USA: 2014 may finally become the “Year of the Horse”

Horses - ban on slaughtering horses for meatIntroduction

This is about the human-to-animal relationship. If one respects the cat all other animals should be respected. Acting inhumanely towards one animal encourages inhumane behavior towards another. The converse is also true. We need to raise our standards. What do you think about cat meat? (Michael).

Horse Slaughter Plants Reopened

In 2006, the ban on funding of USDA horsemeat inspections resulted in the three remaining foreign-owned horse slaughter plants to close in 2007. In Texas, the two plants closed in March 2007 when a little known Texas law prohibiting horse slaughter for human consumption was upheld by the Texas court. The last remaining horse slaughter plant in Illinois closed in September 2007 after the Illinois state legislature passed a bill banning horse slaughter in its state. Unfortunately, the ban lapsed after five years under the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which permitted horse slaughter plants to reopen.

Congressman JIm Moran said,

“Recent news reports of horse slaughter plants reopening are deeply troubling. As one of the nearly 80 percent of Americans who oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption, we must fight to prevent the resumption of this inhumane, unsafe, and unnecessary practice”

Reinstating the Ban on the Slaughter of Horses for Meat for Human Consumption

While the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment written by Congressman Moran (D District 8 Virginia) that banned horse slaughter inspection; in order to keep the U.S. government afloat, the wording was stripped from the bill during negotiations behind closed doors, allowing horse slaughter plants to re-open. And even though the same amendment was once again added last year to the Fiscal Year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, the federal government continued to operate upon the 2012 bill. To say that horse lovers were hugely disappointed, shocked and extremely angry upon learning that the defunding language in the bill was unceremoniously striped, would be a huge understatement

However, the all-embracing United States government pending bill divulged by top congressional negotiators this past Monday night is finally bringing the much needed exciting news to the 80 percent of the population in the United States who vehemently oppose the cruel and inhumane act of slaughtering horses.

With a small but powerful amendment that was added to the bill, containing language that removes the funding of horsemeat inspection by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) horsemeat inspectors once again effectively reinstates the ban on the slaughter of horses for meat for human consumption.

Although the news about the defunding language restored to the bill is greatly encouraging, this ban must be renewed annually. The only permanent solution to end horse slaughter in the United States and prohibit shipping horses outside the country bound for slaughter, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act must be passed. It’s only when this crucial bill passes that the doors of horse slaughter plants will be closed forever. The Humane Society international are asking the European Union to suspend imports of horse meat that original comes from America via Mexico and Canada.

Let’s hope the bill quickly passes officially in the House and the Senate and signed by President Obama, which includes the language prohibiting USDA horsemeat inspection. Its timing couldn’t be more critical since there are several horse slaughter plants already geared up and ready to begin killing our magnificent companion animals.

Additionally, according to “Straight from the Horse’s Mouth”, it also contains a “stipulation that funding not be restored until and unless the Food and Drug Administration makes a determination that meat from American horses can be made safe to enter the food supply.”

Horsemeat Unsafe for Human Consumption

But the truth is that horsemeat is not safe for human consumption. US horses have never been considered animals meant for food; they are kept as companions. During their lifetime they are treated with substances that are highly toxic to humans. Thus, it’s impossible to guarantee that slaughter-bound horses have never been given toxic drugs since the ages of these horses are varied and are gathered up from a variety of areas. They have are no medical records accompanying them proving they are safe.

And while there still are people remaining who claim that horse-slaughter is justified as a caring way in which the neglected, sick, injured and elderly horses who are no longer useful or wanted can be humanely “euthanized”, the majority of horses ending up in slaughterhouses are young and healthy. There is nothing humane about horse slaughter; it is an act of cruelty that I cannot politely describe.

What are your feelings about horse slaughter for meat for human consumption? Tell us in a comment.

Jo

  • Photo credit – Horse in Hamburger Roll Americans Against Horse Slaughter – Facebook page
  • Photo credit for Horse photo: Flickr User Scott Robinson
  • video: Uploaded to YouTube by PBS

Facebook Discussion

Comments

USA: 2014 may finally become the “Year of the Horse” — 66 Comments

  1. I agree it’s awful.

    However it’s HUGELY hypochritical that in America the standards for slaughter of other animals like the very intelligent pigs, and very gentle cows, are very low.

    Half those people who object to killing horses probably eat burgers.

    Therefore it’s hard to go along with this without at least bringing up that all important point.

    Killing a horse is no different to killing any other animal.

    We should leave the ALL alone.

    • How I agree Marc, in reality there is no difference in a horse in a field to a cow or a sheep and so forth, all animals are made of flesh and blood and feel fear and pain. Slaughterhouses are notoriously cruel places where many ‘food’ animals and birds are abused before they are murdered. Sadly many people still think they have to eat the flesh of other living beings, to survive.
      Many ‘food’ animals live in miserable conditions, then die horribly, how can this be right?
      The best we can do here in the UK as long as people eat flesh is to campaign for CCTV in ALL slaughterhouses to ensure the animals don’t suffer more than they have to being killed and this is what we are doing, but when push comes to shove we are no better than the countries who eat cats and dogs while people in ours still continue to eat any animals at all!

  2. Any “NON-VEGETARIAN” has no right to complain about the slaughter of pet animals for human consumption. Isn’t a pig one of the most intelligent animals, more intelligent than the average dog ?Science has proved pigs to be very intelligent, definitely more intelligent than horses and yet most non-vegetarians consume “Pork Products”. Aren’t cattle, goats, chickens intelligent ? I once had a “Asil Hen(Fighting breed of fowls)” in my house and found it intelligent as a bird, recognizing house-hold members. Yet i eat chickens !Same applies to “Horse-Slaughter” as we humans consider them companion animals but similar is the case with buffaloes and bullocks used for farming in Asian Country’s including India. All buffaloes and bulls finally never die of old age but are slaughtered for “Beef Products”.Its a cruel World and as they say in the novel animal farm , “Some animals are more equal”. A few prized race-horses are spared the butcher as are a few fowls, bulls, goats etc , kept as pets.Aren’t our pet cats more lucky than the average cat ?

    • You’re right I am afraid, Rudolph. Although there is one difference I feel. Pigs are bred to provide food for people. Horses are rarely if ever bred to be food for people, as far as I am aware. The horse is often a companion animal just like a cat or dog. I believe that companion animals should not be eaten by people because people are meant to look after them not eat them.

      • ‘I believe that companion animals should not be eaten by people because people are meant to look after them not eat them’
        But no animals were at one time companion animals, we decided which species would be companions, which would be eaten, which would be used for entertainment, etc.
        Our niece with a pub in London has a pet pig loved as much as their cat, yet pork is served up in their bar meals and people happily eat dead pig flesh whilst petting the chosen pig allowed to live.
        ALL animals feel pain and fear and want to live, we have no right to say which ones are allowed to do so.

    • Isn’t this pig cute and fit to be a pet. I am sure it is awaiting slaughter. Photographed this cute pig at Ben Tre village in Vietnam during a tour.Finally, its we humans who play “GOD” to animals deciding which should die a normal death and which should be slaughtered for food.

      • He is gorgeous Rudolph, he looks as if he’s snoozing and cooling his belly off in the puddle, the simple pleasures of pigs.
        I think anyone hearing a pig squealing in fear and pain as he died in a slaughterhouse would never eat pork again, unless they had a very cold heart.

  3. So what does horse meat taste like? It must be exactly like the taste of beef because there was a scandal not that long ago here about burgers made of horse instead of cow and people were eating them unknowingly.

  4. I used to eat as much meat as the next person, and enjoy it very much, when I turned veggie it wasn’t because I didn’t like meat but because I could no longer justify calling myself an animal lover while carrying on eating them and being the cause of death of cows, pigs and chickens. Now it sickens me to imagine eating any “fellow earthling” and though I believe it’s up to each individual what they eat and wouldn’t criticise anyone for being a meat eater I just can’t understand how (thanks to the likes of Facebook, Twitter etc that have really brought the reality of slaughter houses to the public’s notice) anyone now can bear to eat meat knowing what has happened during the transformation from animal to chop! Three cheers for Quorn I say 🙂

    • Oh yes Quorn, any meals we’ve cooked for guests they haven’t been able to tell the difference from ‘real’ meat. All a human being needs is something a bit bulky to chew, along with their potato and veg, well the Quorn steak strips and chicken pieces fit that bill and very tasty they are too.
      I love sitting down to a meal knowing no animal or bird or fish has suffered and had his/her life taken for my gratification.

    • Despite eating chicken and fish (normally prawns) I have to agree with you. However, when I look at red meat I see a dead body and bloody flesh, not meat. I don’t like the sight of it. I actually feel guilty but food is one of my few pleasures.

      • I get what you’re saying Michael, red meat leaves nothing to the imagination does it. Don’t feel guilty, everyone does what they can and what is best for them, just look at the good you do all over the world for cats large and small, I think that cancels out a little bit of chicken and a few prawns. Food is one of my pleasures as well, but I’m lucky that I find lots of pleasure in cheese, chips and chocolate and the occasional (!) glass of something moreish 😉

      • You feel guilty Michael because you know it’s wrong, but you are only human and we all have our failings, it’s no one else’s business, we do what we do by our own choice. It’s not admitting our failings to ourselves which is bad!

  5. If every individual animal had to have a death certificates like humans do just imagine what “Cause of death” would read….

  6. Yes, it’s god awful.
    I wish I could break apart into a hundred “Dees” and fight every animal unjustice in the world.

    • Me too Dee, I feel I can never do enough.
      I had 68 petitions to sign yesterday, I have to prioritise and years ago I decided cats are my priority although I do try to help all animals (and people too) but there are not enough hours in a day.
      I first came to PoC because it’s about cats and helping cats and here I stay because I found my ‘home and family’
      Sometimes I feel like running away from it all but I’d never forgive myself 🙁

  7. VERY GLAD to read this, Jo, and hope that it sets the matter straight once and for all. The Euro-Americans do not have a tradition of horse consumption and should not start one now, or pander to one elsewhere. What people eat or do not eat is a complex issue; after being vegetarian most of my life, I came to a point where I believed I needed to include some animal protein in my diet, and have never successfully reversed this, for complex reasons, though I would ideally prefer to do so. In reality, with so many genetically altered foods in the domestic market — many of which we are not even told the origins of — none of us knows what (or who) we are eating. “Organic” is also a meaningless term, as the whole earth and all of its systems are in fact corrupted. Although I can’t claim to be a purist, I do try to live as compassionately and kindly as is possible for me, and hope and pray others will do likewise.

  8. It breaks my heart every time I read about the slaughter of these beautiful animals. This new bill should pass as fast as possible and made permanent. That way there will not have to be a dead line every few years.

  9. When the horse meat slaughterhouses shut, horses that were no longer required by their owners were simply dumped and left to fend for themselves, often in unlikely places such as vacant lots. I’ve read forum posts elsewhere from people who have to deal with walking skeletons and collapsed horses. It’s very idealistic to say “let’s ban it” and not look at the impact a ban will have. Horses were suffering more because they were worth nothing and were abandoned.

    The same is happening in the UK. Elderly, injured, sick or unwanted horses have been dumped in a bus yard, on other people’s fields, even on roadsides. People who want bans tend to have a fluffy view of animals and an idealised view of life and don’t see these realities.

    I have no qualms about eating horse and think it’s high time “cheval” became an acceptable meat. Slaughterhouses would then have stricter regulation and unwanted horses would have a carcase value that encouraged the owner to take sufficient care of the animal so it could be sold.

    • Hate to say it, but you’re right regarding the conditions these “no longer needed” animals are often left in (not different at all from those of older/unemployed/otherwise “unacceptable” human beings, if we want to be honest). I don’t believe that eating them is the answer; I think it’s high time the human race stopped sliding backward into the primodial ooze and rediscovered some core values like COMPASSION and KINDNESS and put them first, not last or off the radar. *sigh*

      • You make the same point as me 😉 Killing and eating them is a crude workaround accommodating the human’s deficiencies. I’d like people to take the high moral ground and do something really good, honest and genuinely right for the planet, ourselves and all animals. I want us to be more idealistic and less pragmatic. Only then will I have some hope for better things to come.

        • Well stated. We’ve just about hit bottom collectively speaking — time to reverse that! or we’re all gonna be in the “ish” very soon.

      • All that needs to happen, bad economy or not, are some new animal welfare laws with teeth. Or maybe just enforcing the ones we have. That would be a good start. I’m not for big government, except in areas the government is supposed to be active– and restraining evil so we can have a civilized society is one of them. If you abandon your horse and they can prove you did it you should go away for a very long time. Hard time, in prison, and not minimum security prison. Abuse an animal and get thrown in a hole somewhere for ten years. I think that would help, because suddenly people would find they could find a way to feed their animal and themselves. Too many are giving up way too easily. If that weren’t happening the truly impossible cases could find rescue. My guess is many horses, like dogs and cats, are starved and abandoned because their humans are simply criminals with no excuse, who likely are abusing/neglecting their children too or are psychopaths preying on the weak and vulnerable in whatever way they can. We start taking cruelty against animals seriously and we may find a drop in other crimes as well. Prison not a deterrent? Well, if each animal abuser was in there for at least ten years, that’s ten years during which at least he or she can’t hurt another animal– or vulnerable human being.

        • Yes, and while they’re in there, instead of being in a free-for-all of gangbanging and drugdealing and contracting hits, it would be good if some true rehabbing were done, such as humane education and education in how compassion, kindness and caring not only improve life for others, they improve our OWN lives as well, across the board.

    • Understood and a good point. But isn’t the true answer to ban the slaughter of horses for meat and ensure that horses are cared for and that they are not overbred so there are no unwanted horses. Idealistic yes but a goal.

      The problem seems very similar to the cat overpopulation problem. Vets say they declaw cats to save lives (stop people abandoning them at shelters where they are killed). You say kill horses to make their lives better. I am not sure you are correct.

      In both cases something bad is designed to make something good. I don’t get that.

    • I was thinking the same thing. When I was doing PRN work in healthcare at many facilities in the country I’d hear about therapists owning horses and taking on more because they felt they had to. I was told that people will just give you a horse today because they can’t afford to care for them. One therapist told me about how she now has more horses than she really wanted, and how she manages to provide for all of them. She’s a very resourceful woman. Some of my friends from high school still live up north and I know that those who have horses would go without food themselves before their horses lacked anything. But it’s a very tough economy and not everyone puts the animals first when things get tough. Horrible things are being done. But the answer can’t be to do a different horrible thing.

    • Sarah- I must disagree with you about sick and unwanted horses.. neglected horses…at least in the USA.

      Check this out: http://equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/Abandoned_Horses-FINAL.pdf

      Horse slaughter in the United States is brutal.Talk about suffering- their end is nothing BUT suffering. There is no way to monitor the drugs they have received either. Unless we want to start breeding horses FOR food- making sure they are free of toxic drugs is impossible.

      If unscrupulous horse dealers can fake Coggins tests, it is easy to trump up a “passport” showing that horses are free of these drugs and are safe to consume. If unscrupulous horse dealers can Jerry-Rig horses’ teeth and make them appear younger- there is nothing that these people will stoop to do to ensure that meat is untainted.

      95% of the horses sent to slaughter are young, healthy and fit horses.

      Strict regulations here in the USA mean NOTHING. There is no way to slaughter a horse humanely either. Have you watched the videos of how they are killed here? If not, these videos are gut-wrenching.

      Just my opinion along with the other over 80% of the population in the USA.

  10. After I watched a truly compelling film about the meat industry in the USA, I tried really hard to only eat a vegetarian diet, but soon became quite ill, and had to return to eating a semi-vegetarian diet- meaning that there are meats I will not eat, such as pork, lamb, veal, etc, and I am trying to find a source near me that sells only free range grass fed beef and poultry.

    I also bless any of the meat, eggs, fish that I eat, and thank the animals for their sacrifice. I truly love all animals and in the USA food animals not raised free-range and grass fed- have a horrible life.

    The fact of the matter is that food animals- while some people do keep them as pets, and would not consume them- the others have a horrible life.

    Horses were never bred for food. They are our friends, our companions and work hard for us. We build very close relationships with our horses. I have had three wonderful equines (all special needs, by the way) and have given them a blessed life- as they gave me.

    One of the problems that creates the “NEED” for horse slaughter are the people who do not love their horses, but try to breed the fastest race horses, the most talented jumpers, etc.. and when they don’t make the grade they are often sent down the road. The video that I added to this blog shows the deep love and respect for these magnificent stallions- and their offspring – they are treated beautifully..

    There is a great myth circulating in the USA to justify horse slaughter- that these are old, neglected, abused horses- which is not the case. Read about those myths
    http://www.homesforhorses.org/myth.php

    Also- horse slaughter is a dasterdly deed. It is beyond cruelty. Horses are flight animals- they cannot be slaughtered “humanely”. Horses live in herds and are strongly bonded to their coummunities.

    I DETEST horse slaughter for so many reasons. It is brutal.

    If only people would stop the over breeding- which, by the way horse slaughter would only cause more unwanted horses to be born because there would be a quick outlet for the underperformers- the uncooperative, etc.. sell them to meat packers- who cares.. just get some bucks for your trouble… horse slaughter promotes overbreeding and additional cruelty to these beautiful animals.

    Sorry to go on but this is a topic about which I am passionate. Will the overpopulation of dogs and cats ultimately cause them to be slaughtered? They are euthanized in droves due to careless owners. They eat cats and dogs in many countries.. will the USA follow suit some day?

    • Not even a good idea to think about that, Jo, please. I’d eat a person before I’d even think about that. And I’d put myself down before ever doing that.

      I like your attitude as regards animals you do eat — much like many of my ancestors’ ways, though I never forget that we’re all individuals within whatever culture(s) we grow in, and that there are kind as well as cruel people the world over. Personally, I follow the dietary laws set down in two of the three major monotheistic faiths. That works best for me. But I eat as few animal products as possible (now if someone were to question me as to what that means, it gets hazy)and am well aware of what I am doing. It doesn’t set well with me. But I’m still doing it. Life isn’t that simple, or that comfortable, these days. A lot of it, bottom line, has to do with finances and availability. *sigh*

      • I advocate for capital punishment for anyone wilfully harming any cat, of any species, for any or no reason. As for the “shelter” system in the usa, it is a pathetic joke, or would be…if there were any reason to laugh, which IMHO there isn’t.

          • No-kill shelter means a shelter that will NOT kill any animal in its care. In order to do this many of these shelters have a host of pet foster parents that love and care for these pets until they are finally adopted into a permanent loving home. Would that all shelters would do this.

          • What it actually means in the here and now is that no animal deemed “healthy” and not deemed “behavioral problematic” will be killed except for reasons of trauma/pain/incurable illness. That means that when such facilities are at capacity, other animals have to go elsewhere (to open-intake “shelters”) and many animals who fall into the above categories are, of course, turned away. They aim to take in “adoptable” animals only. In a perfect world where all caregivers were/are/will be responsible and spay/neuter, this would be a great system; unfortunately, many attack the open-intake shelters when it is the irresponsible members of the public they should lodge their complaints with. Of course we all want true SHELTERS for those animals who may, for whatever reason, need them temporarily or permanently. But that would mean PUBLIC CO-OPERATION and PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Whatcha think the chances of THOSE are in the usa??? ;(

            • Well said. The trouble is that cats “deemed” unhealthy or non-adoptable are, in fact, sometimes perfectly adoptable. Who is doing the “deeming”? How good are they? How concerned are they and how saturated with cats is the shelter?

              Some cats are deemed too aggressive but the environment can make them defensively aggressive.

              Some cats get ill at the shelter because they are breeding grounds for contagious diseases. They then become unadoptable.

              A manager of a shelter can turn a cat into an unwanted cat. It is about commitment to saving lives. I am not criticising. It is very difficult but the attitude of the management seems to be vital.

              • I will criticize plenty for you and me both, Michael. If someone bunged you into a frightening place where many lose their lives, you’d be defensive, too, just like a lot of the cats who find themselves, through no fault of their own, incarcerated. And a URI is NOT incurable, nor is a UTI or most of the other minor, treatable and probably stress-exacerbated maladies they lose their lives over. If you had a cold or a UTI, you wouldn’t expect to find yourself incarcerated at risk of losing your life, would you? Even now, in this crazy world. But that’s reality for these absolutely adoptable, wonderful cats.

    • ‘USA food animals not raised free-range and grass fed- have a horrible life’

      Yes sadly they do and in our country too, but even free range and grass fed animals who have a better life don’t want to die to be eaten. Life is precious to every beating heart. Animals know the smell of death when they are taken to the slaughterhouse, imagine their fear and imagine them watching the others killed while they helplessly await their turn. It’s just too horrible.
      Having gone veggie 13 years ago I couldn’t force a bite of meat down now to save my life. Do you have Quorn there? It has healthy protein and is fat free too.

  11. In the 1950s you could buy horse meat at the grocery store. I remember the little one pound blue boxes in the freezeer section. It was not considered a gourmet food and was very cheap. Horse meat tastes like any other lean meat and my mother bought it as a cheap way to survive. She worked three jobs to support the two of us. She also added horse meat into the dog’s food on occasion. I am a horse lover and didn’t appreciate eating something that was so beautiful in life. I am glad that the government FINALLY banned the slaughter of horses. We still have to do something about them being shipped out of the USA to other countries for slaughter.

    We raise our own stock for butcher. Those animals are loved and cared for like pets and they are humanely put down. We know that it is part of the circle of life and we pray for their souls and thank them for their sacrifice. It is the native Indian way and it is a good way. Animals are cherished.

    • Tani Mara- THANK YOU For your very insightful post.

      I have to admit that over 50 years ago when I was breeding cats- all the breeders that I knew were buying Hills frozen horsemeat. I was naive and didn’t even think about it then… I was not “sensitized” yet to this horrific situation.

      BUT- I just realized that many, many of our kitties were not healthy- had major health problems- Now I understand why… horsemeat is contaminated with toxic drugs they are given for pain- strong wormers, performance enhancing drugs- which more than likely accounts for these cats’ poor condition. They were poisoned…

  12. Update: GREAT NEWS- President Obama signed the Omnibus spending bill- which now bans horse slaughter in the United States. Unfortunately this does not prevent horses from being shipped outside our borders to Mexico and Canada.

    The transport of these horses bound for slaughter is cruelty in itself. They are treated brutally…stuffed into double decker transporters, shoved- pushed- injured… some not fed or watered for days.

    We MUST have the SAFE act passed in order to stop this pipeline dead in its tracks and prevent overbreeding of horses that end up in the pipeline- an easy sell to killer buyers.

    We will be working hard here in the USA to ensure this act passes.

    There is nothing humane about horse slaughter. It’s a myth that this is humane euthanasia… it is a nightmare.

    We have taken a huge step but the road ahead will be long and arduous. I implore readers here from the United States to contact their representatives- Senators- and BEG them to support the SAFE act… to co-sponsor the bill and keep our horses out of danger- and also prevent the shipment of contaminated meat exported from our country. THANK YOU and BLESS you.

  13. I’ll defy anyone to tell the difference between Quorn steak strips and real steak for which an animal has died.
    Add mushrooms and onions and gravy (veggie of course) and you have a delicious casserole and an easy conscience.

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