(HORSES) A Missouri town is on its way to being the first of several in the U.S. to establish a horse slaughter plant now that a five-year ban on U.S. horse slaughterhouses has been lifted. Since establishing the ban in 2007, the unintended result sadly left thousands of horses abandoned, neglected, or sent to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Although the future facility is receiving support in the community, animal rights advocates have not given up the fight. Read on to learn more about this ethical conundrum and sign the petition to stop this horse slaughter facility in Missouri. — Global Animal
The President of the Changing Leads Equine Rescue farm, Tina Weidmaier, leads one horse “Joe Black” just outside Kansas City, Missouri. Photo Credit: Dave Kaup, Reuters

Reuters, Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A town in Missouri is trying to be the first of several in the United States to get a new plant to slaughter horses now that Congress has overruled animal rights groups to allow the killing for the first time in five years.

U.S. slaughter of horses ended in 2007 when Congress, at the urging of animal rights groups, halted funding to inspect processing plants. The unintended result was thousands of horses abandoned or neglected, and even more enduring hundreds of miles of travel to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

After a government report last year detailed the abuses of horses, Congress restored inspection money to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this year.

“People are giving away horses every day because they can’t sell them,” said Wayne White, president of the Missouri Equine Council. “All the rescue places are over-populated.”

Horse meat is sold for human consumption in China, Russia, Mexico and other foreign countries, according to Unified Equine, a Wyoming company proposing to open a horse-slaughter plant in Rockville, Missouri. Horse meat is also used for zoo animals.

The proposed plant, at a facility previously used for cattle processing in Rockville, has strong support in the community. But animal rights advocates have not given up the fight.

Sign the petition to stop the horse slaughter factory in Missouri!

“Americans are revolted by horse slaughter, it’s cruelty they just don’t want to support,” said Lindsay Rajt of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In a report last year, the Government Accountability Office documented an increase in horse neglect and abuse since slaughtering ended and found that by 2010 nearly 138,000 horses were being sent annually to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

Unified Equine hopes to open its slaughtering plant in Rockville in September, followed by one in Hermiston, Oregon. Another company, Valley Meats, intends to open a plant in Roswell, New Mexico.

The Missouri and New Mexico plants both requested U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections, according to the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. But “a significant amount of time” will be required to update inspection procedures, the service said in a statement on Wednesday.

Even though Congress restored funding, the appropriations committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which allocates how money is spent, again withdrew money for horse slaughter inspections in the fiscal 2013 budget. The proposal still would have to be approved by the full House and Senate.

Equine chief executive Sue Wallis said she has heard of people in 18 states and several Native American tribal areas exploring horse slaughter plants.

Residents of Rockville, a town of about 150 people 100 miles south of Kansas City, turned out in force at a meeting last month to support the new plant, said Mayor Dave Moore.

“I don’t know of anyone (in town) who is not for it,” said Dennis Heiman operator of a grain elevator that has been Rockville’s largest employer since 60 jobs were lost with the closing of the beef plant two years ago. The horse plant is expected to create 50 jobs.

Owners of rescue ranches see the problem of neglected and abused horses first-hand. The Changing Leads Equine Rescue ranch just outside Kansas City, Missouri, is at its capacity of eight unwanted horses, said Tina Weidmaier, president of the all-volunteer organization.

Joe Black, a draft horse, was 700 pounds underweight by the time it was rescued from a pasture last August, Weidmaier said. Its owners moved to Florida and left it alone to graze for nearly a year, she said. He is back to his healthy weight but has a chewing disorder, she said.

Many people abandon or seek to give away their horses because of the cost, said Ericka Caslin, director of the Unwanted Horse Coalition. A horse costs an average of about $2,600 annually to feed and board, not counting veterinary bills, she said.

There are an estimated 170,000 unwanted horses in the United States, Caslin said, yet her group has no position on slaughtering plants. Neither does its parent group, the American Horse Council in Washington nor do some rescue ranches, such as Changing Leads.

“We’d rather focus on the problem than on everyone else’s solution,” Weidmaier said.

Animal rights advocate Rajt said the number of unwanted horses going to slaughter is fueled by racehorse or rodeo breeders who dispose of dozens of animals not deemed “the next big winner.” Horse slaughter and the shipping of horses to Mexico and Canada should be banned because it is cruel, she said.

But Wallis of Unified Equity said banning horse slaughter or shipment for slaughter would put well over 100,000 more horses per year at risk of abandonment, abuse and a slow death.

“It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of that,” Wallis of Equine said. “It would be an unmitigated disaster.”

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  1. As Shelia Short pointed out there have been at least 600,000+ horses, American horses, sent either to Canada or Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. You others say that these horses were all corrupted with banned substances so where is the outcry in the countries that consume this meat that it is killing their population. Slaughter continued after the closing of the US plants and it will continue whether you stop any US plant from opening. As it was pointed out all you are doing is extending the tortue a horse will go through to be slaughter going those many extra miles to get to their final destination

    • The outcry is coming in the form of the updated Passport system effective July 2013 designed to protect the food chain:new enforcement will come into place regarding horse passports in the EU. IT IS NOW AN OFFENCE TO KEEP , SELL OR BUY A HORSE WITHOUT A PASSPORT – by doing so you are risking a fine of up to £5000 .

      Mandatory Microchipping of all foals (and adult horses not previously issued with a

      All foals must be identified before 31st December of the year of its birth or within 6 months of birth, whichever is later, by a unique electronic microchip implanted by a veterinary surgeon. The unique microchip number will be recorded on the issuers database and on the NED database.

      – Foals will require a passport regardless of its age if being transported without its dam or foster mother, or sent for slaughter for human consumption. A passport is not required for the purposes of sale if the age of the foal is within the above deadlines, however the new owner will have 30 days to register the horse in their name.
      It has been mandatory for registered Friesians to be microchipped for a number of years now but please do get foal registration completed as early as possible! If not completed within the time limits or an older horse without a passport then there will be limitations on the passport – the horse will not be eligible for Human consumption and the passport will be stamped as such by the Studbook or FHAGBI acting as PIO
      Horses to be accompanied by the passport at all times
      A horse may not be moved without being accompanied by its passport. Exceptions to this are when the horse is stabled, at pasture, leaving a competition / event area for training and test purposes or being moved on foot where the passport can be made available within 3 hours. In other words, if you transport your horse to a show or clinic or to a new yard or field, you must have the horses’ passport with you. Keepers with primary responsibility for the care of the horse, such as people with horses on loan, full livery yards, transporters and trainers need to be in possession of the passport, or to arrange with the owner of the horse that the passport can be made available without delay. The passport needs to be available at the time of treatment if a horse is being administered a veterinary medicine. It should be noted that the passport is NOT proof of ownership and that it is an offence for a “keeper” with primary care responsibilities to have a horse in their care which does not possess a valid passport.

      Veterinary treatment – Section IX

      The passport needs to be available at the time of treatment with a Veterinary medicine. If substances unsuitable for entry into the human food chain are administered, supplied or prescribed then owners must sign the declaration at Part II of section IX. If the owner declines to sign this then the Veterinary surgeon is legally required to do so after administering, supplying or prescribing the medication.

      Substances that cannot be administered, supplied or prescribed to a food producing animal are specified in annex IV to Council regulation (EEC) No. 2377/90.

      There are also veterinary medicines outside this annex which cannot be prescribed to food producing animals and this includes PHENYLBUTAZONE (Bute). Once a horse has been administered with Phenylbutazone it CANNOT EVER enter the human food chain.

      It should also be noted that most permitted veterinary medicines have a withdrawal period that may be anything from 7 days to in excess of 48 days depending on the actual drug before meat can enter the human food chain. This is why animals destined for human consumption must have medicine records accurately kept.

      A “not intended for human consumption” declaration in section IX Part I / II CANNOT EVER be reversed once signed, so if you buy a horse where the previous owner has signed the horse out of the human food chain, then you cannot ever send the horse for slaughter for human consumption, regardless of whether no veterinary medicines have been administered to the horse whilst in your care.

      If section IX is not completed in your horses passport you do need to carefully consider whether you do want to voluntarily opt your horse out of the Human food chain:

      – Have you made financial provision for the euthanasia of your horse at the end of its life?
      – Are you aware of costs of carcass disposal
      – Are you likely to sell the horse in future – some owners may prefer the option of abattoir slaughter
      – There are currently a number of options available for euthanasia and carcass disposal – but these options may not be available in the future.
      – Leaving the declaration unsigned does not mean that you have “elected” for abbatoir slaughter but it leaves it as an option should your circumstances change.
      – If you have not signed the declaration at part II of section IX you will need to keep a record of all medicines administered, and as mentioned previously, the range of available medicines is more limited.
      – If your vet does not know that your horse is signed out of the food chain then they can only administer substances suitable for human consumption!
      It is a requirement to record vaccines given to the horse in Section V and VI (vaccination record) of the horse passport regardless of whether or not the horse is declared as for human consumption. The vet is committing an offence if he/ she does not do this. You must ensure the passport is available at the time of vaccination.