Horse News

Horse slaughter: Schakowsky, Dan Burton Bill to Save American Horses

Press Release from the HSUS

The Humane Society of the United States Praises U.S. Representatives for Introducing Bill to End Horse Slaughter

WASHINGTON (Sept. 19, 2011) — The Humane Society of the United States applauds U.S. Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, a bipartisan measure that will end the export and inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption across our borders. The bill was introduced in the House with 57 original co-sponsors.

“Although horse slaughter plants no longer operate in the United States, many thousands of American horses still endure the long journey to Canada and Mexico to be killed in cruel and unacceptable ways,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Americans don’t eat horses, and we don’t have to be the nation that is the pipeline for horse meat to satisfy the demand for a small group of high-end foreign consumers in Belgium and Japan.”

“I personally believe in the importance of treating all horses as humanely and respectfully as possible,” said Rep. Burton. “I look forward to working with Representative Schakowsky to end the cruelty after decades of effort to stop these practices.”

“I am proud to join Representative Burton in supporting this bill to put a stop to the cruel practice of shipping horses abroad for slaughter,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “As a strong supporter of animal rights and a horse lover, I recognize the need to protect animals that aren’t able to protect themselves. Protecting animals ought to be a bipartisan issue, and this bill is a strong step in the right direction.”

Approximately 100,000 American horses are sent across U.S. borders to slaughter each year. This represents 1 percent of the total population of American horses, as the vast majority of horse owners choose humane euthanasia–not long-distance transport and slaughter–as an end-of-life option for their beloved companions. States have acted to stop horse slaughter, shuttering the last remaining horse slaughter plants in the United States in 2007, and federal courts have upheld these state laws. Now Congress must act to stop the export of live horses for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

The horrendous end for these American icons sold for slaughter begins at an auction. The journey to and across a border can mean confinement in a trailer at temperatures in excess of 100 degrees for thousands of miles without access to food or water. Once unloaded, the exhausted, dehydrated and often battered horses are recklessly shoved into kill boxes where they suffer abuse as workers’ attempts to render the panic-stricken animals unconscious cause additional suffering.

A recently released GAO report also recommends that “Congress may wish to consider instituting an explicit ban on the domestic slaughter of horses and exports of U.S. horses intended for slaughter in foreign countries.” National polls show that 70 percent of Americans favor a ban on the slaughter of these animals, which hold an iconic place in the nation’s history and its self-image. The HSUS joins Reps. Burton and Schakowsky, along with the vast majority of Americans, in support of this bill to protect our treasured equine companions from this cruelty by banning their slaughter for human consumption.

A Senate bill, S. 1176, was introduced in June by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and now has 24 co-sponsors.

26 replies »

  1. I sincerely hope the bill they introduced passes with the speed it deserves, because this is a tragedy happening to our horses and burros.


  2. I am vehemently against slaughter, but what is the ideal alternative? While I personally would opt for humane euthanasia should one of my beloved horses require it, there are so very many horse owners out there who, maybe through no fault of their own in this economy, who believe auction (and what sometimes comes afterward) is their only recourse. Our rescues across the country are full. R.T., what do you feel is an ideal solution should these bills become law? Backyard breeding certainly won’t stop overnight, nor will enough reputable rescues suddenly become available. I respect you tremendously, and would appreciate hearing your thoughts.


    • Where I live it costs about the same as a months board to call out the vet and the rendering truck.

      Would you send your dog or cat to slaughter? I think not. Really a horse is a pet and/or family member. He has served you thru countless rides–generally in one piece (although bad accidents do happen). HE HAS SHARED YOUR SECRETS AND PAIN WITH NO ONE. He has listened to your cries when work is just too much, friends hurt you–whatever your situation is.

      And for all this HE GETS THE TRIP TO HELL as his reward? None of us need watch reality tv–that kind of betrayal defies all human decency.

      Don’t wait until it’s too late and then panic. If you suspect you may run into trouble–work on rehoming him now.

      If you’ve ever been stabbed in the back by a so called friend then you know what betrayal feels like. And just because someone did that to you is no excuse for you to do that to someone who has borne you no ill will.


      • you are so right, my 3 horses are my kids and when their time comes, it will be done with dignity and kindness. i told my buckskin this the other day and he half closed his eyes and lowered his head like aww, thanks mom.


      • You are so right Margaret…the majority of horse owners are animal lovers and to think so little of one animal because of it’s size that it only deserves a kill truck, is unbelievable to even try and think of. My horses are my life and my charges, and if it were that I couldn’t do right by them by keeping them, then I would opt to find them a place that would be able to treat them right and keep them until their end. Thankfully I have not had to ever do that, but my horses will never, as long as I breath, will never need worry about a kill truck as their final end. I absolutely die inside at the thought of losing any of my babies, but I would much rather they know that I am with them up to the very end, then have to die remembering only pain, suffering and fear.


    • So tired of hearing the “economy” as an excuse to send a companion and non livestock animal to an inexcusable end across the border. The same people who would do it in a bad economy would do it in a good economy. One needs to have something missing to do this to their horse who did nothing to deserve such treatment. Call a vet and if you need to eat ramen noodles for a month or two to afford proper care, so be it.


    • COMMITMENT is the answer ……we have become such a disposable society. I use to take children into a humane society…and before we even entered…I asked them if they knew what the “commitment’ meant…..and explained that all the animals in there ….were there because their owners didn’t know what the word meant. Everyone, please, teach all you can about commitment…..maybe, eventually, we will make a difference.


  3. May this bill be passed with an overwelming majority. It’s about time that all these people intending harm to these beautiful and majestic animals be stopped in their footprints. This is just the start. Then we must stop the BLM and their horrible helicopter companies from taking all our wild horses off the ranges that are rightfully theirs. This is just the beginning to bring right to our horses and burros that deserve to be on the ranges with their families . The best thing that could happen would be the firing from Salazar on down through all the ranks of the BLM who have mistreated and killed these beloved animals.


  4. Robynne C. – have faith. Necessity is the mother of invention. We know slaughter is not acceptable. We will find a way and the horses will be protected to a natural end.


  5. Robynne, here is an excerpt from an article in TUESDAY’S HORSE:

    When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Alternatives to Horse Slaughter
    Posted on Apr 2, 2010 by Vivian Grant

    As Caroline Betts, PhD and Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Southern California, cleverly points out in her article, “The economic reality of scarce and toxic horses”:

    In a letter to the editor of HorseBack Magazine, Betts proposes some reforms:
    Why, instead, aren’t these states considering the establishment of temporary state funded horse rescues, with jobs in them that provide tax revenue, until the economy recovers and the horses can find homes? Why aren’t they providing additional funding and jobs for Humane Societies and Animal Control agencies to cope with whatever is being claimed that they are having to deal with? Why not do something that BENEFITS HORSES as well as creating some jobs? And why not impose a state tax on horse breeders to help fund it all?”


  6. I only hope all the true horse people get moving and call and write their representatives. If we sitback the vocal minority will prevail as they have done in the past.The time to ban slaughter is long overdue. Robynne euthanasia in Pennsylvania is much cheaper than a month’s board. $150 -$175 and the average board $300-$350. Add $100 to hire a backhoe if you bury on the property. If you cannot feed your horses ask for help. At least here the help will be swift. The horse community supports its own. I think horses should be licensed and the money used to create hay banks. Where I live the horse industry is flourishing. The overbreeding as with all species is the root cause of the problem so license them amd let them take some of the responsibility for their irresponsible actions.


  7. Julie said that the bill numbers may keep on changing…

    Wishing Mary Landrieu had a part in this!

    Hoping that this will pass!!!

    One day, hopefully, this too shall pass!

    Let civilization be civil and stop this NOW!


  8. I just got a reply from MO Senator Roy Blunt who basically said he was in favor of horse slaughter and transporting horses to slaughter and would not be supporting this bill.
    Words cannot express how disappointed I am in my state’s Senator. Hopefully he won’t be re-elected. I will spread the word to my friends and he definately will not get our votes.


  9. OK…so this bill will prevent our American horses from being transported across the borders to be slaughtered. If passed, will it ALSO prevent the slaughtering of our horses IN America? I get so worried that those who WANT slaughter will dig for loopholes. And whoever it was who said “the backyard breeders won’t stop overnight”… forgot to mention that the AQHA, the racing industry, the color breeds…THEY are nortorious for the throwaways they mass produce each year, then just dump them at the slaughter pens.


  10. Robynne: Everyone is entitled to have their views on this very sensative issue.
    However, have you ever known anyone that had their horse stolen?There are many stories from people who trusted the wrong people only to find that their
    beloved horses suffered the fate of slaughter. There is a story about Montana, a family horse that was purchased by Killer dealer in Canada. The family gave the horse to someone who said that they would enjoy and take care of her until her death. It was no more than 2 days and she was on the truck to Cavel in DeKalb, Illinois. It was only by the grace of God that they found out what was going on. They phoned the DeKalb County Sheriff who could not make any promises. He had her descript, color, ect. She was very lucky for she was in the kill line. The Sheriff made them pull her off the line and put her in a secluded section. The family was frantic and the children crying. These people are so ruthless that they made the family pay double or
    three times the amount the dealer was paid. And then they had to pay to have her shipped back to Canada. The family was so happy that price was no issue. I agree with the others, until you have been there, no horse should every end their life like that. We should be helping our fellow horse men and women should they fall into a bind. In the end it is easier to help. There are excellent publications as Louie said. A horse that has been taken care of all of its life at some point was wormed or has had some trama and administered but. All of these items contain cancer causing agents. I would hate to think that American horses were the cause of someone’s cancer. My horse was one day away from the pipeline because of his previous owner. After she signed the horse over to me, I told him he would never suffer again at the hands of another human again. Please do your research..Not all of them are there because someone sold them to the dealer.


  11. The bill says “for human consumption,” which tells me it’ll still be OK to transport our horses out of the country, so, they can be slaughtered for “animal consumption”


  12. I just keep posting these articles on FB and talking to people about the urgency of the situation. Some are concerned. Some don’t respond. Some are upset by it. But I just keep on posting and telling…. in HOPES that people will become so MAD they will TAKE ACTION and do the HONORABLE thing for the innocent horses. What they suffer in the entire process of slaughter is WORSE than even the most vile criminal should be made to suffer. Yet the horses have DONE NO HARM, they have COMMITTED NO CRIME, they have done NOTHING to deserve such horrific treatment! And they understand what is going on, which adds to their suffering!
    My question to any who are pro-slaughter… WOULD YOU SEND YOUR FRIEND to slaughter because they weren’t serving your purpose anymore?? Of course NOT! Then DON’T send horses to slaughter!! They are highly intelligent and sensitive, and have proven to be faithful companions to “humans” for thousands of years. They are NOT like a bug you can just squish if annoying you.. They are fully capable of true friend relationships, and understand the deepest emotions and feelings that humans have. They are excellent TEACHERS and they COMMUNICATE far more than most humans can grasp the magnitude of.


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