Equine Slaughter Gets Another Blow


Horse silhouetteThe Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 6598), a bill that would criminalize the sale and transportation of horses for the purposes of slaughter, was approved and recommended to the House of Representatives by the House Judiciary Committee on September 23. The bill passed by a voice vote.

The bill must still be passed by the House and Senate before it can become law, but it’s re-energized the issue of horse slaughter in this country.

While there are currently no equine slaughter facilities in the United States, thousands of American horses are exported for slaughter to Mexico and Canada each year. H.R. 6598 would make horse transport to these countries for slaughter illegal.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), a non-profit group that supports passage of The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, has publicly commended the bill’s sponsors–Committee Chairman John Conyers, lead cosponsor Representative Dan Burton and Subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott–for their “swift shepherding” of the legislation through the Judiciary Committee.

“By moving this bill, Chairman Conyers, lead cosponsor Representative Burton and Representative Scott are acting in line with the more than 70 percent of Americans who oppose the senseless slaughter of our nation’s horses,” says Chris Heyde, AWI deputy director of government and legal affairs. “But opponents of this legislation persist in their attempts to mislead the public, and make horses pawns in their political games.”

The American Quarter Horse Association, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), among many others, oppose the bill.

According to a statement from the AQHA, “The majority of horses processed for slaughter in the United States [prior to slaughterhouse closures in this country] were no longer viable for their intended use, unmanageable or simply unwanted by their owners. This bill would severely limit the rights of owners to manage their private property and subject horse owners to criminal prosecution should they sell or transport their horses for processing for human consumption, even if that is not their intention.”

“Our opponents love to suggest that horse slaughter is a necessary evil, without which the country will be overrun with a 100,000 horses annually,” Heyde counters. “That’s ludicrous. This isn’t a humane disposal service for sick and old horses; it’s a predatory business that is making a profit off the death of healthy horses.”

In the last Congress, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill banning horse slaughter for human consumption by a vote of 263 to 146. The bill was not taken up by the Senate before the end of the congressional session and has languished since.


  1. I say thank God it’s hopefully going to pass this time. As a horse owner with great love for these beautiful animals I contacted my states representatives and urged them to co-sponsor this bill when I heard it was up for vote once again. Slaughter is not the answer! I’m very disappointed and ashamed of the AQHA for opposing this bill and pushing for the slaughter to continue. If you own horses it’s your responsibility to plan ahead for the day when your horses can no longer perform in their elder years or become lame or sick. Humane Euthanasia by a licensed Vet if they need to be put down, if not, a pasture buddy for the weanlings and yearlings, donate to an Equine Therapy Facility etc. They give their all for us heart and soul and have earned the right to die with peace and dignity when their time comes.

  2. as a student and owner of 4 young healthy horses… i am going to have to say this is the biggest mistake.. we should keep slaughter houses open for those who have very very sick and old horses that ARE NOT healthy and on their death bed, i mean what are you going to do if your horse dies in the back of your yard, some states make it illegal for you to burry them in your back yard! And now, horses arent worth much money anymore because were over populating with unwanted horses that aree hard to sell. I agree though slaughter houses should not slaughter the healthy ones, they should evaluate them, if they are young/old with no problems they should send them to a horse rescue/adoption place. But if they are in pain and dying, then why keep it suffering if you cant save it? (even if they have a rare diesease thats uncurable) Were going to have to change the law, I was so against horse slaughter that when they shut down all the plants, all the horse prices went down, now no one wants them. Well the slight change is to make it so its only for dying horses or dead horses and not let the healthy ones go through. Thats the only suggestion I have to say because this isnt going to be good with the horse world. It got so bad that people were letting their horses loose and running out in the state parks around the midwest because of prices of hay and grain went up, they cant afford a horse nor take care of it- then were gonna have problems because those people will starve their horses! And Ive seen quite a few happen this past year! I rather see a horse go then to see it starving and the humane society around here just doesnt give a damn! and with the horse prices down and to feed them are so high price that no one wants the horses and cant get rid of them. If 1 horse slaughter house opens our value on the horses go back up high..so instead of my $2000 horse that was worth 5 yrs thats worth $300… if we open one slaughter house back up, the value of horses will go back up to the thousands! So my only suggestion is that the slaughter houses are okay only for the unhealthy unwanted cant save horses. But I agree that the healthy ones shouldnt be slaughter just to get slaughtered. Thanks! p.s. those who starve their horses should just give them away for free.. cuz you wont get anything out of them, atleast someone will take care of them the right way!!!

  3. We, the equine industry, did not stand up and fight when Congress distorted the definition of the horse from livestock to pets. We did not stand up when Congress stripped away federal funding for inspectors of slaughter plants. We were not loud enough when Congress decided to make horse slaughter for human consumption illegal.
    This bill, misnamed the “Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008,” should correctly be called the “Anti-Horse Care and Transportation Bill.” If this bill passes, and you or I decide to transport our horses without proof of where we are going, we “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years or both.” Do you want to be pulled over and subject to arrest every time you decide to go trail riding?
    The equine industry is simply not being as loud and as heard as the animal rights activists who are not only destroying our way of life, but putting our horses through needless suffering. Animal rights activists may have decent intentions, but they do not truly understand our issues.
    Through their “good intentions” they are:
    ? Preventing viable protein source from being exported to starving nations,
    ? Destroying a whole industry and jobs of American workers,
    ? Banning a major export,
    ? Causing over crowding at rescue facilities who –all together- can only handle a maximum of 7,000 horses (we’re talking about over 100,000)
    ? Causing needless suffering of the influx of horses that have been abandoned, neglected, and left to starve slowly, or that have been set free to be a hazard on U.S. highways due to recent legislation, and
    ? Making our animals financially worthless.
    We are letting the animal rights groups obliterate an honorable way of life. They have shattered the lives of good and decent people who had dedicated their lives and resources to the well being of these horses.

  4. Basic economics will show you that when you take away the base value of a market, the product loses value. I went to a horse sale in Montana last October. Horses that should have easily brought six or seven thousand dollars barely brought four or five hundred dollars. Equine professionals and your average horse owner can NOT survive such loss of value. Your average person cannot throw away money on expensive grain as the value of their product diminishes with each introduction of terrible legislation. What are people supposed to do when Congress takes away their freedom of options?
    Horses are part of business plans and they have jobs. They require time, fuel, maintenance and equipment. When horses can no longer perform their job, they should not be “set free” to starve and destroy private and federal lands. That is genuine animal cruelty. Horses deserve the respect to be put down in a quick, humane, REGULATED way. Euthanizing them only means over dosing, and if they have an allergic reaction that pain can be worse than slaughter. If you do not like how the slaughter was performed, fix the real problem, the regulations.
    Have Americans decided to let Congress legislate what we eat? To everyone who is against horse slaughter for human consumption, I want you to know that your hamburger, your bacon, your chicken nuggets, and your ice cream are endangered foods.
    Do not think that it’s impossible either. The equine industry thought such bills were so ridiculous that they would never pass, so we did not worry about it.
    Look at us now.

  5. This is outrageous! Why would anybody vote for closing these slaughter houses? (Unless, of course, they have not yet come to realize that it will ruin the markey for horses.) Not long ago, I went to a local horse auction with my grandfather. Horses that where well-bred, well-trained, well-mannered creatures were being sold for only a few hundred dollars when they sould have been up at seven or eight thousand. It was disgusting. And not only that, but what are we supposed to do with these horses that are worthless; the ones that you can’t ride, that are ill, that are old, that are injured and the only things to do are a) pay hundreds, if not a couple thousand, in bills to kill the horse of keep it alive, or b) sell it to a slaughter house where at least you’ll get something out of it. But don’t get me wrong, I love my horses. I really do. I’m not heartless and I realize that many facilities are cruel. But have you checked out the beef slaughter houses? what do you think happend there? And yet, have you heard anybody so much as utter words for closing all the beef slaughter houses? No. You haven’t. Because the cold hard truth is that people like their beef. but let me tell you something, if push came to shove, and I had to live, to survive, I would eat any one of my animals. Cow, pig, chicken, dog, cat, and horse alike. And I think you would too.

  6. this is the best decision for anybody to make. what is the sense in sending a horse to the slaughter when they are going to be treated horribly before they even get there. The best alternative there is to this is to put them down. if the horse dies in your yard, just send him to a dog food plant. It wont be that bad. and if the horse in a bad enough shape, go ahead and euthanize him. it’ll be better than shipping him somewhere some foreigner can eat a precious horse.

  7. I am a member of an Indiana horse rescue and I am tired of hearing that it is okay to brutally slaughter horses because they are old and no longer useful. We rescue horses that are on their way to slaughter by paying the per pound rate at the slaughter house. None of these rescued horses are old and useless. The majority are under two. Many have been starved. I find the opinion disgusting that cruel slaughter should be allowed to shore up the price of horses. I could almost live with the disposal of horses for food if it was done humanely. You can’t kill livestock in this country the way these horses are killed. Let your congressmen hear your voice!

  8. If we ban equine slaughter, many horses will endure suffering that is much worse than the “evil” slaughter we aim to ban. There will be many that slowly starve, are turned loose and hit by cars, suffer severe pain from injuries until they just die? Is this more humane? You say euthanasia is the answer, but what about the owners who cannot afford it? They will come up with methods of their own…guns…or worse? I suggest that if equine slaughter houses are inhumane, pass more regulations for them to make them as humane as beef and pork slaughter. It is cruel to ban slaughter and leave them to a worse life.

  9. anyone who does not realize how horrible horse slaughter is needs their head examined. I can not believe that there are people out there who own horses who would send their horse to a slaughter plant to get its throat slashed so they could make a couple of hundred dollars by selling it to the kill buyers.

  10. I am seeing horse starving to death! I cannot take any more in at my farm. As the number of horses grow, the injured, unwanted, lame and just mean are being left to starve. This includes the very young foals that there is no market for.

  11. they need more horse rescue groups. Horses should be saved like dogs and cats are saved and rescued. Slaughter is not the answer. If horses are starving it is because the owners are irresponsible and should have never owned a horse to begin with….

  12. We may not think of horses as a source of food in our culture, but for third-world countries with starving people, it’s a luxury. The closure of the slaughter houses has global consequences. For those who think only sick and dying horses should be allowed to slaughter, let me ask you this, “would you eat beef of a cow that you knew was sick and dying at the time of slaughter”? Can you say mad cow disease??? There are healthy horses that may have a genetic disorder, a permanent injury, an unsound mind. These horses are candidates for slaughter. Who wants to deal with a 1200 pound animal with an unsound mind? They can be very dangerous! I have bought and sold horses. In 2006, I lost 3 mares in one lightening strike, in total about $10,000 worth of horses (what I paid for them in prior years). I turned around and purchased replacement horses; 4 mares and 3 foals, for an average cost of $400 a piece. All with excellent bloodlines. I sold 3 horses at auction in 2008 and brought home a total of $440 for all 3. One little 2-yr old filly, they wanted to give me only $175 for her at auction. I refused to sell her. She was too good of an animal to let go that cheap. I figured I’d just keep her. I eventually did sell her, private-party, for $500, which was still dirt cheap. I now have great horses for sale, nothing less than $2500…. will I ever get it? I’ll probably end up keeping them all. I breed horses, in effort to preserve the foundation quarter horse. I have top bloodlines, every one of my horses will trace to the Legends. Most of my paycheck from my job goes to feed and care for my horses. Yes, it’s a fact, the closure of slaughter houses has literally killed the horse market for breeders like myself. You can’t get what was once a fair price for a high quality horse.

  13. As an active member of the AQHA I am horrified that they support horse slaughter in any form. As a woman of the West, I fully understand the ramifications of a horse no longer able to perform it’s “job”, however that is defined.
    I have held the halter of seven wonderful equines as they passed from this life and will argue forever that it is the ONLY HUMANE death!
    Another Note* Fifteen of the normal medication that well tended horses consume (wormers, ulcer guard, joint supplements, wound medications, pain killers et al) are labeled as “prohibited for use in horses intended for consumption”. So it is with callous disregard for the health of those consuming horse meat, that Americans turn our eyes only to the nominal dollars paid for horses sold at slaughter. We should take issues with this even as we fail to find compassion for the very creatures that brought the West to greatness!

  14. Horse slaughter is necessary to keep the market from being flooded. I live in Louisiana and the reduction of slaughter is hurting the horse owners and buyers. People have been SETTING HORSES FREE or neglecting to the point of STARVATION because there is nothing to do with them. I recently was offered four Arabians; however I have already taken in three horses and have no more room. I have no doubt that at least two of these horses have died of starvation by now.
    I would rather a horse be put to economic use than to see them starve to death.
    Last point…… we eat cows every day…. there is no difference.

  15. Wow! That just rocks me to the core. In florida horse slaughter is getting very bad. People will just take your horse out of its stable slit its throat, and then just cut of the legs while its still alive. When the owners find their beloved horse, its teeth are visible because of the immense pain of being gutted alive. I REALLY need to find out how to help! if we all just played a small part!


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