We have been inundated in the past few weeks with op-ed pieces on horse slaughter. You will continue to see more and more of these pieces as the pro-slaughter groups are trying to push for the reopening of slaughter plants in the U.S., and it is important that you know the facts about the situation. Unfortunately, Zinke is pro-slaughter, which is why these groups believe that they can bring slaughter back to the U.S.
Some of these are written by people who have ties to The Heritage Foundation or Protect the Harvest, which is pro-slaughter. Some of these are written by individuals who have ulterior motives, and some are on ultra-conservative sites. Unfortunately, no matter what your politics, it is imperative that people do not get caught up in the narrative that these pro-slaughter pieces are trying to state as truth.
After the latest “news” article was sent to me, I thought I would go ahead and refute the points professed. Everything the author said was blatantly untrue, as is noted below, but they are common narratives of the pro-slaughter crowd. I have refuted each one below, and more information about slaughter is on our website. The goal is to ensure that we do not allow these people to try to convince others that their lies are the truth.
Let’s be very clear here: the only people who are pro-slaughter are people who do not care about horses. Horse slaughter is brutal and inhumane. People who are pro-slaughter are in the business for the money, not because they truly care about the animals or the people involved.
This article was found on what is a very questionable news site , as noted from its complete lack of research.
Lie #1. No one would be forced to send horses to slaughter. It would be a decision based on personal factors. In most circumstances, these would be similar to those leading to the euthanization of a dog or a cat, always a difficult decision.
This is wildly untrue. Most horses who are sent to slaughter are not old, but are under eight, and are the product of overbreeding. Many horses who are sent to slaughter are picked up at auctions, and some kill buyers will lie to people who are advertising their free horses, saying that they will give them a good home. I have run a horse rescue for 13 years and I will tell you that the only time people tell me that they are going to send their horse to slaughter is if they don’t care about their horse. People who do care about their horses will humanely euthanize them.
Lie #2. When horses become aged or infirm, the cost of caring for them is often prohibitive, especially providing veterinary care, so the animals are neglected or left to die. This may be for extended periods of time.
Again, false. First of all, as previously noted, most horses who are sent to slaughter are not old or sick. They are often young Quarter horses who are the products of overbreeding or Thoroughbreds who have been dumped from the track instead of being retrained. Some horses are stolen from private ranches and sold to slaughter.
That being said, it is not cost-prohibitive to euthanize, and, additionally, there are a number of grants available to help people who need to euthanize their horse. Rescues are also available in every state to help people who need to humanely euthanize their horse.
Lie #3. Sometimes these animals are killed by relatively crude means and the carcasses buried in a field, left to rot, or sent to rendering plants. This is a waste of valuable protein, and in the former cases, bad for the environment.
I don’t even know how to respond to this. Most of this is just blatantly untrue. While there have been some cases of abuse where a horse has died on a person’s property, what happens is that animal control will come in and dispose of the animal. It is against the law in many states to bury horses. As far as rendering plants, the bodies are sent there, where they are used for veterinary/farrier science and the skin and hair is used for other uses. As far as valuable protein, since horsemeat is toxic, is is not a waste, since it is not consumable. It is just as absurd to say that a person should eat their horse because it would otherwise be a waste of protein as it is to say a person should eat their dog or cat for the same reason. What is true, however, is that horse slaughter plants that used to operate in the United States were routinely fined for violating environmental laws, and were noted for dumping blood and tissue into river systems.
Lie #4. USDA regulates commercial animal transportation and slaughter. They must be transported humanely, with mandatory food, water, and periodic exercise requirements.
Again, this is false. How would the USDA even logistically do this? The horse is purchased at an auction or brought to the slaughterhouse. How would the USDA inspector be able to tell the horse had been transported according to state law? In fact, horses are often shipped to slaughter for days without food or water. This happened when slaughter plants were open in the U.S. and continues to happen with horses who are shipped now to Mexico and Canada. The only way to prevent this is to pass a federal law to prevent the sale or transport of horses to slaughter.
Lie #5. While there may be some distress by the process of being trucked and led into slaughter facility, the process is tightly regulated and the animals are rendered senseless before being killed. USDA has veterinary medical specialists who oversee this process.
Again, quite untrue. The captive bolt that is used to kill horses is desiged for a cow, which has almost no neck. Horses are intelligent animals who fight and kick in order to prevent from being killed. They thrash around, and there are many documented accounts wherein the horses are hit numerous times with the captive bolts- in the jaw, in the eyes, in the mouth, before being rendered unconscious- but not dead. It is also noted that the horses are OFTEN ALIVE while being vivisected. Mares with foals are sometimes brought into the slaughterhouse, so sometimes viable foals are cut out of their mothers. Their first and last look of life is their mother sliced open on the slaughterhouse floor.
Lie #6. Many individuals and cultures, particularly in Europe, utilize meat from horses as a tasty and nutritious source of protein, too valuable to be wasted.
Nope. This is false as well. First of all, the European Union passed a law in 2015 banning horsemeat from Mexico because of the high level of toxins in horse meat. Because horses are not breed or raised for human consumption, we give them medications that are carcinogenic or toxic for human consumption. Horsemeat is considered a delicacy for some people and horsemeat is very expensive. That does not, however, make it safe or humane.
For more info, please visit the ASPCA page on horse meat toxins:
Lie #7. There is some financial compensation for horse owners who can no longer care for their animals, and want to end their suffering humanely.
Again, I’ve been in rescue for a long time. The people who care about their animals do want to help their horse end their suffering humanely. Those people do not send their horses to slaughter, because they know that if they send their horse to an auction or directly to a kill buyer, their horse will endure several frightened hours in a trailer without food or water, then be sent to a pen with other horses who are screaming and afraid. They will then be corralled and pushed into a chute, where they can smell the blood and hear the screams of the horses ahead of them. The horses will rear and kick and bite and try to jump out of the chute- anything they can to get free. When their turn comes, they will be hit, sometimes multiple times, with a captive bolt, which may kill them or may stun them. Their body will then be lifted up and sent over to another room where they may be skinned while still conscious.
This is not humane. There is nothing about horse slaughter that is humane. People who say propaganda like this are from the slaughter industry and have nothing to do with reality whatsoever.
Again for more information, I encourage everyone to look at the information on our website or just look up horse slaughter realities on the internet. It’s very graphic and very gruesome, but that is the reality- not the pro-slaughter tripe that is intended to sway people who have no real understanding of the situation.