Horse Slaughter in the USA
January 26, 2007
Horse Slaughter in the USA
What comes to mind when the word horse is uttered in today’s world? Horses bring to mind a feeling of nostalgia, pictures of The Lone Ranger riding Trigger into the sunset, forever etched into the mind. Think about how the horse has helped America become what it is today. The image of horses being slaughtered probably does not come to mind. The fact that tens of thousands of horses in the United States of America are slaughtered every year is not a well known fact. Horse slaughter is a barbaric practice that benefits foreign interests and causes immeasurable pain and suffering to the horse, an American Icon.
As part of our national heritage, the horse should be a protected animal. Horses spend their entire lives working for humans, being companions to disabled children, used for sporting events and entertaining the public. How does the government of the greatest country in the world repay them? A government of a country that would not be what it is today, if not for the horse? The United States Government allows people to transport horses to the equine slaughter house, a trip no animal should ever have to make. The treatment of horses en-route to the slaughter house is barbaric.
The Pro Slaughter Lobby believes that horse slaughter is an acceptable
ending to a life that is innocent, kind and subservient to its master, the human.
The Pro Slaughter Lobby campaigns vigorously to allow for the continued slaughter of horses for benefit of foreign owned slaughter plants. They fight against every bill that comes before the House of Representatives and the Senate. They work tirelessly to try to convince the American public that horse slaughter is an acceptable way to get rid of an unwanted animal. They neglect to inform the public of the details of the slaughter process.
The Pro Slaughter Lobby uses words like render and process to describe the act of horse slaughter to “sanitize” the process in the public eye. In reality, it is a brutal and barbaric process. The pro slaughter lobby says that the slaughter of horses is a humane practice, that the equipment used for a cow with almost no neck, is suitable for a horse. The average Thoroughbred horses neck is at least two feet long and capable of swiveling around to their back, thus enabling it to dodge its killer. This makes it necessary to hit the horse several times in the head, an instrument designed to render a cow unconscious from a single blow is not sufficient to render a horse unconscious from a single blow. Rendering a horse unconscious takes numerous strikes to get the horse to its knees, let alone knock it out. According to the Pro Slaughter people this is considered to be humane treatment. The horses are skinned alive, many drowning in their own blood, and butchered. Their meat is exported out of the country to feed hungry diners in countries such as France, Belgium, Asia and many others.
Pro Slaughter advocates believe that our American Horses being served like hot dogs to foreign diners is a perfectly fine way to get rid of unwanted horses. If the shoe were on the other foot, they would have a drastically different opinion of horse slaughter.
In the eyes of the pro slaughter lobby, they are doing the average horse a favor by ending its no longer useful life and saving the horse owner money on it final expenses. Clearly, the only ones benefiting from this service are the killer buyers and the slaughter plants that sell the horse meat to foreign countries.
The trip to the slaughter house itself, is no picnic either. The United States Government has dropped the ball in its half hearted attempt at enforcing humane treatment of our animals. Horses bound for slaughter are prodded onto trucks by men using electric cattle prods. If they do not want to get on the trailer even while being prodded the haulers resort to beating the horses with whatever they can find, with no regard to injuries inflicted upon the horses. They are hauled continuously for up to 30 hours with no food, no water and no rest. The trucks the horses are crammed into are double-decker cattle trucks and they are hauled together like a can of sardines.
The horses can not even stand up straight due to the low ceilings intended to be high enough for cattle to stand comfortably in, they were never intended to haul horses that stand seven to eight feet high. Many horses are killed before they arrive at the slaughter plant, due to overcrowded conditions, many being kicked and trampled to death (Heller, 2005).
If a horse survives the horrific trip to the slaughter house it then endures a cruel and brutal march to death, up the ramp of doom. And thus, the slaughter begins.
A slaughter bound horse spends its last few moments alive in complete terror, betrayed by humans. Each horse is supposed to be rendered unconscious before it is hoisted by one leg into the air and its throat slit. Many, many times the horse is awake as it is being slaughtered. The horse is awake throughout its own slaughter. Testimony abounds from previous employees of the slaughter plants about the cruel and inhumane treatment of horses at the slaughter plants. (Habitat for Horses, 2006)
Americans do not eat horse meat. In numerous polls it is has been shown that the American public does not and would not eat horse meat, were it offered to them.
The horses are being slaughter for about $600USD each. (Meadows et al. 2006) The pain
and suffering that these animals go through to put money in the pockets of greedy butchers must be stopped. The slaughter plants are owned by foreign owners and pay no taxes to The United States. (The Killing Floor, 2006)
Horse meat is served in restaurants and markets in other countries, much the same way we sell and buy beef in the United States. The horses are being culled from farms, our racetracks, our own backyards. If the American public were to be made aware of the current situation, horses being slaughtered for the benefit of foreign owned companies, they would step up to the plate and help end the slaughter.
There have been numerous House Bills and Resolutions trying to end the slaughter. The most recently introduced bill outlaws US Tax Payer dollars for use as payment for USDA inspectors at the plants. Due to a legal loop hole, the slaughter house owners were allowed to hire their own food inspectors allowing the slaughter to continue. They are allowed to classify the horse as an exotic animal, in order to continue to murder them. (Meadows et al).
The pro slaughter lobby believes that the cost for ending legalized horse slaughter in the USA would damage the US economy. Are the majority of the citizens of United States of America even aware of the slaughter of healthy, young, sound horses? (Animal Welfare Council 2006) Euthanasia, the humane ending of a life to end suffering, for a sick horse is approximately $150, and cremation or burial costs are not significantly more, roughly $200 for pick up and disposal. These costs should be anticipated well before the purchase or breeding of any horse. There should be a mechanism in place to allow for these costs and not simply throw away the horse when it has outlived it usefulness to its owner.
The American Veterinary Medical Association, an organization founded solely for the well-being of animals, believes the anti slaughter bill should be defeated. One anonymous member of the AVMA states that, “as an opponent to the bill, AVMA contends that a slaughter ban on horses would lead to a crisis since 65,000-100,000 equines would need alternative methods of care or disposal if euthanized.”(American Veterinary Medical Association, 2006)
This could not be further from the truth; this law would hold breeders and owners accountable for their actions, something that does not happen now. If the anti slaughter bill were to be implemented and administered correctly, it would force breeders and owners to take responsibility for their horses “from cradle to grave”.
The chart below demonstrates how the number of horses that are slaughtered every year in the U.S. has dropped every year since 1989. The number is currently on the rise due to the reopening of the Illinois slaughter house that had been burned to the ground.
HORSE SLAUGHTER IN THE UNITED STATES 1989 – 2004
Figure 1: Number of Horses Slaughtered in U.S.A by Year
Note: Retrieved from Indiana Horse Rescue Website
Staff (2005, January 5). Slaughter Statistics. Retrieved January 9, 2007, from http://www.indianahorserescue.com/SlaughterInfo/slaughterstatistic.htm
Any animal, which has spent its entire life working for humans, deserves a dignified ending. Yet, the pro slaughter people want to eek out the last couple of dollars in blood money for a horse owner’s faithful companion. Showing false concern, the slaughter people
continue to spew their rhetoric.
The pro slaughter lobby likes to say that all animals in this country are treated humanely before they are slaughtered. Well, that just is not the case and the horse receives the most brutal of endings. A chicken is not herded with other chickens on crowded trucks and beat about the head. A cow is rendered completely unconscious with one blow.
Every horse deserves a humane ending. The horse is the backbone of this country. We rode horses to establish this country. We have fought for and won our independence on the backs of horses. Paul Revere rode through town to tell us the British were coming on a horse.
A horse will work its entire life for its owner and is faithful to the end, how
can the slaughter of this animal be anything other than barbaric and inhumane? From entertainment to companionship for a handicapped child, horses are big part of our lives and deserve to be treated with a kind hand.
The pro slaughter people will argue that racehorses, in particular, are useless once their careers are over. Horses have been pulled out of the killer pens that are now in Olympic Training. The Silver Medal at the 1996 Olympics for Equitation was won on a $600 slaughter horse. (E Magazine: The Environment Magazine, 2006).
A horse can impact a human life in numerous, positive ways! There are many once slaughter bound horses that are now polo ponies, riding horses, show jumpers and trail horses, once thought worthless by their trainers and owners. Racehorses help prison inmates to learn responsibility and self respect by providing daily care for the horses.
The public needs to be made aware of how our American horses are being treated when their first career is over, or they are deemed no longer useful in the eyes of its owner. The public needs to help support House Bill 503 and Senate Bill 1915. These bills are both referred to as the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and are currently awaiting release from Committee in the Senate. These bills are very similar to each other and would make the shipment and slaughter of horses for human consumption illegal in the United States. The House Bill has already been passed (Meadows et al. 2006). We need the public to step up to the plate and call their representatives and ask them to vote to pass the bill to end horse slaughter in this country forever!
If the public were made aware of the cruel and inhumane treatment these magnificent animals are being subjected to for the sake of the almighty dollar, the horse slaughter business would come to a crashing end. Unless the slaughter of horses in the USA is stopped, it will continue to be a brutal ending for these magnificent animals until the American public stands up and takes notice to the plight the horses are suffering. References
American Veterinary Medical Association (2006). The AVMA eyes key legislative initiatives for 2006 DVM The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine, 37(3), 30-30. Retrieved November 29, 2006 from Academic Search Premier (0012-7337). Retrieved November 29, 2006, from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=9&hid=105&sid=f8eddf12-380e-43e5-ab48-061701d2913e%40sessionmgr104
Habitat For Horses (2006, September 1). Join Campaigns. In Pro and Con Argument: Horse Slaughter (sec. Slaughter). Retrieved December 11, 2006, from http://www.habitatforhorses.org/joincampaigns/proandcon.html
Harkinson, J. (2006, June). The Killing Floor E Magazine: The Environmental Magazine, 17, 32-39. Retrieved November 27, 2006, from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=12&hid=5&sid=f8eddf12-380e-43e5-ab48-061701d2913e%40sessionmgr104
Heller, B. (2005). After The Finish Line: A Race to End Horse Slaughter in America. Baltimore: Bowtie Pr.
Meadows, B., Lang, A., & Zawel, M. (2006, September 26). Whoa People, 66, 229-230. Retrieved November 19, 2006, from http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail?vid=13&hid=5&sid=f8eddf12-380e-43e5-ab48-061701d2913e%40sessionmgr104
Staff (2006, June 1). Animal Welfare Council. Retrieved December 12, 2006, from http://www.rockymountainhorseexpo.com/news/IAFH071206.php