Horse News

Pro Horse Slaughter “Summit” Not Happy with Dr. Grandin

Story by Laura Allen of Animal Law Coalition

Wallis/Duquette Struggle with the Truth

Dr. Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, Ph.D. delivered another disappointment to organizers of the misnamed “Summit of the Horse” in Las Vegas yesterday. Dr. Grandin was touted as a “featured speaker” who was said to be designing a horse slaughter facility in Wyoming that would be owned and operated by Wy state Rep. Sue Wallis.

Prior to the “summit”, Dr. Grandin told Animal Law Coalition “I have told Sue Wallis that I want no involvement in her business dealings.  …[W]e have done no design work.” Dr. Grandin was also quoted by Horseback Magazine as saying Wallis had “misrepresent[ed]” her involvement.

At the “summit” Dr. Grandin told attendees that many people had contacted her and urged her not to attend.

Dr. Grandin was a sobering reminder that this should be about what is best for the horses.

She described herself as “neutral” on the issue of whether to ban horse slaughter for human consumption. And, Dr. Grandin’s reluctance to endorse a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption stems from two concerns: 1. She said several times that a “horse’s worst nightmare” was to end up at a Mexican slaughterhouse, particularly a municipal abbatoir, where they are repeatedly jabbed with puntilla knives and slaughtered while conscious. 2. Dr. Grandin was skeptical that legislation to close the border and stop export of horses for slaughter for human consumption would be enforceable. She noted that it would be very easy to smuggle horses in closed vehicles or state other reasons for their export, particularly to Mexico.

But Dr. Grandin also told “summit” attendees that only about 20% of animal slaughter facilities operate within acceptable humane guidelines and the rest “slip into bad practices” with a full 10% intentionally treating animals cruelly.

Dr. Grandin said that in auditing slaughter facilities, 95% of the animals, whether they are horses, pigs, cows, etc., must be stunned effectively on the first blow or shot or the facility should be considered to have failed. She also strongly advocated video monitoring, non-slip flooring and high solid sides to prevent the animals from seeing anything. She agreed there are behavioral signs that can indicate when an animal is afraid and steps should be taken to alleviate the fear.

Dr. Grandin made the point that “you manage what you measure” and told attendees slaughter facilities should be audited using criteria such as whether animals are stunned on the first attempt, whether they vocalize which is a sign of fear, whether they slip or fall, how they are handled by employees, etc.

It was not what “summit” attendees wanted to hear. One man, claiming he was speaking on behalf of most people present, said Dr. Grandin’s  standards to prevent cruelty would be “costly”.

But there was no compromise from Dr. Grandin. She pointed out humane euthanasia as an option. She also said people had sent her a number of ways to reduce numbers of excess horses or help horses in need. She then read them to the attendees: birth control including low cost gelding though only one facility currently offers that service, raising awareness  about overbreeding, find jobs for older horses, establish a “horsefinder” that like would help owners network to find homes for horses they cannot care for any longer, establish hay banks and allow hay to be harvested on land that the government pays farmers to leave unplanted, allow in place rescue, create horse parks, or impose surcharges on stall fees at tracks and horsebreeding to cover the cost of humane euthanasia.

In effect, the solutions relayed by Dr. Grandin are (1) stop the overbreeding, (2) find ways to care for horses in need.

And the best way to do that? Ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. The availability of slaughter creates a salvage or secondary market that encourages the overbreeding. As Dr. Grandin warned, however, any legislation to ban slaughter must be enforceable.

Was “summit” organizer, Wy state Rep. Sue Wallis listening to the high standards for humane treatment that Dr. Grandin would impose on her proposed slaughter facility should it ever be legally and otherwise operational? Unlikely, as Wallis appears to have been busy angrily shoving reporter and horse advocate Simone Netherlands out of the “summit” conference room. The police were called and Netherlands was treated for injuries at a local hospital. Dr. Grandin is lucky to have escaped unscathed given Wallis’ treatment of people who don’t agree with her.

30 replies »

  1. Excellent article, Ms Laura Allen! I’ll bet Temple was sweating her own safety after the scene Wallis must have made assaulting Simone. I’m sure she was glad to take leave of that place asap.


  2. Dr. Grandin was true to herself and her knowledge of the subject of slaughter. She gave ways to monitor slaughter to prevent cruelty and fear. She also suggested ways to manage surplus horses to prevent slaughter of them. She also mentioned methods of birth control and preventing overbreeding to stop the problem.
    I believe that she was true to her preachings and I’m sure that Slaughterhouse Sue was disappointed in the presentation, hoping to find some kind of endorsement of horse slaughter where there was none from Dr. Grandin.


  3. The first word that jumped off the page was “costly”. Sorry, colt chompers, but you can’t be humane and cheap at the same time!

    The thing I found most troubling was Temple Grandin’s honest appraisal about closing the borders, especially with Mexico. Personally, I’d use sniffer dogs. I don’t think there’d be much that could hide the smell of horse manure and urine from almost any dog, so they wouldn’t need extensive training.

    Then there’s bribery, but I don’t know how rich anyone could become from a truckload or more of cheap, slaughter-bound horses. And would the payoff be worth a border agent’s livelihood? Get caught and there goes your gov’t job, healthcare, and pension. Explain THAT to your family! Passing through a load of drugs is much more lucrative.

    With all the caveats, no-nos and suggestions for practical measures TG put forth, I’m surprised Sue didn’t try to drag HER out of the room. But, unlike Simone, she didn’t have a broken arm, and, despite her age, looks like she could still put up a pretty good fight!


  4. It is a pity that people just still can’t say no to horse slaughter. I did appreciate that the alternatives that Dr. Grandin gave was to use contraception and par down horse breeding. This seems logical, but, still just ban horse slaughter.


  5. Great article. Wouldn’t it have been great if BLM used Grandin’s expertise to set up humane processing of the wild horses. The contractors would lose money for injured horses and gain money for safety and non stress. And the use of video cameras to monitor such.


    • No, it wouldn’t have been great.

      First of all, there is a valid argument that these wild equines don’t need to be removed, especially this way in the first place. Secondly, there has been no acknoledgement or concensus by government officials and equine interests on the cause of the problem of an “unwanted equine”. The current situation allows individuals to sell, regardless of final disposition. They like it this way.

      Also, many equine welfare advocates have stated repeatedly that there should be a funded through equine enterprises euthanasia option wherein the HUMANE arbaittor is compensated, renderer is compensated and no one else makes a dime off that dead equine, but it provides a necessary service for an owner in trouble. They certainly DIDN’T like that proposition because you see, afterall this is about makin’ a buck…..not about properly caring for an animal.

      Good god…we regulate disposition of batteries and paints better than we do dogs, cats, equines.


  6. Great article !!! I am surprised Wallis didnt also have Dr.Grandin removed from the Summit also !!!!!! Maybe she was to busy assaulting Simone !!!! Where to start with the OVER BREEDERS AQHA…………………………………I would think the numbers of What the AQHA calls not up to the standards of what they are looking for , are astounding and astronomical what they are sending to slaughter……………… This is pitiful that an a so called horse association would think in this way !!!!! They should be ashamed of themselves to say the least !!!!! They should be ordered to immediately stop this Horror…………………………… Imagine if they were in charge of people breeding ????? To me its the same thing !!!! Throwing away lives because they dont meet there standards , they should be closed down also !!!!!!!! I would like to know what gives them the right to do this ,just who in hell do they think they are to decide what lives to slaughter??????


  7. Temple Grandin made the best of the situtation. I am disapointed she stated “neutral” on horse slaughter as an end of life option for equines. Neutral is a cop-out and only aids the pro-slaughter. I am very pleased Temple Grandin is a good listener and doen’t push out (like Wallis and the BLM) people with other opinions.

    Wonder what she thought of the many horse eater newsletters sent out by Sue Wallis, using her name as endorsment. How many people who joined the horse-killer team-donated, just because they were ‘Grandin approved’. ? over about a year or more as I recall, her name was ‘used’ several times.

    Someday I pray no more horses to slaughter, much less horse-mill breeding ranches. Then we can get down to the real issues to help horses and people..instead of cleaning up after the mega-breeder ranches.


  8. There will never be effective and routine monitoring of horse slaughter to make sure it is humane. And not sure if this is true, Laura, but aren’t horses the only animal we export to Mexico for slaughter? If this is the case, it seems like a no brainer to get this transport banned.


    • Iknow they ship cattle and pigs to Mexico. Mostly for breeding, but how could a load of horses be differentiated. I’m sure the truck doesn’t say “for Slaughter” But maybe it does.


      • I live just under 2 hours from the border of Mexico. Thank God, I have never myself witnessed a truckload of horses going down there, and I seldom go on Rt 19 S – however, I have heard of people seeing them, using the same double decker livestock trailers, as for cattle, on their way to one of the horse slaughter plants a few hours south of Nogales, AZ. I get physically sick, with tears in my eyes, when I see any livestock, slaughter bound trailer. Most of the times, they are empty, and I am relieved, but I know what just transpired. I believe they often ship at night, and come back, their load emptied, during the morning/day hours. I have been a vegetarian for over 15 years now, and have been cutting back on dairy more & more. This is my choice, and I would never judge – but however many lives I saved by not consuming meat or poultry, over these years, gives me a little comfort…..


  9. I feel that Dr. Grandin ought to be commended for her neutrality. Her expertise in the field can apply to find alternatives for horses, as they are not raised for food as cattle is. And that she did – she listened to our suggestions and input, she even asked for it. By bringing up these alternatives, I feel a big step has been accomplished, as her name is always branded and while some respect her, some do not. The fact that she attended and made it clear that alternatives exist and quality assurance in humane treatment often do not, is a first step in the right direction. If this movement can implement and follow these alternatives, little steps are the beginning of greater results, and we can all contribute. Depending on Dr. Grandin to stop horse slaughter is like the pope telling all catholics to stop praying. It must come from all of us. Her being open-minded enough not to take any sides yet bring alternatives to the very table which the organizers only wanted their views on, is much appreciated.

    To: Cheryl.Miller@ColoState.EDU
    Sent: 1/6/2011 9:14:30 P.M. Mountain Standard Time
    Subj: Re: From Temple Grandin

    Dear Dr. Grandin,

    Your speech/presentation was interesting and I watched the live stream. Your input, stance and suggestions are appreciated. I also value the fact that you are an open-minded enough individual to listen to me and others.
    Thank you for your efforts on behalf of animals.

    Monika Courtney,

    In a message dated 1/6/2011 8:55:17 P.M. Mountain Standard Time, Cheryl.Miller@ColoState.EDU writes:
    Dear Monika – I am a big promoter of over the internet video auditing to prevent bad behavior when no managers are around.

    Temple Grandin


  10. Slaughter House Sue was apparently very upset about the horrific truth about her & her BUDDIES ON THE DOWN LOW-BLM’ s sadistic & deranged plans for Americas horses,( which include slaughtering all wild horses & all other wildlife on our public lands so their CRONIES, 13 MILLION OR SO, PRIVATELY OWNED WELFARE CATTLE & SHEEP
    CAN CONTINUE DESTROYING OUR PUBLIC LANDS, CAUSE DESERTIFICATION, CAUSE NOXOUS WEED EXPLOSION, DESTROY ALL WATER, SOIL, WILDLIFE, FISH AND NATIVE PLANTS AND COLLECT UP TO 1 BILLION PER YEAR IN WELFARE CATTLE/SHEEP SUBSIDIES). Apparently Slaughter house Sue & her BLM buddies like BOB ABBEY were not to happy that their slaughter fest was covered by award winning Journalist George Knapp and Las Vegas super station 8 and their great story exposing Slaughter House Sue’s & BLM’s horrific slaughter intentions for Americas horses,


  11. I must admit, when I heard about Dr Grandin speaking at the summit I was furious! I started doing research to find anything I could to use “against” her. I had never even heard of her before, until I became aware of the summit. Now I ask myself, why all the fury over someone you know nothing about? The summit! they made it sound like Dr Grandin was pro and on their side and I believed that! Then she spoke and the truth came out… dont I feel like the fool:(


  12. I’m sorry and no disrespect to Dr. Grandin, but can someone explain to me how anyone, much more a highly educated individual can be neutral on an issue that is part and parcel of their subject matter expertise?


    • No, Denise, I can’t even imagine it. I intend no disrespect for Dr. Grandin either. In fact, I thought her presentation was excellent and surely something Walrus and Doink did NOT want to hear. Except for the neutral part, which I can’t fathom either. Could it be because she is autistic?


      • I was hoping to get some replies to my very serious question.

        Maybe there really isn’t an explanation, but I believe her neutral position is based on her employement situation. I think in the end, trying to walk the middle of the road and not taking sides in an obviously moral/ethical dilemma only does a diservice to the issue and delays the morally high grounded resolution. Or maybe she believes that equines can be slaughtered humanely, but does not thoroughly incorporate the profit dynamic. Either way, it doesn’t solve the situation and I wish she would have addressed the slaughter process specifically for equines. Maybe she did, but I can’t watch videos.

        But she is entitled to her opinion….she just leaves a whole bunch out of her speech (and many others for that matter).


    • Dr. Grandin might not want to endorse horse slaughter with the concerns of adulterated meat issues… they are not raised for food. Her background in cattle / pigs is a whole different matter, as they are raised for consumption.


  13. Laura, a great review of Dr. Grandin’s speech. However, I still think that the borders must be such that no horse be transported to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. It doesn’t take much time to look into a closed trailer. And, if there are horses in there, that truck is stopped right now and those driving the horses and who they work for are sent to jail and charged for attempting animal cruelty. On top of that, dogs as mentioned above would I’m sure be able to scent horses. I’m sure if dogs can be taught to detect drugs it would be easier to get them to get the scent of a horse, but I think the trailer should be opened anyway. In addition, overbreeding by the TB breeders trying to get another Zenyatta should be controlled. This is needless to bring these gorgeous animals into the world only to have their lives taken just because some money hungrey people can’t win a lot of races with the horse. Additionally, Dr. Grandin mentioned a Petfinder way of finding new homes for horses needing a new home. This is a much better way than quickly trying to kill the horses. ANd the hay banks on government lands is a GREAT idea. This hay could help the rescues and sanctuaries taking these horses until new homes are located and would also help with the feeding of the other horses that the rescues and sanctuaries have saved. I like this idea. I also think that with so many rescues being found out to be bad rescues, like the one recently discovered in Montana, there must be a agency that regularly inspects each one to see that the horses and other animals there are being taken care of. If I remember right, the owner of the Montana location had oriental rugs to no end, so this was where the monies received were going, not to feed or trim the horses’ hooves. I hope they find the owners of this santuary and they are charged with animal cruelty to the fullest extinct of the law. In fact, to die in jail doesn’t sound like it is even enough of a sentence. Then there is the 200 horses that were recently saved at some Arkansas location. THis only shows that more has to be done to stop these animals from suffering — not only in rescues and/or sanctuaries that are a front and don’t care about the animals there, but also the slaughtering of our horses. 2011 must be the year that we find solutions to save all these beautiful animals and we can celebrate the New Year with happy endings for all the horses and burros — that this is the year for their happy lives to continue with family members and no horse or burrow will be slaughtered by crossing our borders and no slaughterhouses being allowed to start again in the U.S,


  14. Denise & Suzanne;

    From what I’ve read about Dr. Grandin, her view of animals is practical but her advocacy for them is to limit their suffering. She has the unique ability to view the world as they do; she understands their behavior & what causes their fears and has authored many articles on how to be the best at animal husbandry – to raise a better product with a quality of life, while acknowledging them as living things.
    She considers abuse of stock animals wasteful & unconscionable when there are simple, cost effective ways of raising them that don’t cause them to suffer unnecessarily or promote a legacy of cruelty.
    (a loosely remembered quote:)
    “We owe it to them to give them the best possible lives and our respect, up to the moment of their death.”
    I think because Dr. Grandin is beyond high-functioning autistic, she is capable of being both empathetic & practical. And that was definitely NOT what this ‘symposium’ was looking for.


  15. A few thoughts on Temple Grandin & her talk. First, I thought she gave an exceptional presentation. I read of her beforehand. Her papers/articles written years ago, @ 2002-2008, on horse transport, slaughter, wild horses. At this time she appeared to approve of all with comments made for improvement. So I admit, I was negatively biased towards her BEFORE I heard her speak at the Summit. It was my impression Dr. Grandin did not want to be there, especially after all the negativity, controversy…hearing all was a “killing field” conference, with Wallis’s one-sided, sole aim to kill horses, no matter what. And especially, AFTER hearing from educated, dignified, anti-slaughter advocates presenting her with well-researched *facts. Importantly, she stated more than once, “This issue [horse slaughter] is really contentious. I want to remain neutral.” I feel she did not want to get into the mess of the muck. She had new information from anti-slaughter that she really heard. She appeared to be truly open to learning more. Lastly, I don’t believe she is for horse slaughter. But here she was speaking to ranchers, *cattle people. And she continues to works hard to make the slaughter of cattle, pigs…& chickens, more humane. She could not “turn-off” the audience at the Summit & risk her dedication to & benefitting humane treatment of livestock. So what did she do? She mainly spoke of animal behavior, always respect for the animal, humane treatment, improving conditions at slaughterhouses. Professor, Dr. Grandin, EDUCATED! However, it became more obvious she did not want to be there. She spoke, never smiled. When leaving, she was approached by a woman in the aisle. Dr. Grandin looked at her & abruptly turned around & quickly walked away. Like, “I’m outta here. Finally!”


  16. Temple Grandin received a lot of ugly emails and youtube backlash for agreeing to talk at the summit. It is my hope that these people take a look at themselves and apologize to her for their nasty assumptions.
    Thanks for reporting on all this….


  17. Temple Grandin should sue for her name being used in a PR/Advertising campaign without her permission. It is simply not legal. She might also be able to sue for libel or defamation. I wish I wish I wish I were an attorney.


  18. At least they’re finally admitting the truth–being humane would be “too costly”. This isn’t about what is best for the horses or finding something to do with “unwanted, old, sick, lame or injured” horses, it’s all about making $$$. They do not have the horses’ interest at heart at all.

    The slaughter of horses simply cannot be made humane: Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM & former Chief USDA Inspector, told Congress in 2008 that the captive bolt used to slaughter horses is simply not effective. Horses, in particular, are very sensitive about anything coming towards their heads and cannot be restrained as required for effective stunning. Dr. Friedlander stated, “These animals regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are being vivisected.” The Government Accountability Office and dozens of veterinarians and other witnesses have confirmed that ineffective stunning is common and animals are conscious during slaughter.


  19. A new assault on America’s horses –

    When I read “CHEER for horses” by Baxter Black in in Friday’s paper (2/25/11), I thought it would be some kind of celebration of horses. I nearly barfed when I realized it was a celebration of SLAUGHTERING and EATING American horses! Is CHEER some new outgrowth or incarnation of UOH?

    I couldn’t find a CHEER (Centers for Humane Euthanasia and Equine Recycling) website, so I don’t know if it’s already set up or just in the planning stages.

    BTW, he suggests if someone doesn’t want to eat their own horse, they could exchange the meat with another person. So if they don’t want the kids to ask if their favorite pony is on the dinner plate, they can simply state, “No, this is someone else’s pony.” I’m sure they’ll leave “favorite” out.

    Since he also suggests the meat could be donated to feed people in Africa, Italy, and North Korea, the article has shown up on a few “humanitarian” websites. I wonder if those “humanitarians” realize they’d be sending send toxic meat to poison those they want to “help”? Beef would be a better choice, but I don’t know if U.S. producers would want to “donate” ANYTHING now that prices are so high.

    BB is a columnist for “Western Horseman”, so expect this article to show up in their magazine pretty soon.


  20. There is another aspect to killing animals for human consumption or even wild birds, coyotes, etc, i.e. eating an animal that has been euthanized. I have buried my own horses here, and the vets have had to use a barbiturate for helping them die (old age..). They are emphatic that the animal must be buried ASAP, as the barbiturate in the bloodstream will contaminate the meat, and kill the wild animal that comes to eat the horse.
    SO – if we DID use drugs for slaughter, what can be used that is then OK for human consumption??
    How can we “hide” the fact from an animal, that there is slaughter in the “next” room? How can we export meat? Isn’t the USA better off if we consume what we grow, what we make, and “make it” in America? Isn’t this what we need to keep our country healthy, and return it to a stable economic system? (etc, etc)


  21. She is for killing ” OUR” Wildhorses humanely well,
    I’m not for killing any horse at all … there is no humane way to kill a horse ( maybe a euthanizing or a bullit is it )


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