Today, our affiliate Humane Society International-Canada condemned “Top Chef Canada” for featuring a dish made with horse flesh, noting that “many of the horses who end up slaughtered for food are raised as companion animals and are condemned to this horrific end following a lifetime of service to people.”
We in the United States have been working hard, especially since the closure of the U.S.-based horse-killing plants in 2007, to ban the transport of live horses to Canada for slaughter. We’ve documented unscrupulous methods of obtaining the horses by so-called “killer buyers,” the punishing long-distance transport of the animals in trucks too small to accommodate them, and crude slaughter practices over the border. Unfortunately, the federal legislation to end this traffic—which is soon to be introduced again—has been held up for years by a coalition of foreign-owned horse slaughter interests working in cahoots with American agribusiness and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Many horse enthusiasts, and many members of the general public, are surprised to hear about the AVMA’s opposition to this sensible legislation. I called the AVMA out on the issue in The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them, and here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 7, “Cruelty and Its Defenders”:
“If slaughter plants aren’t allowed to acquire and kill American horses, according to the AVMA, then American horse owners will starve and abandon their animals. The AVMA says there are tens of thousands of abandoned, unwanted horses, and unless there’s an outlet for them, people will just turn them loose. It’s a cynical, deeply pessimistic view of American horse owners, and a backhanded acceptance of illegal behavior, since abandonment and neglect of horses is a crime in just about every state. Are farmers really willing to commit criminal cruelty just to avoid the cost of sheltering or adopting out an animal who has served them or even granting the horse a decent death? The AVMA thinks so. Just as the AVMA leadership has internalized the mind-set of factory farmers, they have accepted all of the assumptions of the negligent horse owner and made it their official policy.”
There’s more in the book about the surprising stances of the AVMA on some of the major animal-welfare issues of the day.