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Horse Slaughter to Start Again in US

Written by Jennifer O'Connor | December 1, 2011
chedder | cc by 2.0

After a 5-year hiatus, Congress has restored funding for U.S. inspectors to oversee horse slaughter, opening the door for horses to be killed and butchered in the United States for the first time since 2006.

No one wants to see any horse killed for meat or to turn a fast buck, and PETA has always had concerns about the suspension of US slaughter, since it meant more suffering for these sensitive animals, not less.  What we feared would happen did: Rather than have a change of heart and stop killing horses, greedy ranchers who deal in horse flesh simply jammed their “commodities” into tractor trailers and hauled the frightened animals hundreds of miles to Canada and Mexico – a journey most did not have to face before – to terrifying deaths in slaughterhouses there.

As PETA documented years ago, that ride means horses crammed together with strangers who bite and kick, slippery floors that mean foals and pregnant mares fall and are trampled, and horses who, being taller than cows but often shipped in cattle trucks, must ride the whole way with their heads bent to their chests. That export loophole still needs to be slammed shut.

To reduce horses’ suffering, there must be a ban on exports of live horses together with a ban on slaughter in the U.S., or it doesn’t work, never did, never will.     

Remember, industries that breed horses for profit—horseracing, rodeo and the carriage trade—are largely to blame for this crisis since they have created the tragic overpopulation of horses.

Help force breeders to take some responsibility for the horses they use up and then discard by signing PETA’s petition to the Jockey Club calling for the club to establish a retirement fund for registered thoroughbreds.

Commenting is closed.
  • Elisha says:

    I reackon they should not kill them ever what has horses done to them I have a boy horse of my own he has helped me heaps

  • Katy says:

    I love horses dont get me wrong I own three of my own and have ran a sucssesful horse rescue out of my own home for a few years now funded souly by myself. But I would rather see these sick dying horses go to slaughter then being dumped on highways and hit by cars around my area ( this has happend 5 times in the last two years in my area) its sad but I would rather see them being used for somthing then being hit by cars and left to starve becuse there are not enough resorses, thats why I never bred my own horses, they are fat and happy in their pasture, and I hope to help more. Dont get mad becuse of my opinion I dont want to see horses in pain.

  • Ky says:

    I am doing my senior project on horse slaughter. I have read most of your comments and they have been really helpful. My senior paper is on how I believe horse slaughter is right, only if handled correctly. And right now it’s not being handled correctly. And to those of you who say others opinions dont matter, they do. They have helped with my paper a ton. I have had horses since I was born. The first time I was on a horse, I was only a few days old. I got my very own horse when I was 3. Yes she was saved from being sold to a slaughter house. I still have her today. Along with 3 other horses I have saved. Does this mean I believe slaughter is wrong? No i believe it is a great thing. Thank you for all your help and comments :)an Horse Woman… Opinions are like butt holes, everyone has one.

  • April says:

    Many people don’t understand when slaughtering horses, it’s no where near like cattle. Horse guts are worthless, they also have a lot more blood than cattle…as in cattle there almost every part can be used it’s not so with horses. Also, look at the article for the new mexico slaughter pen…investigators reported no vet to be found and horses who should be put down and aren’t…they are suffering because they don’t want to put out the money to take care of them humanely. if you think horse slaughtering is going to solve our problems think again…the abuse and neglect will triple…we don’t have inspectors now who are turning their noses up and closing their eyes to the cuelty that is going on right now…we don’t have enough inspectors as it is….Temple Grandin says when she visit’s slaughter houses of cattle everything is working what frustrates her is when she leaves and everything goes back to being wrong…horses aren’t taken care of now when being shipped to other countries what makes you think it’ll be better if we have plants here in our states? we don’t have the man power to inspect and the inspectors that are suppose to up hold the law are turning their cheeks…people are out for a fast buck and unfortunately our tax money is paying for this….

  • davyjay says:

    because of the ban on the use of horses for meat / and/or other uses there are many starving horse around the country especially south florida . This cruelty would not have existed had the ban on horse use not been enacted.

  • Kalli Mier says:

    I was so happy to hear that the ban had been lifted. I love horses and even though it is not pleasant it is needed. It saves horses from being turned out when their owners can no longer care for them, makes sure the horse population does not get too large and finally it is great for the horse industry in general.

  • Utilitarian says:

    No one raises a horse for its meat. It is simply too expensive. The slaughterhouses pay poorly. I loved my mare, yet when killed by an unavoidable farm accident, we ate her. To do less would have been an inexcusable waste of a precious dependent.

  • horse woman says:

    spent 40 years saving horses from the sale.  As a horse trainer I bought horses by the pound and made them into viable riding mounts.  Not just marginally – I made show horses, trail horses, school horses.  I passed on more horses lucratively positioned within the horse industry (back when there were lucrative positions), by training horses into more viable jobs – to keep them from slaughter.  I could have made more money, could have made more of a career, by training well bred, expensive horses, but I did not.  I gave my life to allowing horses to be the best they could be.  If you are posting a negative comment regarding slaughtering horses in this country – I defy you to comment.  If you have not done anything to save these horses you should be ashamed.  I tire of do-gooder criticism of those of us who have not only saved hundreds of horses from slaughter but have sacrificed our lives and the lives of our families to save discarded horses.  And believe me there are many of us.  Many of us that know the realities these horses face.  Horses slaughtered in this country are much better off than those slaughtered in Mexico.  Is it good?  Is horse slaughter right?  Not necessarily, but better here with PETA watching over the proceedings than in Mexico, where there is no oversight.   Before you comment on what should be done – tell me what HAVE YOU DONE.  Have you saved any horses?  Have you retrained any to work (and horses love to work), at a job which they are well suited?  Have you gone to the sales and watched the many hollow-eyed, puzzled and terrified horses running through the arena for buyers to bid on by the pound?  The young, the old, the crippled – with terror in their eyes –looking for a human to save them? If you cannot answer yes to this question – donate MONEY to your local horse rescue.  Otherwise you are simply a phony.

  • River Trail says:

    No one is gonna learn how not to breed, when the slaughter houses reopen it will be worse than ever. People will start breeding and keep the slaughter houses full, with culls, mostly Quarter horses since they carry more meat than most. Also a lot of unreg stuff and good horses not lame, sick, and blind like what people think really goes. Slaughter houses take good stock not sickly and blind. Its cruel and wrong,and if people truly love horses than they would agree, because as far along as we are up the food chain and intelligent as humans are supposed to be,then they could find another way. I feel like if other countries want horseflesh let them raise their own like we do cattle.

  • Rivertrail says:

    Ok just want to say to some people who still think horses are going to starving people, that they are not! They are an expensive dish, they do not go to the poor nor does anyone really benefit other than eating it like lobster. I have had horses over 30 years and agree that this must STOP, its not humane and not a means of disposal. I will euthanize my horses before they go to slaughter, there’s got to be another way then slaughter! How about euthanasia programs like they have for dogs and cats, do horses not deserve a decent ending? I think so, if they can do it for other animals, they can do it for horses.STOP EXPORTING HORSES FOR SLAUGHTER AND STOP SLAUGHTER BEFORE IT STARTS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES! WE DON’T EAT OUR HORSES, OBAMA! WHAT ABOUT EUTHANASIA, AND INCINERATION FOR UNWANTED AND UNHOMED EQUINES?

  • Darlene Keough says:

    I believe to keep a species strong you cannot let the population get out of control…the herds will weaken and the breed itself will suffer greatly thru disease and famine. I also believe mass, brutal slaughter without being humane is wrong wrong wrong…especially if you believe they feel pain…which I believe all living animals do. There has to be a balance…

  • Concetta Mangiaracina says:

    I support the ban on horse slaughter as well as on exporting horses to other countries.

  • linda s says:

    the all mighty dollar is to blame, not only is the jockey club a major contributor to the over breeding the usta harness and aqha should be lining up to pack the trucks… they give the horse a name in a race program to make them sound pet like..they dope and fix races and play old kentucky home in may but it comes down to the horse it gets hurt collect. most are not trainers the are pharmasicts if you only knew..they are throw aways..and the story goes the industry employs well the horse racing has turned to racinos to make a buck…it will never change..i wish more vets and colleges including cornell in ny would have low cost euthinasia and disposal…money makes the world go round i have ten horses who been there done that..

  • ABennett says:

    I am so glad to see that horse slaughter is back while not something that is pleasant it is needed. Not only do we need it to protect these horses from starvation, abandonment, abuse etc. How are we going to feed all of these horses? With the drought in Texas and other places where is all the hay going to come from to feed the horses that people love? Are the people who want their horses and love their horses and have the means to take care of them going to have to watch them starve because there is no hay to feed them because there are thousands of horses no one wants eating the hay. We must have common sense no matter how ugly the facts are horse slaughter is necessary to protect them. Think about it. I have many horses one of which I have had since she was 2 she is now in her late 20’s I love her and would do anything for her even send her to slaughter if I thought it was best for her. There is no reason to cremate when some person who might be starving could benefit from her being slaughter. Protect the horse and support slaughter. This is the one right thing President Obama has done.

    • Aléna says:

      Most horses sent to slaughter aren’t sick or dying. Kill-buyers, those who buy horses at auctions for slaughter, buy healthy ones that could have had a forever loving home. Because we don’t raise horses for meat, all those sent to slaughter used to be show horses, competitive horses, or just part of someone’s family. And whether sick or old or healthy, the slaughter house is an unimaginably horrific way to end life, for any creature. And although there are regulations and laws that prohibit certain cruelties at slaughter houses, almost every slaughter house violates these minimalistic laws, and peta has many videos, lots of information, and many whistle blowers to prove that it is horrendous and in no possible way “humane”.

  • Mike G says:

    Laura, I own 25 horses and teach horse back riding lessons for little kids to have a chance to ride horses and the ins and outs of being a horseman. I dont believe we should pay higher taxes for horses if peta wants to try to end these problems animal abuse go to the slaughter houses evalute them find a way to kill them easier, it isnt fair for an old horse to be sick or disabled to suffer through it, why waist the goods they can produce sluaghter them in a bette way. I think peta is actually doing a good thing here, we have taken in about 10 starving horses just in our area no tell me how that is fair, we cant change some peoples imoral values but we could help the animal and our economy out by slaughtering these horses

  • Beth says:

    I know a lot of people and entities are claiming to support slaughter as a means of ending people turning their horses loose when they can no longer afford to keep them. But it isn’t an answer. Instead of taking one generation for people to quit overbreeding their horses, allowing for the population to slowly lower, they are giving people incentive to overbreed once again. Just as the financial deficit can not be cured in 4 years, or the pet overpopulation to cease in 4 years, the overpopulation of horses wouldn’t end in just the few years since the ban was placed. Now, untold generations of horses will be subjected to the cruelest deaths imaginable.

  • . says:

    So let me ask you PETA people this, you are riding your horse when he falls and breaks his leg. You are poor and can’t afford to pay for the vet bill. He can’t be transported because he can’t stand. What would y’all do?

    • Aléna says:

      If you can’t afford basic vet bills you shouldn’t have a horse. It’s pretty obvious, horses are expensive, unfortunately some owners never take that in consideration before they buy.

  • Tess says:

    I think that by allowing horse-slaughter houses to re-open in the US a situation will occur that will make a permanent ban on horse slaughter almost impossible. Once the big corporations develop their “business” in the US, they will buy Congressional members and stop any anti-horse slaughter bills from being passed. Yes, transporting the horses to Mexico and Canada is worse on the individual horse, but lifting the ban in this country will serve to perpetuate the slaughter. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 would prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes. We need to keep pushing for this bill to b passed, not give in to the slaughterhouses.

  • SLG says:

    I have three dogs they eat meat-by-products, which are horses. Can I make them a veggie like me? If so how?

  • AK Cowgirl says:

    I have done many, many speeches on the subject of horse slaughter. I have dealt with and seen both sides of the issue and I believe that the lift on the ban and bringing horse slaughter facilities back into the United States is the right thing to do. I am a horse owner, and have been since I was a small child. I have five horses and they are my family and my friends. I love them very much but would do the humane thing if ever it came around. What people don’t understand is that there is too many horses in the Unites States and many are being let go into the wild and because they do not know how to survive on their own they starve and die and if they do learn to adapt, they over populate the wild horses and kill them off. Horse slaughter may be a hard thing to understand and for most they look at it as a horrible thing because of the word “slaughter”. Yes these facilities need to adjust a lot of things to make it as humane as possible, and it is very possible to do, but no matter how you look at it the facilities here in the U.S are way more humane than Mexico or Canada. Bottom line, horse slaughter facilities will been needed until people, horse owners (new and old) learn to bread correctly and chose only the best mares. Euthanization sounds like a good idea, and yes it is very humane, but once the deed is one, what do you do with the corpse? Unless you live in a state with an animal crematorium and can have your horse cremated you don’t have many options. You cannot bury them because euthanasia is a poison and if it gets into underwater water it can poison other animals and if you leave them out where animals can get to them and eat their carcass the poison can be ingested through the meat and kill the animals feeding on it.

  • Bonnie Stolz says:

    The damage is done. We have somehow allowed this to slip through the cracks. All we can do now is research from the bottom to the top who is responsible for this new bill, and make sure we vote them out. It might help if we list the names. I noticed many people have included helpful sites for this research.

  • ckebles says:

    I am currently a Public Relations student and chose this issue as the topic for my final writing assignment for a persuasive speech. I feel that PETA made a decision to support the lift because at the moment it is the ethical thing to do. PETA represents the ethical treatment of animals, living and dying. If animals have to die than reducing their suffering is the best thing to do. Just as palliative care reduces suffering for humans and does not fight death but allows for a smooth and hopefully painless transition to death. Yes I agree that treatment of animals must be humane. But the reality is that all animals will die, just as we all will die. I support PETA’s decision as a student of Public Relations and what I have learned from my education so far. I realize that the organization is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Many might look at their decision as a failure to animal rights, but they are taking the small steps accessible to them at the time, and I feel they made the right decision. You cannot only look toward your goal, you must look toward the steps needed to take to make that goal a reality some day. But I am just a college student — what do I really know?

  • Rod Q says:

    If I owned a horse who has become sick and suffering, I will never ever bring my horse to a slaughterhouse. I will bring my sick horse to a vet who would administer euthanasia. It is a more ethical and humane way to end, not just the life but the suffering of my loved animal, and not to be served as food on the table. This is a sick and selfish motive, and goes against PETA’s mission, “UNETHICAL” and should never be allowed. PETA, take a stand, c’mon!

  • Laura Palastra says:

    @Mark…..I feel for your experience. But seems to me you are part of the problem…Where do your nice broke gentle horses go? Why don’t YOU take care of them for life. You people just don’t get it. An animal is yours for LIFE!! It is not fair for them to be sold and sold and sold. I for one would be up every night wondering where they were, if they were taken care of as good as I did? When does the love end? Just curious.

  • Laura Palastra says:

    @ Amy….you don’t get it. WE do not believe horses are livestock. How about this….How about we stop sending our jobs to China and India and keep the tax money here to help with situations like this. How about we stop giving out welfare like it was candy and start using the money here. How about laws are put in place so that those animal owners who do not take care of their animals appropriately are fined and/or jailed. How about we get rid of the horse racing industry? How about horse breeders have to pay extra taxes on the horses they breed as the people in China do for more than one child. Why do you people continue to breed horses when this is the outcome? How about it?????

  • Jennifer says:

    I applaud Peta. I would like to see an easier way for people, like me, to care by signing and sending email petitions. Is there a way for PETA to have all of their causes us a template petition to make it easier for me to sign and send, instead of my having to email to each individual email address? Is this possible on all of your causes, or only a select few where petitions have been instituted? Thank you.

  • Annette Amsel says:

    I feel like you do Mark..There are much worse things than death and we all can’t fathom any horse or animal suffering.. So what’s the answer to this heartwrenching situation..;'(( We can only pray horses are bred less and that if killed they are done so humanely but I feel that most importantly, it is necessary to ban import of horses to Mexico and Canada…I cringe in pain when I think what they have to endure in the final days of their lives..;'(( –The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated ~Mahatma Gandhi~