Horse News

Horse Slaughter, Off the Radar for Too Long

By Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) ~ reprinted from The Hill

Some Politicians Actually “Get It”

Photography by Terry Fitch

Horse and burro protection occupies a very special place in the big idea known as “animal welfare.” Wild horses embody the Western spirit that has animated our national conversation about protecting animals and open spaces. Horses and burros form some of the strongest bonds with humans found anywhere in the animal kingdom.

There are really two issues when it comes to horse slaughter: the private domestic market for horse meat and federal management of wild horses. The former, although it’s been shrinking, is certainly not gone. The latter remains a major issue for lawmakers, federal agencies, activists, and everyone else who cares about how we preserve and protect our wildlife and public land. Both need more congressional attention.

When it comes to the private market, local officials have long been ahead of federal policy. The last three horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil were closed by state law enforcement in Texas and a 2007 court order in Illinois. California overwhelmingly banned horse slaughter over a decade ago. This is all good news.

Still, a permanent federal ban has never been passed. The House passed the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act in 2006 — and I was proud to vote for it — but the Senate failed to follow through.

That didn’t stop some of us from pushing forward: the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, for instance, would have mandated a prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering or receiving any horse meat for human consumption. That bill never became law, but it kept the conversation focused on setting meaningful standards, where it needs to be.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva ~ a friend to Horses, Burros and the American Dream

Despite the domestic market shrinking, eating horse meat remains legal at the federal level. Congress should pass a bill that outlaws horse slaughter once and for all. There’s no real argument against it, unless horse meat is your business.

Public lands policy is a related but different issue. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) still includes horse and burro slaughter as a “management” option in its toolkit. Just as seriously, American horses continue to be sent over the border for human consumption. Between January and September of 2010, approximately 53,850 horses were transported across our nation’s borders for slaughter in Mexico and Canada. That number amounts to almost 1,700 per week, or one every six minutes.

When the BLM conducts roundups and holds wild horses in pens, the horses suffer and taxpayers often see their money wasted. Horses react negatively to the stress induced by chutes, boxes, knives and stun systems, leading to immense suffering and inhumane deaths. Before that happens, many wild horses are subjected to rough transport conditions on their way to BLM holding facilities.

For more than 30 years, wild horses and burros had been protected under the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. These longstanding protections were removed by the Republican congressional majority in 2006. As explained by The Washington Post in a contemporary online item titled “The Story of Conrad Burns and Wild Horses”: “[U]nder existing laws and rules, wild horses may be delivered for free to people, who then can turn them around and sell them to third parties who may do whatever they want with them, even sell them for slaughter, because [BLM] has no interest in pursuing any sorts of investigations into such conduct.”

To put a stop to this, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and I introduced the Restore Our American Mustangs Act in 2009 to step up fertility control measures, encourage more animal adoptions and provide up to 19 million additional acres on which more than 60,000 wild horses and burros under federal control could roam freely. The bill provides a definition for the term “thriving natural ecological balance,” which appears in the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, but is not defined. The definition makes clear that management of horses and burros should seek to achieve balanced, multiple use of public lands, ensuring the health of all aspects of the range.

The bill passed the House in 2009 but — we’ve heard this before — the Senate didn’t pick it up. We shouldn’t leave horse slaughter, public or private, in the no man’s land it currently occupies. This is something Congress should act on as soon as possible.

6 replies »

  1. If only Congressman Grijalva was Secretary of the Interior. Obama made a huge mistake appointing Salazar. It just may cost him his re-election.


    • Make sure it costs him re-election,let him know what the intention of the animal-lover is.It is the only thing a politico fears,being thrown off the gravy-train


  2. One of the most wonderful things that a Horse has instilled in me is to never back down , when you believe with all your spirit that it is the right thing to do for your herd or family, God Bless them and help us to save them for all they give ………………….. Their wisdom needs no voice to convey why they are here…………….. It is up to us to voice for them……………………. One thing for sure is everyone here knows this………………………. and will and their >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.. be their VOICE………….. and their ACTION>>>>>>>>>>


  3. We all need to pound the day lights out of our legislators until they get it. I continue to
    contact my legislators each time a post comes through. I feel it more deeply because
    my horse was one day away from being purchased by a known “Killer Dealer.” They have
    ABOUT THE HORSES THEY SEND TO SLAUGHTER. Those carting our horses off to
    $$$$$$$$$$$$$ The sad part about all of this is that these horses at one time were family members or companions to someone who loved them very much. We should be EXPOSING THE KILLER BUYERS AS WELL BECAUSE THEY ARE THE LOW LIFES WHO BUY THE HORSES AND ARE THERE AT ALL OF THE AUCTIONS…To me they are like bottom feeders who are relying on hard times. We should through our communities and horse clubs help those who fall upon hard times and really want their horses. We have a a couple of ladies in our area who collect donations of hay and monetary donations to
    help those in need. We need to ask ourselves as horse men and women, why are we
    letting all of these horses go to Canada and Mexico? Today believe it or not horses are being stolen to fulfil quatoas. If we DO NOT STAND UP FOR OUR HORSES, WHO IS
    GOING TO BE THEIR VOICE? I did not understand why the Senate let the opportunity
    pass to close the issue once and for all. However, the fact is that it didn’t pass and now
    we have to work harder than ever. No horses, burros, ponies or equine is SAFE UNTIL
    LEGISLATION IS PASSED – Domestic or Wild! As we have said, we need to commend
    those Legislators who are willing to put it on the line for the horses and EXPOSE THOSE who support the cruelty, torture and inhumane treatment. I often wonder how they sleep
    at night? But why should they because they come from the darkest areas of hell!


  4. Dear Rep. Grijalva,
    Thank you for all you have done and tried to do for out Horses.
    I live in Texas and was suprised to find that one Representative from our State did not take E mails from a person outside his district, even tho he was voting on a National budget issue!!! Rep. John Culberson of the Houston area.
    We need to be able to communicate with all of our Representatives and Senators when it comes to National issues.


  5. THis was posted on Richard Cuoto’s facebook page yesterday under a photo of a BLM branded wild horse:

    “Please Wild horse people help me out…. The numbering on the back end…does anyone know where these numbers came from and represent?? On the left side of the upper neck looks to be a number (BLM number) Im thinking this is one of our wild horses processed by the BLM but i need to be sure…I need people on this and to research the # 4 me. Thanks
    This horse in on one of the most violent illegal slaughter farms I have seen yet…..”

    Richard deals with the most heinous black market, illegal horse slaughter operations in Florida. That’s where one of our majestic wild horses ended up because the BLM took it off its land for no reason, shipped it to longterm holding, labeled it unadoptable and deemed it sale authority. Sale authority=we don’t give a damn what happens to this horse. This is not acceptable on any level. This horse need help asap getting out of hell that the BLM allowed it to be placed in. Shame on the BLM.


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