About Horse Slaughter for Food

The American debate over the slaughter of horses for meat continues. Ethics, humanity and even health issues come into play. Legislation has been back and forth over this issue. Terolyn Horse Rescue is taking a direct and active part in the prevention of horse slaughter by rescuing as many horses from kill pens as we can handle.

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Photo courtesy of Thomson Reuters – thank you!

Ethically: for the most part, Americans keep horses for pets. Americans do not consume their pets or feed them to other animals. On the humanity front, horses are  mistreated, abused and suffer during the kill process: the slaughter of horses is illegal here, so they are sent to either Mexico or Canada to have the “job done.” Health issues come into play because horses are not commonly considered food in this country and there are no standards in place for raising and maintaining them according to USDA guidelines. Many horse medications such as phenylbutazone, banamine, ivermectin, lasix, clenbuterol, chloramphenicol, Regumate are banned in food animals — and there are valid reasons for that. It states right on their labels: “not to be used in animals intended for human consumption.” Unfortunately, the way government works, stressing the health hazards surrounding consuming horse meat may be the only way to pass legislation protecting these magnificent animals.

Read on for more information, quoted from Wikipedia:

Most horses bound for slaughter are brought to the slaughterhouses by contract buyers, also known as kill buyers, who drive around the country buying horses at auction.

The abuse horses suffer throughout the slaughter pipeline, from feedlot to auction to transport to the kill process itself has been widely documented by Animals Angels in this 30-page report. Findings included dangerously overcrowded pens, aggressive, rough handling, equine suffering that is observed and tolerated, transport with no rest, no water and no food for 28 hours by law, for longer by actual practice, no food, water, shelter for extended periods – at auction, during transport, at feedlots and export pens, transport in double decked trailers between auctions and feedlots only tall enough for cattle, and injuries untreated.

About 90% of the horsemeat is exported for human consumption overseas, where it sells for approximately the same price as veal. The rest goes to zoos. Horsemeat was outlawed in pet food in the 1970s.

U.S. horse slaughter ceased in 2007, causing the market to shift to Canada and Mexico.With the cessation of horse slaughter in the U.S. and a concurrent downward trend in the economy, horse prices dropped and the amount of reported abuse, neglect, and abandonment of horses spiked.