Horse News

Help end, not expand, horse slaughter

by David Pauli, Director, Western Regional Office, The Humane Society of the United States, Billings

Deemed useless yet edible by Montana's Horse "Butcher" - (Photo by Terry Fitch)

Deemed useless yet edible by Montana's Horse "Butcher" - (Photo by Terry Fitch)

Rep. Ed Butcher relies on the same old arguments of horse slaughter proponents in his effort to whet a new appetite for American horses in Asia (“Author of Montana horse slaughter plant bill courts Chinese investors,” Oct. 1). Butcher ignores the fact that most Americans abhor the very idea of slaughtering horses for their meat.

Butcher’s statement that “only about four to six horses out of every 10 born actually become usable animals” is a stinging indictment of the U.S. horse-breeding industry. It suggests a callous and irresponsible approach to horse husbandry. Fortunately, most horse owners willingly accept their responsibility to provide lifelong care for their animals.

In reality, 99 percent of horses are wanted and cared for by their owners – from working stock to backyard pets. A small number of owners carelessly discard their horses. Only about 1 percent of the 9.2 million horses in the United States are sent to slaughter. While the numbers may be relatively small, their suffering is significant, and the Humane Society of the United States is working to end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad by urging Congress to pass federal legislation. We are also promoting good horsemanship and working with horse rescue groups to find new homes for homeless horses.

Horse rescue groups report great frustration at horse auctions as they are outbid by buyers who want to sell horses for slaughter. This industry actually prevents horses from going to legitimate homes as it directly competes with good owners and rescuers. Slaughtering these animals involves long-distance transport under grueling conditions that injure or kill many horses and a grisly and cruel killing process that terrorizes and maims horses routinely from beginning to end. It should be stopped, not expanded.

(for a related story on Montana’s “Red Ed” Butcher  click HERE )

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6 replies »

  1. You’ve got all your ducks in a row R.T. No doubts on your reporting here.

    I think Ken Salazar (& barrel o’ buddies) is holding off action on the ROAM Act (S.1579) and bill #S.727 by this new brilliant plant he just presented to Bob Abbey and Senator Reid in Nevada. Meanwhile, he is continuing with his mass roundups in Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota (Forestry Service started today), Idaho, etc. 12,000 more planned to go to BLM prison pens while no Senate bills are being passed in the next how many months? Salazar is crazy as a fox, as the saying goes. I have this mental picture, like I did with former President Bush at the end of his reign with raking in oil & energy money off the public while he still could. Mr. Bush knew the end was near & was gonna get every cotton pickin’ dime he could. Does anyone wonder why we don’t hear a peep about him since January?

    We gotta keep the heat up on high with the Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. Or else they will think this Mustang & Burro sanctuary prank – oh I mean ‘park’ – is super great! Salazar, Abbey, Reid and Wallis all say “Lets pawn the public. We will steralize thousands of mustangs and burros, slip some out to slaughter, secretly build the new processing plant in Montana – all the while telling the public we are saving Americas wild equines with these lovely public pranks (sorry, slipped again) on land not even designed for their natural habitat while pilfering billions of taxpayers dollars to build & maintain them!”

    Ever hear of Steven Crowder on “Red Eye”? I think he would have a ball with this nonsense. He hates greed and corruption. I don’t know for sure. I think he is a conservative but is “Red Eye” on Fox? I have seen a couple of Steven’s skits.

    Well, anyways, just my thoughts.


  2. The killer buyers have been there all along. Bringing people into a new era and eliminating that shadow is possible now. That so many wild horses lives went the path of fear is saddest. Will we ever have an accounting of the numbers from BLM? The public still may not know that most horses sent to slaughter are not old or sick, but healthy animals bought at auction. “Don’t let your horse go to auction” has been the warning I remember from childhood. It is the cautionary tale passed down for generations because if you care what becomes of a horse sold then you do not want to send that horse to slaughter. When I read pro slaughter opinions I continue to hear denial of the terrible conditions horses experience caught on that road. Let them admit what happens and allow people the knowledge to make informed decisions and not believe that there are horses in ‘need’ of slaughter. Promoting respectful and humane options needs more exposure for those who worry that one day there will be an ugly decision to make. We can help make that decision informed and without that worry by not avoiding the subject but always telling horse people the humane options and their outcomes. There has always been a general lack of support to this end. Now I see that this may truly change for the better. It must in order for slaughter to end. It is up to all of us who know new horse owners and those who have that worry to tell them that the death of a horse can be without the ugliness, fear and guilt of sending a friend into fear and pain. Be responsible for each other and let others know this. mar


    • I totally agree, Mar. But what drives me nuts is the people who moan about how they “can’t afford” to pay for a vet to euthanize their horse, and pay for disposal of the body. Seems to me, if they can afford a horse at all, they could do just a LITTLE planning ahead for when “the time” comes.

      They don’t though. If the horse is no longer “useful” off it goes to auction. On another blog a breeder – complaining that because of no slaughter he couldn’t sell his horses, and he said, “I can’t afford to keep worthless horses.” And HE bred them, knowing there’s no market right now.

      I can’t afford worthless PEOPLE……


      • Suzanne, I realize horses die from accidents and illness. These can be problems that are legitimate for any owner. You are right, planning is a horse owner’s responsibility. If you are attempting to keep your horse until he dies because you will have it no other way, then you will know what to do. Those who want slaughter as a way to recoup a breeding or purchase investment are not planning to keep a horse in the first place. But slaughter is not a way to change horses either. is it? Do people do that?? That is sick… mar


      • I hear you Suzanne. I am so sick of hearing that people can’t afford to humanely euthanize their horse and dispose of him/her. Have you looked in a Dover catalog lately? Horses, and all the “stuff” we buy for them and for us to ride them is EXPENSIVE. If you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t have them! PERIOD. Those same people should also refrain from buying a yacht or any other expensive luxury item. Planning for the end of your horse’s life is like planning for a funeral at the end of your life (and a LOT cheaper). I think even a wooden casket is several hundred dollars!

        It’s ridiculous. The people in the horse “business” need to suck it up and stop breeding “useless” horses and get off their ass and find a real job. Stop living off the flesh of these horses that didn’t ask to be born in the first place.

        The real problem here is lack of accountability, respsonsibility and ethical code. We have a serious hemmorhage of morality in this country. Everyone wants an “easy” button. Horses live for 20-30 years. If you aren’t committed to that, don’t buy/breed one in the first place. The thing is, as long as there is that easy button, irresponsible and greedy people will continue to use it, and then buy or breed another one.

        If slaughter were off the table as an option, they would stop. It’s that simple. But, because horses keep getting siphoned off to slaughter, there is still a percieved “market”. Where there is a market (demand), supply will ALWAYS follow. This is simple economics.
        Just my humble opinion……


  3. Your humble opinion is right on target, Valorie. And yeah, I look at the Dover catalog regularly – but I seldom BUY anything! Funny, but being able to afford proper vet and hoof care for my horses – not to mention the unexpected – takes priority with me. But then, I actually do love horses, not just love what I can use them for.

    You’re SO right about the economics of the situation. People talk about regulating breeding as an option. You don’t need to do that! TAKE AWAY SLAUGHTER! If those breeders KNOW slaughter will NOT be available, they will regulate themselves. Who would be idiotic enough to breed so many horses with NOTHING to do with them? Not those people – profit is everything to them.

    Of course, since we had this discussion, things have taken a turn for the much better on the slaughter front. What with the health concerns about the chemical contamination in American horses and the new rules from the EU that will go into force on July 31, it will be … interesting. Canada may ban importation of American horses or outlaw horse slaughter completely. Even Mexico is under fire from the EU for noncompliance with their humane standards, and will have to follow the rules or they can’t sell our horses to the EU either.

    Can you say, “Serves them all right?”


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