By Sharon Seltzer on Care2.com
The last horse slaughter plant in the United States closed in 2007. So why is
Congress still debating about the passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty
Act that would prohibit slaughterhouses and horse meat in the country? It’s
because of a loophole that may bring these facilities back to life in the U.S.
The subject of horse slaughter in the U.S. is a topic that just doesn’t want
to go away. For the past two years members of Congress such as Rep. John Conyers
(D-MI), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have been trying to
pass a law that would place a federal ban on the “intentional possession,
shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering, or receiving of a horse
for slaughter for human consumption.”
Currently there is no federal law to protect horses from being sent to
slaughter. And with each passing legislative session more states are questioning
the value of such a law and instead are embracing the idea of reopening
slaughterhouses once again.
Horses are considered to be companion animals by most Americans and have
never been raised for human consumption in this country. It was this influence
that helped to close the last slaughter plant in Texas in 2007.
Previous facilities were primarily foreign owned and the slaughtered horses
were processed and shipped to countries such as France, Belgium, Japan, Mexico,
Argentina and Australia. But even when the last processing facility closed, it
left a loophole for domestic horses to be shipped across our borders for
According to the Humane Society of the United States, “American horses can be
legally transported across Canadian and Mexican borders to be slaughtered and
processed for human food for foreign gourmands.”
Now according to the Animal Law Coalition, several states want to see the
domestic facilities reopened as a means of creating jobs and revenue. Idaho
passed legislation that exempts the slaughter of horses from their animal
cruelty laws and South Dakota has issued a feasibility study for equine
processing plants in their state. Both open the door to reinstate
Tennessee Representative Frank Niceley has introduced HB 1428, which would
make it legal to get a license for a horse slaughter facility in his state and
Missouri has partially passed a law to promote horse slaughterhouses in that
state, as well.
Both Minnesota and Oklahoma are actively fighting against the Prevention of
Equine Cruelty Act in Congress.
The operators of slaughterhouses try to convince politicians that the horses
they kill are old or injured or without any other options. But the USDA
statistics show that 92.3% of all the horses sent to facilities were in good
condition and good health. Most could have been placed with equine rescue groups
and adopted into new homes.
Miss Judge is a thoroughbred horse that was rescued from a slaughterhouse.
She became a featured horse at a world-renowned event for natural horsemanship
trainers. And a 17 year-old Dutch Warmblood named Jamaica was named “Horse of
the Year” by the U.S. Equestrian Federation after she was saved from a slaughter
A family of six horses in Maine attracted national attention after they were
rescued from a slaughterhouse dealer at an auction. The family that included
Sunny (Dad), Prancer (Mom) and kids Louden, Vixen, Merlin and Max were taken to
a horse ranch. Later Max was adopted by Priscilla Presley and now lives in-style
at world famous Graceland. The other horses have remained together and spend
their summers in Maine and winters in Virginia with their adopted family.
Horse slaughterhouses, like any other facility of its kind are filled with fear, pain and suffering for the animals. It is no place for a horse or any other animal to die.