Horse News

A Stroll Down “Horse Slaughter” Memory Lane

Forward by R.T. Fitch ~ volunteer president of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Evil Never Goes Away, It Only Recruits New Puppets

Back in 2005 when the Belgians were murdering American horses in both Texas and Illinois the Wall Street Journal published an article on the subject which the then mayor of one of the Texas towns blemished and wounded by a bloody slaughterhouse took issue with.  That mayor was the well respected and talented Paula Bacon of Kaufman, Texas.  Mayor Bacon’s fight with the foreign scourge that bloodied America’s soil is epic and she will forever be remembered as one of America’s great and iconic heroines. 

That same battle goes on today as even though the plants have been shuttered an elected official from distant Wyoming has reared her ugly head and aligned herself with the very same players that once darkened the American Equine Industry.  Wyoming State Rep. “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis has chosen to sleep with the foreign enemy of the American horse and to ignore the voice of the U.S. public while Mayor Bacon bends to no Belgian wallet and to this day stands in defense of the American way of life, the principles that make this country great and the common decency that sets us apart from those who prey upon the weak and helpless. 

Today’s post is a testimony to strength, honesty and commitment; virtues not understood nor possessed by those who center their lives on the killing and consumption of companion animals.

Hats off to Mayor Paula Bacon one of the last, true pioneer women of the American West.” ~ R.T.

Why Belgians Shoot Horses in Texas For Dining in Europe

Grass-Fed Meat Is Superior, But Slaughterhouses Draw Growing Criticism in U.S.


TOURCOING, France — Christian Dhalluin, a butcher in this rural
French hamlet near the Belgian border, dropped some ground meat into
a bowl and mixed it with a spicy mayonnaise sauce to make his
specialty: American horse meat tartare.

“I love America,” said Mr. Dhalluin. “The horse meat from the U.S. is
the best in the world.”

Some Americans would be distressed to hear that. A vocal
antislaughter movement argues that horses have a special place in
American culture and history and should not be killed for food.
Activists have spurred an energetic but uphill effort in Congress to
shut down the last three horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. All are
Belgian-owned and supply butchers around the world.

A U.S. ban would mean that Mr. Dhalluin would no longer be able to
buy the meat that vaulted him to a gold medal in a recent culinary
contest for “best sausage in the category of garlic.”

“Americans do not profit from slaughtering horses,” Rep. John
Sweeney, a New York Republican trying to close down the
slaughterhouses, said in House debate in June. “Foreigners eat our
horses, and foreign companies make money off the sale of meat.”

The revelation three years ago that the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner,
Ferdinand, ended up in a slaughterhouse in Japan, galvanized the U.S.
antislaughter movement — and caused two of the Belgian-owned plants
to take on lawyers and lobbyists. “Toss in Mr. Ed and Black Beauty,
and we have a real public-relations problem,” says

Belgian Horse Killer Olivier Kemseke

, a
Belgian horse-meat dealer whose family owns one of the Texas
slaughterhouses under attack.

Federal law doesn’t ban eating horse in the U.S., but the meat is now
no longer sold for human consumption domestically. It was marketed
during the meat shortages of World War II. A lack of demand later
dried up the domestic market, though horse meat remained on the menu
of the Harvard Faculty Club in Cambridge, Mass., until 1983. The chef
took it off when he could no longer get fresh meat; the steaks were
arriving frozen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects the horses headed
for foreign tables, says 58,736 horses were slaughtered in the U.S.
last year for human consumption, yielding 13.6 million pounds of meat
for export to the European Union, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland. A
decade ago, there were around a dozen U.S. facilities slaughtering
horses for export. Today, with demand declining, that’s down to just
two in Texas and one in Illinois.

Mr. Kemseke, 33 years old, is the third generation of his family to
be in the horse-meat business. He owns slaughterhouses in New Zealand
and Romania but likes the American quarter horse best. Ample grazing
land means more American horses eat natural grasses, enhancing their
flavor, he says.

n the 1990s, Mr. Kemseke lived in Kaufman, Texas, where he managed
the family’s U.S. slaughterhouse. He loved the ranching town, pop.
6,700, near Dallas. “I had a little cowboy thing going,” he says,
slapping his pants and shirt. “Wrangler jeans, the belt, the boots,
the Western shirt.” He cruised around town in a 1971 brown
Cadillac. “Everybody waved and called my name. I was living the
American life.”

Foes of horse slaughter portray the meat as an exotic delicacy for
foreigners, evoking images of Paris brasseries serving up American
horse meat alongside foie gras and champagne. But many consumers of
horse meat are more like Nicole Chaupin, a French homemaker in a
skirt and sneakers who ordered a small container of Mr. Dhalluin’s
freshly made horse tartare. “It’s good. It’s healthy,” Mrs. Chaupin
said of horse meat, which is slightly redder than beef, more tender
and gamier in flavor.

Historically, consumption of horse meat in Europe was associated with
poverty and desperation. The practice is believed to have begun when
Napoleon’s troops, fighting the Russians at the Battle of Eylau in
Poland in 1807, ran low on supplies and ate their horses. Horse meat
helped sustain Europeans during the deprivations of two World Wars.

Because horse meat is high in iron and low in fat, European doctors
today often prescribe it to treat anemia.

The American Quarter Horse Association, the American Veterinary
Medical Association and other groups support slaughter, arguing that
there are not enough rescue facilities to care for unwanted horses.
And in Washington, many farm-state lawmakers also want to keep the
slaughterhouses open, in part because closing them might embolden
animal-rights groups and vegetarians to demand a ban on the slaughter
of beef cattle, pigs and sheep. “What is the distinction between a
steer, a hog and a horse?” Iowa Rep. Steve King asked on the House
floor in June. The zebra he ate in Africa last year was excellent,
the Iowa Republican said.

Horses “are not like other animals,” says John Hettinger, a
thoroughbred breeder and auction-house owner in Saratoga Springs,
N.Y. “I’ve seen a Clydesdale without a halter on performing intricate
maneuvers in Madison Square Garden,” he says. “Now, I’d like a
cattleman to show me a cow that can do the same thing.”

Mr. Hettinger, 72, has spent $160,000 on Washington lobbyists in an
effort to ban the slaughter of horses, federal records show. The
thoroughbred auction house he controls, Fasig-Tipton Inc., once sold
Man o’ War, whose racing career from 1919 to 1920 is considered one
of the greatest in American history. “I’ve made my living off
horses,” says Mr. Hettinger, “and this is my way of giving back.” The
Texas plants have spent about the same amount in an effort to
preserve it, according to Mr. Kemseke. The Texas slaughterhouses’
lobbyist, Jim Bradshaw, has made more than $27,000 in campaign
donations to pro-slaughter lawmakers, federal records show.

While the debate goes on, an American Airlines flight takes off every
day from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, headed for Paris’s
Charles DeGaulle airport with a load of horse carcasses in its cargo
belly. After passing French inspection, the U.S. horse meat from Mr.
Kemseke’s plant is driven in refrigerated trucks to rural Rekkem,
Belgium, where it is repackaged and shipped to butchers. Some
especially choosy butchers, like Mr. Dhalluin, come to the plant’s
freezers to pick their own cuts.

Mr. Kemseke uses local horses, too. In a run-down neighborhood in
central Brussels called Anderlecht, famous for its abattoirs, Mr.
Kemseke watched recently as 200 frightened Belgian horses were
unloaded from trailers, kicking and snorting, and tied to iron rails.
Wearing a butcher’s robe, he walked among the animals, lifting tails
and slapping flanks, making notes on a pad about which to purchase
for slaughter.

Horses are slaughtered in the same manner as cattle: with a metal
bolt shot into their heads. The antislaughter activists call this
method particularly inhumane. “If our friends in Belgium want to eat
horse meat, I’m not trying to dictate that they do or not do it,”
says Skip Trimble of the Texas Humane Legislation Network. “But we in
America, who view the horse differently, should not supply them with
our horses.”

So far, economic arguments have prevailed over the emotional appeals
of the antislaughter forces. Mr. Bradshaw, the slaughterhouse
lobbyist, tells lawmakers the Texas plants spend $6 million a year
shipping horse meat with American Airlines and other U.S. carriers.

Even the oversized American flag at the American Legion post that
greets drivers entering Kaufman is paid for by Mr. Kemseke’s horse-
slaughter business. “So they want to close us down?” Mr. Kemseke
says. “Then I don’t know where Kaufman’s gonna get their next flag.”

Write to Mary Jacoby at

Mayor Paula Bacon’s reply:

To the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
RE:  article “Why Belgians Shoot Horses in Texas….”

Former Mayor Paula Bacon displays outstanding fines and taxes still owed by Belgian Horse Slaughter plant ~ photo by Terry Fitch/courtesy of the Equine Welfare Alliance

I read with great interest your recent article on horse slaughter.

I am mayor of Kaufman, I have learned a great deal about horse slaughter, and I can say without reservation that the horse slaughter industry causes significant hardship to my community.

You state that “So far, economic arguments have prevailed over the emotional appeals of the anti-slaughter forces.”

If economic arguments had in fact prevailed, then the screen door ought to have banged the backside of Dallas Crown 25 years ago as they departed Kaufman. Instead they have used my city like a door mat.

In January 1986, then Mayor Harry Holcomb said, “Quite frankly, we don’t want you here!” when Dallas Crown came to the City Council with a plan to re-open. With zoning and vested rights they did re-open, but the city manager assured, “if they violate ordinances, we can close them down” [Kaufman Herald, 01/23/86].

Not so, as it turns out.  Dallas Crown has a long history of violating ordinances, as do the other two horse slaughter plants in Fort Worth and DeKalb.  “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them,” a recent city staff memo advises, one of dozens of such memos.

But the city doesn’t have the resources to outspend Dallas Crown in legal wrangling.  Recently, after receiving 29 citations for failing waste-water tests 60% of the time, Dallas Crown demanded 29 separate jury trials.

Then Dallas Crown banned the city from testing for 9 months–though it is required by law, signed agreement and court order.  Upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which said testing is designed to protect, will cost 2,100 sewer customers $6 million.

A repellent history of violations that includes blood spills, putrid odors, and horse remains in nearby yards continues to this day.

As unwilling host to a horse slaughter plant, I believe my city should have a voice in the economic argument.  In Kaufman, horse slaughter is the reverse of economic development.  Dallas Crown drains our resources, thwarts economic development and stigmatizes our community.

All 3 of the horse slaughter plants in the U.S. employ a total of fewer than 200 people.  They cost American taxpayers $5 million annually in federal funding for oversight, USDA inspections, transport inspections, etc, according to federal officials.  There is no economic justification for horse slaughter.

In your article Monsieur Kemseke, one of a long line of managers who “neglected to perform within the standards required of them” and an owner of Dallas Crown, notes that he paid for the over-sized flag that greets drivers coming into town, and wonders who will buy the next one if Dallas Crown closes.

Kemseke’s cavalier and insincere concern over our financial ability to purchase an American flag perfectly illustrates the horse slaughter “industry” in the U.S.:  Horse slaughter ridicules American values while gouging our resources.  The flag does not make up for the economic and stigmatizing drain that Dallas Crown has brought our community. A $100 flag in the face of the $6 million cost to taxpayers? Perfect. This is the brand of corporate citizen Dallas Crown is to Kaufman, and the kind of industry horse slaughter is to the U.S.

Please. Spare us from any more of this supposed charity.

Paula Bacon
Mayor, City of Kaufman


9 replies »

  1. Thank you for reminding us of the history of our battle with horse slaughterers. Paula Bacon is one of the Horse Warriors who have fought the good fight along with many individuals and groups in the USA.

    Horse slaughter of our companion, working, racing and sporting horses is the ultimate betrayal of innocent and hardworking animals.

    I despise it and all of the people involved with horse slaughter. I have no connection to Belgium or France or any country where they eat horses.

    I am very disappointed and disgusted with our House of Representatives and Senate members who cannot seem to get off their butts and eliminate this scourge forever. They have had many opportunities. We have watched year after year while they twiddle their thumbs and do nothing.

    It is laughable that the people that we have elected to represent us have treated us so poorly. I suggest that all horse lovers take a good hard look at their Representatives and Senators and ELIMINATE those who are not getting anything done in this matter. Especially eliminate those who actually support horse slaughter, they are scumbags beyond belief.

    Keep up the fight, don’t let our congress off the hook, that is where the battle will eventually be won!


  2. RT totally off subject and I apologize. I flew through Dallas/Ft. Worth yesterday and gave a silent shout out to you! I hope you heard my hello!


  3. Shared on Facebook. Such a horrific reality. For God’s sake people, get rid of horse slaughter houses once and for all.


  4. Amen to Mayor Bacon..To those of us that remember the fight…it was a long one in Illinois and I am sure it was in Texas. It is a shame that all those “supporters” were not able to watch the trucks roll in with frantic and frightened horses, not knowing what was going to happen along with the uncaring attitudes of those in the slaughterhouse.. It is a picture that will never leave my mind..
    Let this Foreign Freak stay in his own country and slaughter his own horses. The taste the woman probably refers to is the pharmeciticals still left in the tissue of the meat. We CANNOT EVER LET these vile companies open here again. Kathryn definitely has the right idea…we need to BOOT them out of Congress if they are not representing us. I think the problem is nobody feels that they have any power. Your Legislators spend a certain amount of time in their district offices. If your Legislator is one of the “Low Lifes” supporting slaughter gather as many horse people as you can and make an appointment to see him/her. You should bring all the amo that you have supporting your position. Continue to make calls – go to your local newspaper with your results. If you have to
    shame them for this position by going to the media and showing them your documentation. Don’t spare any information either..Folks we are fighting for the lives of all American Equines. All of us
    here on this blog know the details, but the majority of the people do not. Do they care? I hope so
    because this is a good indication of our society. Thank God we have the Paula Bacon’s of the World and Representave Bob Molaro who fought so galantly in Illinois. We also must thank OUR lobbists for continuing the fight. The Chicago Tribune ran several articles in 1993 regarding the slaughter of American Equines and the information is no different today except for the fact the we
    no longer have any operating in the United States at this time. We desperately need that March on Washington for our beloved Equines so our VOICES can be heard loud and clear.


  5. I, too, would like to thank Mayor Bacon for her bravery in continuing to fight horse slaughter. When we in MO were battling against a plant in Mountain Grove, Mayor Bacon offered to fly up here at her expense to appear at our meeting. It wasn’t necessary because so many were against the plant, but we surely did appreciate her offer.


  6. I would also like to Honor Paula Bacon, Dear Ms. Bacon you had me every time you have spoken for the Horses , If you were running for President , You have my vote, Thank You for your graciuosness …….. You are aGreat example of what it takes to be a Politician………………..Compassion !!!!


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