Standing for The Milton Cow, Not Halal

Note: This article does not contain graphic images, but it does describe slaughter practices.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ontario SPCA are actively investigating what appears to be the live skinning of a cow in Milton, ON. Halton Police could supposedly change their conclusion it was not animal cruelty based on further evidence resulting from the SPCA and Ministry of Agriculture’s investigations.

For their part, the Ontario SPCA and Ministry of Agriculture appear determined to do a thorough investigation from their animal welfare perspective.  Given the SPCA’s history of fearlessly taking people to court who treat animals cruelly; and, the tone of the Ministry of Agriculture this week, the investigations will be thorough.

There are lots of questions. Questions such as why this video depicting such a horrific scene of cruelty was made and circulated in the first place, which I ask here; and, questions in relation to the illegalities of what happened in Milton.

So far, the following are some of the ethical and legal issues.

For one, The Ministry of Agriculture clearly indicates that no animal can be slaughtered except in the meat processing facilities identified by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Halton Police commented that the skinning occurred at a make-shift mosque. There are no mosques listed in the Ministry of Agriculture’s list of meat processing plants. So, if Halton Police are correct, this incident was illegal to start with. As the police indicated, the “meat handling” process side of this incident is still being investigated.

If a “make-shift” mosque was ever permitted to be a “meat processing plant”, backyard slaughters would become the norm. In Canada, based on our existing laws and active support for organizations like the SPCA, it is unimaginable that this would ever become law.

What may be even more disturbing is what we don’t see happening at the “make-shift” mosque. That is, we don’t see what led up to the video scene depicted to us as the backyard skinning of a cow upside down, and with her legs spread out on a contraption.

It is that contraption, according to Prof Temple Grandin a world expert known for her unusual gifting to understand cows at their essence, that is particularly cruel. She writes: 

From an animal welfare standpoint, the major concern during ritual (religious) slaughter are the stressful and cruel methods of restraint (holding) that are used in some plants. Progressive slaughter plants use devices to hold the animal in a comfortable, upright position. Unfortunately, there are some plants which use cruel methods of restraint such as hanging live animals upside down.  

This begs further questions about how the cow was handled before the videographer chose to start filming what is apparently an Islamic, Halal meat slaughter.

Halal requires that an animal be alive and conscious when its throat is cut. Specifically, Halal does not allow red meat animals like cows to be stunned into unconsciousness before their throats are cut. The Canadian Islamic organization representing Halal methods says: “The most important factors of the criteria are: No stunning for red meat.” 

According to a massive number of veterinarians including the Canadian Veterinarians Association and many countries who have banned the slaughter of animals without first stunning the animal into unconsciousness, it is a cruel death for the animal. These organizations and many countries demand that animals must be first pre-stunned by trained experts, not five guys in a backyard, regardless of religious rituals.

Prof Grandin says that there is a distinct difference between the experience of sheep and cows, which leaves cows horribly, far more vulnerable in the Halal practice which forbids pre-stunning before their throats are cut. It causes cows to experience an agony of pain and fear as they are bled out since cows’ consciousness goes on much longer than for sheep. Cows are also most likely to experience the extreme pain and fear of a botched attempt to cut their throat given their girth and greater ability to fight back than sheep.

So, was the cow in Milton stunned to the point it was rendered unconscious by a trained professional? If as Halton Police indicate, this was done around the Islamic celebration of Eid which celebrates this very type of slaughter, it suggests that this cow was being slaughtered as Halal. Therefore, the cow would not have been pre-stunned before her throat was cut.

Worse, did this cow not only experience a brutal death by bleeding out while conscious, but was she still alive when she was being skinned in the video?

An animal welfare expert on Global Radio stated her opinion that, based on what we can see in the video, the head movement of the Milton cow indicated the cow was alive when it was skinned. Some have said that it is the movement of the contraption on which the cow is hung that is causing the appearance of the cow’s head to move.

This may have some truth in later frames of the video. However, in the opening frames the cow certainly appears to be alive because her head is raised off the ground. It’s possible her head is resting on her horn. However, how did that happen if the cow was not alive at the time she was hoisted onto a contraption and skinned? Again, the video starts where those doing the video wanted it to start.

What we indisputably see is that the cow is clearly hung upside down in the air by its legs in a contraption that is widely banned as cruel treatment of an animal, by all but the sadistic. According to the experts, the purpose of doing so is to make the human’s job of cutting the animal’s throat easier when the animal fights for its life. Why was this cow hoisted into such a contraption in Milton? Did it happen while the cow was alive?

This is why we cannot have backyard or “make-shift” mosque slaughters. Animal slaughter must remain under humane conditions, and under the control of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture with oversight by organizations like the SPCA and the Police.

Knife-happy guys in a backyard are not experts and have not been trained and/or don’t have the temperament for the humane treatment of animals. Even designated meat processing plants must all be routinely monitored for animal abuse, which is found more often that it should. Certainly, the handfuls of Islamists who don’t believe in pre-stunning to start with, cannot be left to their discretion as to whether the animals are unconscious.

This video gave us a window into the horror of what would happen in backyards if handfuls of Islamist activists were allowed free reign to not only slaughter, but to slaughter cows without pre-stunning. As the below Islamist says, it could easily “degenerate to wanton cruelty”.


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