Last year, the federal appropriations bill for 2015 renewed a ban on the use of tax dollars for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, keeping the vile horse slaughter industry from operating anywhere in America … for a time.
This September, that ban expires, putting horse slaughter facilities once again in a position to potentially reemerge in America, and putting the burden on Congress to reinstate its temporary halt.
But while renewing the ban every year stops slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil, it cannot prevent American horses—approximately 150,000 every year—from being legally trucked to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.
Even when horse slaughter plants were allowed in the U.S., tens of thousands of horses were still exported annually for slaughter, and several thousand were actually imported for slaughter.
During those long-distance trips, horses are treated as if they’re already dead, kept in crowded containers and denied adequate food, water, and rest. According to the USDA, 92 percent of these horses are in good physical condition and could go on to lead productive lives in loving homes.
Horse slaughter is also a threat to human health because horses are routinely given hundreds of drugs and other substances during their lives that have not been approved by the FDA for use in animals intended for human consumption.
So we’re asking you to tell your legislators—especially if your representative sits on the House Appropriations Committee—to continue the ban and prevent this cruel and environmentally devastating industry from establishing roots in America. In 2011, when this restriction was not renewed, the dormant U.S. horse slaughter industry wasted no time trying to set up slaughterhouses in several states.
But we shouldn’t have to hold our breath every year while the fate of our horses hangs in the balance. So urge your Congressperson to also support the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2015 (H.R. 1942; S. 1214), which would permanently ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S., as well as prohibit the export of horses to other countries for slaughter.
Horse rescues and sanctuaries are doing their part to spread awareness and save lives. In April, more than 100 equine welfare organizations from 33 states celebrated Help a Horse Day, including 53 organizations which participated in the ASPCA Help A Horse Day grant contest, our annual competition to recognize the most effective and creative tactics in helping at-risk horses.
The winning organizations, which were announced this week, employed a wide range of creative strategies, but all were dedicated to the same goal: protecting American horses.
This dedicated effort illustrates the fundamental position horses hold in American culture. But they also play a seminal role in ASPCA history. Nearly 150 years ago, ASPCA founder Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first-ever successful arrest for horse mistreatment on April 26, 1866.
Bergh famously wrote: "Day after day I am in slaughterhouses … lifting a fallen horse to his feet, penetrating buildings where I inspect collars and saddles for raw flesh, then lecturing in public schools to children, and again to adult societies. Thus my whole life is spent."
The protection of horses has been a core part of the ASPCA mission ever since, including our support of equine welfare legislation, public advocacy, training, horse rescue, and targeted grants.
The work continues because it must. As the profit-driven horse slaughter industry tries again and again to reestablish its operations in America—spreading myths and misinformation to make the cruelty seem practical and even humane—we need to keep them in check.
Prohibiting slaughterhouse inspections is a start, but more comprehensive equine protection is a necessary finish. Our horses deserve it, and our humanity should demand it.
During the weekend of April 24-26, more than 100 equine rescue groups held events in 33 states in conjunction with the ASPCA “Help a Horse Day” Contest—a nationwide grant competition for equine rescues and sanctuaries to raise awareness about the work they do to save and care for at-risk horses.
Today, we are excited to announce the winners of the Help a Horse Day Contest, each of which will receive a grant in the amount of $5,000 or $10,000 to support their ongoing efforts to protect equines. The winning groups include:
$10,000 Grand Prize Winners:
All About Equine Animal Rescue – El Dorado Hills, CA
Horses of Tir Na Nog – San Diego, CA
The Pegasus Project – Ben Wheeler, TX
$5,000 Prize Winners:
Freedom Hill Horse Rescue – Owings, MD
Horse Haven of Tennessee – Knoxville, TN
Livestock and Equine Awareness Network (LEARN) – Meggett, SC
RVR Horse Rescue – Riverview, FL
Contestants were judged on the creativity of their events, as well as success engaging their local communities. This year’s winning events included a Ponypalooza event for families with games and prizes, which also featured members of the U.S. Air Force and local Boy Scout Troops engaging in a shelter construction project; a family carnival with pony rides and a “Muggin’ with the Mule” photo booth; the creation of a Help a Horse Posse and Sponsorship Program that allowed community members to sponsor horses; and Dancing for the Horses, which paired local celebrities with professional dancers to compete in honor of a rescued horse. One group even hosted an aviation festival in keeping with their theme of giving rescue horses their wings. Participating rescues also worked to recruit new volunteers, expand their support base, collect donated supplies and find homes for adoptable horses.
Thanks to all of this year’s participants for making a difference for equines nationwide!
Guest blog by Brianne Goutal, a highly respected top international equestrian on the United States show jumping team. She represents Cloverleaf Farm, Remarkable Farm and her own stable, Brianne Goutal LLC. She is currently ranked 10th in the United States and 54thin the world and is the only rider to have won all four coveted equitation finals for junior riders, the crown being the ASPCA Maclay National Championship in 2006. Brianne is from New York City and has served as an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador since 2008, speaking out against horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse.
Like many Americans (and people worldwide) this weekend, I watched with my heart in my throat to see the outcome of this weekend’s famous annual horse race. We all witnessed an amazing day in history as American Pharoah became the first horse since 1978 to win the seemingly unattainable title of Triple Crown champion.
But as I watched, I was wrought with guilt knowing the horrors these horses may face once their careers are over. Every day hundreds of American horses are shipped in unimaginable conditions to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada where they will be killed for human consumption. Over the course of this year alone, roughly 150,000 horses will face this terrifying experience.
It is nightmarish to think no horse is safe from ending up at a slaughterhouse. Not even American Pharoah is more than one bad sale away from this horrendous fate until horse slaughter is banned for good.
Rather than discuss the grisly details of this sad finality, I want to shine a light on a root cause of this problem: irresponsible breeding.
The racing industry, the western show industry and even my industry of show jumping—as well as many more—are guilty of irresponsible breeding practices. Breeding champions is a numbers game: the more you breed, the better your chances of breeding a star. As long as it remains legal to sell horses to slaughter, there are no real ramifications for irresponsible breeding.
Breeders can take responsibility for the horses they breed, starting now, without waiting for Congress to act. As an ASPCA Equine Welfare Ambassador, I call for an end to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and ask all horse industries to adopt responsible breeding practices including:
Breeding horses purposefully and intentionally with specific good homes in mind.
Reclaiming a horse if he or she is at risk of abuse, neglect or slaughter.
Including a clause in every sales contract that gives you the first option to buy back the horse you are selling.
Pledging to never send a horse to auction where is no way to control who will buy him or her and for what purpose.
I want to applaud those breeders who already have publicly pledged to abide by these principles. I do not have a perfect solution, but I know these steps can make serious advances in prioritizing responsible breeding in the horse industry.
I urge everyone who cares for horses to think about this problem. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade for updates on critical animal welfare legislation, including horse-slaughter-related legislation, and opportunities to lend your voice quickly and easily.
If you are a barn owner or run an equine business or organization, please sign the ASPCA Endorsement Form to let us know you support a ban on horse slaughter.
Whatever American Pharoah’s future may hold, I hope our awareness about equine welfare can take just one step closer to a goal of protecting the horses we rely on and who, in turn, rely on us. I truly believe that together we can find a solution. We are responsible for the horses we breed. Their fate depends on us. We are their voice.
Each year approximately 150,000 American horses are trucked to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption. Horse slaughter is a cruel, unnecessary, predatory industry that has no domestic market. Even though 80 percent of voters oppose horse slaughter, many people don’t know that American horses are still going to slaughter every single day.
Want to learn more? Join us for an #ASPCAchat on horse slaughter on May 27 from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. ET. The chat will take place simultaneously on both Twitter and Facebook, and two ASPCA experts will be available to answer all of your questions. Tune in and find out where horse slaughter takes place, why it must be stopped and how you can make a difference for our nation’s horses.
Our #ASPCAchat will feature:
Carolyn Schnurr, ASPCA Senior Manager, Federal Legislation Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President, Government Relations
Attention, horse lovers: ASPCA Help a Horse Day is coming up, and there are many ways you can make a difference for equines this weekend. While Help a Horse Day is Sunday, April 26, the ASPCA and equine rescues, sanctuaries and animal shelters across the nation will be celebrating April 24-26.
Here are three ways you can participate:
Attend a Help a Horse Day celebration in your area. Help a Horse Day is the perfect time to support your local equine rescues, which work hard to save animals who have been starved, abused or abandoned. These groups will host open houses, education programs, spring festivals, hoedowns, barn raisings, 5K walks and other fun-filled events throughout the weekend. Visit our directory to find an event near you.
Enter our Help a Horse Day Photo Contest. Share a photo of your favorite equine on your social media networks using the hashtag #HelpAHorseContest—tell us what you love most about him or her for the chance to win a special ASPCA horse lover’s prize pack!
Thanks for helping us protect horses on this special day and all year long.