It’s Time to Retire Horse Slaughter for Good

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 12:30pm
Tan horse standing in tall grass

By ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker

Some foreign companies look at beloved American horses—wild mustangs on the range, show horses, race horses, even work horses— and see only two things: profit and food. They want to turn these majestic animals into frozen meat products for Europe and Asia, with no concerns about the unconscionable cost on life, health, the environment, or the integrity of our culture.

Fortunately, this industry was blocked from slaughtering horses in the U.S. when the president and Congress, echoing the voices of a clear majority of Americans, passed legislation late last week to prohibit the use of tax dollars to inspect U.S. horse slaughter facilities. This protection, included in a major bipartisan budget package, effectively reinstates a ban on domestic horse slaughter for the 2014 fiscal year.

Two aspects of that last line are worth calling out: “domestic” and “2014.” These are significant because the regulation does not prohibit the transport of U.S. horses for slaughter to other countries, and because it must be reapproved every year.  

Congress failed to include the language in the 2012 budget, opening the door for a return of horse slaughter in the U.S. Applications to open horse slaughter facilities were filed with the USDA in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa and these plants came perilously close to opening.

The international transport loophole is equally disturbing. In 2006, two foreign-owned facilities in Texas and one in Illinois killed more than 90,000 horses for human consumption in countries like France, Belgium and Japan. In 2007, all three slaughterhouses for horses in the U.S. were closed, and several states have implemented laws banning the selling, giving and possessing of horse meat intended for human consumption.

But protecting our horses coast to coast in a lasting way requires passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094), bipartisan legislation that would end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad, once and for all.

Americans are overwhelmingly on the side of the horses. In a national poll commissioned by the ASPCA, 80 percent of American voters expressed opposition to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption.

Opposing horse slaughter on humanitarian grounds alone is a no-brainer. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse. They’re often transported for more than 24 hours at a time, without food, water or rest, in dangerously overcrowded trailers. Horses slip and fall and are often seriously injured or killed in transit.

Some erroneously liken horse slaughter to euthanasia, but make no mistake: Methods used to slaughter horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths. Horses are difficult to stun and may often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment.

Others argue that slaughtering horses in America is an acceptable alternative to shipping horses overseas for slaughter. They may be surprised to learn that even when there were active horse slaughter facilities in the U.S., tens of thousands of American horses were still exported to other countries for slaughter.

Consuming horse meat is actually very dangerous. Unlike pigs or chickens, horses are not raised for food in this country. Over their lifetimes, they’re routinely given drugs and other substances—both legal and illegal—that can be toxic to humans if ingested.  And few of these substances have been approved by the FDA for use in animals intended for human consumption.

A New York Times article revealed the hodgepodge of drugs regularly administered to American race horses, and resulting food safety threats. And the shocking discovery of horse meat in beef products in the U.K. and other European countries certainly underscores the potential threat to American health if this grisly practice returns to the U.S.

Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to cruel deaths by foreign industries that produce unsafe food for consumers. We should no longer be party to such cruelty. Horse slaughter is simply inhumane, whether here or abroad, and a lasting end to this vile practice is the only just solution.

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Rebecca R. Schedler

Yes, if you are horrified by horse slaughter, you should be as horrified as I am to the slaughter of ANY animal for food. It's nauseating.

Sara Bartlett

This is good, but how do we stop the transport of horses to Mexico and Canada. The torture those transported horses go through is far worse than going to a US slaughter house regulated for humane process.

Darlin McDaniel

I agree. Better to have old, unwanted horses sent to our slaughterhouses with inspections for humane treatment, than to pack them into trailers with no food or water for hours or days to get to Mexico or Canada.

Micheal Moffat

as long as any being lives in fear,hate,exploitation, death at the hands of man so shall all men live under this same threat. no one is free as long as others are oppressed. life has value beyond measure. up hold life prosecute those that seek to destroy it. under the truth of evolution we are all family. the fate of one is reflected in the fates of all.
Peace and Love


There is this saying ... treat others as you would like to be treated. We humans were not born into this world to be evil (or nice), it is a CHOICE, a CONSCIOUS CHOICE! All humans have a choice to help or to hurt. HUMANS ARE DEFINITELY NOT SUPERIOR OR BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE ON THIS PLANET, it's so blatantly obvious that we're not because of our actions towards other living sentient beings and how we treat them EVEN other humans. We were NOT put here to abuse ANYTHING & animals were NOT put here for us humans to mistreat! What have they ever done to us humans to deserve this horrible treatment? The pain & suffering we humans put animals through is disgraceful, appalling, & barbaric … it’s totally unnecessary and the ill treatment and abuse of animals is deplorable. No animal should endure torture, starvation, abuse, or mistreatment of any kind that inflicts unwarranted pain or suffering. It's absolutely ignorant to abuse and kill another living, breathing sentient being. As Mark Twain put it … "The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot." Every animal deserves to live free and have the freedom to be themselves—to swim, fly, and run if they please. How we treat animals shows how we treat others, it shows the type of person we are ... are we cruel and evil or kind to others?? What type of person would you like to be known as? Have a heart, please be kind and do what is right.

Gods word

Clean and Unclean Animals
…6"Any animal that divides the hoof and has the hoof split in two and chews the cud, among the animals, that you may eat. 7"Nevertheless, you are not to eat of these among those which chew the cud, or among those that divide the hoof in two: the camel and the rabbit and the shaphan, for though they chew the cud, they do not divide the hoof; they are unclean for you. 8"The pig, because it divides the hoof but does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat any of their flesh nor touch their carcasses.…

Cross References

Leviticus 11:3
You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.

Leviticus 11:5
The hyrax, though it chews the cud, does not have a divided hoof; it is unclean for you.

Deuteronomy 14:6
You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud.

Deuteronomy 14:8
The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses.

Deuteronomy 1:1
These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan--that is, in the Arabah--opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab.

Deuteronomy 14:5
the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep.

Deuteronomy 14:4
These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat,

John Burridge, ...

This thread is about the slaughter of horses and "god's" other creature, not about ancient desert superstitions.

Leviticus 20:13
If a man lies with a male, both of them have committed an abomination. They surely shall be put to death.

Deuteronomy 13:6-10
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the peoples who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him. But you shall kill him. Your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery nauseam.

Let's stick to saving horses and other non-human animals.


OF COURSE there should be no horse slaughter in the U.S. or ANY COUNTRY in the world! This is a no-brainer. And the fact that horses are still alive in the U.S. when they are butchered in SO DEMONIC and HORRIFIC that words cannot express it. Just imagine if that were done to YOU or YOUR LOVED ONES! BUT IN OTHER COUNTRIES, THEY DO NOT CARE, AND LIVE SLAUGHTER IS COMMON! So we should also implement laws BANNING EXPORTING HORSES TO OTHER COUNTRIES! Other countries do things to animals as a common practice that are SO INCREDIBLY CRUEL AND PAINFUL to them (unnecessarily) THAT WE SHOULD PASS LAWS PROHIBITING ANY OF OUR ANIMALS (ESPECIALLY HORSES) TO OTHER COUNTRIES!!!! Please my friends, contact your legislators and your senators in your voting districts and tell them this! Or do whatever you can to stop this on ALL levels! These loving, intelligent, feeling beings cannot talk, and depend on us to not torture them!


You are all such wonderful people with nice comments. I love animals and the people that love them.


I just tried to tell you all an inconvient truth! I guess that's not acceptable here!