Horse slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia.
While “euthanasia” is defined as a gentle, painless death provided in order to prevent suffering, slaughter is a brutal and terrifying end for horses. Horses bound for slaughter (who may include pregnant mares, foals and horses who are injured or blind) are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest in crowded trucks. As a result, horses often endure repeated blows and sometimes remain conscious during dismemberment or worse killed in transit. —this is rarely a quick, painless death.
Horse Slaughter Abroad
Looking at data from 2012 to 2016, an average of 137,000 American horses were trucked over our borders each year to slaughter facilities in Mexico and Canada. In 2017, that number dipped to just under 80,000. Reopening slaughterhouses in America is not the answer to ending this form of cruelty. In fact, even when horse slaughter facilities operated in the United States, tens of thousands of American horses were still exported to other countries for slaughter. Additionally, long-distance transport is an inherent aspect of this industry. Given the vast geography of the U.S., any transport of American horses to slaughter—within or outside the U.S.—will be long and brutal.
Supporters of horse slaughter
Put forth many arguments to support their position. If you look at the facts, you'll see the truth: The slaughter of horses for meat is not only unnecessary and inhumane, it is also harmful in many ways.
Until a ban is in place, every American horse is at risk of meeting this fate. Fortunately, in January 2019 the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States and ban their export abroad for that purpose—but we need your help to ensure Congress passes this important legislation.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961/S. 2006)
is federal legislation that would prevent the horse slaughter industry from reestablishing operations in the U.S. and prohibit the export of American horses abroad for slaughter.
While over half the members of the U.S. House of Representatives have already officially committed to sponsoring this bill, we need your help to secure more support to get this bill passed. Anti-horse-slaughter bills have been introduced in each Congress for the past decade. Despite wide bipartisan support, not one of these bills has passed into law. Let's make 2020 the year it does!
How you Can Help
Using the form link, please take a moment to send an email to your U.S. representative and senators urging them to cosponsor and support the SAFE Act. If your members of Congress have already signed on to be cosponsors, our system will instead generate a message of thanks. It takes less than 2 mins to show your support and it's FREE!
Below are answers to some of the most common questions about horse slaughter. Once you learn the cruel and UGLY truth, you'll understand why we must fight for those who cannot help themselves.
Is it possible to conduct commercial horse slaughter in a humane manner?
No. Horse slaughter, whether in U.S. or foreign plants, was never and cannot be humane because of the nature of the industry and the unique biology of horses.
Horses are skittish by nature (owing to their heightened fight-or-flight response), which makes accurate pre-slaughter stunning difficult. Before the last domestic plant closed in 2007, the USDA documented in the slaughter pipeline rampant cruelty violations and severe injuries to horses, including broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and gaping wounds.
The answer is not to return to subjecting our horses to abuse and unacceptable conditions at plants in the U.S. but to ban both horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter altogether and to provide our horses with decent lives and, when necessary, humane deaths.
Will horse slaughter have a negative financial impact on American taxpayers?
Yes. Subsidizing horse slaughter cruelty will divert precious financial resources away from American products and food safety. It makes no sense for the federal government to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to oversee new horse slaughter plants. At a time when Congress is focused on fiscal responsibility and the budget of the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is already stretched thin, the USDA should not extend funding for a new program to slaughter horses—a practice that 80 percent of Americans oppose.
Is horse meat safe for human consumption?
No. U.S. horse meat is dangerous to humans because of the unregulated administration of numerous toxic substances to horses before slaughter.
In the U.S., horses are raised and treated as companion animals, not as food-producing animals. Unlike animals raised for food, the vast majority of horses sent to slaughter will have ingested, or been treated or injected with, multiple chemical substances that are known to be dangerous to humans, untested on humans or specifically prohibited for use in animals raised for human consumption. Horses are gathered from random sources at various stages in their life, and there is no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption. Due to concerns about the health threats of drug-laced horse meat, the European Union (EU), a primary importer of North American horse meat, suspended horse meat imports from Mexico—where 87 percent of horses slaughtered for export to the EU are of U.S. origin. EU authorities made the decision after a series of scathing audits that exposed a plethora of problems, including the lack of traceability of American horses and horrific suffering on U.S. soil and in Mexico.
Can the federal government ensure the safety of horse meat?
No. The USDA has no system in place to track horses’ lifetime medical histories, and the reputation of the entire U.S. meat industry is at risk.
Testing random samples of horse meat overlooks the fact that every single horse has a unique, unknown past. Unlike animals raised for food, horses do not spend their lives being prepared for the food chain. Every horse is a pet, riding companion, race horse, show pony or work partner. Each may be a single patient to any number of vets, transferred by any number of owners, and has a unique life story. Relying on random-sample testing of horse meat is inadequate and dangerous.
Has ending domestic horse slaughter damaged the U.S. horse market and led to neglect and abandonment?
No. Horse neglect and abandonment cannot logically be attributed to the closure of U.S slaughter plants. Horses are still being sent to slaughter, across our borders into Canada and Mexico, and the number of American horses sent to slaughter has not decreased since domestic plants closed in 2007. Clearly, any increase in neglect or abandonment—as well as any downturn in the horse market—is related to the economic downturn that began the same year that the last slaughter plant closed and continues today. Horse slaughter has never been, and will never be, a solution for abuse and neglect. Rather, the continued availability of horse slaughter has only enabled and perpetuated over breeding, neglect and irresponsibility. As long as slaughter is an outlet for breeders to sell excess horses, they will be rewarded—and continue their irresponsible behavior.
Are there any other options for horses at risk of going to slaughter?
Yes. There are several ways to reduce the number of homeless or at-risk horses.
We can curb over breeding, educate owners about other re-homing options and expand adoption work. Over 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year, and the vast majority would be re-homed; not every horse going to slaughter needs to go to rescue. The USDA documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and are able to live out a productive life. These horses would be sold, donated or otherwise re-homed; however, kill buyers outbid legitimate horse owners and rescues at auctions, robbing horses of ever having a second chance at life.
The idea of slaughtering companion animals is unacceptable to the American people and will never be embraced. A 2012 national poll found that 80 percent of Americans support banning horse slaughter for human consumption. There are countries that consume dogs, cats and other pets as food, but we do not allow our dogs and cats to be exported for food purposes, even though there is a well-documented overpopulation issue to contend with for those animals.
Will horse slaughter plants stimulate local economies?
No. Horse slaughter plants have proven to be economic and environmental nightmares for the communities that host them.
These plants pollute local water, decrease property values, permeate the air with a foul stench, drain local economies and damage the environment. The last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. offered only a few low-income, dangerous jobs that did nothing to bolster local economies. Long before the plants closed in 2007, they had worn out their welcome. For example, in 2005, the City Council of Kaufman, Texas, home to the Dallas Crown facility, voted unanimously to implement termination proceedings against the plant. Paula Bacon, then mayor of Kaufman, stated, “As a community leader where we are directly impacted by the horse slaughter industry, I can assure you the economic development return to our community is negative.” Attracting new business was difficult for communities burdened with the presence of a horse slaughter plant due to the related negative stigma. Any minimal financial contributions of horse slaughter facilities are vastly outweighed by the enormous economic and development-suppressing burden they present.
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