsior Hog Farm, this was not the first incident involving the company. Media reports that the company, formerly called Pitt Meadows Meats, pled guilty in 2015 to selling E. Coli-tainted meat and after the plant manager knowingly decided not to recall it.  

The new footage, along with the many other previous undercover investigations in B.C., make it clear that there are serious, systemic issues across the animal agriculture industry. 

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