Horse News

Adoption of Horse Slaughter Measure Doesn’t Resolve the Issues

Source: By JANET PEARSON Associate Editor of Tulsa World

Pending federal legislation would ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and prohibit transporting them across the U.S. border to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin might have thought that quick passage of the horse slaughter bill would bring the controversy to an end. Instead, they probably just guaranteed that the controversy will continue to drag on, perhaps for years.

And the awful irony is we might have had to endure this dreadful experience, and the damage it’s done to our already lousy reputation, for naught – because there’s a good chance Oklahoma will never end up with a horse slaughterhouse. Let’s hope so, anyway.

But perhaps there might be at least one good outcome from this awful chapter in our legislative history: If Tulsa World readers follow through with their vows, lots of those lawmakers who supported horse slaughter and blithely ignored the wishes of voters might get booted out of office. (To learn how lawmakers voted go to http://www.tulsaworld.com/horsevote or http://www.tulsaworld.com/senatehorse.)

Several developments in recent years could mean there won’t be a slaughterhouse anywhere in the U.S. any time soon: pending federal legislation; stricter requirements for exported horse meat; persistent documentation issues, and a growing meat-fraud scandal.

And, there’s a growing movement across the country, articulated by the nation’s top agricultural official, to find a solution other than slaughter for managing the country’s horse population.

Just a few weeks ago, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for developing a “third way” to deal with unwanted or unneeded horses.

Vilsack called on Congress to “come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.”

Vilsack’s agency is reviewing five applications for slaughterhouses, including reportedly one from Oklahoma, although it is unclear if the Oklahoma application is still being pursued.

The secretary wasn’t specific about what he meant by a third option, but suggested as examples that these horses could be used in programs to help returning war veterans or prison inmates.

Apparently a number of federal lawmakers agree with his stance. Pending federal legislation would ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and prohibit transporting them across the U.S. border to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

The measure, called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, is in part a response to reports that horse meat has been found in food products in Europe and wrongly identified as beef.

The meat-fraud scandal began in early February when the British food protection agency found horse meat in a frozen lasagna product labeled as 100 percent beef, according to a Feb. 26 Washington Post report.

As more investigation ensued, Europeans learned the meat-switching involved “a multinational network of traders, factory owners and marketers.”

The investigation has found that meat fraud could be commonplace and that horse meat-laden products could have been sold across the European continent. “There is no telling how long the cheating has been going on or how much is undiscovered,” concluded the Post.

The discoveries have led to the removal of numerous frozen foods from “hundreds of multinational-chain supermarkets in at least 16 countries,” and “a dozen national investigations have been launched.” There’s now even talk of mandatory DNA testing for such products, among other steps.

Think something like this can’t happen here in Oklahoma? Think again: According to a recent report, it already has. The reason Oklahoma leaders adopted a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption in Oklahoma, according to the report, was because it was found in what was supposed to be beef hamburgers in a couple of fast-food restaurants back in the early 1960s.

Just the beginning

Meat fraud isn’t the only scandal dogging the horse-slaughter business. Ensuring proper documentation of the eligibility of horses to be slaughtered for export, as well as the conditions of their transport to slaughterhouses, is a persistent problem. According to a federal review of USDA’s ability to ensure humane transport, “many owner/shipper certificates, which document compliance …. are being returned to USDA without key information, if they are returned at all.” The agency rarely takes action against any owners or shippers who are found to be in violation of transport regulations, nor has it been able to track horses that have been given drugs that would render them ineligible for slaughter and human consumption, according to a series of articles on horse slaughter run by Forbes magazine…(CONTINUED)

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16 replies »

  1. In the early 90’s during a 3 year period horse slaughterhouses were closing and the numbers of horses slaughtered dropped by more than 50 percent, during a time when we were slaughtering over 300,000 horses in this country. Remember, during that time hay was cheap and so was gas and people had decent paying jobs. So we know that the 300,000 horses slaughtered each year then were not “unwanted” horses. They were the amount of horses the existing slaughterhouses had the capacity to slaughter. When there were suddenly 178,500 less horses being slaughtered each year, no one noticed. We didn’t have 178,500 “unwanted” horses. The number of “unwanted” horses is actually the number of horses the slaughterhouses have the capacity to slaughter. Just because they currently slaughter 160,000 US horses doesn’t mean we’ll have to figure out what to do with 160,000 “unwanted” US horses.

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    • Good point because walkers aren’t known for their excellence in mathmatical analysis unless they’re counting their own cash figuring out how this abhorrent horrendous practice benefits them personally.

      The “third way”, comprised of many actually humane components, cannot thrive and flourish until horse slaughter is banned and the borders are closed forever. TomV knows this and anyone else with working brain cells also knows this to be true.

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    • Excellent point TerryW. As slaughterhouses reopen (and, I disagree with the author — they will) the number of “unwanted horses” will rise to meet the capacity of the facilities.

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  2. ‘it was found in what was supposed to be beef hamburgers in a couple of fast-food restaurants back in the early 1960s.’

    That’s why many states passed statutes requiring horse meat to be processed separately and sold/displayed in a separate retail case, not in with beef and other meat products. Those who are in the ‘business’ of slaughtering horses are not the world’s or the country’s most upstanding citizens.

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    • Agree’d with that statement TerryW…. no upstanding citizens in volved in barbaric slaughter of a horse not meant for food…………

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    • OMG. So horse meat has been co-mingled with beef (actually used to be classified as a type of “beef”) for decades in the US, at least in Oklahoma where it was found in the 60’s, just as many have suspected.

      If you read the angry posts by Oklahomans at the end of the Tulsa World article, one poster – SmithMom – pens some different lyrics to the song “OOOOK-lahoma, where the blood comes oozing down the plain” ending with “Oklahoma is NOT OK.”

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  3. A non production, safety/quality certified agricultural product exported from the US attacks the integrity and reputation of legitimate producers from the US at EVERY LEVEL…domestic and international.

    Keep it up Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and I’d throw in swine,dairy and poultry producers in there too. You are cutting off your nose to spite equine welfare….and you know the rules of food production. Hypocrites.

    Carnatine (sp?) is now associated with “red meat” as a health risk…I love it when the stars align.

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  4. I’m glad someone is taking some action !!! This is horrible deaths for theses horses -trampled- scared broken legs,huge gashes deep cuts ,wounds , babies and all !!!! its sick and Very inhumane!!! I personally think its nasty and have quit eating meat this week !! I’m disgusted with all of it and will raise my own cows if I ever eat a meat again ,, I’ve barely ate all week thinking of it all ,, its just wrong all the way around for the horses and the people that don’t want to eat them !! I hope y’all can be a place to decide against this,, its causing huge world wide problems already ,, !!

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  5. Good article. Although the law might have been signed into law by Governor “Slaughter Princess”, it could take years if there are numerous ligtigations involved. What makes me sick, just as happened in Illinois, the money which was spent to fight this could have been used to support solutions to the problem. Several years back horse meat was used in dog food too. We are more technologically savy these days and can research and find critical information on any subject. We didn’t have that access years ago – nor did we have citizens who would not go along with system. Its too bad for Oklahoma because I had hoped to attend the Arabian Nationals in Oklahoma this year..I would NOT SPEND ONE DIME for a family vacation in this state. You can defeat these inhumane legislators, but it means doing alot of work. If I lived in your state, I would gather the horse people against the bill, get your posters together and picket the legislators office. Do each one at a time…or determine a date and hit each one on the same day…Bring posters and infor about slaughter stating that this is how your legislators want to spend your money…Find someone who is not afraid to take on the challenge, it can be done. I would also send emails and letters to the political parties telling them you will not support their candidates for this reason, especially the Democratic Committee. This law involves the whole nation and probably Canada too. Remember, Canada also sent horses to Cavel, Intl in DeKalb, Illinois to be slaughtered. Its too bad Oklahoma could be called “Slaughter House” capital of the United States. God Bless the Legislators who had the guts to say “NO” to the bill. They have no idea how this is going to impact your state. Start a fund to errect a bill board near your airport with all the graphic details…no one will want to do business with them. Get the info and I’m sure we would all make donations..it not too late yet..If you haven’t already contacted one of the US Humane Socities ask them how you could get it done. Most have legislative departments that would be happy to assist you.

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    • Angel’s Acres does bill boards, Gail. They have a picture of two gorgeous horses saying “Don’t Slaughter Us!” That is a great idea – do one (or more) in OK!

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    • All excellent advice Gail! The more people know about the horrific treatment of these beautiful animals being sent to slaughter, along with knowledge of drugs given over their lifetime, the support for those proposing this legislation will dwindle. Errecting bill boards is a great way of enlightening the public, as well as; contacting your Legislators. It could be a win-win, if those who are making the decisions really look at it from a common-sense, compassionate, responsible and ethical manner. We must not allow the greedy minority accompolish their goal!

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  6. “Vilsack called on Congress to ‘come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.'” Congress won’t do it, and it isn’t really their responsibility. The “industry” won’t do it for obvious reasons. If we want it done we have to do it ourselves – compile the information on existing programs, come up with innovations, and present them to Congress. It’s kind of like “The Little Red Hen”, The difference is those who didn’t help will get the credit and the hen will likely be marginalized. Personally, I’d prefer to remain in the background as long as my efforts get the desired result. Unfortunately, whenever I’ve asked for concrete input there’s been virtually no response. Demanding a halt to slaughter without presenting alternatives is NOT going to work.

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    • Linda you are so correct………we need to present a better solution to Congress since they
      know 150,000+ horses currently are headed to Mexico for slaughter…

      We need alternatives faster than fast…

      As we speak with no solution yet we have 100’s a day headed Mexico to their brutal fate of slaughter and let’s not forget right past ol “Valley Meats” with their tongues hanging out …Creeps!….UGH!!!

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  7. Reading through the comments, one commentator posted the names of those who voted yes. One of them is a representative from Bartlesville. Bartlesville currently hosts 2,212 captive wild geldings.

    No one has yet to offer, in any official capacity, assurances that those animals will be safe when slaughter comes to town…just sayin’.

    I also hope the citizens of Oklahoma realize and understand we don’t hold them responsible for the actions of their legislators or the minority that support it. Any boycotts or nasty remarks wouldn’t be leveled at them. It’s breaks my heart to hear Oklahomans talk about their state’s already having a crappy reputation and how this just makes it that much worse.

    But I love hearing that overwhelming majority wondering just what the hell went sideways, and hearing the wheels of that discontent makin’ plans and takin’ names!

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  8. Well I heard on the news tonight that red meat has this thing carnitine that you eat when ingesting red meat. That in turns sets off this other chain reaction. So there seems to be more of a correlation between the consumption of red meat and heart disease. Of course the meat people are all over this saying you can’t believe one report.

    I really hope Governor Fallin is haunted by the screams of those horses she sentenced to death for the rest of her days. As for Skye–she should have to have a front row seat for the first 100 horses slaughtered. Maybe even have to deliver that captive bolt herself to see if she can hack it.

    I hope the good decent hard working folk of Oklahoma (and I hope there not all Skye and Governor Fallin)will vote these folk out the next time they come up for re-election. I hope all those who voted for this bill have to go on a hot summer day when the air is filled with screams and stench. When crime is so high your scared to crawl out from under your bed. Because this is what those officials voted for.

    Never did hear from Governor Fallin about what she plans to do to protect the wild horses from slaughter. Sure we knows it’s illegal to slaughter them. Didn’t stop Tom Davis. And it didn’t stop Ken Salazar from threatening a member of the press for asking questions. What are her plans for cleaning up her state AFTER foreign interests come in and destroy the towns, peoples livelihoods, property values etc.

    What can she can do post her Governorship to ensure the people and the horses are being protected?

    Sure her office is committed today. Big deal. What about AFTER she’s gone? Did anyone stop to think about that?

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