Industry attempts to revive horse slaughter in the U.S.

By on June 26, 2017 with 17 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Some months ago, I wrote about a horse named Jakar, once destined for slaughter, rescued by an animal advocate, and eventually taken on by the Cleveland Police Department for law enforcement duties. Jakar, along with other members of Cleveland’s mounted police force contingent, marched in the 2017 inauguration parade in a classic rags to riches story.

The turnaround in Jakar’s fortunes is on my mind as Congressional lawmakers again focus their attention on the perennial debate over the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are likely to take up the issue soon, and by all accounts, it’s going to be a very competitive vote, with the horse slaughter industry and agribusiness interests jockeying for the right to turn horses into mincemeat. Despite the false claims from the proponents of horse slaughter, Jakar’s story reminds us that so many horses bound for slaughter are not old or infirm or otherwise unfit. Most of them are perfectly healthy, but just unlucky enough to have found their way into the clutches of predatory people who sell them off into the slaughter pipeline.

We don’t round up dogs and cats for slaughter, and it should be unthinkable to do that to a species that helped us settle the nation. Our humane position is grounded on the notion that people who own horses should act responsibly and provide lifetime care or transfer horses to someone who can. It’s a remarkable betrayal for people to enjoy and benefit from the physical and behavioral attributes of horses and then sell them off to a kill buyer when they’re done with them.

Kill buyers and other key players in the horse slaughter industry trot out the notion that they are somehow “helping” horses by routing them to slaughter, but there is nothing noble about their commerce. Horses are dragged and whipped into trucks and endure long journeys without food, water, or rest. Many die or sustain injuries during transport, including broken legs and punctured eyes. The idea of providing veterinary care to an animal about to be slaughtered is unthinkable to these profiteers.

Earlier this year, and last year as well, President Obama and a bipartisan majority of lawmakers fended off the reopening of horse slaughter plants in the United States—after we helped shutter the last three plants a decade ago. But the fight over the fate of horses in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget looms, and the past votes are not predictors of what will happen in the coming weeks.

Earlier this year, we released results from the Remington Research Group, a Kansas-City-based polling firm, that revealed that the people of Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma strongly oppose horse slaughter. In fact, the people of every Congressional district in these states favor keeping the horse slaughter plants shuttered. If we are winning the hearts and minds of people in these states, you can be sure that people throughout the rest of the country are with us too.

No one disputes that there are some homeless horses. But unlike the horse slaughter crowd that treats homelessness as an economic opportunity rather than a moral responsibility, we’re pitching in to help. With the other members of the Homes for Horses Coalition, The HSUS works to actively promote the welfare and protection of horses and other equines. We provide care and homes to horses in need, advance the highest operating standards for equine rescue and retirement homes, and promote responsible horse ownership. We assist in training thousands of horses to be rehomed at equine rescues through our Forever Foundation training program. The HSUS and its affiliates directly care for nearly 800 horses at several of our animal-care facilities. To help reduce overbreeding, The HSUS formed the Responsible Horse Breeders Council, comprised of horse breeders who work to decrease the number of surplus horses bred in the United States. More than 1,200 breeders have signed our Responsible Horse Breeder’s Pledge to help protect horses from neglect, starvation, and slaughter, by reducing the number of surplus horses in the United States.

It would be a remarkable step backward to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States. What’s needed, and what Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Fl., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. are pushing, via the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R.113, is a complete ban on the slaughter of American horses, including live exports to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Only then will we offer proper thanks to animals who’ve helped our nation in ways that we cannot even properly measure. Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives and urge them to ban all horse slaughter.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Jenn says:

    I want to contact my elected officials about many of these issues but don’t know what to say. It’s so helpful when you provide a framework email that I can add my thoughts to. Please consider this for future requests to contact Senators/Representatives. And as always, thank you for the work you do!

    • Scott M says:

      HSUS will most likely contact you .
      I am a member.
      If you do not hear from them, please go to
      American-Canadian Horse Warrior Forum on Facebook.
      There is also
      American Horse Defense Coalition, and that has individual State Chapters.
      I am an administrator for TexasHDC.
      We will be more than happy to help and get you the information you need to contact your elected officials and advocate against Equine Slaughter.
      We do not ask for donations, just a sincere belief that Horse Slaughter needs to be kept out of the USA.
      The medical reasons alone are reason to fight against Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption.
      Feel free to contact us.
      Scott M

  2. Angela Grammatico says:

    This is horrific what can we do to stop this

  3. Elizabeth Bryant says:

    Incredible cruelty towards these horses. Something is seriously wrong with people who act inhumanely towards helpless beings. Stop this terrible injustice!

  4. Trish Riva says:

    Our elected officals should be doing a better job on horse slaughter, kill pens and animal cruelty, there is no excuse.

  5. Delois Troutman says:

    We need to stop wild horse slaughter. This is cruel

  6. Delois Troutman says:

    Stop wild horse slaughter. This is cruel

  7. Michelle Buckalew says:

    Yes, please contact your legislators. The horses need every single one of our voices. Together…we can resist/stop the actions taken by the Trump admin to strip the animals, planet and and environment of protections. Thank you for continuing to bring attention/action for the horses, HSUS.

  8. Barbara Russo says:

    Are we such a throw-away society that we carelessly throw away our horses too. What’s next? Dogs, cats, —–people? We need to help these horses. Please tell us how. Thanks.

  9. Terri Miller says:

    I think it’s terrible to kill animals that God put down here to love and take care of them. there is no excuse to do that to a beautiful animal. there should be stiffer laws for animal abusers. not a slap on the wraist.

  10. Anne Pottinger says:

    The point that is totally being missed is that since horse slaughter was banned in the USA, it has continued unabated but now includes the added cruelty of first collecting the horses in various killer assembly points and then shipping them either to Canada or Mexico, more often than not in transporters designed for cattle not horses.

    These journeys often span days and the horses are never offered food or water. Many are bullied by stronger animals and end up as ‘fallers’ trodden on indiscriminately and often badly injured.

    Those shipping to Mexico often travel in blazing heat and when they arrive at journey’s end, the further cruelty they have to endure is abominable.

    The laws need to be changed NOT ONLY to ban horse slaughter here in the US, but to completely ban shipping horses out of the country for slaughter. The first without the second only subjects the horses to further cruelty.

    It is unfortunate that people believe banning horse slaughter is enough. It isn’t.

  11. Diana Kline says:

    There are numerous reasons we should not open any horse slaughter plants in the U.S. Topping the list is that U.S. horses are not raised as food animals. We have no method of tracking which horses have received which drugs, for how long, or when.

    FDA approves horses drugs for horses, but does not test for consumption or withdrawal time. We live in America — the land of the home and free. Horse owners want to retain our rights to administer drugs to our horses without a vet being present. Many of the drugs are purchased through vets, but do not need a vet to administer, especially at 3:00 a.m., when large animal vets are scarce.

  12. Jenny82 says:

    I agree horse slaughter should not be here in the U.S. Ths is soooooo inhumane and downright sickening. However, their is a bigger picture that needs to be addressed. How do you think horses end up in auctions. Well if you think about it , we the human species are causing this. Just like animal shelters all over are full of cats and dogs because of human neglect and over breeding for a stupid bloodline. Horses that have been used for its purpose such as race tracks, rodeos,jumping, exc. are discarded and the process is repeated. If a horse don’t look good enough or don’t preform a certain way its life is not valuable and sent on down to the road . Horse recues are great and help horses get adopted out to proper owners.So i believe more of these rescues should be funded .

  13. Katie says:

    What exactly do you guys see different in horse slaughter that is not the same as cow slaughter?

  14. Shannon says:

    Unfortunetly the slaughtering of horses is not going to stop. I don’t agree with it, I hate irresponsible people that are the cause of this.
    But banning horse slaughterhouses in the US is just going to prolong the horse’s suffering as they travel to Canada or Mexico or wherever they are going….
    And what’s that saying…if slaughterhouses were made of glass
    we would all be vegetarians.

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