Horse News

Horse Slaughter Ban Proposed in Snohomish County WA

By Laura Allen of Animal Law Coalition

Anywhere You Can Ban Predatory Horse Slaughter is a Very Good Thing!
photo by Animal's Angels

photo by Animal’s Angels

A proposed ordinance, 12-106 has been introduced in Snohomish County, Washington, to ban the slaughter of horses and other equines for human consumption. The proposed ordinance, introduced by County Council member Dave Somers, would stop plans by Bouvry Exports, a Canadian company, to slaughter horses for human consumption at a facility outside the city of Stanwood.

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has indicated it is gearing up to begin issuing permits for horse slaughter. Bouvry Exports has requested an application for such a permit.

hearing for the public will be held on the proposed ordinance on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. in the County Council Chambers located in the Henry M. Jackson Board Room, 8th Fl., 3000 Rockefeller, Everett. Plan to attend!

Horse slaughter is a fraud on the public. If you cannot attend the hearing in support of this ban, contact the Snohomish County Council members and let them know that you do not want a horse slaughter facility in the county, that you support the ban introduced by Council member Dave Somers.

For more information:  A youtube PSA on horse slaughter


1. A recent nationwide poll conducted by Lake Research Partners confirms that 80% of Americans, regardless of their gender, political affiliation, whether they live in an urban or rural area, or their geographic location, oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The poll confirms that a vast majority of horse owners are also against the slaughtering of our nation’s equines. This 2012 poll is consistent with polls taken since 2006.

2. Horses purchased for slaughter are not old, disabled or “unwanted”. The US Dept. of Agriculture has confirmed with a study performed by Dr. Temple Grandin that 92.3% of the horses sent to slaughter are healthy. They could continue to be productive.  Slaughter proponents have widely claimed that slaughter is somehow an alternative for “unwanted” horses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Slaughter actually creates a salvage or secondary market that enables overbreeding and poor breeding practices.  Slaughter and a poor economy have resulted in horses in need.  Slaughter is driven by a demand for horsemeat in some foreign countries; it is not a “service” for unwanted horses and that is why most horses are healthy when they are sent to slaughter. Kill buyers are interested in buying the healthiest horses for horsemeat that is sold as a delicacy in some foreign countries.

The rise in numbers of horses in need and drop in horse prices is a result of the worst recession in memory. In fact, if slaughter controlled numbers of horses in need, there would be none as slaughter is still available and horses are sent to slaughter in the same numbers as before the 2007 closings of the slaughterhouses that were located in the U.S. It is the availability of slaughter that actually increases the numbers of excess horses and other equines on the market. Banning slaughter would reduce the number of excess horses and other equines.

Also, slaughter accounts for only about 3 cents for every $100 of the equine industry. It makes no sense for anyone to suggest a limited salvage market could influence prices in the entire horse industry.  According to former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), the live horse industry is valued at $112.1 billion of gross domestic product, meaning the reabsorption of “surplus” horses not sent to slaughter would actually boost the economy.

Most horses end up at slaughter because they are purchased by kill buyers. Many horses could have easily been purchased by someone else other options include adoption programs, placing them as pasture mates/babysitters to a younger horse, donating them for use in horse therapy, or placing them in a retirement home. Also, about 900,000 horses are humanely euthanized in the U.S. The infrastructure could easily absorb those sent to slaughter. The average cost in Washington of humane euthanasia including the farm call and either burial, rendering or placement in a landfill can be as little as $50 depending on the method used, and at most $400.

3. Equine slaughter is not humane euthanasia.  The slaughter of horses and other equines simply cannot be made humane: Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM & former Chief USDA Inspector, told Congress in 2008 that the captive bolt used to slaughter horses is simply not effective. Horses and other equines, in particular, are very sensitive about anything coming towards their heads and cannot be restrained as required for effective stunning. Dr. Friedlander stated, “These animals regain consciousness 30 seconds after being struck, they are fully aware they are being vivisected.” The Government Accountability Office and dozens of veterinarians and other witnesses have confirmed that ineffective stunning is common and animals are conscious during slaughter. It is simply not possible for USDA/APHIS to make equine slaughter humane and it is a myth to pretend otherwise.

4. Approximately $5,000,000 of American taxpayer funds, in the form of USDA meat inspectors, was spent annually to subsidize the three foreign-owned (Belgian and French) horse slaughterhouses that operated in the U.S. until 2007. Because there is no market for horsemeat in the U.S., after slaughter, the meat was shipped overseas, and there was no benefit at all to the U.S. economy. Only the foreign owners and distributors profited. If these foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses are allowed to re-open, they would again be subsidized by American taxpayer money.  Estimates are that the U.S. government would spend at least $3,000,000-5,000,000 to subsidize private horse slaughter facilities.

On top of that, the USDA could give foreign owners of U.S. horse slaughter facilities, such as Bouvry, the Canadian company that has explored the possibility of opening a horse slaughter house near Stanwood, Washington, or the Belgian company, Chevideco, which is planning to build a horse slaughter house in Oregon or Missouri, a subsidized loan of $750,000 through the RUS World Utilities Services. It is outrageous that the American taxpayer should support wealthy foreign investors in a business that profits from animal cruelty, benefits only foreign interests and wrecks the U.S. communities where the facilities are located. This money would surely be much better spent on American interests.

Chevidico which owned Dallas Crown, which operated in Kaufman, Texas until 2007 paid each year only 1/3 of 1% of revenues in taxes; on year, for example, the horse slaughter house paid a total of $5.00 in federal taxes on $12,000,000 in annual sales.

5.  Equine slaughter has been devastating to the communities where slaughtering facilities have been located, with significant negative impacts including nuisance odors that permeated the surrounding towns to chronic sewer and environmental violations. Blood literally ran in the streets and waste from the facilities clogged sewers and piled up everywhere. This predatory practice produced few very low wage jobs, meaning workers and their families overran local resources like the hospitals and government services. Horse slaughter brought in virtually no tax revenues and local governments incurred substantial enforcement costs in trying to regulate these facilities. The standard of living in these communities dropped during the time horse slaughter facilities operated. Good businesses refused to relocate there. As Paula Bacon, mayor of Kaufman, Texas during the time a horse facility operated there until 2007 said, “My community did not benefit. We paid.” 

Recently, when officials in Hardin, Montana learned of a plan to build horse facilities in that state, the town council immediately unanimously passed Ordinance No. 2010-01 that prohibits the slaughter of more than 25 animals in a seven day period. Just last month Mountain Grove, Missouri residents voted overwhelmingly against a horse slaughter plant in their community. The message is clear: Americans don’t want equine slaughter.

6. Although animal blood is often used for dry blood mill, the antibiotics given to American horses prevent blood from breaking down; therefore, horse blood cannot be used for this purpose and blood and other organs cannot be used for any purpose.  Communities will be required to find a way to dispose of horse blood, internal organs and waste. Horses have 1.74 times as much blood per pound of body weight as cows and with the drugs, it is harder to treat because the antibiotics in the blood kill bacteria used in the treatment process. This does not include the 15 million gallons of fecal material per year that must be handled. Note the Canadian horse slaughterhouse at Natural Valley Farms in Saskatchewan that was shut down in 2009 for dumping blood and tons of other waste into a local river or onto the ground.

7.  The argument that significant jobs would be created is specious.  Horse slaughter plants operating until 2007 never created more than 178 low wage jobs -and many of these were held by illegal aliens.

8.Another cost to communities is horse theft. Slaughterhouses know horses are stolen and brought to slaughter. Because horse slaughter is driven by a demand for horse meat in some foreign countries where it is a delicacy, horse slaughterers look for the healthiest horses, not abandoned, abused or neglected horses. When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, horse theft fell by 39.5% and in the years that followed, the state noted a nearly 88% decrease in horse theft. What does that tell you about this sleazy, brutal practice?

9. It is no surprise that following the closing of the horse slaughter plant, Kaufman residents enjoyed a significant decrease in virtually every type of crime.  This despite one of the worst economic recessions in memory. A recent study by a University of Windsor criminologist, Amy Fitzgerald, shows a link between slaughterhouses and violent crime. Last year the Canadian government ordered its inspectors to stay off the floor during slaughter for fear of injury from workers who were manhandling and slaughtering horses. Those who slaughter horses are so desensitized and lacking in empathy in the way they handle the animals that they actually frighten government officials.

10. The FDA does not regulate equines as food animals. Americans don’t eat horses and other equines.  American horses are not raised, fed and medicated within the FDA guidelines established for food animals, making them unfit and unsafe for human consumption. Equines are given all manner of drugs, steroids, de-wormers and ointments throughout their lives. Equines are not tracked and typically may have several owners. A kill buyer has no idea of the veterinary or drug history of a horse or other equine taken to slaughter, and many of the most dangerous drugs have no or a very long withdrawal period. A typical drug given routinely to equines like aspirin, phenylbutazone or Bute, is a carcinogen and can also cause aplastic anemia in humans. It has no withdrawal period. The FDA bans bute in all food producing animals because of this serious danger to human health. The FDA and USDA would prohibit Americans from consuming horses because of this danger. Yet, neither the FDA nor the USDA prohibits the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption.  It is a grave risk to public health to continue to allow the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption in other countries.

The European Union has recognized this and has initiated steps to try to stop the import into the EU of meat from American horses that may be contaminated. Kill buyers have been found to falsify veterinary and drug reports to avoid the restrictions. There is no enforcement at the borders, meaning the US continues to dump contaminated and deadly horsemeat on Europe and other countries. A petition has been filed with the USDA to stop the slaughter of many U.S. horses for this reason.

11. The 2011 GAO report confirmed that USDA/APHIS has not – and cannot – enforce humane transport regulations for equines sent to slaughter. Changing a few words here and there in the regulations will not change this. USDA/APHIS allows the kill buyers and haulers to fill out and provide the documentation – which is routinely missing, incomplete or inaccurate – relied on for enforcement. It is impossible to enforce regulations when the information to determine violations is supplied by those USDA/APHIS is supposed to be regulating.

12. Equines are in danger and equine welfare is threatened as long as slaughter remains available.

Click (HERE) to Visit Animal Law Coalition

14 replies »

  1. Yet another terrific article RT. How can facts such as these be so ignored by those that can do something? All we can do is keep trying and try we will. It will come our way.


  2. Thank you, R.T. and Laura for correcting the misinformation in an earlier alert about the situation here in Washington, that represented the Bouvry plan for Stanwood as nothing more than rumor.

    Here are the facts:

    1. A reliable source with inside knowledge of Bouvry’s operation with a history of providing good information to equine advocates, tipped several horse rescue operators off last December about their plans to reopen the old Florence Packing plant to service the Pacific Rim market for horse meat out of SeaTac’s air freight operation, and thus avoid the EU drug regulations.

    2. A carefull investigation followed that established; 1) A new certificate of occupancy had been acquired for the long vacant buildings in Nov. 2011, 2) Bouvry Exports had been added to the USDA list of bonded meat processors in this country despite having no other slaughter operations here, 3) Florence Packing is a Bouvry brand name along with its other three company-owned slaughterhouses in Canada, and most important, 4) A FOIA filed with the Denver field office of USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service revealed that Bouvry had requested and been sent a horse meat inspection application for the plant in January of this year.

    3. A thorough search of all records in Snohomish Couny revealed that all codes and requirements for slaughtering horses in Stanwood, which was once known as Washington’s Death Row for Horses, were still in place and the original use permit is still in effect. Unlike some of the proposed plants around the country, this one is fully approved and ready to go.

    4. Although the earlier alert said there had been no activity at the plant and is is in bad shape, the fact is that both our investigator and neighbors had noted a flurry of actifvity INSIDE the buildings late at night back in December and January, where any upgrades would have been necessary. Since the facility is still being used as a feedlot for horses bound for slaughter in Canada, only some minor replacement of fencing and chutes would be necessary on the exterior for the plant to reopen almost overnight.

    The proposed oridinance, introduced because county officials know this not a rumor but a real threat, therefore needs the support of all who oppose horse slaughter.

    We ask that you email the Snohomish County Council letting them know that true horse lovers support the new ordinance.

    Thank you,

    Allen Warren
    Horse Harbor Foundation, Inc.


    • The alert was sent to advise people of the council meeting and the efforts to pass the ordinance to ban horse slaughter in the county. We appreciate your need to edit every communication we send.

      The focus was on the upcoming meeting and trying to get advocates to attend, not the plant that is going to open any day since December of 2011.


  3. Thanks for this update. I did not know about a ‘3rd Bouvry owned slaughter plant’ in Canada. Aware of one in Alberta (Ft.Mcleod & the other in Quebec). The other ‘TWO’ owned by different individuals.
    I certainly hope all your readers/members will stop Bouvry in it’s tracks in opening another “hell hole” for horses/burros!! Any info required please visit CHDC ….


  4. How can a permit be allowed when the meat inspections for horse slaughter plants was not funded when the Moran amendment was passed. Because I was sent a email concerning a tweet from Rep. Moran that said the inspections will not be funded for 2013. Am I missing something here??


    • Yes, the Agriculture Appropriations bill for 2013 has not been passed yet, so Rep. Moran’s amendment has not gone into effect. At the moment the funding is still in place in the 2012 bill and inspections can still be approved through December at least.


    • Hi, Barb. You are half correct! The Moran amendment passed the committee but the bill never went to the house floor for a vote. We are hearing they will do a continuing resolution (usually lasts several months) which means the current approps bill stands as is – with the defunding language removed. However, Congress never funded the inspections. While the bill allows for funding of horse inspections, they were never funded. Of course, they always manage to find money somewhere but as of now, they are not funded. There is still a chance they’ll take up the bill during the lame duck but there is little time left and since they are focused on the “financial cliff” it is unlikely we’ll see any movement.

      We’ll have to push hard when they take the bill up again. I would suspect you’ll not see any plants opening until the appropriations bill is settled. It is unlikely investors are going to spend millions when a shut-down could happen within months of opening.


  5. Thanks Allen for clearing that up for me. There should be a bill introduced to permanently stop any funding for these inspections. That would put a stop to people like Bouvry from opening a slaughter plant in the first place.


    • The bill has been introduced via committee in the house….senate? Crazy!

      In addition, the SEC of AG has the authority to move funds (quietly) to fund HCHS, And Vilsack will do it..

      Allen didn’t clear anything up.

      Bouvary operates owns or operates plants, land in the US and Canada…some speculate they have connections to third entities doing offshore and south of the border of the US.

      Until the US or consumers DEMAND food purity standards with US equines (any equine for that matter)…the shuffle, diffuse and confuse game will continue.


      • You misunderstand. The equine protection bills in both houses of the U.S.Congress are buried in committee for the second session in a row and we suspect have about as much chance as the proverbial snowball in hell of ever coming out in the current one. This is a local ordinance designed to stop a specific plant that has slaughtered horses in the past and is still fully permitted to reopen. The only requirement needed to do so is USDA meat inspections and Bouvry Exports has the application for these in hand and can file the moment funding is made available. And this huge Canadian butcher does not require any outside financing to make this happen.

        As you say, this funding could happen at any time, and almost certainly will if the 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill is carried over intact into 2013. In fact, USDA has formally announced its intention of beginning these again and our information is that this is all Bouvry is waiting for before filing. To ignore this threat would be to bury our heads in the sand, as some apparently advocate, but the animal welfare community here in Washington State is not willing to take that risk and we are being proactive in our approach by attempting to head it off at the pass.

        As to your comments about demanding food purity standards for equine meat, this is an extremely dangerous course to take in and of itself. It essentially reinforces the pro-slaughter position that horses and other equines are part of the livestock food population. We believe we instead must continue to push for a legal position that horses are not a part of the food chain in our society and therefore should not be subject to slaughter under any conditions.


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