Humane Groups Petition FDA to Block Companion, Working and Show Horses from Being Slaughtered for Human Consumption

Information supplied by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue

Meat From Horses Not Raised For Food Presents Public Health Hazard

photo by Terry Fitch

(March 27, 2012)— Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States
filed a legal petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent former companion,
working, competition and wild horses from being used as human food. The petition alleges that
the drugs given to these horses throughout their lives are banned by FDA and/or potentially
dangerous to humans. Using these horses for human consumption creates an unacceptable and
illegal public health threat under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Current FDA rules do not require sufficient testing or documentation to ensure that former
companion and other non-livestock horses slaughtered for human food do not contain or have not
been administered prohibited substances. The “killer-buyers” who acquire these horses typically
have no concern or knowledge about the horses’ prior history before shipping them off to
inhumane deaths in slaughter facilities. Unlike cattle, pigs, poultry, and other livestock, which
are raised on the farm, horses are swept up by a predatory industry from a variety of sources—
former race horses, carriage horses, family ponies, and others which are routinely given drugs
and medications not fit for human consumption.

The FDA does not adequately regulate this flow of potentially toxic meat, despite the human
health and animal welfare risks associated with it. The petition documents more than 110
examples of drugs and other substances which are or should be prohibited in food-producing
horses, describes the horrible way in which horses die at slaughterhouses, and outlines the
environmental devastation caused by horse slaughter plants in local communities.


  • More than 100,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year, mainly for consumption in Europe and Asia.
  • The slaughter pipeline is horribly cruel, with many of the horses suffering immensely during transport and the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them unconscious. USDA documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at slaughterhouses in the U.S.
  • Virtually all the horses used for meat spend most of their lives as work, competition or sport horses, companion animals, or wild horses.
  • During their lives, horses who end up at slaughter are given a constant regimen of drugs and other substances which are either illegal for food animals, or are potentially dangerous to people who eat them.
  • Under the current rules and regulations, there is no safeguard in place that can protect against the consumption of unsafe toxins in horse meat.
  • Consumers do not know of the inherent dangers because there is no control over the drug residues.

“The slaughter of American horses for meat is an unnecessary and tragic end for these icons of
our nation’s history,” said Hilary Wood, president of FRER. “Horses are treated with many
different drugs throughout their lives because horse owners don’t expect they could end up as
meat. Horses often have many uses during their lives, from show rings to trail riding to therapy
programs. Their lives should not end with an arduous journey to a terrifying death to be turned
into an expensive and potentially toxic dinner.”

The petition requests that FDA certify all horses and horse meat from American horses as
“unqualified” for human consumption. This action is especially timely because in November
2011, Congress authorized the inspection of horses for slaughter in America, something that had
been prohibited since 2006. Businesses looking to start up American horse slaughterhouses have
been actively promoting horse meat, even though the animals were never intended to be food.
These businesses and their misguided investors are proceeding despite their awareness that
virtually every U.S. horse who ends up at slaughter has been exposed to a plethora of dangerous
drugs, many of which are specifically outlawed for animals intended for food.

Audio Post: Declan Gregg live in D.C.

Declan Gregg and Congressman Moran ~ photo by Terry Fitch

Declan Gregg only moments after speaking before the Capitol Building for EWA’s Children’s Letter Writing Campaign…which was so successful that it will be continued, watch for further news from EWA.

Breaking News: Summit of the Slaughter Horse Canceled

Information supplied by multiple sources

Horse-Haters Run from Pro-Horse Counter Conference

Simone Netherlands, organizer of the Summit of the LIVE Horse to be held in Oklahoma City, April 3rd

In a vague and jumbled press release, Quarter Horse trainer, Dave Duquette announced that the 2nd Annual Summit of the (Slaughter) Horse, which was touted to be held in Oklahoma City next week, will be “rescheduled” to sometime in January of next year.  Doubt and defeat of Duquette and Sue Wallis’ attempts to reintroduce foreign owned horse slaughterhouses into the U.S. have dogged the duo as they try to convince a doubting American public that butchering and eating companion animals and pets is a good thing.

In defiance of the “Summit” equine advocates from across the nation have organized several counter conferences in an attempt to get the “pro-horse” message out to the American people.

Simone Netherlands of Respect4Horses and lead promoter for the Summit of the Live Horse, to be held in Oklahoma City next week spoke with SFTHH early this morning:

“We received a heads up, late yesterday, that horse slaughter promoters Dave Duquette and Sue Wallis had called off their “Summit” so we called the Embassy Suites to confirm and indeed it appears as if they have decided to put their tail between their legs and give up! I believe that all of scheduled impressive speakers, the equine welfare community working together and the confirmed press coming to our summit has scared them off and they realized they were better off NOT being there.”

Netherlands continued:

“By no means does this mean that we will cancel anything that we have planned. Our Press Conference in Oklahoma City on April 3rd and live Web broadcast will move full steam ahead. Fox25 is planning on doing a segment about racehorses and slaughter tomorrow and also announcing our press conference. I will be on the Robert Dover Radio show tomorrow at 6 pm EST advertising the live broadcast.  We have a message to get out to the American public and now that the horse-haters have gotten it we need to ensure that everyone is aware of the plight of the American Horse.”

“This sort of behavior is nothing new for Duquette and Wallis,” said R.T. Fitch, co-founder and volunteer president of Wild Horse Freedom Federation, “they have operated under several different names in recent years and ran their finances into the ground with their first attempt at a slaughter summit last year.  Meanwhile the Equine Welfare Alliance held a multi-day event that attracted leading scientists, scholars and equine subject matter experts from around the world.  In the end, the truth will always rise to the top it’s simply a matter of getting it out to the public.”

To learn more about the Summit of the LIVE Horse visit Ms. Netherlands Facebook page by clicking (HERE)

Click (HERE) to attempt to decipher Duquette’s press release

More news to follow.

Animals’ Angels: Dennis Chavez Slaughter Horse Feedlot in New Mexico

Information supplied by Animals’

Kill Buyer Cruelty Runs Rampant

A Note from Sonja:

Six years of cruelty investigations have made it absolutely clear: Horse slaughter means a free pass, in effect, kill buyer amnesty for abuse, neglect and animal cruelty. But never has one single location screamed horse slaughter‘s cruelty more than at our March 10 investigation. Horse after horse after horse – yet completely typical of what goes on unabated in the slaughter pipeline. No feeling person could help but be heartbroken, and very angry.

But this investigation showed that obviously there are unfeeling, remorseless people with no empathy for these animals in their suffering. I do not wonder that ‘ag’ gag’ laws are being promoted in state after state. Though it is difficult to imagine how much worse it could be, without pictures and documentation to tell the damning tale, animals would undoubtedly suffer even more at the hands of such people.

But it also needs your help–to say we care, it matters, and pressure authorities to make this matter to them. The suffering of these horses was not useless if we make a difference for better treatment for others to come, and punish those responsible. Please support our call for action at the bottom of the article. Your voices have made a difference before; please make a difference now.

The Feedlot:

Investigators knew the history of kill buyer Dennis Chavez beforehand:

  • major kill buyer, shipped 10,000 horses to slaughter last year
  • repeatedly cited for violations to equine to slaughter regulations
  • frequent complaints received by AA about Chavez’s operation, all referencing significant abuse, neglect and animals suffering with no vet care or obviously necessary euthanasia

But it was not enough to prepare investigators for what they found. AA investigators arrived at Chavez’s Southwest Auction & Feedlot on March 10th for the auction’s quarterly horse sale. ‘Summit of the Horse’ flyers were plastered everywhere.

After a walk-thru of the auction house pens, investigators noted a vast empty pen area, and behind this additional pens. Back here they find approximately 700 horses. Almost all are extremely thin with body scores well below 2. Many have serious injuries.

“I’ve never seen horses like that,” said one of the investigators. “Suffering was bad, busted up faces, even body scores of 1or less, and the injuries and wounds. There was so much.”

In one of the first of the back pens, all are geldings and stallions that appeared to be recently gelded. Ungelded horses are rejected at the border because Mexican slaughter plants do not accept stallions. Dried blood covers the back legs, penises are extremely swollen and the horses stand motionless with heads down. One horse’s penis is grotesquely swollen, strangulated looking, as if something has been wound tightly around it several times.

In the next pen an emaciated mare barely able to stand, sniffs a recently aborted dead foal, remaining near it the entire time investigators are present. There are several thin to emaciated thoroughbreds, one with a body score 1 and teeth so overgrown they protrude out of his mouth and probably prevent him from eating. “He was just so thin and weak standing in the corner alone, you knew he was about to go down,” said the investigator.

In the next pen a beautiful palomino stood quietly with blood dripping from her eye. But then there was the emaciated grey horse nearby with both eyes destroyed. He stayed close to a chestnut ‘seeing’ companion. Marked with a large ‘X,’ he wore a slaughter tag. Investigators believed he was rejected at the export pens. Since last year’s EU Report mentioning horses rejected at the border, AA has found that nothing is done for these distressed horses, that no one takes any responsibility or tracks them. Yet horses arriving in conditions that qualify as animal cruelty or in violation of Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Regulations should be reported by pen operators to APHIS and local authorities. As AA said last year, “To run a cover up for offenders is intolerable.

Whatever the cause of his scarred and blinded condition, this horse has been dealt with harshly, yet even then he licked the investigator’s hand.

In the last pen, 4 horses were down. The grey mare had a body score less than 1 and a large bleeding wound. It appeared the injury was from bone on ground impact as she kept trying to get up and falling. She had made trenches from repeated attempts to rise, lying flat for a while and then trying again. Her will to live and her complete betrayal were terrible to see.

Next to her was a horribly thin palomino mare with her back legs tangled in hay baling twine, barely moving her front legs. On the other side of the pen was a light bay/buckskin mare that did not move at all. When investigators approached her ears moved. She looked at them with the whites of her eyes showing, afraid. Her body score may have been 1.

The last of the 4 dying horses was a light grey mare, emaciated, her tongue was hanging out and she was biting it. She appeared to be in great distress and physical pain, her legs moving.

Investigators observed from a distance to see if auction staff, the vet, or the livestock inspector would come. After a long hour, nothing.

AA investigators then spoke with Mrs. Chavez in the auction office, who to her credit called the auction vet. Though investigators had been told Dr. Brasmer was present at the auction, no one was ever able to reach him .

Eventually livestock manager BJ Winchester came in and reluctantly began to walk very slowly to the back pens with the investigators. He was quick to defend Chavez, calling the horses ‘rescues,’ that Chavez was trying to ‘nurture them back to health,’ and that he was giving them, ‘a chance to live.’ He confirmed that the horses are Chavez’s property.

Winchester became angry when investigators continued to insist that the suffering and dying horses should be euthanized. ‘Nothing will be done right away,’ he said. He asked if they were ‘animal rights’ and asserted he would not interrupt the auction. When they finally got to the last pen, the grey mare that was in so much distress had died. Vultures had already landed near her. Winchester had no reaction.

The impasse was broken when an auction worker arrived saying he could put the horses down right away. The ‘inspector’ no longer had a say and the horses were euthanized.

The rest of the horses in all kinds of terrible conditions will get no help, not from Winchester or the vet that no one can find.

In New Mexico the livestock inspector is supposed to inspect and enforce cruelty laws. In itself this seems an unworkable and inadequate premise, made even clearer by BJ Winchester. It is difficult to imagine what it would take for him to file cruelty charges.The NM Livestock Board is appointed by the governor, 9 people representing livestock industry interests. These 9 also hire the inspectors who are charged with enforcing laws for livestock.

AA has sent all evidence by certified mail and has not received any response yet.

Watch the video…(Warning: Images are graphic and might be disturbing to some viewers)

Read the full length report…