(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/




  1. Also, are you meaning to tell me that all the starving people in the world, all of the children and homeless who could easily be classified as ” overpopulating” us and being a nuisance..is there a law to slaughter them now? To sell their body parts to other countries? Or it is becuase they are one of us, and have mouths to speak. It’s unjust to say these horses are any different. Your just too ignorant to see that.

  2. “queeny 411” is it close minded people like you that only look at the medicinal facts. Did I forget to leave out the fact that I will be specializing in equine medicine! You are meaning to tell me that it is these horses faults for being starved, neglected, and abused? Not to mention ignorant breeders who have $$ signs in their head rather than the reality of their creations. No it is OUR fault. Slaughtering a horse for MEAT?! Do we eat horses in the US?!NO we don’t, do we eat cows and pigs? YES we do and have for years and years. This is a profit in the fucked society of politics. Why not have a law on breeding & buckle up on our laws and punishments on neglect & abuse? We all know that the business of horses is a money business & there are SO many trainers and stables that have a safe haven and rescue for these horses. Have I rescued or taken care of these horses? Most definetly becuase I dedicate my life to them. Have you? I know that all of us out there that know the reality of this situation will do something to change this. Horses weren’t meant to be slaughtered. The cows and pigs ARE a food source. Sometimes it’s the facts that aren’t important. It’s the morals and the twisted people who are greedy and money hungry that get to decide the fate of something they shouldn’t have the control over.

  3. “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.”
    This is quite ridiculous! I am an avid animal lover and have owned horses. I graduated in agriculture and am now a veterinary student. It has been PROVEN that pigs are MORE intelligent than horses and people have those as pets too…are we going to stop slaughtering those? The ban has caused the horse industry to fall causing people (who may not care about the animals as much as we do) to abandon then. Congress is quite right…numbers do not lie. Since we placed the ban ABUSED and emaciated horse numbers have risen..I just recently had to help a local animal control officer gather a rotting emaciated horse carcass because the owners could not afford it (bc it was too old to be worth anything business wise). Not only is it terrible what the horse now have to go through but it poses health risks to us and surrounding wild life that could pick up disease from a rotting carcass. American’s don’t really eat horse and so therefore there is no market for it here. Farmers will never farm horses. It takes too long to raise them at too high of a cost. The money they get from the sell just pays for the remaining use of the animal. If the horse outlives its purpose it becomes an unprofitable business expense. They are also right about ppl exporting to kill. They do and they will continue. They are not killed humanly there. Laws in the US have become STRICT as of the last decade and are quite thorough in the enforcement of safe and humane practices. Food animals are EXTREAMLY well monitored. It is not the 80’s anymore ppl. The food administration keeps a very close eye on slaughter houses. It is so strict in fact that if they are inspected and the molding on the floor is not up to regulation standards the entire facility is shut down. They even have laws about how and when you can transport these animals to ensure the least amount of stress. It is against the law for an animal to be killed in front of another animal as well. Also they have to provide 24 hour surveillance of each facility and turn the footage in for review. There is never a time these things are not watched. I know that it is hard to think of Horses as being eaten, but it is better than the alternative. We cannot make ppl be responsible but we can do our part to ensure that our horse friends do not continue to suffer bc human indecency!

  4. Hmm y would he do that let’s see he’s not doing anything he promised and he’s ruining our country. I’m guess its his way of “creating jobs”. For those who own horses keep a gun loaded cuz now we have to worry about ppl stealing our horses. What’s next cats, dogs, people. So much for mustangs gonna be protected might as well put them on the endangered list cause their screwed. Sadly I doubt Obama ever watched how those slaughter places really work!!! “The government is gonna make sure its humane” my ass. If the government got more involved in the welfare scamers n unemployment scamers the working class could afford to feed their animals.

  5. Listen “queeny411” you should rot in hell just like obama for your close minded statement. These animals have helped up and continue helping is in many ways that these other “food animals” don’t. I don’t see pigs and cows helping physically disabled kids and adults moving around and having a very amazing and unique form of physical therapy. There are dying and starving animals all over this world and it is sick and absolutely terrible but that does not make it okay to slaughter them. I am appalled by this decision made by our worthless president. Who is only here to make us crash and burn.

    • There have been several cases where pigs were used as rescue animals and also as helping animals. they have pigs that can sniff bombs. Cattle are the reason we settled in the west and survived as well as we did. Oxen as well as horses and mules were invaluable in the building of the railroad system. Some forms of miniature cows are kept as pets. I know of one case where a calf who was abandoned by its mother bonded with an autistic child. I am the person who will be “fixing” these animals after humans have destroyed them. Physiologically the starvation and general lack of good health that these animals are put through is far more inhumane than a death. People have been tortured using starvation tactics. Note the term torture. Look up the time it takes for pain sensors to pick up a shot directly to the frontal lobe then look up the time it takes for a horse to starve to death. You tell me which one takes longer, which one hurts longer. In mexico they dont do a direct kill, they bleed them out by cutting the throat. If done incorrectly it can take a substantial time to die. The ban pushed more horses to mexico it did not stop slaughter. Have you adopted a horse lately? Have you looked at one that was emaciated and full of sores from lice? Ones with magots in their wounds and eyes so infected that they cannot oppen them anymore? How much money do you spend at your local farmers market each month? I have seen all of these things and have a mind open enough to see things from a medical stand point, an animal lover stand point, an agricultural stand point, and yes even a bussiness stand point.
      I did not personally attac anyone, call them stupid, or damn them to hell for their beliefs. I am sorry that we disagree, I used to feel the same way as you, however things change sometimes when facts are presented.

  6. I am not infavor of horse slaughterhouses back in the U.S.but in 1948 my husband worked for one in Mansfield, Ohio. In World WarII , If I’m not badly mistaken our armed forces overseas did eat some horse meat. And here at home we wondered if some of our ground meats in the supermarkets were not horse meat. We don’t like to think of eating our domestic work animals .:Although lack of food and starvation in nations can change the human man. Let us pray that our nation and all other countries around the world will not experience this hardship. Amen !!…..