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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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I have been to a cheese farm in the Swiss Alps. The cows I saw their were well cared for. they were kept in barns during the day to escape the heat and let out to graze at night.


I am so glad that they cannot slaughter horses,now. If everyone would stand up for the rest of the animals in this world.My husband & I have rescued 27 dogs,15 cats & 2 horses.


What do you think happens to the animals after they dry up. Also develop sores , shot up with antibiotic's to keep infections down. Some never see the light of day or able to run in a field.


In order for cows to produce milk, they must constantly be having calves (just like human females produce milk for their own babies, cows produce milk FOR THEIR CALVES...THEIR babies). Only...their calves HARDLY get to be with their cow mom after birth. The MALE calves are taken away within weeks, and put in crates that confine them so they can't move. They eat, sleep, and defecate in these crates. WHY? Because keeping them from moving keeps their flesh TENDER (NO muscle development). This is how VEAL comes to exist. The female calves just become dairy cows like their mothers, OR are fattened up for SLAUGHTER. The issue with dairy products doesn't just end with THAT inherent cruelty. Dairy cows in factory farms are ALSO fed hormones so they produce FAR MORE milk than nature intended--just so humans can take more of it. This causes their udders to grow so big they drag on the dairy floor (or the ground, IF the cows are EVER allowed outside), resulting in infected sores. The dairy farmer must THEN feed them ANTIBIOTICS to fight the infections....and THOSE antibiotics get into the milk that HUMANS then consume (yogurt and cheese are ALSO tainted. HOW does this harm humans, you ask? IF you later get a serious infection, such as pneumonia, YOUR body MIGHT have become RESISTANT to many antibiotics, so your doctor may have to try MANY before finding one that works for you. ALL CREATURES from which we get a product that they don't get slaughtered for IMMEDIATELY (cheese, milk, eggs) WILL still eventually be slaughtered anyway... By the way, typical egg-laying factories keep FAR TOO MANY HENS in "battery cages." The hens will normally PECK at each other in frustration when confined in this way. To prevent this, the chicken farmer CUTS OFF the front 1/3 or so of the hen's beak (which has hundreds of nerve endings and FEELS PAIN) with a HOT BLADE... PLEASE DON'T FOOL YOURSELF.... ALL animals suffer--SOONER OR LATER...OR DURING--when what they produce is being consumed or wanted by humans.


Vegan is the most economical diet in the world. Rice and beans and a side veg for dinner. Cereal with peanut butter for breakfast. Meat and dairy are the expensive grocery items and so bad for your health. I am 3.5 years a vegan. 71 years old and only take one prescription med. Try it!


Since I went vegan my thyroid condition has improved, I no longer have migraines and lost 12 pounds over the course of two years, while eating whatever I wanted within the vegan diet. I also have lots more energy and feel a lot happier!!

SUE GRIFFITHS and when you've read that, here's another.

a few reasons not to include dairy in your diet:
1. Dairy proteins strip your bones of calcium. Despite the claims of the dairy industry (which they are no longer allowed to advertise), the amino acids in milk cause the blood's acidity to rise, which causes the body to neutralise it with phosphate, and the only phosphate in the body is in your bones. Unfortunately it is in the form of calcium phosphate, so your bones are leached of the very calcium you think you are giving them. This is why the countries with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest rates of bone diseases, including osteoporosis.
2. 75% of the world's population are lactose intolerant to some degree. This is your body telling you that once you are weaned, your lactase production (which your body uses to process lactose) ends. Ergo milk is not for you.
3. Dairy consumption is one of the leading causes of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The chances of a dairy consumer dying of heart disease - 66%. The chances of a vegan dying of heart disease - 3%.

And of course there's the overwhelming evidence of endemic animal cruelty involved in dairy farming.

Guys... you don't get what peta is saying.... Cows produce milk for their BABIES. Not for us. You are denying those babies a NATURAL diet and a wonderful emotional relationship with its mother. Not to mention, even small family farms SELL their male calves that are born (because they have to keep impregnating the dairy cows for them to keep giving milk) to veal farms... It's a cruel industry no matter who is running it.

We were never meant to drink the milk of a COW. Ever. Milk came from your mother, and when you were old enough, you were weaned. That is the way it is for all animals, why are we as adults putting it in our cereal?

"Organic" milk— All milk consumption results in killing a baby male cow.

The animals are NOT sacrificing themselves for us, we are TAKING their lives. Do you think they would freely just live a horror filled life in a slaughterhouse and die the death they die. You are very foolish if you think and believe so. We do not NEED to eat meat, and every person who eats vegan/vegetarian choose to be compassionate and to think of others before themselves. I do think every meat eater is selfish on some degree....they will always have a reason why they do it. It's a choice, the same as any other choice.


Totally agree with you Marty. I couldn't have said it any better. Go vegan is the only way; and believe me you will never miss the taste of meat. Just hunk of all the animals that will be saved: they have just has much rights as we do to live the life to the fullest.


I second this as well....VEGAN


I am so glad that for once these people in office finally heard our voice and put a stop to horse slaughtering in the US, but I feel that we need to do more to STOP the transfer, or sale of these fine animals to All countries. STOP THE IMPORT