Breaking: Congress Moves to Ban Horse Slaughter in the U.S.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 - 1:30pm
Red horse looking straight ahead

Join us in supporting The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, introduced in Congress yesterday by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). This vital legislation will stop the transport of American horses to slaughter in Mexico and Canada, as well as permanently prevent it from occurring here in the United States. Please ask your Members of Congress to cosponsor the bill and help usher it to passage!

We’ve known for years that horse slaughter is an exceptionally cruel practice—whether it happens in the U.S. or elsewhere. Due to their biology and their psychology, horses cannot be slaughtered in a commercial setting without tremendous suffering and fear. 

We also know that horse meat is not even safe to eat! Horses are fed de-wormers and other toxic drugs that can cause terrible reactions—including death—in people who eat their tainted meat. Consumers in the E.U. are just discovering the dangers they have unwittingly been exposed to, and the scandal grows daily.

In spite of this mountain of damning evidence, the USDA is currently processing an application for a horse slaughter operation here in the United States. Roswell, New Mexico, may soon become ground zero for horse suffering.

The ASPCA has worked closely with federal legislators and other advocacy groups to develop the SAFE Act. This bill will stop the pain and the suffering of equines caught up in this grisly business. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to take action now to urge your U.S. senators and representative to cosponsor the SAFE Act.



Monika Courtney

Please see below, re: the devastating consequences of horse slaughter on one community. The following is a letter from Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas where Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse operated until the residents of Kaufman managed to shut it down—after a 25-year legal battle. Bottom line—do you want this predatory “industry” in your community or in any other American community?

“To the Editor
The Wall Street Journal

RE: article "Why Belgians Shoot Horses in Texas...."
I read with great interest your recent article on horse slaughter.
I am mayor of Kaufman, I have learned a great deal about horse slaughter, and I can say without reservation that the horse slaughter industry causes significant hardship to my community.
You state that "So far, economic arguments have prevailed over the emotional appeals of the anti-slaughter forces."
If economic arguments had in fact prevailed, then the screen door ought to have banged the backside of Dallas Crown 25 years ago as they departed Kaufman. Instead they have used my city like a door mat.
In January 1986, then Mayor Harry Holcomb said, "Quite frankly, we don't want you here!" when Dallas Crown came to the City Council with a plan to re-open. With zoning and vested rights they did re-open, but the city manager assured, "if they violate ordinances, we can close them down" [Kaufman Herald, 1/23/86].
Not so, as it turns out. Dallas Crown has a long history of violating ordinances, as do the other two horse slaughter plants in Fort Worth and DeKalb. "Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them," a recent city staff memo advises, one of dozens of such memos.
But the city doesn't have the resources to outspend Dallas Crown in legal wrangling. Recently, after receiving 29 citations for failing waste-water tests 60% of the time, Dallas Crown demanded 29 separate jury trials.
Then Dallas Crown banned the city from testing for 9 months-though it is required by law, signed agreement and court order. Upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which said testing is designed to protect, will cost 2,100 sewer customers $6 million.
A repellent history of violations that includes blood spills, putrid odors, and horse remains in nearby yards continues to this day.
As unwilling host to a horse slaughter plant, I believe my city should have a voice in the economic argument. In Kaufman, horse slaughter is the reverse of economic development. Dallas Crown drains our resources, thwarts economic development and stigmatizes our community.
All 3 of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S. employ a total of fewer than 200 people. They cost American taxpayers $5 million annually in federal funding for oversight, USDA inspections, transport inspections, etc., according to federal officials. There is no economic justification for horse slaughter.
In your article Monsieur Kemseke, one of a long line of managers who "neglected to perform within the standards required of them" and an owner of Dallas Crown, notes that he paid for the over-sized flag that greets drivers coming into town, and wonders who will buy the next one if Dallas Crown closes.
Kemseke's cavalier and insincere concern over our financial ability to purchase an American flag perfectly illustrates the horse slaughter "industry" in the U.S.: Horse slaughter ridicules American values while gouging our resources.
The flag does not make up for the economic and stigmatizing drain that Dallas Crown has brought our community. A $100 flag in the face of the $6 million cost to taxpayers? Perfect. This is the brand of corporate citizen Dallas Crown is to Kaufman, and the kind of industry horse slaughter is to the U.S.
Please. Spare us from any more of this supposed charity.
Paula Bacon
Mayor, City of Kaufman”

Monika Courtney

In addition, the meat of American horses is adulterated by such substances as phenylbutazone (bute) prohibited by FDA in animals intended for human consumption and which, if present in even minute amounts in meat consumed, can cause aplastic anemia in children. Bute is only one of hundreds of toxic substances routinely administered to American horses.

“Phenylbutazone (bute) is arguably the most potent and
effective pain relieving agent available in equine medicine in
this country. The difficulty with phenylbutazone is that it, or
its metabolite, can cause aplastic anaemia in children.
If a child were to consume an animal-based product
containing even the minutest amount of bute or its
metabolite then the child may develop aplastic anaemia.” (from the first paragraph in the peer-reviewed journal article above)

In addition, please see below for further information, re: the toxicity of American horse meat:

Monika Courtney

Also, the argument for horse slaughter contending that it is a "necessary evil," given the large number of abandoned horses is specious. The fact is that most of those "abandoned" horses were abandoned by the "kill buyers" themselves. Documentation exists to prove that over 5,000 horses (from approximately 60,000) were rejected by Mexican plants. Those horses were "dumped" in the Southwest by the kill buyers; therefore, slaughter itself is the cause of most "horse abandonment."

In addition, come July 31, 2013, there will likely be no market for American horse meat. Currently, 80% of American horse meat is exported to the European Union. As per that date, the EU will implement strict new measures, demanding a "passport" which would document the medical history of the animal through its entire life. It goes without saying that implementation of such a "passport" system in this country would be a virtually impossible task, to say nothing of its being prohibitively expensive.

Monika Courtney

Further, given that 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter (as per a January 2012 poll conducted by Lake Research Partners), Oklahoma, New Mexico and any other state would most likely experience significant boycotts if a horse slaughter plant were opened. Witness the fact that, given the recent scandal, re: the presence of horse meat in UK burgers, many have demonstrated there, demanding that the horse slaughter plant is closed. (Horse slaughter is often the "dirty little secret" of which most people are not aware. Given the recent scandal, the people in the UK are now aware--and are protesting). Also, please do understand that the consumption of beef in the UK is down 40% given the scandal. Obviously, not good for the American beef industry.

And, please understand that if horse slaughterhouses are opened in this country, the American meat supply would be jeopardized. Americans do not consume horse meat. When plants were operating here, the meat was shipped to Europe--and Americans paid millions of dollars annually for USDA inspections of meat consumed by foreigners. (BTW, the Belgian-owned Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouse which operated in Kaufman, Texas until the residents of Kaufman managed to close it down--after a 25-year battle--paid $5.00 in federal taxes on several millions of dollars in sales). If horse slaughter plants are opened in the US, the American taxpayer would foot the bill--again--to attempt to ensure the safety of meat consumed by foreigners. As you know, given the "fiscal cliff," plants processing meat consumed by Americans (beef, pork, etc.) might be forced to temporarily close in March or April. Given this fact, why on earth would our country allocate funds to inspect meat consumed by foreigners while jeopardizing our meat supply?


Please stop this!


I'm glad that it is being banned but I hope there is something saying that horses can't be bought here and sent out of the US to be slaughtered. Cause otherwise they will move it to a country that will and we need to be a little bit more specific when it comes to American horses not allowed to be slaughtered whatsoever.

Paula Hill

Please ban hoses from being slaughtered in the US.... this is just crazy.

Josemaria Marquez

Why should we eat horses ? Our culture don't eat horses ! Who ever is involved in this kind of business wont be able to make it here in the US . Let's save their life enjoy and ride them .


This cruelty needs to end. This is no way for a supposedly advanced, civilized nation to act toward innocent beings.
If this is allowed to continue, I must conclude that here is nothing humane about our society and that the US has
devolved into nothing more than any other third world country, where life is NOT the standard. Our country used to
lead and set standards - we need to reaffirm our position in the world by taking responsibility and upholding life,
not diminishing it.


I recently spoke with a horse activist that told me that since the works were in motion to end horse slaughter there is a new form of abuse. Horses tied to a tree and left to die because their is no human service to end the horses life and for that horse to give of his being to feed others. What is being done to help all those owners that have lovingly cared for their horses and because of the economy can't pay the large amounts to humanly assist this horse with the end of it's life?