What do advocates
of a horse slaughter ban want?
ALL WE’RE ASKING FOR is to
give horses the same legal treatment and protection as dogs and cats. Dogs and cats are protected against slaughter and export to countries where their meat is eaten. The same should apply
to horses. Just like dogs and cats, they are intelligent animals not bred and
raised to be meat. In fact, horses are taxed differently than food-source animals.
Where are horses
slaughtered in the United
There are three slaughterhouses located
in the U.S. – two in TX and one in IL. There are also
plants in Canada, and killer buyers purchase horses here in
the U.S. and truck them over the border as a major source
of supply. All three of the plants in the U.S.
are foreign-owned – French and Belgian – and foreign-operated.
EQUINE SLAUGHTER PLANTS
IN THE U.S.:
EQUINE SLAUGHTER PLANTS
BARTON FEEDERS COMPANY,
RICHELIEU MEAT, INC.
BOUVRY EXPORT CALGARY,
What is the horsemeat
used for / where does it go?
There is NO U.S.
market for horsemeat. Contrary to popular myth, horses are not used for glue
or dog food. All three slaughterhouses in the U.S.,
as well as those in Canada, are used for the sole purpose
of exporting horsemeat to Europe, where it is consumed.
Since we don’t raise our horses to
be sent to slaughter, over the course of their lives they will receive a wide variety of drugs, medications and vaccinations
during the course of their life that would be banned if horses were intended for U.S.
horses sent to slaughter the older, sick, or injured horses?
Actually, according to 2001 field studies
conducted by Temple Grandin, 70% of all
horses at the slaughter plant were good, fat, or obese; 72% were considered to be “sound” of limb; and 84% were
of average age. Slaughterhouses do not want sick, old horses for obvious reasons. These figures are consistent with USDA studies that reveal that 92.3% of horses at
these plants are in “good” condition.
How do the slaughterhouses
get these horses?
Horses are bought at auctions by "killer
buyers" which act as middlemen for the slaughtering companies. At a normal auction at a fair or some similar forum, these
killer buyers compete with civilians who wish to purchase a horse in good will for the best price. Killer buyers will also respond to ads in the paper where horses appear to be available for a price that
would allow for a profit by the pound for slaughter. There are a lot of people who sell their horses at auction or try to
find their aging or unwanted horse a good home who are unaware that they just sold their horse to a slaughterhouse.
At most racetracks, there are periodic
auctions – often at night – where horses are sold and most of them are ultimately purchased by the killer buyers. These killer buyers also make the rounds on the backstretches of tracks all the time
to attempt to arrange private purchases.
And finally, there’s theft. It should not be underestimated - there are 40-50,000 horses stolen in the U.S.
each year and there are heartbreaking stories of people whose horses were stolen having to identify their hides at the facility
where their horse was slaughtered. Slaughterhouses typically process and kill
the horses they have received within 24 hours, making it almost impossible to trace and recover stolen horses in time and
ultimately destroying the evidence.
The story of Cimarron
– an AWFUL but not uncommon one:
Also this link, with postings from
FACT: When California passed laws in 1998 to ban horse slaughter, horse thefts in the state subsequently dropped
40% and have continued to drop each year, despite the average price for horses at sale remaining constant.
Why do you consider
the slaughter of horses to be excessively cruel?
Beyond the obvious, you have to understand
that all of the transportation and equipment involved in slaughtering horses was designed for slaughtering cattle. Horses are transported to slaughterhouses in trailers with low ceilings where they have to hang their heads
down, stand off-balance, and often fall and get trampled. These trips, especially
those horses driven over the border to Canada, often take
more than 28 hours. In fact, these trailers are so inhumane that they are banned
for horse transport in several states – which sometimes makes the killer buyers take a different route.
More importantly, the stun bolts initially
used on the horses penetrates the skulls of cattle effectively but are not designed for horses…and as a result, thousands
of horses are still consciously alive when slaughtered. And here’s the
worst part - in order for horsemeat to be exported for human consumption, the horses must, by regulations, be ALIVE when "bled
out"-a process following the supposed "stunning" in the knock box where the horse is ejected out of a bloody chute, hoisted
and hung upside down by a single hind leg shackled to a chain, and slit in the throat-. This means that the horses are NOT
dead upon leaving the knock box, and some are often still conscious of what is going on at this time.
Horses are very intelligent animals whose
fear as soon as they arrive at these facilities is well-documented. In last ditch
attempts to save themselves, horses often desperately resist being herded into the areas where they smell blood and death
– and workers use fiberglass rods or electric prods to poke and beat the horses into the kill boxes.
Ok – so it’s
cruel – but what else would you do with the “excess” of horses?
Approximately 10% of the American horse
population (9.2 million) die either of natural causes or need to be euthanized annually – that’s 920,000 horses
for those of you who don’t enjoy math. Last year (for 2005), approximately
90,000 horses were slaughtered – so this is less than 1% of the entire American horse population and only 10% of horse
deaths in the U.S. Excess? Please!
Euthanasia and disposal of a deceased horse
afterwards is widely available and perfectly affordable. The average cost of
having a horse euthanized and disposed of is approximately $200 – less than the cost of keeping the horse fed and cared
for in one month.
Is the demand for
horsemeat on the rise?
It actually appears to be on the
decline – but not at a rate acceptable to those of us who find horse slaughter an indignity to the animal raised
to be your pet or athelete. In the 1990’s, there were more than a dozen
horse slaughter facilities in operation in the U.S. and more than 300,000 horses slaughtered annually. In 2003,that figure has been gradually dropping to just under 66,000 in 2003. Unfortunately, the slaughterhouse in Illinois which had been
burned to the ground a few years earlier re-opened in 2004, and the numbers have increased slightly since, in both 2004 and
How does the existence
of horse slaughter in the U.S. affect the economy?
Horses are worth more to the economy while
they are still alive. Horses contribute to the GDP by generating jobs for those in the industry, and consumer contributions
to the economy through purchasing pharmaceuticals, vet services, feed, shoes, board, supplies, and training to name only a
few things; dead horses do not even generate an export tax.
How does horse slaughter
affect the cattle industry here in the U.S.?
American horsemeat is exported primarily
to France, Belgium,
Italy, and Japan,
where horsemeat is an alternative to beef. This actually hurts the U.S.
beef industry – Japan regulates Japanese imports of
beef, but there are no regulations on horsemeat.