Poster children for the SAFE Act: Kill buyers fined again

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 14, 2020 with 20 Comments

Some of the people and interests tied to cruelty to animals seem to come right from central casting. That’s going to help us succeed in our efforts to secure passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 961/S. 2006, to permanently ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.

It’s just come to light that a USDA Administrative Law Judge not long ago served up a bit of justice to two kill buyers, the owners of Stanley Bros Farm, fining the company $4000 for multiple violations of the federal government’s Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter regulations. This is the latest fine imposed on the Louisiana-based company which operates a kill pen and ships horses to Mexico for slaughter, and it was imposed in the aftermath of an investigation by the group Animals’ Angels.

Every year, kill buyers like the Stanley Brothers funnel tens of thousands of American horses – working, racing, and companion horses, and even children’s ponies – into the international horse meat trade, going from auction to auction and gathering up young and healthy horses, often misrepresenting their intentions, to send them to slaughter for human consumption overseas. The Stanleys were found to have used forged health certificates, obscured the origin of the horses they shipped to Mexico for slaughter, failed to produce the necessary owner/shipper certificates, and neglected to provide time and location reports concerning the loading of the horses.

It is just these kinds of violations that led the European Union to place a moratorium on horsemeat imports from Mexico, in part to protect EU consumers from ingesting toxic drugs that such horses may have routinely consumed during their lives. Walk into any horse stable in the country, and you’ll find at least one product labeled “not intended for use on animals destined for human consumption.” Researchers with the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico found horsemeat present in raw and cooked samples sold as beef or poorly labeled in butcher shops, markets and informal selling locations such as street stalls in six Mexican cities. Their study also found high levels of clenbuterol, a veterinary drug not approved for use in animals in the food supply, in some raw meat samples.

And it’s just these kinds of violations that make a final and lasting prohibition of the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in the United States and abroad both necessary and urgent. There’s no way to resolve the many problems caused by fraudulent practices in the industry, without a final and full stop ban on a practice that is abhorrent to countless Americans. In truth, there’s no way to make the trade less cruel at all, for the slaughter of horses cannot be done humanely given their pronounced flight response and anatomy.

Thankfully, we’ve seen recent progress in the fight to end horse slaughter, as there was an encouraging hearing on the SAFE Act in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee at the end of January. Over half the members of the U.S. House of Representatives are now cosponsors, and the Senate bill, introduced by U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also has bipartisan support.

It’s often forgotten that kill buyers are out there outbidding rescue groups and families who could offer many of these horses loving and permanent homes. Just last fall, a six year old quarter horse saved from a kill pen and his 13 year old owner placed among the top twenty contestants in the single largest breed show in the world. This was so heartening to us.

We’ve said it for a long time: horse slaughter is a grim and ugly business, and it’s beneath the status of a great nation to let it carry on in light of all we’ve seen and all that Americans believe. We don’t eat horses, and more than 80 percent of Americans don’t approve of their being hauled over long distances to Canada or Mexico, to be inhumanely killed for an overseas market in their flesh.

The Stanleys aren’t the only bad faith actors in the horsemeat trade; they’re simply the ones in the news cycle today. But their way of doing business says all that we need to know about the transport and killing of horses for foreign meat exports. It’s cruel to the horses, it’s potentially unsafe for consumers, and it’s a waste of U.S. taxpayer dollars. It’s time to put a stop to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and pass the SAFE Act.

Please take a moment to contact your federal legislators and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act if they haven’t yet, and do all they can to get it passed!

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Equine, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No es justo matar a los animalitos solo por decisión propia o beneficio a alguien ya no mas maltrato y mas injusticia

  2. June Massey says:

    Stop eating Animals. Full Stop

    • Sumio says:

      Why waste so much edible horse meats? Let other people eat them! It’s not wasting taxpayers money, it’s wasting the nation’s resources by not exporting them.

  3. R Dove says:

    I dont know of 1 horse who at some time in their life that hasnt been precribed/ given bute . READ THE LABEL ALONG WITH LABEL ON HORSE DEWORMERS.

  4. Robin Yommer says:

    Please pass the SAFE act to prevent the killing of horses for human consumption!

  5. Laura Russo says:

    Gods most beautiful creature anything more beautiful he kepted for himself .please pass the safe act .

  6. Leslie Miller says:

    Horse slaughter, transport of horses out-of-country for horse slaughter is ALL UNACCEPTABLE!! This needs to stop. Overbreeding, intent to overbreed, greed at the expense of any animal is totally wrong!!! SHAME ON HORSE BREEDERS THAT OVERBREED, SELL FOR SLAUGHTER, ABANDON HORSES!! If you bought or bred the animal, then you are responsible to rehome safely!! Get it together!!!!! 💜🐎

  7. Sylvia Boronski says:

    Unfortunately it is “easier” to pay a fine after the fact, then it is to ask permission legally…. And while all the “tap-dancing” is going on in courtrooms and with the Senate & Congress, these horse transporters & slaughterers JUST KEEP TRANSPORTING & KILLING MORE AND MORE HORSES.

    • Denise Maloney says:

      Look, any discussion is better than none, BUT…I literally looked at $4,000 THREE times before it connected for me that it was not a sick joke. I mean come ON! That $4K is their bar bill on a slow night yet “advocates” crow about it. How in the world can anyone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of welfare issues consider this anything but a humiliation?

  8. Sharon Heggie says:

    Humans disgust me

  9. Gail Denney says:

    Please pass the Safe Act . If you purchased or breed a horse, then the animal it your responsibility to take care of to the animal.
    Be humane and responsible to these beautiful innocent animals.

  10. Mary abercrombie says:

    Stop this now !!!!!

  11. Turi Kozel says:

    Horses are companion animals. Mankind would not be where he is without the horse. Allowing these beautiful animals, who have given us so much, to fall into these kinds of hands is irresponsible of us as a nation. They deserve our gratitude and protection.

  12. Tsering yangkyi says:

    Please protect these magnificent animals!!!! Stop the act of ruthless slaughter

  13. Rose Clancy says:

    Rose Clancy I its ReallyHope &Pray this safe act bill Passes it’s terrible that these Beautifull. American horses are in kill pens waiting to be transported to other countrys for slaughter Its just Not Right!!! Horses played a large part in this country’s history !

  14. Marianne says:

    Mitch McConnell needs to allow SAFE Act to come to the floor for a vote! He holds so much power in this matter and he needs to stop allowing lobbyists for the Cattlemen to win his favor instead of allowing the Safe Act to pass. We have enough co-sponsors don’t we?

  15. Deb Ostaff says:

    Horses are our companions and friends. They aren’t raised as human food in America, and they should not be shipped over our borders and slaughtered then sold as such. It’s wrong. It’s cruel. It needs to be stopped.

  16. Christine Hagan says:

    Horses were not put on this watch to be eaten. We need to start taking care of America’s animals and maybe it’s time to start voting on the right congress men and women to help do that.

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