Last week, the Internet exploded over a widely shared video of a New Mexico man, Tim Sappington, shooting a seemingly healthy, young horse between the eyes while cursing out “animal activists.” The video is horrifying, and Sappington is under investigation by the New Mexico Livestock Board for animal cruelty.
Sappington worked for the Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico—the same slaughterhouse that has an application pending with the USDA for permission to slaughter horses for human consumption.
While we mourn Sappington’s victim, this callous fan of horse meat may have actually helped our mission more than he harmed it by exposing horse slaughter for what it is: cold and cruel. The video generated a firestorm of public and media criticism about the ongoing efforts to reopen horse slaughter plants in the U.S., as well as interest in the related legislative efforts to prevent it.
It’s about time. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced its intention to ban the slaughter of veal calves who are too sick, injured or weak to stand.
Many experts believe “downer” adult cattle are at higher risk of having Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. For that reason, the USDA has already banned the slaughter of adult downer cattle, requiring that they be promptly and humanely euthanized. However, downercalves may be kept alive indefinitely in slaughter facility pens, leaving them vulnerable to cruel mistreatment.
“This decision should close a loophole that has allowed sick calves to be roughly handled, neglected and left to suffer,” says Suzanne McMillan, ASPCA Director of Farm Animal Welfare.“We hope the agency will enact these changes quickly to protect calves and consumers.”
Nearly 700,000 veal calves are slaughtered annually in the U.S.—many are under three weeks of age.
While the USDA has committed to changing its policy on downer calf slaughter, the agency still needs to issue a new rule to formalize the change and put it into effect.
Take Action! Please tell the USDA to prioritize protecting calves from cruelty. Email U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) Administrator Almanza today and urge them to change regulations on downer calves immediately.
We already knew that Greyhounds at racetracks suffer immensely. But today, Greyhound advocate group GREY2K USA released a report that shows just how bad things are for dogs forced to race in Texas.
The report, produced with funding from the ASPCA, showed that at Texas racetracks:
• Greyhounds are forced to live in confined, stacked cages, with large Greyhounds being unable to stand fully erect in their cages. • In 2012, six Greyhounds died at Gulf Greyhound Park from a form of canine influenza, often a recurring epidemic in cramped living situations. • In 2011, a Texas Greyhound trainer failed to obtain veterinary care for an injured Greyhound until two days after the injury occurred. • Greyhounds are fed 4-D meat from diseased animals to reduce costs.
The report also showed that1,507 greyhound injuries were reported at Texas racetracks from January 2008 through December 2011. Fifty-six of these injuries were fatal or required euthanasia, with the most commonly reported injury being broken legs. Other serious injuries reported included torn muscles, puncture wounds, a fractured skull and paralysis.
Frankly, we don’t see why the Texas dog racing industry doesn’t just throw in the towel—Lone Star State residents are way over dog racing. The report shows that gambling on dog racing and dog race attendance are way, way down.
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 nowto urge your U.S. senators and representative to cosponsor the SAFE Act.
In a shocking revelation, the U. S. Department of Agriculture just confirmed that it will process Valley Meat Co. LLC’s application for a grant of inspection to begin slaughtering horses for human consumption in Roswell, New Mexico. The confirmation comes just days after furniture giant Ikea removed its signature Swedish meatballs from markets across most of Europe after they were found to contain horse meat.
“Given the current firestorm of outrage over horsemeat entering the food supply in Europe, it is time for Congress to prevent even one more American horse from suffering this terrible fate and stop horse slaughter in the U.S. once and for all,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations.
Despite the fact that an overwhelming 80% of Americans oppose the slaughtering of horses for human consumption, Valley Meat will be the first facility to butcher horses for human consumption on U.S. soil since 2007 if its application is approved. Horses are not biologically suited for commercial slaughter and are difficult to stun before dismemberment. They will endure terrible trauma and cruelty if the plant opens for business.
“If the USDA moves forward with allowing the cruel and toxic horse slaughter industry to enter our country, this administration is leading our nation in precisely the wrong direction,” says Perry.
Please Take Action Today!
Please call the White House message line at (202) 456-1111 and urge the Obama administration to stop horse slaughter! Here’s all you need to say:
“Please use your power to prevent any horse slaughterhouses from opening in the U.S. and to prevent the slaughter of our horses in other countries. Horses are not raised for food. This industry is cruel to horses and endangers consumers, who are eating a toxic product.”