(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.”

More Yahoo News: http://news.yahoo.com/missouri-town-hopes-first-u-horse-slaughter-plant-225135573.html

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Sheila, did you purposely forget to mention that the GAO also recommended that slaughter be banned and borders closed? It must have also slipped your mind to mention that the information in the report is anecdotal. There is no solid data provided. It is based on discussions with a limited number of people. As an example, 17 vets were interviewed on abandoned horses but there is no data from the agencies that keep records on the reports. Hearsay is not data. And that report is full of hearsay.

  2. Shelia, you are wrong about anti slaughter groups stopping horse slaughter as the Texas plants were violating a law from 1949 which was finally upheld after being brought forward by the Mayor of the town where one of the plants was destroying her town. The house in Illinois was closed for its violations of pollutions laws and the help of neighbors. I know because I was there in court listening to the lame excuses for this plant.

    If you don’t like the horses going to the Mexican plants then you should support HR 2966 and S 1176 which contain the laws to stop the border transportations as well as stopping horse slaughter in the US.

    We have worked very hard to change the laws that would stop the transportation across the borders but it is the meat industry and those Orgs who encourage over breeding or abuse horses for entertainment like racing and rodeos that have paid very expensive lobbyists to stop the bills from going forward. One Congressmen, Bathroom Craig, put a hold on our bill one year on his way out of office. Just recently only 3 Congressmen on the Arg Committee, not the whole Congress or a majority, not even a vote was taken, and removed the ban language from a must pass bill at the last minute so it could not be changed or challenged. This was not because Congress was behind horse slaughter. Just another unhanded trick by pro slaughter since they don’t have the support when the bill hits the floor. Keep in mind that 80% of American’s are against horse slaughter.

    And you did not mention that the inspections still don’t have funding.

    One more thing, my well taken care of dressage horse died at 13 years old, so not all horses live to be 30.

    • No, they do not all live to be 30. I’m so sorry about your horse. I lost my wonderful partner of 20 years at age 25, so he didn’t make it to 30 either. According to statistics, over 2,000 horses die EVERY DAY from causes other than slaughter. And they say we can’t absorb the 1% that goes to slaughter back into the general horse population. Pretty ridiculous, especially since, without the killers there to grab every good horse they can steal or buy at rigged auctions, most of these horses could very well be in forever homes instead of being killed in the most brutal, inhumane way imaginable.

  3. I am a Canadian and we have four operating horse slaughter plants, I am also involved in rescue and we still have many horses given away for free, starved abused and neglected. Slaughter is not the panacea to ensure that horses are not abused. It is actually a contributor as breeders can continue to breed with no concern as to how their horses will live out their lives. Horse slaughter is used by breeders the same way the soda industry uses the return fee on the can, breeders and industry use up the product(the horse) while ensuring that they will get a refund on their investment when the horse is sent to slaughter, and so the circle continues. I recently attended a course where the instructor promoted slaughter as a way to get a “little bit towards your next horse purchase once you are ready to get a better mount” It is about the money, if the Pro Slaughter people really cared about the horse they would not produce more animals than the market can bear, but it is only about the money, the horse is only an object that represents a dollar value based on its value at slaughter, not about its value as a sentient being deserving of respect and compassion.

  4. The Government Accountability Office released a study in June entitled Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter. This study confirmed that the closure of the processing plants, coupled with the poor economy and high feed costs has had a negative impact on horse welfare in the U.S. These negative impacts include an increase in horse abandonments, abuse, and neglect, as well as horses having to travel much longer distances to Mexico and Canada for the purpose of slaughter.

    As early as June, 2008 the USDA held “The Unwanted Horse Issue: What Now?” forum in Washington, DC. The “free horse” was something that was very unusual before the final plant closing in the summer of 2007. Just 1 year later it was enough of an issue that the USDA was holding a forum to figure out how to deal with the problem. Between the final closing in 2007 to now, I have personally turned down 40-50 “free horses”.

  5. Sheila, there were 775,474 horse exported from 1989-2006 when all three plants were open. Why was it okay then but now, you use it as an argument – did you complain about the long hauls then? The plants over the borders are regulated by the EU. The same regulations that were followed in the US plants. I’m glad you admit that we don’t have any say so in the regulation. We didn’t before and we won’t now.

    Are you not aware that it is illegal to send a lame horse to slaughter? Are you aware that only animals that were raised as food animals should enter the food chain? That is a requirement of the importing countries. Slaughter is not a disposal service, it is strictly for food production. Yes, horses can have long lives and if you don’t want the responsibility, then don’t own one. That is a choice. It is not a choice to use human food production to dispose of any animal. It is a blatant disregard for food safety laws.

    BTW-you forgot to mention the thousands of horses being abandoned by the kill buyers that are rejected at the borders – abandoned by the very industry you claim prevents it. I’m curious why you think opening plants will solve the problems you presented. Slaughter never ended. The same number of horses are being slaughtered. The same number will be slaughtered if US plants open because that is demand. They slaughter the number needed to fill the demand, not the number of available horses. According to your comments, slaughter is not solving any problems.

    • Glad to see that you don’t let the facts get into the way of your agenda. Many of the horses that go to slaughter are lame-that is why they are no longer wanted by their owners. The USDA reg that you are referring to states that each horse must be able to bear weight on all four legs. That means that they must be ambulatory and able to stay on their feet during hauling. It does not mean that horse must be sound & pain free.

      Why don’t we talk about the slaughter houses in Mexico. A plant can meet EU & Mexican standards, or just Mexican standards or in the case of many of the small back street slaughter houses-no regulations. In these small unregulated, uninspected houses the horses are stabbed in the neck severing their spinal cords, paralyzed, strung up by the hind feet while fully conscious & then their throat cut.

      The anti-slaughter groups managed to close the plants here, but you certainly did not manage to stop the slaughter of horses. You have just increased their suffering.

      • Shelia ~ You are a good one to complain about someone else not allowing facts to distract them! Are you not aware that a horse that’s already compromised is likely to come off the trailer in much worse shape than when they go on? In fact, those that were in fine shape come off injured a lot of the time. So what happens to them then?

        According to USDA records, eyewitness testimony and the admissions of the killers themselves, since more horses are being rejected now because of the EU rule tightening, the killers take the rejects to a deserted area and dump them off to fend for themselves. People have reported seeing these horses, complete with USDA green stickers. Over 5,000 have been positively identified.

        And, apparently you are the last to know how compromised that GAO report was. Besides, one of their main recommendations was for Congress to revisit passing legislation banning both horse slaughter AND shipping across borders for the purpose of slaughter. Did you miss that part? Seems all you pro-trolls missed that part, because you NEVER mention it.

        Since I and my horses lived in Dallas, and for 15 years we had to live with Beltex on one side and Dallas Crown on the other. During that time I learned more than you will EVER know. For one thing, the commercial Mexican plants where our horses go – do you really believe the killers waste their time at mom-and-pop abattoirs?? – are owned and regulated by the same people that owned Dallas Crown. They just moved from Texas across the border, and it was business as usual. They are regulated in exactly the same way as well. They use the captive-bolt and are regulated under the rules of the European Union – which, btw, are stronger than ours. Besides, we have always sent thousands of horses to Mexico and Canada every year, and I never heard any of you whining about it then. Our domestic plants were NO better, and you weren’t even whining about THAT. Why not, pray tell?

        If you trolls and your money grubbing pals that spend millions of dollars on lobbying Congress to kill anti-slaughter bills, we would have had ALL this stopped years ago when the first anti-slaughter bill were introduced. Blame yourselves for supporting the special interest groups who buy their own legislators that keep this abomination going. Your meat-packing buddy, Charlie Stenholm, flat out LIED in his testimony to the Texas Ag Committee a couple of weeks ago. He testified that there were no drugs in our horses that couldn’t be handled by observing withdrawal times, when he knows perfectly well that there are NO withdrawal times for BANNED substances and there are at least ten of those in wide use in the US. That’s what your buddies do. They LIE. Just like Sue Wallis about this plant.

        Everything you read in this “report” is copy/paste from many others and it’s pure fiction. Sue Wallis does NOT own this plant, never applied to the State for permits she would need to do anything. In fact, this plant is tied up in legal issue between the scamming owners and their creditors. Has been for some time now. Either Wallis is so stupid she didn’t scope this out at all, or she just lied up a storm like she did in Mountain Grove. You might want to check with those good folks. They booted her right out of their town.

        This plant will NEVER be built, and we antis don’t have to life a finger. You must not be aware that we have been totally out of compliance with EU rules for food safety from the get-go. And they know it. On July 31, 2013 the EU will stop accepting our horses for export unless we implement a full passport system comparable to theirs. This is a complicated, burdensome system that horse people do NOT want, and it will cost millions of tax dollars to implement – on top of the millions of tax dollars the inspections alone would cost. Given that 80% of the American people are dead set against slaughtering American horses for foreign consumers to eat, that ain’t gonna happen, especially in an election year. We are the 80%, and we are ANGRY!

        I wonder – have you ever actually SEEN a horse slaughter plant in operation? I have, so I suggest you put down your Sue Wallis koolaid and go to Mexico or Canada and see what it’s REALLY like. There has always been horse abuse and neglect and there always will be. if all these people you say are neglecting and abandoning their horses had wanted to sell their horses for slaughter they could have, but they CHOSE not to for what ever reason. We’ve had uninterrupted horse slaughter for 30 years, and what problems has it solved? Certainly not over population! And horse abuse and neglect have increased. That’s because of the economy – we ARE in a very severe recession in case you hadn’t noticed – and what has slaughter done about it – except encourage the over breeding and throw-away attitude that caused the over population to begin with?

        You really shouldn’t post rants concerning a subject about which you know absolutely nothing.

    • Why would you assume that everyone that is against the brutal slaughter of our horses for foreigners to eat is a hippie, left, wacko? Horse slaughter has always been a bi-partisan issue and it still is. The only ones I have seen that insist on politicizing it are you extreme right-wingers who see EVERYTHING as being political. Lord, I’m SO sick of your idiocy.

      You go right ahead and get some horse meat – and be sure it’s from American horses. Ours are the ones that are not raised under food-animal regulations. All those yummy banned substances! Bon Appetite, Bonehead.

  6. Currently the estimated number of placements for horses in rescues and sanctuaries is approximately 19,000 and just like everyone else involved with horses, they have seen their overhead increase while adoptions and donations have decreased. By the end of this year we will have sent around 600,000 horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter since the last processing plant closed in 2007. As Erica Caslin says, there is an estimated 170,000 unwanted horses in the US. We really have no idea how many thousands of unwanted horses have been turned out on public lands, abandoned, euthanized or simply been turned in the back pasture and allowed to die. To ignore these numbers and facts shows a lack of understanding as to the harsh reality of the current and future situation that horses and horse owners are facing and does not present a realistic solution. Nor does it consider that there will always be horses that become unusable because of lameness, poor disposition or age. Since horses can live well into their 30s, we are talking about a long, long time frame of commitment and cost.

    Our choice is to either continue to ship our horses long distances to Mexico and Canada where we have nothing to say about how they are regulated or to open the American processing facilities to operate under our regulations and providing American jobs.

    • There have been NO reports whatsoever about horses being released on Public Lands! Get that through your head. It did NOT happen. If it had, the BLM would have reported finding domestic horses in the wild herds. They made NO such report. That is pure fiction along with all the other “reports” of thousands of abandoned horses without a shred of evidence to back it up.

      In fact, the only substantiated abandoned horses – mostly in the desert southwest – were horses that were rejected by the slaughter plants and that the killers then dumped off to fend for themselves. Many of these horses still had the USDA green sticker. Besides, the killers freely admit that they do this.

      YOU are the one with a lack of understanding that if the owners of all these horses had wanted to sell them for slaughter, they certainly could have. They CHOSE not to, for whatever reason. It CERTAINLY wasn’t because pf a “lack of slaughter availability!”

      Shelia, troll, you don’t know what’s going on with all the rescues in the country, many of which are finding very innovative and successful ways to help horses and their owners as well. Maybe you should educate yourself on this subject – as well as a few others. Or, just continue to drink your Wallis koolaid and post more fact less, stupid posts on fictional articles like this one.

  7. As I understand it from the Humane Society, in June, congress withdrew funding for horse slaughter plant inspections. That is what stopped horse slaughter in this country before. There are states that want these plants, but if there’s no money for inspections they can’t open them.

  8. Retuers has been contacted about correcting extensive and serious factual errors in this story. Until it has a chance to respond, I would caution all readers of this article—which has been published and republished far and wide—to do their own independent fact checking. I also strongly suggest that any and all media sources considering picking this article up to hire a fact checker and use it before publication. And I encourage this site to withdraw it until fact checking has been completed and the errors corrected. Thank you.