Every year nearly 150,000 of Americas horses are transported over our borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and then human consumption. In addition, many thousands of horses lives are lost to the transport alone, many on double decker trailers designed for cattle, NOT horses, who have to lower their heads almost to the ground to even stand on the trailer.
These horses are forced to endure 2-3 day trips on these trailers with no food, no water, no rest and no shelter from the elements. Temperatures in one of these trailers can reach 100+ degrees in the summer with at least 50 horses on board. Inappropriate floor surfaces lead to slips, falls and trampling. Some horses arrive at the slaughter house seriously injured or dead.
Although transportation accidents have largely escaped public knowledge ,several tragic incidents involving collapsed upper floors and over turned double deckers have caused human fatalities as well as suffering and death for horses.
Our horses, domestic and wild, are being shipped to Canada and Mexico to be butchered for human consumption for foreign delicacies. These are peoples pets, family members, faithful farm workers or famous race horses. Their flesh goes for $14 lb over seas in parts of Europe and Asia. Most owners who bring their pets to auctions or sell them blindly on classifieds have NO idea what happens to their beloved animals. I have seen people braid tails, bath , clip, primp, polish horses for an auction thinking they would get a good home, and in return end up in a kill pen.It was established that horse meat contains unhealthy amounts of carcinogenic such as Phenylbutazone. This drug is more commonly known as " Bute" and is given for the same purpose and as often as Aspirin. It is banned for use in any animal intended for human consumption. It causes serious and lethal adverse effects in humans. The known carcinogen even in very small doses can cause bone marrow suppression, cancer, birth defects and early Alzheimer disease. There has been documentation that some of the horse processing plants in Mexico go so far as to label the contaminated meat as Organic.
Under federal law, horses are required to be rendered unconscious prior to slaughter, usually with a device called a captive bolt gun, which shoots a metal rod into the horse's brain. The captive bolt was designed for cattle not horses, who are a flight animal. Once they see something coming at their face they swing their head to avoid it, causing the captive bolt to slam into the side of their face multiple times before the horses is finally dead. Some horses, however, are only stunned and are conscious when they are hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. Those conditions are only in Canada, Mexico is a much different story. Horses that are shipped to Mexico are stabbed with a pontilla knife in the spinal cord until paralyzed and then lifted in the air by a back leg and butchered alive.
Horses of virtually all ages and breeds are slaughtered, from draft types to miniatures. Horses commonly slaughtered include unsuccessful race horses, horses who are lame or ill, surplus riding school and camp horses, foals cast off in the nurse mare industry, and foals who are "by products" of the Pregnant Mare Urine(PMU) industry, which produces the estrogen-replacement drug Premarin®. ( Body Parts dumped at Canadian Plant)
Kill buyers ( people who are in the buisness of buying horses for slaughter) have contracts with slaughter plants over the border, and quotas they need to meet. They will attend auctions and buy horses of any shape and size to meet their needs set by the slaughter plant. They generally want to buy the young, fat and healthy, leaving the sick, old and injured for the rescues to ' clean up'.
Several alternatives exist, such as humane euthanasia performed by a veterinarian. The bodies of euthanized horses can be picked up by rendering plants for disposal.
Horse owners can have their animals euthanized and bury them (where permissible) or have them cremated. Another option is to donate the horse to an equine rescue organization.
Ferdinand (1983–2002) was a Thoroughbred racehorse racehorse who won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic. He was voted the 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. He entered stud in 1989 and was later sold to a breeding farm in Japan in 1994. Much to the outrage of many horse racing enthusiasts, reports indicate that in 2002 Ferdinand was sent to slaughter in Japan with no fanfare or notice to previous owners. He likely became either pet food or steaks for human consumption. The horse racing industry recently initiated the Ferdinand Fee which will be used to fund retirement homes for race horses to TRY ensure that no more race horses like Ferdinand end up at a slaughter horse.
A lot of pro-slaughter advocates will have you believe that there is an over population of horses, so slaughter is a necessary evil. What they DON'T mention is that 150,000 horses is only 1% of the Equine population in the United States with a population of 9 Million. If the export of horses for slaughter was banned it would take very little to phase that 1% back into society. If the export of horses for slaughter was banned it would also self correct the issue of there being a surplus of horses. Breeders would be held accountable for their over breeding. Right now, breeders do' Lottery Breeding'. They will breed a 100 horses for the hope of 2-3 'perfect' horses, the remainder they 'get rid of'. Right now, they have an outlet to get rid of their unwanted horses. They send them to auction where they WILL get bought up, even if its by a kill buyer who then sends them to slaughter. If they have no outlet, then why don't have a place to just DUMP horses. With that being said, they will cut breeding back to a minimum to obtain better quality stock with lower numbers. This will eventually raise the quality of 'sale' horses and raise the price of horses in the current market.
“We have had horse slaughter for over 50 years and anyone can see that it has not solved any supposed “unwanted” horse problem so far”, says John Holland of the Equine Welfare Alliance
The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), reported a monstrous number of 140,000 foals in 2009. This is roughly the same number as the number of U.S. horses slaughtered 2009. Having slaughter as an option only gives an outlet irresponsible breeders.
The Lexington Herald recently published the Horse Breeders Incentive Awards along with its financial figure. The fund grossed more then 19.2 Million dollars, and was distributed to breeders to help promote buisness and breeding practices. This money is collected as a tax from the horse races and functions. Race tracks and organizations associated with racing claim they care a great deal about the over population problem. If that were true, why would they distribute funds to promote it? Those funds should go towards gelding programs, euthanasia funds,and veterinary care for owners who can't afford it. If 19.2 Million dollars went toward causes like these, then we would see a drastic change in both the over population issues and the quality of care for horses across the country!
According to 2000 statistics, there are approximately 450 farms in Canada and 50 farms in the U.S., located in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Indiana with approximately 60,000 mares.
Pregnant mares used for Premarin production are confined to narrow tie stalls where they cannot turn or lie down for weeks at a time or be released for exercise. This chronic lack of exercise can cause severe swelling of the legs, breakdown of the hoof structure and sets the stage for colic. They are harnessed to urine collection bags six months a year. The mares may be kept pregnant for production for 8 to 9 years. At the end of their use, they are sent to slaughter
Below is a picture of the mares lined up with the urine bags attached 24/7
60,000 grade foals, the by-products of this industry, have almost no chance to find homes as sport horses, working horses or pets. The majority will become casualties of slaughter. At two to five months old, the foals will be taken from their mothers and sent to auctions where they will ultimately end up in the slaughterhouse. Each year,several rescue groups unite to purchase PMU foals from the auctions and from the PMU farms to save them from a horrible death at slaughter.
If rescues and organizations didn't have to constantly fight the slaughter issue, then they could focus on gelding funds, euthanasia programs, back yard neglect issues and education programs. Rescues and organizations spend tens of thousands on rescuing slaughter bound horses and trying to save them from suffering.
Whats being done to help our horses?
To stop our horses from going to slaughter we need to get the bills H.R 503 and S. 727 passed. The law will prohibit the transport of horses for human consumption over our borders.
The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503) was introduced in the U.S. House on January 14, 2009 by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN). An identical version (S. 727) was introduced in the Senate on March 26, 2009 by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and veterinarian and Senator John Ensign (R-NV).
There is also the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009 ( H.R 305) Original sponsor Mark Kirk ( R-IL-10th) with a total of 69 co-sponsors as of 7/15/2010 ( 8 republicans and 61 democrats). Safety Act of 2009 prohibits a person from transporting a horse in interstate commerce in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another and sets forth civil penalties for persons who knowingly violate such prohibition.
In July 2010 The European Union (EU) started instating new rules relating to the food safety of horse meat for human consumption. They now require a 6 month quarantine before a horse can be slaughtered.The quarantine period is to try and " flush" out the carcinogenic drugs, ( Phenylbutazone).This drug is more commonly known as " Bute" and is given for the same purpose and as often as Aspirin. The EU believes this 6 month period is enough time, when toxicology reports prove "Bute" stays in the tissue for upwards of 7 years! As a result of this new 6 month quaruntine a rise in export of live horses to Mexico is expected. Although its been documented that kill buyers are now doctoring paper work and shipping to slaughter without any quarantine at all!
Please stay tuned for the open investigations with kill buyers that are pending! Once we get cleared we will post the information ! Thank you for your patience.