Horse News

Equine Advocates Say Proposed Horse Slaughter Plants In For A Rough Ride

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY
“It’s ultimately a value question on how we value horses in the United States,”

“Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis with dad Dick and dinner.

Now that Congress has lifted the ban on slaughtering horses, companies plan to open horse-slaughter plants in several states, but animal rights activists say they face a rough ride.

Businesses have filed applications in New Mexico and Missouri and plan to open other facilities in Wyoming and Oklahoma. Horse-slaughter advocates want to produce jobs and lean meat that some consider a healthy delicacy for dinner tables in the USA and abroad. Animal rights groups promise legal obstacles and public protest to using as food animals that helped settle the West.

“It’s very high in protein, very low in fat,” says rancher and Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis, a Republican, who wants to run horse-slaughter operations in Missouri and Oklahoma, instead of shipping U.S. horses to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered. There are markets in dozens of countries and horse meat is 40% cheaper than beef, so demand is rising as Europe’s economy worsens, Wallis says.

Before the ban, horse meat was not popular in the USA, but it could be found in some upscale restaurants. Wallis says her primary customers will be abroad, but “for the U.S. domestic market, if we have a customer that wants the meat prepared case-ready or restaurant-ready, we would be ready to do that.”

Opponents say slaughtering horses is akin to slaughtering a pet and is morally repugnant.

“It’s ultimately a value question on how we value horses in the United States,” says Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States. “Last thing we’re going to do is set up a commercial operation and sell the meat of dogs and cats in other countries. It’s unthinkable.”

He says his group will sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture under environmental impact regulations. He cites waste management concerns and says horse meat that has been treated with pharmaceuticals is unhealthy to consume.

The USDA has received one application for a slaughterhouse in New Mexico and three inquiries from cattle slaughterhouses elsewhere, but none has been approved because inspection regulations have not been updated to reflect industry changes since the ban took effect in 2006.

Horses are iconic animals that affluent Americans see as companions, says Temple Grandin, an animal behaviorist and consultant to the livestock industry. In a poor country such as Mexico, “they look at a horse as a source of protein,” she says.

Congress effectively banned horse slaughter in 2006 when it eliminated funding for horse meat inspectors. Without inspections, slaughtering plants closed, and the export of horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada increased.

Lawmakers restored funding for inspectors in November after a report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, confirmed what some in the livestock industry say: The ban, together with a poor economy and increases in feed costs, caused the price for the cheapest live horses at auction to drop from several hundred dollars to less than $100 and contributed to a rise in neglect, abuse and abandonment. Instead of selling unwanted horses for several hundred dollars at auction, many owners had to pay for euthanasia and disposal, which can cost several hundred dollars, the report said.

Nearly all of 17 state veterinarians questioned by the GAO reported such a trend. “Without exception, these officials reported that horse welfare had generally declined” since the ban, the report said.

Pacelle disputes the GAO’s conclusion that the ban contributed to abuse, neglect and abandonment. The number of U.S. horses slaughtered remained constant around 140,000 before and after the ban, whether they were killed domestically or in other countries, he says. He agrees with another finding of the report — that horses bound for slaughter traveled greater distances to Canada and Mexico and their suffering increased.

The solution, he says, is not to lift the ban on slaughtering horses but to ban the export for slaughter. Pending legislation would do that, but similar bills have failed to pass.

Grandin says banning the export of horses for slaughter would make matters worse for horses, not better, because unwanted horses would be labeled for breeding or riding and go into an underground market in Mexico, where “there’s no supervision at all.” She advocates humane slaughter facilities and independent video monitoring to avert inhumane treatment, such as using more than one blow to kill a horse.

Cynthia MacPherson, a Missouri lawyer and horse lover who joined with activists recently to block a slaughter operation proposed for the town of Mountain Grove, predicts a bleak future for the industry in the USA.

She says, “People are going to be passionate and going to put their heart and soul into trying to stop this.”

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24 replies »

  1. Many things wrong with Mr Dorell’s article and I have not read the entire story at USA, but:

    (1) Not everyone (in fact the majority) in the anti horse slaughter movement are animal “rights”. We are advocates. That Mr Dorell uses the flame word “rights” says it all to me, along with the name “Oren” and a new photo of SS who looks like she doesn’t need to eat dinner (photo).

    (2) Factually incorrect that HCHS is FUNDED. The language to defund was removed and no appropriations were approved or authorized.

    (3) Dr Grandin should have been challenged by this so called journalist as to why equines are still suffering (same with the GAO fairy dust sprinklers called vets) when the slaughter export numbers have remained constant and recently on the rise.

    (4) No discussion of equines magically becoming meat when owners (or stolen) want to get rid of their equines? Cattle. sheep, poultry and swine can’t do that. Equines skip the entire food safety system.


  2. This morning I made a comment (long) on this USA Today article that is totally off-base and enraged me. I SHOULD HAVE SAVED MY TIME. For I remembered USA Today does cater to pro-slaughter. As usual, Wallis was wacko. And all this stuff from Grandin! I try not believe it came from her, but lately, off-the-wall pro-horse slaughter statements have been coming from her press releases. I wonder what is going on with her. Has she lost her mind and/or been sucked in by Wallis. Usually I know when it is a waste of time to comment. Today on USA Today, I forgot. And boy, pro-slaughter is commenting with more craziness and misinformation, vicious too…not worthy to take time to debate.




    • Apparently she is in a fight with the Governor of Wyoming and several law makers who to prohibits people from being about to essential purchase stock in the same animals—making it just a little more challenging for this already challenged politician to attract investors in her business. I thought she would decide not to run this time due to the time she anticipated needing to run her IEBA and strategize about how to slander and libel people who actually have the public interest and animal welfare in mind.

      Maybe if you have the staff of several lobbying firms at your beck and call, you can represent your state while at the same time torture innocent animals who have courage and heart enough to trust us while never losing one night’s sleep worrying whose child will be lying in a hospital bed while blood is transfusing because the child consumed contaminated horse meat produced by Sue Wallis-Charlie Stenholm-Frank Losey-Rick Bernman Dream Machine.

      Twelve year-olds who weigh 200 pounds who won’t stop eating because something in them can’t, thousands of puppies and dogs killed every day in US animal shelters that Frank Losey wants to keep open, so that the group that he lobbies for, the Missouri Pet Breeders (otherwise known as Heaven on Earth for growing a need for animal shelters. You know why Frank Losey and Rick Berman are so focused on eliminating the HSUS? You know why they are making such a big deal about the percentage the HSUS uses for animal welfare approaches that don’t end in slaughter?

      It is because if the HSUS is successful in their “attack the problem at its roots” approach, then we won’t be euthanizing thousands of unwanted or sick puppies every day. They are mad at HSUS because Mr. Pacelle has the wherewithal to understand the meaning of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. If the HSUS is successful in limiting the number of dogs bred in states with egregious numbers of dog breeders breeding over a 100 dogs a year in some cases, he will prevent the suffering of thousands of dogs. These lobbyists are angry because HSUS won’t play with them. They want HSUS to be in the shelter business, so that the people they represent can continue to breed too many dogs for the market just like the America Quarter Horse Association breeds too many horses for the market. They represent people who make their livelihood from creating circumstances where animals suffer

      These people don’t take body counts. They don’t care how many dogs die every year nor do their care an iota about horse welfare. They don’t even care about the welfare of animal agriculture because their lame brained schemes will lead to the ruin of the U. S. meat industry. Selling contaminated meat from the U. S. will not advance agricultural trade with foreign markets/ I don’t care how stupid or language challenged these lobbyists are, no one but no one wants their chid to suffer and anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one through an extended illness with an ounce of moral fiber could never even consider selling contaminated food to a family.


      • Edit to the final sentence. I omitted a few key words which change the meaning. Following the / which I intended to be a . , the next phrase should read “I don’t care how stupid or language challenged these lobbyists think consumers in foreign countries are,….

        Just for clarification, I do not think these lobbyists are challenged in the area of intelligence. Their challenges are from a lack of qualities far more essential for individuals who want to live in a civil and civilized society. But to quote a coach from the movie, “Chariots of fire…man cannot put in what God left out/”


      • HoofHugs ~ Right on! It is because of HSUS that so many gains to animal welfare have come to light from the Dark Ages in @ the past 10 years. I donate to HSUS but also to HSUS Legislative Fund. The HSUS has the most top-notch lawyers who DO get the job done. They rarely fail. No one want to see them a-coming. I am sick of hearing the HSUS does not support shelters. This is the ONLY “defense” the animal killers have as they continue to try to defame the just, powerful HSUS over the weak excuse for human, so-called “humane” beings. (The majority of which I continue to label sociopaths!)


  4. As I read so many blogs and comments, I see that this has become a global issue. Horses are loved all over the world. The push back against Horse slaughter is NOT just in the United States.


  5. Real, honest to goodness veterinarians will tell you the TRUTH:
    VEW White Paper

    Horse Slaughter –
    Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response of the Veterinary Profession

    A White Paper

    Prepared by
    Veterinarians for Equine Welfare
    . Horse Slaughter is not humane euthanasia
    It is the united opinion of VEW that horse slaughter is inhumane, and that it is an unacceptable way to end a horse’s life under any circumstance. One need only observe horse slaughter to see that it is a far cry from genuine humane euthanasia. From the transport of horses on inappropriate conveyances for long periods of time without food, water or rest to the very ugly slaughter process in which horses react with pain and fear, no evidence exists to support the claim that horse slaughter is a form of humane euthanasia. Rather, it is a brutal process that results in very tangible and easily observable equine suffering.


  6. Ronnie, as long as you’re already logged in to USA TODAY, you could go ahead and post the
    VEW White Paper (posted in earlier comment) which gives all of the information necessary for reader’s to FULLY understand the TRUTH about Horse slaughter. “They” are in a red hot hurry to push this through before the Public can be informed. We have to get the information out as fast as we can. The readers far outnumber the commenters and the readers need to read the TRUTH.


    • Thank you Louie. I just saw your post re “VEW White Paper.” And I just posted as comment to above USA Today article with your info and links to the White Paper. I read this years ago and have as one of the most important, informative papers on horse slaughter in my files. Thank you again!


  7. according to temple whatshername~i’m considered AFFLUENT~for owning horses! wow, now i feel rich and spoiled. they talk about horses only as meat. i cannot fathom these creepy, unfeeling monsters walking around among us!


  8. I have to add that, I’ve been around Horses most of my life, especially when I was a kid. I DID NOT know ANYTHING about Horse slaughter. I had NO IDEA. It just wasn’t a topic that ever came up for discussion. I’m guessing that the general public does not know, either.. even then, over 80% are opposed to it.


  9. From Sundown Horse Shelter in Minnesota:

    Those of us who operate credible, certified, documented Equine Rescues and put as much of our own money into saving as many horses as we can without losing the farm would prefer that you donate and help us support them. Some estimates are that horses bring 115 billion dollars into the U.S. economy each year. Isn’t that enough of a reason to find the unwanted horse(s) a new job??? I’m not asking you to stop fighting (non-violently) for them. In the mean time, we have to turn away a lot of people that we would rather help when they try to do the right thing by giving their beloved animals away.

    Each horse that comes to our shelter is carefully evaluated to make sure the new family will be a good match and that the horse can perform what they want it to or we take them back. Each horse is given a thorough check up, vaccinations, farrier care, teeth floating and whatever else it needs. This takes a lot of money.

    If you want to be a true hero, then support your local, state or national rescues so we can keep our horses out of the auctions, slaughter facilities and take them away from neglectful owners. We can do more with more $$$! If they come in so broken they can’t be placed, then the time they spend here in the hands of volunteers will be the best, last days or their life.

    If you choose to be pro-slaughter and post comments, you might consider visiting an actual slaughter plant first. Doesn’t matter which kind. Killing is killing. After you see up close and personal what the animals go through, decide your position with knowledge and careful consideration.

    I know that everyone for or against slaughter is unwavering in their determination. Sundown Horse Shelter in Minnesota will keep trying to keep horses alive, happy and re-homed. Thank you for your support! Happy Trails! PLEASE DONATE if you can.


  10. Many of us here are not only supporting the anti-horse slaughter cause, we are also trying to support litigation against the BLM. If Congress did proper oversight of the BLM and pass the legislation to protect US horses from slaughter, we would be able to work on real solutions to equine welfare issues. There are a number of issues that could be fixed if there were the will to fix them. However, we must stay focused on supporting legal and legislative action because if we are successful, we will eliminate the need for so many rescues.

    If you want more support financially, I hope you will consider helping us, not necessarily financially but by networking and communicating with your connections who support real solutions for real equine welfare problems. Slaughter is no solution to equine welfare issues. Just ask a horse.


  11. ~ Nearly all of 17 state veterinarians questioned by the GAO reported such a trend. “Without exception, these officials reported that horse welfare had generally declined” since the ban, the report said. ~

    Horse welfare generally declined…. WITH THE ECONOMY. Hello…. check the years. Slaughterhouses closed just as the economy began to tank. People lost their jobs and homes, incomes went down, prices went up – especially the price of a bale of hay.

    And these Einsteins blame it on slaughterhouse closures, as if just as many and more aren’t being shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.


  12. This is another “bait and switch” tactic. To make a blanket statement that blames all of the Horse welfare problems on the Horse slaughter plant closures, is another attempt to fool the public.


  13. Excuse my American, but all pro-horseslaughter “humans” are full of S – – T!! They are bottom crawling parasites, they are not fit to be called human beings. So, just because some foreign IDIOTS like to eat horses, our country needs to rush in & cater to their blood-thirsty demands !? So, Sue Wallis thinks this will take care of all the unwanted, neglected, excess, stray horses?? Just because other stupid, ignorant, primitive foreigners also like to eat dogs & cats, are our unwanted, stray, abandoned dogs & cats next??


  14. I will help protest, I live in Albuquerque 20 minutes away from the kill buyer Dennis Chavez and Montoya trucking that hauls the horses to slaughter. I wanna go to chavez auction to look around to see if ther are any abused horses and turn him in even though he’s facing cruelty charges from march. If anyone has any ideas what I can do let me know, mike


  15. As I understand it (from a study that I ready in 2011), the demand for horsemeat (in France) has dropped by approx. 12% over the past several years due to the downturn in the French economy. Obviously, cost is a factor in a down economy, and things aren’t getting better financially in Europe, presently – just look at Greece and Spain.

    ANY meat that is imported from another country is pricey, and I can’t imagine that horsemeat is less expensive that beef – which is readily available everywhere. What, no cows in Europe?

    Add to that the demand for equine health passports by many EU members (and the US inability to currently supply those passports) and you have less supply and demand for US horse meat, particularly because Thoroughbreds have become undesirable (by the EU, by certain Canadian horse slaughter facilities and even by some kill buyer/shippers) due to the issues of Bute, etc., surely this factors into a downturn for demand. And, please don’t tell me that Quarter Horses (70% of the slaughter industry inventory) don’t receive Bute – so, as I see it, demand can’t for horsemeat from the USA can only decrease presently. But that’s just my uneducated opinion.

    Next, if the USDA report is true, and only one application (for a horse slaughter plant in New Mexico) has been filed, how is it that Wallis & Company expect to have a slaughter plant operational in Missouri by the end of the summer??? Projected numbers for that one plant Missouri alone were about 100,000 horses processed annually. From ONE plant??? When there’s no application yet??? I wonder of the Mexican cartels that are involved in the horse slaughter facility business will be happy when they learn that Sue Wallis is planning on hijacking most of the US horse supply. Hmmm.

    It would be GREAT if there was a FACT SHEET with Sue Wallis’ opinions on one side, and the TRUTH on the other!


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