Horse News

Washington State Community Bans Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption

By Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times

Moving to pre-empt the revival of slaughter houses that kill horses for food, the Snohomish County Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to ban the practice
Something for a Horse to Smile about ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Something for a Horse to Smile about ~ photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Snohomish County Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption — pre-empting any effort to reinstate the controversial practice anywhere within its jurisdiction.

The council’s action followed impassioned testimony from both sides. It comes about a year after the federal government reinstated inspections of horse-slaughter facilities, making it possible, after a five-year hiatus, for horses to be killed in this country for food.

While not widely consumed in the U.S., horse meat is eaten in parts of Europe, South America and Asia. Under federal law, inspections of slaughterhouses where horses are killed are mandatory, and when funding for those inspections ended in 2007 it essentially ended horse-slaughtering operations in the U.S.

The Snohomish County ordinance, introduced by Councilman Dave Somers and backed by a broad coalition of animal rescuers and advocates, was aimed at preventing the revival of horse slaughtering at Florence Packing, a company located just outside Stanwood.

Owner Wayne Lindahl slaughtered horses at his facility for more than two decades until 1992. These days, he ships an average of 2,000 live horses a year to a Canadian slaughterhouse, Bouvry Export. Bouvry in turn ships horse meat to markets around the world.

Allen Warren, founder of the equine sanctuary Horse Harbor Foundation in Kitsap County, said he was told by sources inside Bouvry that the Canadian company had planned to reopen horse slaughtering at the Florence facility now that federal inspections have been allowed to resume.

Florence’s proximity to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he said, made it ideal for shipping to an expanding Asian market. Florence also is the only facility in the state where slaughtering could begin almost right away, without requiring the kind of approvals, including environmental, that would be required for a newer facility.

Animal advocates said they also found out through a Freedom of Information Act request that Bouvry had requested a permit from the Food and Safety Inspection Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to slaughter horses in this country, although a representative of Bouvry said he could not confirm that.

Given what they say they’ve learned, Warren said, “We connected the dots.”

In addition to pre-empting such facilities in Snohomish County, Warren and other animal advocates are working to ensure that funding for inspections is stripped from the federal agricultural appropriations bill, essentially prohibiting horse slaughtering once again.

Florence’s owner, Lindahl, said that despite the persistent rumors he has no plans to restart his slaughterhouse and is not in talks to sell his buildings.

He’s running a stripped-down operation, he said. “We have no refrigeration, no equipment. It’s been like that since 1992. I’m done with this business; I plan to retire by the end of next summer.”

He said, “What the horse people don’t understand is that there’s no place for these horses when they’re not being used anymore. We’re not taking saddle horses and sending them for slaughter. They are older or ex-bucking horses.”

Animal advocates point out that most of the horses sent to slaughter are not old, but are healthy. They also maintain that slaughtering is not humane but cited an inspector’s testimony before Congress in 2008 that horses often are conscious during the killing process.

Jack Field, executive vice president of the Washington Cattlemen’s Association, which voiced strong opposition to the ban, said there’s a need for a slaughter system in this state that has strong state and federal inspection and oversight.

It’s important, he said, that decision makers not allow “emotion to cloud science and good judgment on this issue. You mention horses and people think of these great majestic animals with their mane and tail blowing in the wind.”

But that’s different from reality, he said. “What they don’t see are the horses dumped on public or private lands by people who can no longer afford to manage and maintain them.

“Where’s the science that drives this decision?”

23 replies »

  1. Good news.

    Now if the killers would just realize that equine owners ALWAYS have the right to humanely euth their equines…HCHS is NOT humane and peddles a nonqualified, nonproduction meat source to humans FOR A PROFIT!

    To the cow peddler…one question:

    You say equine owners are “dumping” their equines on public and private lands. How is slaughtering equines for human consumption any less dumping and/or a service???? At least abandoning (which I do not support or endorse) does NOT poison humans….you, lyin’ dumba$$.

    By your own statement you acknowledge that you fail to recognize traditional meat production standards, accepted equine management to include death, over breeding and most importantly, irresponsible equine ownership…punish the horse! ….and those that eat them all at a profit.

    Mr. Field…I would venture to assume you get a few bloody dollars via HCHS.


    • Mr Field…p.s. please inform the public of your farm/ranch or packing house name….I want to make sure I NEVER buy ANY beef from any operation involved with you because if you don’t know what is wrong with HCHS, I more than wonder at your ability to provide a safe and qualified beef product AND as a consumer, I have the right to choose the safest and highest quality beef available to me. Yes, Mr Field I eat beef.


  2. Thank you Washington State. Now let Washington D.C. open their eyes to what the mass majority of what the people want “stop horse slaughter” period. I have read articles that the horses that are left or dumped on property are actually the rejected horses from the slaughterhouse. Because the slaughterhouses just want young healthly horses and not the ones that are sick. The horses might of started out healthly but after the auctions, changing hands, and just plain abuse the horses get sick.


    • Patty:

      Excellent point that I tried to allude to with Mr Field….the auctions and haulers have a documented record of abandoning and neglecting AND improper disposal.

      Thank you for reminding us/US all.


  3. Even though language banning inspections was removed from bill last year, still no (taxpayer) funding has been allocated for this horrrific activity. If US can’t afford to take care of seniors, it sure can’t afford inspections/oversight for a venture we want nothing to do with. “Lindahl, said that despite the persistent rumors he has no plans to restart his slaughterhouse and is not in talks to sell his buildings.” – so once again dookie lied and spread rumors about the impending slaughter of equines in US.


  4. LOL, the “emotion to cloud science and good judgment on this issue,” is coming FROM the Cattlemen and other pro-horse eating organizations who are spinning the information and trying to bully others into believing them.


  5. I was at this meeting and spoke. I had a conversation with jack field and he knew nothing about toxins in horse blood. all he was concerned about was people going after factory farming and protecting the cruel practices that exist!! I am dead set against it, he finally calmed down, he was shaking badly his hands, he finally realized their was allot he didnt know about horses! another lady backed me up! it all worked out!


  6. Bravo, we can do this One State ,one Community at a time !!!!!! I am working on Ohio !!!!!! WOOOOO HOOOO it is not easy but with a little perseverance we Can !!!!!!


  7. Snohomish county and the work of Allen and Laura Warren is an inspiration to all of us, everywhere to do diligence where the rubber meets the road – in our own local communities. I am proud of (the late) Mayor of Hermiston, OR Bob Severson and the city manager, but ashamed of the town of Pendleton, OR for their stands – or lack thereof – against horseslaughter!


    • Hmmm. may be wrong, but isn’t it Laura Allan (Animal Law Coalition) and Allen Warren (sp?).

      Sure Allen…Alan, etc (the male) will be here to make notations.


  8. Many thanks to Mary Bradley – for educating at least one cattleman! Hopefully, the information will get passed along to others like him.
    The star-tribune article was horrifying – in the number of horse abuse cases in that area. And one of the abusers was a member of the Horse Council??????? How could this go on without other members at least being aware? Apparently, they dont care?
    Its a good thing all of this abuse is made public – BUT how about actually doing something to put a stop to it – like actual penalties & jail time. These people are sick.


  9. Washington State kudos to all that have helped in this process. We will not back down ever. No to horse slaughter. We must continue state by state, speak up and stand for our horses freedom to be protected. Breeders are being driven to produce more horses for the slaughter pipeline. We must stop this barbaric practice forever. Responsibility of everyone breeding must be told and we all must make decisions to protect the ones we have, breeds carefully chosen.
    We are long overdue to teach others breeding that they need to manage what they have.
    We need more farms to grow quality hay for our horses that we already have. We must provide quality water and food for our horses. We have to stop the transport of our horses in the slaughter pipeline to Canada and Mexico.


  10. Oh Jack Field, you poor soul, first off to abandoned any animal is illegal, to abuse any animal is illegal, to starve any animal is illegal and foremost TORTURING animals is illegal, so you are saying just because an irresponsible onwer breaks the law it justify sending a horse to torture? There is NO need period for horse slaughter, if you had any brains you’d see a solution instead of wiping your hands clean and dumping the horse in auction. Obviously Your not about solutions, you exhibit laziness. Breeders are the problem and you support kill buyers pockets, shame on you, horse lovers do see a horse as majestic YOUR DAM STRAIGHT, you little man see $$$$$$$!!!!! So take off that fake cowboy hat step up and help find a better solution than torturing our horses, why do we need to provide our American horses for other countries, oh wait isn’t China the country that ships tainted toys, hardwood floors, poisonous cat and dog food? FINE THE BREEDERS!


  11. Thank you for the privilege of including me,I feel honored to help voice my opinion in saving all our horses especially. . As well as other animals as well..thank you ,and I hope that my voice be heard all over..thank you once again, and God bless you all!!


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