(HORSE SLAUGHTER) An ethical conundrum: Despite the fact that 70 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter, a five-year ban on U.S. slaughterhouses has been lifted. As the country’s number of neglected and abandoned horses continues to rise, there is a disturbing prevalence of U.S. horses being sold to border countries and processed for meat. Read on to learn more about this unsettling reinstatement. — Global Animal
Meat processors are now considering opening facilities in at least a half-dozen states. Photo Credit: Ecorazzi

Christian Science Monitor, Patrik Johnsson

What to do about growing numbers of neglected and abandoned horses in the US is an ethical conundrum that Congress and President Obama quietly addressed this month via a spending bill: bring back the slaughterhouses.

A Department of Agriculture bill, signed into law Nov. 18, reinstates federal funding for USDA inspection of horse meat intended for human consumption, which Congress had withheld since 2006. That de facto ban on horse slaughter has now come to an end, to the outrage of the animal rights community, amid reports that US horse owners were simply shipping their animals to Mexico and Canada for slaughter and processing.

According to a pro-slaughter group called United Horsemen, meat processors are now considering opening facilities in at least a half-dozen states, including Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, and possibly Idaho.

The issue has galvanized the animal rights community, which contends that horses are too intelligent to be food animals, and that legal processing of horse meat will endanger wild horse populations and motivate Americans to raise horses specifically for human consumption.The other view, accepted by Congress after a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is that more abandoned and neglected horses in the US – which has 9 million equines – are being sold and processed for meat anyway in countries that may not have the same standard of humane euthanasia that US law requires.

Government statistics show that 138,000 American horses were sold and processed for meat in other countries in 2010 – a 660 percent increase from 2007, according to the GAO report.”We can’t monitor horse slaughter in a plant in Mexico or Canada … [a]nd so we don’t know if it’s being done humanely or not because the USDA obviously doesn’t have any jurisdiction there,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R) of Georgia, who was instrumental in the reinstatement, told the Oklahoman newspaper’s Sonya Colberg and Chris Casteel.

“Along the way, these horses are having a rough transit. USDA does not have the jurisdiction over how the animals are treated along the way.”

The poor economy has been tough on horse owners and the animals themselves, leading to what Representative Kingston calls an “unanticipated problem with horse neglect and abandonment.” In Colorado alone, horse abandonment “increased 60 percent from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009,” the GAO report stated.

What’s more, The New York Times reports that the law forced many breeders and owners to go out of business because their inability to sell horses for meat “removed the floor” for prices while forcing owners to shoulder costs for euthanizing and disposing of unwanted horses. Before the ban, the horse slaughter business generated some $65 million in revenues a year.“When they closed the plants, that put more of a hardship on our horses than the people who wanted to stop the slaughter can imagine,” said John Schoneberg, a Nebraska horse breeder, according to the Times report.

Nevertheless, animal rights activists are furious over the decision to bring back horse processing plants in the US. They say that ending the de facto ban will challenge the ethics of horse ownership and undermine the sanctity of the unique bond between humans and horses.

“They’re signing the death sentence for thousands of our American horses. The wild mustangs in Oklahoma and every horse in Oklahoma is at risk,” Oklahoma City horse advocate Stephanie Graham told the Oklahoman.

“Horses are going to die and it’s going to be brutal.”

More Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/1129/

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Get your fact right. First Obama did not lift the ban it was left out of the bill behind close door by the people who re-wrote the bill the same people who probable took a deal under the table to leave it out. Second it is not the old, sick, or abandon horse that end up at slaughter but the by products of big breeders that need a trash can to dump their less than perfect horses or the horses they have run into the ground and damaged. When you have groups like the AQHA and their breed baby breed programer, auction houses, and kill buyers the need for horse slaughter is all about greed and who gets the money.

    Horse slaughter in the USA has nothing to do with old, sick or abandon horses and every thing to do with greed and cheap ass holes that do not want to pay to have a horse put down humanely and don't care about all the toxic drugs being poured into the human food supply. After all 99% of they don't eat horse meat. Even when funding was pulled for USDA inspection in 2006 horses from the USA still went to slaughter that is one thing that did not slow down or stopped the only thing that changed was who was getting the money….

    The big monkey wrench was tossed into the slaughter pipe line when the EU ban US horses and horses meat from being imported into the UK due sickness, disease, and toxic drugs found in US horses tested. So kill buyers have had to drop off rejected horses in the middle of the night that were not excepted at one of the slaughter houses in Mexico or Canada. So as Representative Kingston tells us we have this so call “unanticipated problem of horse neglect and abandonment.” In Colorado alone, horse abandonment ”increased 60 percent from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009,” the GAO report stated. However it is funny that the number of US horses being slaughter did not deceased during this time, the only difference in the whole horses slaughter business it the location not the numbers.

    I say follow the money and you will see why big breeders and groups like the AQHA want slaughter houses in the USA.

  2. so basically, he could be hiding horse meat in all of our burgers right now and we can't do anything about it cuz it's legal now? this is insane! I am mad at whoever voted for Obama as president. obviously he doesn't know how to make the right decisions.

  3. Yes I have saved horses who have been abandoned. I am not saying that horses should be raised for meat. I am simply stating that it is beneficial that we can regulate their slaughter. They are being slaughtered no matter what. The truth is that they are being negleted. I never said that it was their fault, of course it is our fault. I cannot make ppl be humane. Just bc I have a different veiw than you does not mean that I am ignorant. I too am focusing on equine med! I believe that letting a horse rott and waste in a feild is not only cruel but a waste of an animal. Yes horses should have strict breeding laws. The fact is that horses are an industry however and that is not changing anytime soon. Until the industry changes the situation of neglect will not better. I did not attack anyones views and certainly appreciate yours. I am glad that you chose such a wonderful proffession. At least we can say that we are on that team together.