Horse Slaughter: The Truth
horse slaughter facts - horse rescue
As a lifelong horse lover, I’m sickened and disgusted by horse slaughter. American horses are not raised as meat animals. They’re companion animals and serve humans in a variety of ways. Just think about how man’s association with the horse has benefitted humans. They’ve plowed our fields, carried us on long journeys, transported our goods, and provided recreation. To me, killing an equine for horse meat is the same as killing a canine for dog meat. I’m not alone here. Four out of five Americans oppose horse slaughter, yet it continues in North America. More than 100,000 American horses are slaughtered every year for horse meat. If you’re pro horse slaughter, don’t bother reading the rest of this article. If you’re undecided, the following horse slaughter facts might help you make an educated decision. If you oppose horse slaughter, this article will provide you with ways to help end horse slaughter of American equines.
Horse slaughter in the U.S.
Up until 2007, horse slaughter in the United States was legal, and there were three horse slaughter houses. Two were in Texas, and one was in Illinois. All three kill plants were owned by citizens of Belgium, and almost all the meat went to Belgium, France, and Japan. Horse meat in these countries is considered a delicacy, and it’s as expensive as veal.
Pressure and outrage from U.S. citizens forced American horse slaughterhouses to close. Residents living near the kill houses were especially vocal. They would often find mutilated foals in ditches, and the smell coming from the plants was terrible.
Why horse slaughter is cruel
I’m a meat eater. I enjoy beef, chicken, pork, and fish. I don’t eat veal because of the way veal animals are treated. I have three major problems with killing horses for horse meat. One is the way in which they’re killed. Some kill plants use a captive bolt gun, which is the same way most cows and pigs are killed in slaughterhouses. The blow is supposed to render the animal completely unconscious. The problem here is that a horse’s brain isn’t positioned the way a cow’s or pig’s brain is, so it’s difficult to render a horse unconscious. Many horses have to endure being hoisted up by a chain attached to a hind leg and having their throats cut, while being completely aware of what’s happening.
In many horse slaughterhouses in Mexico, the horses are hacked into with a knife first. The idea is to saw through the spinal cord in order to make the animals immobile. In some Canadian slaughterhouses, the horses intended for slaughter are shot with a rifle, which in my opinion, is much more humane than the other methods mentioned. In most kill houses, foals under the age of six months and still nursing are left to starve to death once its dam has been killed.
The second problem I have with horse slaughter is the suffering the animals have to endure just to get to the slaughterhouse. They’re usually crammed onto big trailers, and they might have to go days without any food or any water. Mares have been known to give birth on these crowded trailers. Can you imagine the horror of that? Because there are no kill plants in the U.S., horses meant for slaughter might have to travel hundreds of miles – maybe more – in these horrendous conditions.
Thirdly, I oppose horse slaughter because horses are companion animals – not meat animals. I feel the same way about killing a horse for horse meat as I’d feel about killing a dog or cat for meat. I’ve owned many horses, and I can tell you that they form close bonds with their owners. A well trained and properly handled horse or pony is gentle, affectionate, loyal, and trustworthy. I’ve had numerous horses that would follow me around like a dog would.
How American horses end up as horse meat
Buyers for the horse meat industry travel across the United States purchasing horses for slaughter. Most kill buyers concentrate on horse auctions that are located near the borders of Canada and Mexico. A horse owner can unknowingly sell his horse to a kill buyer. He might think his beloved horse is going to a good home, when in fact, he’s turned it over to be tortured and killed.
Unwanted horses are a huge problem now. With the depressed economy and rising grain prices, some owners simply can’t afford to keep their horses. Horse rescues are at capacity all across the U.S., so many owners don’t have the option of turning their equines over to a rescue. These days, it’s difficult to give away a horse, too. Many desperate owners are turning to euthanasia, which is a much more humane option than selling a horse to a kill buyer or allowing the horse to starve to death. Unfortunately, euthanasia and disposing of the carcass isn’t usually cheap, so some horse owners can’t afford it. About the only option left is to kill the horse yourself, with a high-powered rifle. The target should be in the forehead, at the exact center of the square formed between the ears and eyes. If you think this sounds cruel, watch videos of horses being slaughtered in kill plants. You’ll see that a quick shot to the brain is a much more humane way to die, and the animals don’t have to endure shipping atrocities, rough handling, and going without food or water for extended periods of time.
Pro horse slaughter groups
I’m amazed and appalled at the groups that are pro horse slaughter. They include the American Quarter Horse Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and numerous agricultural associations and organizations.
I sort of understand the Cattlemen’s Association’s stand, but I don’t understand how the AQHA and veterinarian groups could be pro horse slaughter. On second thought, I do understand the thinking behind their position. It’s all about money. They’re far more concerned with the horse industry as a whole than they are with the welfare of the individual animals.
Help end the slaughter of American horses!
There are several things you can do to help stop our horses from turning into horse meat. If you’ve been thinking about getting a horse, consider horse adoption. You can find all types of rescue horses for adoption, including many different horse breeds. Many of the horses for adoption are gentle and well trained. Some are older animals that might be perfect for a child or novice. Use the internet to find a horse rescue near you.
If you can’t adopt a horse, you can sponsor one, no matter where you live. Look online for a horse rescue that’s in need of funds (which covers every horse rescue), and agree to send a monthly donation that will help cover grain, hay, and medical expenses. If you don’t want to commit to monthly donations, you can always make a one-time contribution to a horse rescue.
An easy way to help is to contact your senators and your representative and let them know how you feel about American horses being transported for horse slaughter. Ask your politicians to support H.R.2966 and S.1176, both of which have bi-partisan support. I did this in 2010, before the mid-term elections. My representative was a Democrat that I had voted for previously. He basically told me that horses were just animals, and people had the right to do what they wanted to with their own animals. I didn’t vote for him in 2010, and I encouraged others not to vote for him. Thankfully, he lost his bid for re-election. If you’ll go to the Humane Society of the United States, contacting your senators and representative is super easy! The site can also help those outside the U.S. give their opinion, via a link.
Horse slaughter video:
Read more about horses and horse breeds:
- Best Horse Breeds for Kids
Helpful tips for choosing a horse or pony for a child. Several horse breeds are discussed. Videos included!
- Horse Stalls: Building Tips
Information about building horse stalls, with size requirements for different horse breeds.
- Great Toys for Horses and Ponies - Watch the Video!!
Great ideas for horse toys, along with why horse toys are important. Watch the video of a horse playing with a horse toy!
- Horse Supplies: Make Your Own First-Aid Kit for Horses
How to make your own first-aid kit for horses - what horse supplies to include and why you need them.
- The Ugly Truth About Unwanted Horses
This article discusses the problem of unwanted horses, along with possible options.
More by this Author
- EDITOR'S CHOICE6
Horse training tips for calming a nervous horse, along with tips for preventing a hot horse. Discount calming supplements for sale, too. Videos included.
This article explains the differences between ponies and miniature horses. Photos included.
Tips for getting your disability claim approved quickly—from someone who's done it. Lots of good feedback and advice from readers, too!