Horse News

GAO Asked to Investigate Cruelty to Horses

Posted Jun 11, 2009 by lauraallen

horsesObama and Vilsack asked to push for ban on horse slaughter

Ithaca, New York (June 10, 2009)  The Animal Law Coalition and Animals Angels have asked the  U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate gross violations of humane laws and regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in connection with the commercial slaughter of horses.

The request for a GAO investigation comes in the wake of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents which were subsequently released by the USDA.  Alarming cruelty and violations of regulations were documented in several hundred photos taken during 2005 at U.S. slaughterhouses by USDA investigators.

Though horse slaughter ended in the U.S. in 2007, American horses are still sold for slaughter in Mexico and Canada.  Proponents of horse slaughter have insisted on the re-opening of horse slaughter plants, saying U.S. laws protect horses from cruelty unlike Mexico and Canada.

Documents and photos released by the USDA, however, refute such claims.  The FOIA shows horses bound for slaughter in the U.S. endured shockingly cruel treatment.  Photographs documented horses with legs ripped off, eyeballs hanging on their cheeks and other severe injuries.

Earlier GAO documents raise additional disturbing humane issues. A 2004 GAO report found horses were slaughtered while conscious, which are considered significant violations of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

Sonja Meadows, Executive Director of Animals’ Angels, a Maryland based animal welfare organization, said, “We are asking the GAO to thoroughly examine the ineffectiveness of laws in preventing documented cruelty and inhumane practices.  It seems clear from the USDA FOIA, earlier GAO reports, ours and others’ investigations, that horse slaughter is a predatory business whose economics require cruel and inhumane practices.  It is definitely not, as horse slaughter advocates would have the public believe, a service motivated by altruistic concerns or humane practices.”

HorseHorses are slaughtered for consumption overseas, primarily in parts of Europe and Asia.  A USDA study shows that 92% of the American horses at slaughter are young, healthy and without behavioral problems, refuting claims that horse slaughter provides a service in disposing of horses that are old, lame, sick or crazy.

Meadows said, “Irrefutable evidence of brutality is already quite plentiful, unfortunately.  We believe the GAO’s report will be the definitive wakeup call to the new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Obama administration to push for an immediate ban on horse slaughter.”

A copy of the request for a GAO investigation is attached at the end of this article along with Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 also submitted with the request.

Go here to review the documents including photos released by the USDA.

For additional information on horse slaughter investigations and information regarding the export of horses for slaughter, go to

Attachment Size
GAO request.6.8.09.doc 37.5 KB
Exhibit 1.pdf 117.55 KB
Exhibit 2.pdf 68 KB
Exhibit 3.pdf 373.86 KB

21 replies »

  1. But we have lost tens of thousands and now we are losing more. BLM starved horses and they died in holding. There needs to be a reckoning. Slaughter is part of the whole picture. The George Knapp report has a corral owner saying that BLM had unbranded horses at his corrals. This was how they sold the m to slaughter. Most Americans will never know what has been lost. I can barely wrap my mind around this. Go to the roundups and and be a presence. We must end all this ASAP. Mar


    • Mar, thanks for tying this all together — how the BLM roundups of “unbranded” horses feed the slaughter pipeline.


    • hello from anna; oh did the BLM starve some horses in holding pens? I was wondering about this; this is against the law 100$ and is accountable for investigations by the Senate if this is true; did some horse die in the pens ?

      do you have any other info so I can fomulate my letter to my Representarive ?

      thanks in advance adn God Bless the poor wonderul beauriful Mare of 20 years old…


      • I have the info about the horses in the pens; I seek a pix of the 1,000+ horses together at the Fallon Corrals;

        I would like to see for myself if the corrals are over crowded;

        they do not give correct type of hay !


    • probably just me being 13, but what is a reckoning? back on topic, i hate the BLM too, they need to be trained to know how to take care of horses


      • reckoning means: “understanding if the BLM is on the wrong path;
        for example; The BLM will have a reckoning; an understanding; of the errors they are making; like wet hay; moldy straw; no windbreakers; etc etc


  2. this is an awful thing i don’t know much about this stuff but how can someone be so cruel to something that has done no wrong?it has to stop cruelty to animals not just horses. if the animal is in pain and it would be better off not then there is a reason to to help the animal but to just torture it and then behead it is more than most of us can stand.i know some people beleive that animals are lower than humans and it doesn’t matter if they live or die but i think that they are as special as every one of us and that it is an offence to nature to do something as terrible as that.i therefore am (of course) entirely against this and hope that someday things will be different.


  3. my comment is: no Science; no religion; no intellect has ever “proven…”Man has a higher evolutionary place in the universe than Horses or other critters;

    its just a myth and my comment is this; we have been wrong all these years !;

    The Horse is the Crown of Creation; the Single Stallion and the Moody Mare are the Crowns of Creation;

    not Man and woman;…has preciously thoguht;
    ps I’ll be investigating the BLM this Jan.; so we will see who is “corrupt…Anna H


  4. As Companion Animals; our Horses should be treated as such; and yeah horses Rock !

    and they carry people on their backs without complaining; and they do fancy tricks in rings for no pay…

    and they are held by the BLM in barrer holding pens; THIS WILL STOP VERY SOON; anna


  5. i like the horse’s manes; the way the mane falls to one side; like a fashionable style; the horse’s tail is so beautiful; the way the color of the horse’s mane and tail are usually the same; the body of the horse; the shape of the face; the large eyes; nice muzzle; great muscular being the horse; friendly; I applaud the Horse !

    and wish every horse the very best life has in their journey through life; anna usa


  6. Take a good at them, girls. If the slaughterers have their way, they may be headed to a dinner plate near you. And they’ll look a whole lot different.

    I’m sorry if I’ve burst your bubble or hurt your feelings. If you love horses, no matter how young or old you are, OMG – fight to keep them safe.


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