The time to stop horse slaughter is now. Here’s why.

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on May 19, 2021 with 16 Comments

Last Saturday, Americans tuned in to watch the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown. On the same day, the New York Times exposed horrific details of our country’s wild horses ending up at slaughter plants in other nations; Americans who had obtained these horses through an adoption incentives program run by the Bureau of Land Management had circumvented the adoption agreements and instead sold the horses at auction.

There’s a chilling contradiction in the way our country treats its horses: Fame and attention are heaped onto winning racehorses when, across the U.S., horses of all breeds, wild and domestic, including racehorses past their prime, wind up sold and slaughtered for their meat. Every single day, an average of one hundred U.S. horses ends up at slaughter. Last year alone, 37,249 U.S. horses were shipped to slaughter.

Throughout history, horses have stood by human beings as companions and partners. Horse slaughter is a total betrayal of this bond. But we have a chance to remedy this injustice: Today, the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, H.R.3355, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. This federal bill brings hope, promising to forever prohibit the export of American horses to other nations for slaughter, shutting down the horse slaughter pipeline for good, while also ensuring that the horse slaughter trade can never return to the U.S. We worked with anti-slaughter coalition partners to encourage and support the sponsors’ introduction of the SAFE Act and will be campaigning for its passage.

This is the latest effort in our decades-long fight for at-risk horses. Before horse slaughter plants were shuttered in the U.S., our investigations team documented the inner workings of horse slaughter plants in Ohio and Texas; we’ve even tracked the fate of a former racehorse who ended up as meat. For years, we have persistently advocated for federal legislation to try to make sure that not a single U.S. horse suffers such a fate. And each year, we lobby to ensure that no taxpayer dollars are made available to re-open slaughterhouses in the U.S. The recent disturbing revelations about the BLM’s Adoption Incentive Program underscore our urgent need for a federal law to save these horses. The time to pass this legislation is now.

Today, the slaughter pipeline begins with at-risk horses who are sent to livestock auctions across the U.S. At these auctions, middlemen for foreign-owned slaughter plants, known as “kill buyers,” purchase healthy horses that they believe will bring the best price per pound. Kill buyers often bid against horse rescues and legitimate prospective owners, robbing these horses of a second chance at life. Sometimes kill buyers even pose as legitimate horse rescues or dealers and trick owners into believing their horses are going to be adopted, not sold into slaughter.

After being sold to kill buyers, these horses are trucked to Canada and Mexico where they are slaughtered for their meat. Many horses suffer terrible injuries during long distance transport. At the slaughter plant, horses rarely experience quick, painless deaths due to their anatomy and instinctual flight response to danger. When horse slaughter existed in the U.S. (it was shut down in 2007), the U.S. Department of Agriculture documented serious abuses, both in transport and at the slaughter plants. Conditions today at the slaughter plants abroad and during transport are similar. There is no way to make horse slaughter humane.

Horse slaughter also enables overbreeding and neglect by giving irresponsible breeders and owners an easy way to dump the horses they no longer use or want.

Thankfully, in the last several years, horse rescues, animal protection groups and the equestrian community have made amazing progress in rehoming horses and educating owners and breeders about the inhumane nature of horse slaughter. And numbers of horses exported for slaughter are also declining — including a 41.5% drop from 2019 to 2020.

Even one horse sent into this slaughter pipeline is too many. It is time to finally end this practice once and for all. The SAFE Act would ban the transport of at-risk horses across our borders and prevent the reemergence of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. Until these measures are taken, horses who deserve a chance to be rehomed could still end up suffering the inherent abuse of the slaughter industry.

You can help save America’s forgotten equines by contacting your legislators and urging them to cosponsor the SAFE Act.

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:

    Esto tiene que acabar no lo podemos permitir ya no más violencia ni masculino ni más abusos hacia los caballos ni a ningún animalito por favor basta ya

  2. D'jamin Bartlett says:

    Stop the horse slaughter. I’m sick that this is happening to these beautiful noble animals.

  3. Jeane Camargo da Silva says:

    Por favor, tenham o mínimo de compaixão pelos animais!

  4. Karen Drennen says:

    I read the article in the New York Times and actually made a comment on this blog a few days ago with the same sentiments that were just posted today. I can’t tell you how happy and grateful I am to see this message with the hope that the SAFE Act is now in the house to be voted on for passage. I appreciate HSUS, HSLF, Return to Freedom, and all the organizations that worked together, and for their support of our American horses. The travesty of exporting horses to slaughter and permanently stopping horse slaughter in the United States has been an effort that has taken over 20 years to pass. Please contact your legislators and ask them to pass the SAFE Act as the time is now. Thank You

  5. Friedrich Seifert says:

    Es ist ein Verbrechen und Diesen Schönen Tiere das sie Heimlich Still und Leise Abgeschlachtet werden, Meine Verachtung für Diese Menschen 🤬🤬🤬

  6. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Die Regierungen in der ganzen Welt sollen die Tötung der Tiere verbieten.!!!!!

  7. Tamara Donnelly Glass says:

    Thank you for your support of the SAFE Act. Please stop the cruel and senseless slaughter of horses.

  8. Denee Pimental says:

    I am glad the SAFE ACT is now to be voted on and it needs to be passed to save these animals lives. All these despicable people need to be punished with the severest punishment for what they’ve done to these poor animals these animals have feelings too and they feel pain just like people, they are to be treated with love, respect and the care tbey deserve. Pass the Safe Act.

  9. Barbara says:

    Why would anyone oppose this act??!

  10. Linda Nelson says:

    Horses should be running Free ! Not Slaughtered !! STOP the Killing Now !

  11. Fiona says:

    Although I am U.K. resident it is very good to hear of the outstanding & enduring efforts that have been made to close the loopholes and bring this cruel trade in the US to an end and very importantly it sends out the right messages to all other nations about the moral obligations we have towards our fellow creatures

  12. Valdoria says:

    Wow… what a corrupt and vile underground system of monsters. How is this even remotely legal? Why aren’t these people all locked up in prison? Why aren’t these horses free to roam back on THEIR lands. Yes, IT WAS THEIRS WAY BEFORE HUMANS ….

  13. Deb says:

    So, the bill apparently has passed to stop horses from being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. What happens to unwanted horses now ? Will taxpayers pay for herd upkeep ? (I’m ok with that). Will owners be fined for negligent breeding or starving or turning loose ? We have adopted three from kill pens, hay is expensive besides the farrier and vet services or we would care for more… Now what ? What are the answers for America’s overpopulation of horses, mules and donks ? Did Congress take these questions into account ? Will slaughter houses be opened here again ?

  14. Anita says:

    Please co-sponsor the safe act. These horses are beautiful 😍 animals so please co-sponsor the safe act

  15. Robyn Tatelman says:

    We must help our fellow earthlings. Animals are being destroyed so carelessly. We are animals too, we need to help in anyway we can the needless suffering of all animals.
    I can read a lot of articles and feel sorry about it but I’m not equipped to change anything by myself but I can give as much money as I can afford to take Humane Society and know that they will help the animals that I cannot. They don’t have a voice. We must be their voice. They are screaming for us to help them. I’ve seen things now I’ve been involved with animals I thought I wish I had not seen, it’s too late I’ve seen it already we need to help them. We need to help them more than we need new lawn furniture or new clothes or another toy. These are loving living beings,
    I would say just like us but I think they’re better than us we’re just in control.

  16. William Carlyle says:

    ALL cowardly, SUB-human animal abusers should be dragged into custody and then jailed for the remainder of their miserable lives. They have clearly relinquished their right to live among loving, caring, compassionate people.
    Remember, animal abusers are beyond redemption and if allowed to roam free will continue with their unspeakably cruel practices. And that makes us all indirectly complicit in and with their disgusting criminal behavior.

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