For years the ASPCA has worked hard to protect American horses from terrifying, inhumane deaths at slaughterhouses. In 2007, the last three U.S. slaughterhouses processing horses into meat for human consumption were shut down for good—the year prior, they were responsible for killing more than 90,000 horses. Because Americans do not eat horses, this meat was shipped overseas to countries like France, Belgium and Japan, where it is considered a delicacy.
Not a Humane Alternative
Horse slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia. Horses suffer horribly on the way to and during slaughter—it is not unusual for them to travel more than 24 hours at a time in cramped conditions without food, water or rest. The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick deaths: The animals often endure repeated stuns or blows, and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter.
Some well-meaning animal advocates feel it would be more humane to reopen horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. than to continue to allow the animals to be sent to Mexico and Canada for processing. They may be surprised to learn that even when there were horse slaughter facilities in the U.S., tens of thousands of American horses were still exported and slaughtered in other countries every year. Re-opening slaughterhouses here is not the answer to ending this cruelty.
The ASPCA advocates for a federal ban on the international transport of horses intended for human consumption. Over the last few years, different bills that would have achieved this have been introduced in Congress—and even though each has had strong bipartisan support, none have made it over the finish line. Until such a law passes—and we have no doubt one will—it is critical we don’t allow the horse slaughter industry to gain a foothold in the United States. Once it is here, it will be much more difficult to get rid of.