The Christmas pony

Horses deserve so much better than to end up on a plate beside the mashed potatoes in a foreign country

Christmas is fast approaching and children all across North America are sending lists off to the North Pole and waiting to sit on Santa’s lap to tell the jolly old fellow face to face what their heart’s desire is.

At the top of the list for many will be a pony, and some of the lucky ones will actually receive one. Many of these youngsters and their parents will spend the next years taking riding lessons, travelling to different events and collecting ribbons to decorate bedroom walls.

However, once off to college the horse that meant so much that special Christmas morning will become part of their past with no place in their future, put away with all of the other symbols of their youth. The parents then decide to sell the horse. If the horse is lucky they will be successful finding someone to love and take care of it, if the parents are unsuccessful the horse will be sent off to auction. This is where the Christmas joy ends.

What most people do not know is that because of the high costs of taking care of a horse, and the troubled economy, that 80 per cent plus of all horses that go through auction are purchased by kill buyers, people who buy horses at low prices and ship them to slaughter for profit. According to Agriculture Canada, 87,030 horses were slaughtered in Canada in 2010, averaging 342 horses killed each work day.

The meat is mainly exported to Japan, France and Belgium.

Horses come to the slaughter house from various sources — ex race horses, event horses and the unwanted Christmas pony. Kill buyers in the U.S. are now shipping horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Horses are given many drugs during their lives, many of which are banned from entering the human food chain even if given even only once in its lifetime, yet the government allows slaughter and consumption of these horses based on a Equine Information Document or EID.

Obviously, if someone has purchased horses at auction they do not know the health history of those horses, yet the Canadian government turns a blind eye on a document which states “to the best of my knowledge” selling meat with unknown quantities of drugs not allowed in other livestock for human consumption.

MP Alex Atamanenko currently has a private member’s bill C-322 to ban horse meat for human consumption based on the banned drugs and loopholes in the EIDs.

If you want to help stop the slaughter of past Christmas ponies and childhood pets, please write to your local MP and tell them to stand up against horse slaughter in Canada. To learn more, go online, research horse slaughter, view videos on Youtube, contact www.defendhorsescanada.org/. Get involved; speak up for these beautiful creatures that deserve so much better than to end up on a plate beside the mashed potatoes in a foreign country. Surely that is no child’s Christmas wish.

Theresa Nolet

 

Penticton