Horse News

GAO Follows Horse Slaughter Lobby Down the Rabbit Hole

Information supplied by the Equine Welfare Alliance and Animal Law Coalition

Agency’s Credibility Now in Jeopardy

Slaughter Bound ~ photo courtesy of ALC

Chicago (EWA) – The long awaited Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on horse welfare fell far short of the respectable reporting we have come to expect from the GAO, even raising questions as to the agency’s credibility.

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and Animal Law Coalition (ALC) have issued an exhaustive analysis and executive summary, demonstrating the embarrassing and shocking lack of evidence for GAO’s findings.

The analysis concludes that the GAO report is “disturbing” as it is filled with speculation, anecdotes, hearsay and unsupported opinions. The GAO sources appear to be largely known slaughter proponents.

“The GAO’s pro-slaughter bias is clearly evident in the report’s defamatory accusation that the Cavel fire in 2002 was started by so-called anti-slaughter arsonists,” states co-author and EWA vice president,

Vicki Tobin. The cause of the fire was never determined and it was Cavel’s owners who benefited from the fire, claiming $5M when the damages were estimated at $2M.

The EWA/ALC analysis details how, instead of doing the hard work of gathering actual data, the GAO relied on chitchats with a handful of state veterinarians with a few livestock board and other state officials and on information provided by pro-slaughter organizations.

“The GAO’s economic models fail to credibly take into account basic principles of supply and demand, the extremely limited effect of slaughter on the horse industry and the devastating effects of one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression”, said ALC’s Laura Allen. “Instead, the GAO report blamed the closing of 3 U.S. horse slaughter plants in 2007 for a decline in live horse prices, loss of horse markets, and a rise in horses in need.”

Carolyn Betts, Ph.D. Economics explains, “There is, by definition, no correlation between something that stays roughly constant over time – the number of horses slaughtered – and something that the GAO claims has gone up significantly over the same time period – the number of horses abandoned and neglected. In the absence of an observable correlation, it is nothing short of “heroic” for the GAO to assume a causal relation from a proximate constant to a variable that it argues has increased.”

A FOIA request for the data and methods the GAO used in developing its economic models was denied by the Congressional Committee that requested the GAO report. The EWA/ALC analysis concludes that this is nothing short of a Congressional cover-up for the GAO’s unsubstantiated claims.

A study by John Holland, co-founder and president of EWA, which was provided to GAO, found that cases of horse abuse and neglect in Illinois rose and fell with the unemployment rate. The same study found absolutely no mathematical correlation between these cases and the rate of slaughter.

The EWA contends that slaughter actually contributes to the problem of too many horses by enabling over-breeding and driving down prices. GAO’s economic model, done correctly, would have shown that prohibiting export of horses for slaughter would be the one thing that would really improve horse welfare over the long term.

The analysis also points out that the GAO report completely glossed over critical food safety issues raised by the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. The GAO was indifferent to the export of U.S. horses for slaughter for human consumption despite the fact that these horses contain drugs, such as phenylbutazone, which the FDA bans for use in animals used for food. Vicki Tobin explains, “U.S. horses are not raised or regulated as food animals. Given the importance of food safety, horse slaughter for human consumption should not even be a discussion point in a government report, let alone a recommendation.”

Probably one of the more ridiculous recommendations by the GAO is that USDA/APHIS will do better in enforcing humane transport regulations if there is slaughter available in the U.S. But historically, USDA/APHIS has always done an abysmal job of enforcing these regulations. Long before the 2007 closings, horses were exported for slaughter in large numbers and suffered on long, arduous trips over the borders and within the U.S.

In fact, the GAO’s discussion of APHIS’ shocking ineptitude and indifference to horses and the horrific mistreatment they endure throughout the slaughter pipeline is reason enough for Congress to ban horse slaughter and to do it now.

The GAO report and the EWA/ALC report will be discussed at the upcoming International Equine Conference, Sept. 26-28. Visit for additional information and to register.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues-free 501(c)(4) umbrella organization representing 189 organizations and hundreds of individual members worldwide. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild

The Animal Law Coalition is a coalition of pet owners and rescuers, advocates, attorneys, law students, veterinarians, shelter workers, decision makers, and other citizens, that advocates for the rights of animals to live and live free of cruelty and

Click (HERE) for GAO Study

Click (HERE) for EWA and ALC Analysis

Click (HERE) for EWA and ALC Executive Summary

18 replies »

  1. Government Accountability Office Somebody IN the government needs to look up the definition of “accountability” Oh wait I’ll do it!
    Definition of ACCOUNTABILITY
    : the quality or state of being accountable; especially : an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions


  2. The GAO is two for two, again proving there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY IN THIS GOVERNMENT – simply the same high-paid bureaucratic booty kissin’ we’ve all come to know and expect.
    They should be ashamed, but then again, you have to have a moral center, a sense of right & wrong and self worth to be able to construct a report that had an unbiased truth as a basis.
    Instead they present this as a shining and noble example of — what? It’s worthless. However, that sure the hell don’t make it any less disappointing, does it?


  3. Has anyone that we know of contacted Congressman Darryl Issa’s office regarding Congressional oversight? They are up in their eye balls with the Fast and Furious/Justice Department/gate, but..


  4. This is what happens when Corporations take over government. They are affecting every area of government. Government is not the problem inherently. Corporate influenced and bought government is the problem. And notice how the media is only focused on the problems of big government and never mentions the corporate influence? Follow the money.


  5. A few points that are important to remember:

    (1) GAO won’t provide the “science” they used to construct this report….they went to state vets, auction houses and the like and “interviewed “folks”;
    (2) EWA FOIA’d their research and EWA was told “NO!”….now:
    a. we AIN’T talikn’ National Security issues here…this is about THREE plants that closed
    b. the report was requested BY the Senate that works for US/us, and

    Remember that the AAEP “whitewash paper” (re: roundups) only relied on DOI so-called studies and data too….garbage in?….GARBAGE OUT!

    Good job EWA and crew on this rebuttal.


  6. The only reason they bother to do this is to keep building their road back to slaughter in the US and I feel strongly this will not happen unless a reservation may be enticed..

    Agree with all above. This is rigged and worthless. Did we pay extra for this nonsense?


    • You can bet the GAO report was rigged. Get this – an anecdote, according to Webster’s, is never to be used as formal evidence, as it is basically “hearsay” or stories told intended to achieve desired results.
      This is an actual quote from the GAO report:
      “Nearly all the State Veterinarians, however, reported
      anecdotes indicating that cases of abandonments and abuse or neglect
      have increased in recent years.”
      And the vets admitted, “specific data quantifying those abandonments were not available.”
      Now, take a look at what they based the general decline of horse welfare on. This is
      another actual quote from the GAO report:

      “We also asked the 17 State Veterinarians whether horse welfare, in
      general, had improved, declined, or remained about the same in their
      states over the last 5 years. Without exception, these officials reported that
      “horse welfare had generally declined, as evidenced by a reported increase
      in cases of horse abandonment and neglect.” They most frequently cited
      “two factors that contributed to the decline in horse welfare—the cessation of domestic slaughter in 2007 and the economic downturn.”

      Their “anecdotes” only “indicating” increased cases of abandonments were acceptable as evidence to base the general decline of horse welfare on? And further to blame it all on the cessation of domestic slaughter?
      What about their finding that the same number of horses are currently exported for slaughter as were slaughtered before the cessation of domestic slaughter?
      If anybody figures out how the cessation of domestic slaughter is the cause of these problems, please inform us all.


  7. It’s probably pretty easy to place people in key positions that will tend to “lean the right direction”…..or look the other way. There appears to be revolving doors between many government agencies and corporations. We should know a great deal more about these people who did the report.


    • There doesn’t appear to be a revolving door, the IS a revolving door. Back and forth between government and lobbying. It should be outlawed.


  8. AQHA they are the Biggest abusers of over breeding, they will breed, thousands of horses to get what they keep which could maybe 10 , where do the rest go, ………………… Of course they go to slaughter, Can anyone stop these people, if you want to talk Greed Personified in over-breeding start with AQHA…………………….It is not the small breeders , its AQHA, can we stop them?????? This is where the Problem begins, right there at AQHA……………….. They are diabolical and Most Greedy………………


    • Problem begins and ends with AQHA. Look at the numbers they breed, then look at the numbers for horse slaughter. No wonder they hired Conrad Burns as their lobbyist (Burns 3 Strikes Amendment) immediately after he retired from the Senate. It was the only lobbying job he had. Laws are written and funded by business.


  9. You so right savewildhorses, these people need also to be stopped, there Breeding techniques stink ……………………… They need to quit doing this type of Breeding, it fills the Slaughter pipeline………………….with beautiful innocent horses…………………… they meet a horrible death because of the Greed that exists at AQHA……………… Despicable !!!!


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