Horse News

Comment of the Day: The Truth About Horse Slaughtering

By Matt Driscoll as published in the Daily Weekly

“Vickery Eckhoff took the opportunity to set the record straight”

horse-meatLast week Benjamin Taylor took to The Daily Weekly to note the recent unanimous vote by the Snohomish County Council banning horse slaughtering for human consumption. Many, it seems, had no idea such a vote transpired, and had no idea of the issues surrounding the vote. However, Daily Weekly commenter Vickery Eckhoff is not one of those people.

As Taylor’s Daily Weekly post notes:

On Wednesday Snohomish County officially banned the slaughtering of horses and any animal of the genus equus for human consumption with a 4-0 vote on Ordinance No. 12-106 in the county council. Further, such slaughtering was defined as a misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum $1,000.00 fine and 90 days of jail time.Since 2007 sanctioned horse slaughtering has not occurred in the United States. After a Congressional decision in 2006 to stop allocating the Department of Agriculture money for slaughterhouse inspections, each U.S. horse slaughterhouse was forced to close its doors or operate illegally.

But after a June 2011 report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed a lack of slaughtering houses in the United States only increased the number of horses being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, President Obama and Congress decided to reappropriate money to inspections that November, effectively reopening the horse slaughtering business in the U.S.

Daily Weekly commenter Vickery Eckhoff took the opportunity to set the record straight.

Commenter Vickery Eckhoff writes:

Benjamin Taylor: Why on earth did you take on this complex and important humane, political and environmental news story when you are admittedly ignorant of it due to professed disinterest in the subject matter?Getting past your completely childish and unprofessional opening paragraph, your careless approach misstates so many facts as to be a detriment to the public’s understanding.

Food safety, for instance. Many, many credible media outlets have correctly (and recently) reported on the tremendous food safety hazards of illegal drugs in horse meat that are banned by the FDA and are cancer-causing. Your review of how horse meat is prepared in Europe is cut and pasted from some very old and uninformed “news” content from ABC, which itself cut and pasted from other uninformed news sources that it did not fact check. If you’re going to cut and paste information from any media without checking it, at least use recent examples! Dozens of news articles on how Europeans do not want US horse meat any more have appeared over the last several months and even weeks. By 2013, the US market will be gone for horse meat, because the US slaughter horse population is contaminated with drugs banned in food animals, the USDA has no means of controlling it, and the Europeans know it.

Now for your comments about the GAO report. Mexico and Canada have always slaughtered US horses. Naturally, when US plants closed, they absorbed even more. This was supposed to be stopped by passing legislation that banned domestic slaughter and export to slaughter, but special interests have blocked vote after vote on legislation. The GAO report is widely reported to have been ordered up by cattle ranchers looking to eliminate any and all restrictions on slaughter. It had no objective data in it. It is, in other words, part of a larger political story. And its not the one you’ve alluded to in your comments about President Obama.

You obviously don’t understand what happened on Nov. 18, 2011, when President Obama and Congress signed the Ag appropriations bill that reopened the door to inspections. Obama and Co. didn’t decide to reappropriate money to inspections. What they did is sign a massive bill, thousands of pages long, under pressure of a government shut down. Inside that bill, language banning the funding of inspections (which had been in place for 5 years) had been quietly removed by three pro-slaughter congressmen during a closed-door session. Do you think Obama read the bill and said, “oh good. They’ve removed the ban on inspections; now slaughter can start again”? No. This is an important point and you missed it. What you also missed is this: how US laws and the will of Congress constantly get undermined by a small handful of politicians looking to benefit a few donors.

Sure, takes time to ferret out this information, but as a journalist, you can certainly appreciate how important it is, especially on a complex topic like this one. If you can’t take the time to educate yourself, please–give the job of reporting on it to someone who will.

I have spent the last year writing about this topic–11 articles in all–for Joe Drape of the New York Times has recently written about the drugging issues and Lornet Turnbull of the Seattle Times has written a great article which covers all the points that you missed. James McWilliams has also written about it for Slate.

Sorry to be so hard on you here, but you can do better–and we, your readers, demand it.

Please click (HERE) to Join the Conversation in support of Vickery’s comments

24 replies »

  1. Vickery – you bring a smile to my heart! Some folks don’t understand how important this issue is to horseowners and to those unfortunate people that are being dupped into believing U.S. horsemeat is safe for human consumption.

    Yes, we appreciate the ‘news’ and those that report it – “the recent unanimous vote by the Snohomish County Council banning horse slaughtering for human consumption” however it needs to be accompanied by the real facts!

    Thank goodness some journalists are well informed and can help set the facts to print.

    Thank you all for doing what you can to keep us informed!


    • Agreed, vickysecho. And thank God not only for honest, intrepid, investigative journalists like Vickery, but also for the online publishers like Forbes and bloggers like R.T. who give these truth-tellers a forum and give us readers the ability to hear the truth, comment on it, and act upon it.


  2. You hit the nail squarely on the head. Mr Obama should go back & do his duty to us..the American citizen..& reopen that bill & take that portion of it to STOP ALL HORSE SLAUGHTERING in the U.S.A. & make it illegal to transport our horses ANYWHERE for such purposes…Canada..Mexico..abroad…& make a new bill that will not let any ignorant S.O.B. to ever change the order. Kudos to you for all you have done in this dreaded fight for our BEAUTIFUL horses..far & wide in the USA. Thanks, Sharon


  3. With TRUTH brings LIGHT! It’s time for those responsible to right the wrong. That’s the least they can do for the American people, as well as; our beautiful and innocent horses. Our horses are very resilent and incredibly intelligent creatures. Let’s give them the respect and dignity they deserve, by not allowing their last days on earth to end on a slaughterhouse floor. Thank you Vickery, for setting the facts straight.


    RT and Terry I think you got spammed by someone who hacked my email acct. I am deeply sorry for any offensive. A friends daughter told me all I should have to do so this won’t happen again is change my password which I’ve done.

    I also apologize for the time its taken to get back to you. I’ve been in the middle of moving and without internet til this morning. What a week its been!

    A week ago I thought I had heart attack. Seriously. Chest pain like you wouldn’t believe. Happily it turned it out to be anxiety but oh did it hurt! I’m fine.

    Again I’m so sorry for any spam and any offensive this had caused you.


    • Hey, Margaret…please don’t sweat the small stuff as I knew better and that is the only way we are going to beat this nonsense is to just hit delete and move on…which I did without a thought, knowing it was not you.  All is well.  


  5. I think it is understandable how information gets distorted when emotions, regarding such beautiful and unknowing creatures, are triggered. Would you care to name the congressmen who made those “quiet” change?


  6. Kudos to Vickery she has put the record straight. This is how many of them get into trouble with incorrect information. It will be for certain that the EU regulations will be enforced and no American
    equines will be going to Canada or Mexico. It is high time that our legislators get with the program and pass the law which is supported by 80-85% of the American public. No community, county or state should suffer with a slaughter plant in their neighborhood. Perhaps its time we visit every legislator in their home districts when they are on leave from DC. My Illinois legislators are on board and are co-sponsors or supporters of this legislation. Everyone should order a video or cd
    showing this brutal process and sit down in their legislators office. Then ask them if they can morally and humanely continue to support the slaughter of our beautiful equines.


    • All you have to do is go to
      That is where CD was copied from. My daughter burned about 30 CD’s showing what was happening in the Canadian slaughter plants. I have sent copies to state Governors in every state that was considering opening up a horse slaughter plants for the past few years. Obama got one too.
      I don’t know if it opened their eyes to the cruelty of this but it sure opened up the eyes of my state rep that had totally refused to sponsor H.R.2966 until he saw the CD. He had one of his aids call me and was asking about the CD because I asked him if he had see it, he said he had and the rep did sign on as a sponsor.
      But I don’t believe the bills will even be brought up in this congress. There are only 25 cosponsors for S.1176 in the Senate and 165 I believe in the House. The Senate is the group that gets all of the high donations from lobbying organizations that represent the Racing industry and numerous others.


  7. Thank you Vickery Eckhoff for giving us the real facts and we know it high time to pass the most important bill in this country. No horse slaughter will continue ever. We must make it clear and precise, NO HORSE SLAUGHTER WILL EVER RETURN TO USA. We will protect and defend our horses. We must have a place for the ones we have already and work on programs to sustain them in a thriving economy. Horses can add so much enjoyment and help us with many programs, including handicap riding, trail riding, sports riding, dressage, show, jumping and exercise fitness, etc.
    Believe me, children and adults will stay in shape when they work with horses. We must create new programs that add vitality to horse ownership.
    I am in the process of developing a new corporation to help our wild mustangs and horses in peril. We will come up with solutions to put them back on the ranges with water and food sustainability practices. It is time for us to put our passions into practice and build a great future of protection for our wild and domestic horses worldwide.
    United States must be a leader in horse protection now. We will make a difference for them horses and burros as well. I cannot forget our beautiful burros too. I will spend the rest of my life working and developing new places in our ranges that can handle our wild ones again so they can survive.
    Work in progress daily.
    The government has it hands full of other problems. we must be the solution planners, we are the horse warriors that care and will continue to help them return home to the range. Stop the madness of the BLM round ups. Not the solution for our wild ones. They deserve to be with their families back out on the range. that is where they belong.


    • Your plan is the best news I’ve heard for the wild ones in a long time. Sounds like something we would all want to support. Not a Pickens-type plan, I gather!


      • I am brainstorming. If you all have suggestions I am listening and planning. I need all of your input. I am gathering information and will come up with solutions to take our wild horses back home. Will need all the support we can muster to do this. We can make an incredible difference for the horses. It will not be like the Picken’s plan. Very different. I would like to see the land in our national parks be used and we can plant the proper food nourishment and plan water wells in various areas so our horses can survive naturally as they forage for their food.
        I am looking at various plants that wild horses already eat but we can add more nourishment for them to help them along so they do not starve out in the wild. I am afraid the ones that have been captured will lose some of their ability to forage for food in the wild. This is awful. It is like taking a wild animal and domesticating that wild animal. Our wild horses have been doing fairly well in some areas but once they are captured it is hard for them to be placed back out in the wild without some help with their food and water sustainability practices.


      • From all the articles I’ve been reading where will the wild horses and burros go that will be safe from the helicopters and round up? I’m all for saving the horses and burros but it seems in every article I’ve read these cattlemen are determined to kill off the remaining horses for the mineral rights. I’m not sure how there getting away with it though because many of these horses and burros were on public lands and protected lands yet ther still rounding them up. It’s like the blm is untouchable and does what ever they please reguardless of the govermental protection.


  8. I have a question. If Obama and Congress passed thousands of pages of bills and didn’t realize that this bill opening slaughter houses for horses again in the US was in there now that he does know can’t they readmend that bill and stop people from opening slaughter houses for horses on US soil? Now I have to wonder what other bills were slid in those pages and doesn’t any one check these pages to see what our president is signing ?


  9. I hope some readers here go over to “Horseback” and read Wayne Pacelle’s Op-Ed on domestic and wild equine welfare. It can be found here:

    I am not usually predisposed to comment on HSUS releases, but this one is good; not so much for Pacelle, but for the comments. Seriously, former Senator Conrad Burns (who can’t seem to operate a “shift” key) was the first poster. Please read and respond to his “mythical” scare poop.

    Senator Conrad Burns and those that voted for his amendment, are doomed to the history Book of Shame. He thwarted the will of the People, gutted the 1971 Act, gave DOI and USDA a free slaughter license of our National Icons.

    Sleep well, Mr Burns and remember you were NOT reelected in Montana…now there is a claim to fame.


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