On 27th February 2024, a Canadian court gave animal protection organisations the green light to privately prosecute a live-horse exporter in Manitoba, a province of Canada at the longitudinal centre of the country.

Kaitlyn Mitchell, director of legal advocacy with the non-profit group Animal Justice, one of the organisations authorised to prosecute in this case, said, “We have so few laws on the books to protect these horses. The least that we can do is to make sure that what few laws we do have are actually enforced. Otherwise, what good are they?”

According to CBC, the case involves an air shipment of live horses in December 2022 from Winnipeg to Japan, which was supposed to stop in Anchorage, Alaska, for refuelling, but they had to find an alternate route because there was a blizzard. When delays in Winnipeg were added, the shipment surpassed the 28-hour maximum time live horses can be transported without food, water, and rest.

Animal Justice, the Winnipeg Humane Society, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition and Manitoba Animal Save, filed a complaint with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which acknowledged the breach and confirmed three horses had fallen during the transport but took no enforcement action. As a result, these organisations began a private prosecution.

A Manitoba provincial court judge has now allowed a charge to be laid against Carolyle Farms, the live-horse exporter based in Swan River, Manitoba, under a section of Canada’s Health of Animals Regulations. 

Canada exports live horses bred specifically for human consumption, especially to Japan as raw horse meat sushi is considered a delicacy there. The horses are transported live, and then “fattened up” in Japan before being killed. Mitchell estimates nearly 4,000 horses have been exported from Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg in 2023.

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.