Horse News

When it comes to America’s Horses, Honesty is Not always the Best Policy

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Author/President Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Backroom Politics Plague U.S. Horse’s Future

In 2006 Congress decreed that the USDA would no longer have the funding to send inspectors into the three remaining, foreign-owned, horse slaughter plants in the United States.  No inspection, no sales and the states of Texas and Illinois were quick to follow with legislation to prohibit the slaughter of American horses for human consumption with the backing of over 70% of the U.S. public.  In May of this year, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia, with full disclosure, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives received the votes to add the de-funding amendment only to have it secretly and covertly removed, behind closed doors, by a small committee of U.S. Congressman.

While the pro-horse equine advocacy movement works to be transparent and above-board it appears that the anti-horse coalition uses collusion, threats, misinformation and backroom politics to subvert the system of checks and balances and worse; disregard the will of the voting, American taxpayer.

In a time when anti-horse terrorists are carrying a banner saying that things are tough for the equine industry they add more expenses to the Ag Appropriation bill while saying the closure of U.S. Slaughterhouses is why the equine industry is in a slump.  There is no mention that slaughter is still an option across our borders and that as many and often times more horses suffer the cruel fate as when foreign slaughterhouses were open in the U.S..  There is no parallel drawn to the fact that the economy has tanked since 2008 and for most of the world domesticated horses are a luxury and not a requirement by most Americans to sustain their day-to-day life.  Instead, it’s all about the foreign plants being shut down and nothing about the over-breeding exhibited by such registries as the American Quarter Horse Association.

Stepping up to the plate to misrepresent the facts and allegedly to hide their special interest backers are the disappointing Congressman who subverted public opinion and worked in secret to strip the de-funding language from the bill.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he voted against Moran’s amendment to continue the ban.

Cole said numerous horse owners in his district are “pretty unanimous that they want the means to deal with an excess population.”

He said opponents of domestic horse slaughter “are letting their hearts overrule their heads.”

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., was one of the members of a House-Senate committee who worked to strip out the amendment.

“We wanted to allow horse slaughter again in America because of an unanticipated problem with horse neglect and abandonment,” he said.

He said horse abandonment and abuse in Colorado rose to 1,588 in 2009, up from 975 in 2005.

“The number of horses exported for slaughter really just offset whatever Jim Moran thought he was going to save from slaughter,” Kingston said.

He said horse slaughter has never really stopped but simply moved to Canadian and Mexican plants.

“But we can’t monitor horse slaughter in a plant in Mexico or Canada. And so we don’t know if it’s being done humanely or not because the USDA obviously doesn’t have any jurisdiction there,” Kingston said.

“Along the way, these horses are having a rough transit. USDA does not have the jurisdiction over how the animals are treated along the way,” he said.

The bulk of Americans and pro-horse advocates obviously don’t see eye to eye with the good Congressmen.

Simone Netherlands, founder of Respect4Horses, questioned the fiscal justification for opening up horse slaughter plants.

“In this time when the focus of Congress is supposedly on reducing spending and creating jobs, it is a ludicrous measure to spend tax dollars in order to reinstate an inherently cruel predatory business, from which Americans stand to gain nothing. Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007 have never created a total of more than 178 jobs,” Netherlands said.

And, they are not good jobs, according to Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas where a horse slaughter facility operated for years. “Horse slaughter means very few, very low wage jobs. This so-called business brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Having a horse slaughter facility drove away good businesses.”

Americans don’t consume horsemeat. Polls have consistently revealed over 70% of Americans oppose horse slaughter. “It is outrageous,” says Vicki Tobin, vice president of Illinois-based Equine Welfare Alliance, “that American taxpayers would be required to subsidize foreign-owned businesses that Americans oppose and that produces meat from animals that are not raised for food”.

In addition, American horses are not raised, fed and medicated within the FDA and European Union guidelines established for food animals, making them unfit and unsafe for human consumption. Equines are given many drugs banned in food animals such as pain killers, steroids, de-wormers and ointments throughout their lives.

A 2010 study in the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal showed a drug given routinely to equines like aspirin, phenylbutazone or Bute, is a carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia in humans. The FDA bans bute in all food producing animals because of this serious danger to human health. The recent EU FVO reports on U.S. equines exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter show banned drug residues and falsified drug affidavits.


In fact, it creates the problems it claims to solve says R.T. Fitch, founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation “As a convenient and lucrative means of disposal, Horse slaughter has created an over-population problem of horses, by enabling irresponsible breeding, and encouraging a quick turn around and dumping of horses. Very much like the housing market and the banking industry, the horse breeding industry is self-destructing by saturating the market and horse slaughter is the bail out”.

Horse Welfare Organizations wonder why breed associations continue to reward millions of dollars in breed incentives each year, while refusing to use some of that money as funds for horse rescues, funds for gelding, and funds for humane euthanasia.

“After all, there is a large market for dog and cat meat as well in China and Japan, does that mean that American tax payers should foot the bill to pay for the USDA to start inspecting dog and cat meat?” asks Richard “Kudo” Couto, founder of Animal Recovery Mission.

27 replies »

  1. Read this pile of slop from Kingston and a faux rescue (found on crawl at Horseback this a.m.):

    Proequine welfare are allowed to contribute to the main piece, but the out right LIES from the killers are OUTRAGEOUS and remain unchallenged by the “journalist”!

    Readers can comment, but I think pro equine welfare should call Kingston and the other a**hats and tell them they are NOT telling the truth and are WRONG WITH THEIR FACTS.


  2. Isnt it illegal to remove words from a document behind closed doors, Im smelling 3 rats who had no business removing wording from a Bill???????


  3. Arnt Committee members all suppose to vote, i know for a fact that the Member from Ohio Sherrod Brown was not there?????? isnt that why there are many committee members so the vote is fair???????


  4. Yes, there are too many horses. Yes, there needs to be an avenue to relieve suffering. Yes, it needs to be financially available to the average horse owner as well as the horse professional. Yes, there are some valid points on both sides. BUT, we just came from this very scenario! Where disposability promoted overbreeding and a throw-away mentality, an actual lucrative business of “killer” buying and rampant slaughter of stolen horses. The american public has a majority opinion against horse slaughter and as a life- long horsewoman I share it. Re-implementing a price per pound on horseflesh does not solve our issues it only opens the drain again. A humane, low cost disposal for suffering horses is needed. To be able to profit from that disposal creates the very situation that so many of us have found to be the nasty underbelly of the horse industry.


    • Dear Marsha Wyatt , over breeding is the culprit here if we could stop the over breeding by AQHA , a huge over breeder the problem would be just about ended, these people breed horses at an alarming rate , they get rid of at least 85% they keep only the ones that met their criteria, this is a huge red flag that needs to be addressed……………………Where do they get off with this kind of over breeding………………………


      • And even more disgusting is the fact that they call quarter horses the “Angus” of horses. It is despicable to think that our majestic equines, horses, donkeys and mules will be subjected to the pain and suffering so many fought for so long to end. People of Europe will need a strong dose of information about American horses. They need to know American equine meat is known to be tainted and therefore cannot be used in pet food. But, go ahead, feed it to your children.

        Parents need to be wary of school, hospital, and prison food contamination by this product as well. If it is offered to public institutions as safe, our agencies should pounce on it as a violation of public trust.

        Add to all of the above Paula Bacon’s experience with Beltex and its perpetual cavalier attitude toward corporate citizenship, and we have a new recipe for abuse both human and animal. It was well documented that in her town, property values plummeted, violent crime increased, and this foreign owned entity never paid any of its fines or more than $5.00 in taxes. Yet, they destroyed the sewage infrastructure and property values. I would argue, that rather than adding money to our economy, it in fact costs us dearly.

        On only one point does having a USDA inspector present a good thing. Equines have long suffered at the border because once they are labeled as “for slaughter” they have lost all protections. USDA has not been able to intervene in cases of abuse like what happened in Presidio recently. Animals turned away at the border were put in pens, and allowed to die horrifically, and no one could do anything about this. So, if suffering were the true intent of this law, it would have addressed the border crossings, and banned equine slaughter period. Thus, ending the suffering of thousands of our companion animals by removing the reason they travel and suffer in the first place. If the true intent was to stop the suffering, AQHA would have been penalized for over-producing horses, and in a very short time numbers would come in balance with both the economy and homes available for these majestic and innocent animals. 900,000 equine die of natural causes each year, how long would it be before numbers balanced with demand, especially if these mass producers were fined for over-producing? Not long, in fact only a few years.


      • Arlene, I am well aware of the overbreeding involved in performance horses…. multiple embryos, clones, etc. It is a travesty that has nearly ruined the quarter horse bloodlines, not to mention every other breed that has ever become popular. I used to be a competitor in NCHA and AQHA, I also fitted yearlings for the futurity sales. It is an unending assembly line of disposable horseflesh – I get it. However, there are people all over the country who want to put their heads in the sand about where their colts/horses might end up when they are no longer a convenient commodity. The education regarding unnecessary breeding has to be across the board, don’t you think? As well as owners accepting responsibility for how their animal might end up…. The pet animal lobbies have made such strides (and I was part of that movement), I hope for the same for horses. Unfortunately when push comes to shove the powers-that-be point out that horses are usually classified as livestock. It’s a bottom line issue. I am so grateful for sites like this, but is it really effective other than as a sounding board?


      • Yes, Marsha, this site IS more than a sounding board. This site is subscribed to by not only hundreds of equine advocates but also by their detractors and on a whole the honest and true information that is revealed, here, goes so far as to be utilized in the field on the behalf of the horses and also in Federal court.

        The major contributors, here, are not just talking but putting their lives on hold while they fight these battles and utilize their own personal funds in the good fight.

        SFTHH was originally conceived to promote a pro-horse book of love and compassion, with any profits going to an equine non-profit, but over the years has grown into something much larger with a reach that takes in thousands of visitors every day.

        Where you sit, today, is by far much more than just a sounding board, it is “pro-horse central” and we have only just begun to fight.

        Thanks for being here.



      • Well R.T., I thank you for the background on this site. I absolutely admire what you all are doing towards this cause. I was a Humane Investigator for 17 years, specializing in equine investigations. For many years, I was the only investigator on the west coast enforcing the shipment inspections of horses headed for slaughter out of CA. I know first hand the issues of paperwork (minimal at best), sorting of animal condition (heartbreaking), loading onto cattle trucks and the ultimate slaughter house horrors. I will never forget it and am saddened beyond belief that it’s being reinstated. I now live in a part of the country where there are few dissenting voices in the horse slaughter debate. But I am not on the front lines anymore and my hat is off to those who are. I will continue to support and do what I can from here. Good on you.


  5. Sue Wallis and her cronies have fooled a lot of people with the “unwanted, neglected and abandoned horses” lie – the real drive behind their wanting to open horse slaughter is greed, money. These pro-slaughter horse breeders intend to raise horses specifically FOR slaughter for human consumption with their eye on a market in EU and China . . . and then will try to put horse meat in our US stores.


  6. Nothing defeats big money. We have been bought and sold by special interests and no matter how we vote we loose. We loose over the issue of horse slaughter, the BLM American Mustang matter, and generally any other matter that protects our environment . Frustration is the way of the people, just look at the 99% who suffer it. It was once fixed with the Gulintieen.


  7. HSUS needs to step up to the plate and put forth an edited T.V. campaign. They do it with other animals. American would have the last word. They just need to see a sample. That’s all it would take. Americans DON’T eat Horses and they certainly will object to paying any more gov agencies. T.V. CAMPAIGN.


    • I dont put much faith in Wayne Pacelle. met him here in Ohio, at meeting for farm animals and their horrific treatment, after campaigning here in Ohio feverishly for signatures from everywhere Wayne sold all our efforts for the animals in a agreement with Stickland that was nothing but a sham and a time staller , still farm animals are treated horribly here, thanks to Wayne Pacelle and his SELL OUT of them……………


      • All Wayne showed to Oho Farm Animals was an extremely expensive suit and a cop out on them !!!!!! The phone call to Strickland was a monitered one where we all were on a conference line hearing everything that went on ………I was appalled at Wayne Pacelle…… I listened as he sold them out !!!!!I i never expect anything but a finely tailored suit……………………………from Wayne Pacelle………………………….


  8. Just the 1% getting their way out of the bribed politicians again. We no longer live in a democracy where 75% of the people are against horse slaughter and the politicians ignore it. This is happening over and over in all areas folks. If you don’t support the Occupy Movement, you may want to reconsider. Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Insurance they don’t really care about democracy-it is just in their way, those pesky voters at all. And they don’t care about our country or planet and they sure don’t care about horses, wild or otherwise. I thank God for the Occupy Movement. Let’s just hope it’s not too late.


    • savewildhorses: This brilliant 12-minute interview (
      with a retired senator from Alaska, Mike Gravel, makes that very point: corporations are designed to be amoral money-making machines, and when they are not properly regulated, their influence corrupts government, leads us into one war after another, causes the populace to wrongly fear terrorism from outside the U.S., and demoralizes our country. Well worth watching.

      (P.S. I’m glad you saw through that tailored suit, arlene. Think of all the good things WHFF could do with the megabucks donors ignorantly send to HSUS.)


  9. It still astounds me that 3 Congressmen could vote against the wishes of their constituents. These numerous constituents that they mention most probably are members of Ag and not the public at large.


    • Don’t forget that Conrad Burns had Harry Reid sneak in the 3 strikes law into a budget secretly at the 11th hour just before he retired and became a lobbyist. For AQHA. It happens all the time. That i why I say that the 1% is running the show. If only they could take away our right to vote, then their coup would be complete.


  10. It matters little that US horses are slaughtered in other countries, nor now here, it’s a horrifically cruel, profit-driven industry that many of us will continue to work to shut down. Shame on Blunt, Kohl, and Kingston for their ‘private deal’. We’ll now work all the harder for federal (and state) slaughter ban bills. Supports US S1176 & HR2966.
    Americans legislate locally and at state and federal levels for humane treatment of animals. We now have to work all the harder to reverse the evil, selfish actions of a few. Put our voices to work to be heard: demand passage of US1176 & HR2966.


  11. The best we can do is demand compliance with all drug rules until the bills are passed banning slaughter and use of double decker trailers. Despite obfuscation in arguing the finite hairs of the chemical issues and what various agencies call the compounds, there are rules which clearly state what is obvious from an ethical point of view. Meat which has been poisoned is not good to eat nor is it good to give to someone else to eat.

    Vets for Equine Welfare put it as plain as can be – Any EU or UK horse, which has ever received a medication that is banned for use in food producing animals, is forever prohibited from entering the food chain. Yes the list includes wormers, antibiotics and various other compounds including BUTE. Why would we do anything different? Why?

    Through reading Valerie James-Patton and Laura Allen’s report yesterday, it became obvious that enforcement of regulations will as usual be difficult to force due to loopholes and the basic fraudulent nature of the horse slaughter business. We must DEMAND paperwork is legal and complete to keep horses out of the pipeline who have been administered forbidden drugs. Bottom line, the American people are being placed at risk for liability by a small percentage of businesspeople who are willing to put the lives and wellbeing of the world’s consumers on the line to make a buck.


  12. Drug compliance is very important , but i believe its even further than that , The horses are not livestock and I do not eat my friends, I respect them…….They have throughout history been an important ally, their services to us have been departmental in building the United States they are a symbol of Freedom , I have always believed they belong on the Flag in a place of Honor !!!!! We are indebted to them on all counts of service without reservation, to them………………. I do not pay allegiance to anything that has been important to the structuring of America with murder , and eating them, and causing them such suffering my mind cannot imagine…………… or fathom , and those that do so are ignorant and have no idea the harm they are perpetrating on on them, to me they are considered un American ………….. The horses are are friends and companions with a world of knowledge to convey to us , all that have had the awesome pleasure to be in their presence should know this…….and embrace this ……………………… I will fight for their Freedom it is a given……………………………………..


  13. So we have to begin a “passport” system (I’m sure it will be free of corruption!)–that tracks a horse from “in utero” to its ultimate demise. And who will be liable for the drugs that are in it? The final owner? Every owner? Are we exporting this product to our enemies abroad? “Better than a Drone” And now we need inspectors at every plant–24/7–that’s going to cost. We can’t even get roads and bridges fixed…. keep an eye on those 40,000 horses in holding…..the ones BLM really really loves.


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