The Canadian news program W5 will be airing an episode that many horse lovers will find difficult to watch. Entitled “Flight Animals”, investigative correspondent and managing editor Avery Haines explores the “sinister” side of Canadian agriculture, something very few Canadians are even aware of.

This country is one of the world’s top exporters of horse meat. A growing chorus of activists are trying to stop one aspect of the industry that they say is cruel and inhumane. Almost every week from airports in Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, live horses are loaded onto planes and flown thousands of kilometres away so they can be slaughtered and served up as fresh horse sushi in Japan.

The trailer shows how the horses are kept in cruel, cramped conditions before being shipped live overseas for slaughter. According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, 2,800 horses were shipped in 2019. The W5 piece will include interviews with both sides – the people who sell the horses for meat and the activists trying to stop them.

Watch the trailer here:

The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC) which took part in the W5 episode, initiated a lawsuit against the federal government in 2018, alleging that two Sections of the Health of Animals Regulations (specifically to do with segregation and headroom requirements) were routinely violated with the shipments. When this legal challenge was lost in December 2019, the CHDC launched an appeal and is waiting to be informed of an appeal date.

A 2019 Nanos poll revealed that 69% of Canadian respondents are opposed to the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Celebrities such as Jann Arden have taken up the cause and staged protests at the Calgary International Airport as covered in September 2020.

If you want to help end the trade there is also an online petition you can sign HERE.

Some of the disturbing facts that are listed on the petition include that large draft horses over 17 hands are air-shipped from Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg airports to Japan for human consumption; three to four horses are loaded into crates smaller than a single horse stall; numerous horses in these crates lack sufficient head clearance, with ears protruding through crate roofs; flights are 10.5 to 13.5 hours long, with additional hours spent for ground transportation and the loading and unloading process; and during this time, horses have no access to food, water or rest.

W5’s “Flight Animals” airs on CTV Saturday, February 27, at 7 pm ET.