Horse News

Animal Welfare Groups Seek to Protect Endangered Species From Environmental Threat of Horse Slaughter

Source: Front Range Equine Rescue

Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States Will Sue to Enforce the Endangered Species Act

(April 16, 2013)— Front Range Equine Rescue (“FRER”) and The Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) notified the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) of their intent to challenge any grant of inspection to Valley Meat Company of Roswell, New Mexico pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).  Valley Meat has applied to USDA for permission to slaughter horses in their Roswell, New Mexico slaughterhouse and sell the meat for human consumption.  Under the ESA, USDA must consult with the Secretary of Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the impact of Valley Meat’s slaughter operations on threatened and endangered species and their critical habitat in the vicinity of Valley Meat.  FRER and HSUS believe USDA has failed to fulfill the ESA’s mandate.

The letter sent by FRER and HSUS explains that horse slaughter is a threat to the environment and to wildlife in the vicinity of Valley Meat’s slaughterhouse because of the high volume of waste and other byproducts it produces, from manure, offal, and blood to hair, bones, fat, and dangerous wastewater.  Slaughterhouses use large amounts of water, and the pollutants contained in wastewater can impact the environment when the wastewater runoff enters groundwater, streams, and rivers.  Wastewater and blood from horse slaughter are notorious for overwhelming local wastewater infrastructures and posing a significant threat to the environment, especially in light of the numerous drugs with which horses are routinely treated that are not safe for humans.  On multiple occasions, residents of a community near a Texas slaughterhouse turned on their faucets to wash their hands with water but got blood and horse tissue instead.  That community succeeded in shutting down the horse slaughterhouse, but only after incurring continuous environmental violations and significant expense.

Valley Meat is located near the South Spring River, Pecos River, Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge, and Bottomless Lakes State Park.  Valley Meat’s slaughter operations are a threat to the habitats of multiple threatened and endangered species in the vicinity, as well as the very existence of these animals.

Hilary Wood, President of Front Range Equine Rescue, states:  “The slaughter of American horses is cruel and unnecessary.  Not only can horses not be slaughtered humanely, but the byproducts of horse slaughter wreak environmental havoc, threatening the habitats and existence of other animals.  All of this to produce a toxic product, from animals not intended to become food, via a brutal process that Americans overwhelmingly oppose.”

“The people of Texas and Illinois have seen firsthand how these horse slaughter plants wreak havoc on the environment,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, Senior Vice President of Animal Protection Litigation and Investigations Section of HSUS .  ‘The decision to park this slaughter plant on top of several federally endangered species is one more reason this entire misguided plan should be abandoned once and for all.”

The notice of intent to sue is especially timely because in November 2011, Congress authorized the inspection of horses for slaughter in America, something that had been prohibited since 2006. Earlier this year, the Obama administration decided to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at Valley Meat.

Although the USDA apparently intends to allow horse slaughter despite the indisputable evidence that meat from American horses is adulterated and unsafe, it must first consider the effects of this vile practice on threatened and endangered species.  Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States will sue USDA to force it to ensure that granting Valley Meat’s application for inspection will not jeopardize the continued existence of threatened and endangered species or destroy their habitat in Roswell, New Mexico.


  • Horse slaughter facilities diminish quality of life and threaten the health of people and animals in surrounding communities.
  • Horse slaughter produces putrid air that damages communities, drives citizens away, and depresses real estate values.
  • During their lives, horses who end up at slaughter have been given a constant regimen of drugs and other substances which are either illegal for food animals, or are potentially dangerous to people who eat them.
  • Although Americans overwhelmingly oppose horse slaughter and have no interest in consuming horse meat, even those who purposefully avoid horse meat may unintentionally be exposed to the drugs that are frequently administered to horses through their possible entry into the food and water supply during the slaughter process.

7 replies »

    • This is exactly what an attorney friend of mine said she would file last year if Duquette tried to build his slaughterhouse in his own hometown of Hermiston. She said she had talked to Oregon state legislators, most of whom were against a horse slaughter facility in the state, even though there isn’t a law prohibiting it.

      For the record, the Obama administration and the USDA didn’t “decide” to processed the application for inspection – they were being sued by Valley Meat and until the law is changed, they cannot legally discriminate.

      Suing goes both ways, however.


  1. Great news and wonderful to have an organization like Front Range Equine Rescue and folks like Hilary Wood. New Mexico Against Horse Slaughter fully supports their work.


  2. Good job and so right. I live in Illinois and it took a real fight to get rid of this company. They had the nerve to take their appeal to the Supreme Court who did not hear it in the end. The only ones that will lose in the end our the citizens of the state. It must have been like Psycho to turn on your water and find blood running. This is what it is..the Appropriations bill was a scam!! The President I believe had no choice in the matter because so many other programs were at stake. This is how the protection was removed in the beginning by Conrad Burns making deals in the middle of the night..We must all keep the heat on!!! I wonder if we can sue too as individual Americans?


    • I hear ya Gail…. and I do remember that rotten Conrad Burns bill. I remember how hard you and others fought against it and how you and others were able to get horse slaughter banned in Illinois. Such a blessing for the horses there. Thanks for reminding me…


  3. The fly medication I use on my horss’s underside, ears, face, and sometimes the area about the hoof says specifically not to dispose of the empty jar anywhere near a stream because the product kills fish and may be toxic to other organisms. I use gloves to apply this substance, but the mosquitoes, biting flies, no-see’ums, ticks, and other insects that can make a horse fairly miserable are so thick here in the summer I have no choice. I have tried a variety of other options with less success, and I use less noxious products on the bigger body of the horse, but they all carry warning levels with them. I hate using these products on my animals, but there is such a visible difference in the effectiveness of the ones that are stronger, that I choose my horses’ comfort and spend a good deal of extra time in the summer on protecting their skin from these biting insects and ticks.


  4. In Illinois a small group of people showed up to protest slaughter in 2006 towards the end. What makes me angry is this: In 2005/6 horse owners/breeders/and etc. were threatened to stay away, they were told there would be legal actions/arrests/and possibly their animals missing. However, the outcome we still stomped it out into the dirt cause guess what horse’s don’t like rattle snakes, and a wild stallion will fight back-so what we need to do is this, they cannot do any harm in numbers, so as many people who can/will step up, need to! Listen WE ARE the horse Industry and few greedy, foolish people do NOT need to say what our rights are! WE already knew we had personal property rights on our animals, and WE already know if our horses are in good circumstances and no welfare is questioned, we are NOT abusive we have no fears of the laws, and requirements. And I am sick and tired of seeing people who know if they raise their voices and yell people will back up. Look at Sue W! Loud! So guess what?
    we can speak quietly and with many, many horse owners with us simultaneously speaking out the sound will be deafening, when it comes from everywhere, NO more slaughter-we will NOT take NO for an answer, then one squeaky wheel won’t be heard anymore. So speak to Congress, many, many emails, phone calls, anyone from anywhere, we have a voice together. We are strong, we are horse people, we can control our horses with softness, so why are we put off by someone who gives us a push or shove? Guess what you have been with tougher horses in your barn, been bucked off, scared ya? Got back on, with determination, you were alert, hands probably shaking and you worked through it, made ya tough? Had a horse rear up on ya? But you worked it out…been kicked, made you smarter, quicker, firm? Even had to stand your ground because your animals made you? Well that was boot camp for the DAY to end slaughter, So if you have been bucked off, reared up on, slipped off, rolled over on, squashed against a trailer, kicked, bitten, shoved down, dragged, or run over, pulled down, stepped on, lashed at, or had to even run after a horse….You have completed boot camp-cadets! This is graduation day, we have been injected into the cowboys and cowgirls owned by their horses association and survived-so today, and here forward we stand shoulder to shoulder with our steeds, through all the tears, fears, dreams, pain, success, hate, and love because we have all had those days amoung us. WE are tougher than most people give us credit for, we don’t know when to quit or we wouldn’t have survived all the years of slaughter in the US before! WE can stand up, walk on, and stomp out slaughter! Are you ready? When the bombing at the Marathon happened people ran in! So that’s our cue, people we are on the verge of Running IN, no matter the smoke, the issues, the complications, etc. We cannot count on agencies to do ALL the work, we are in this mission together and we must together, add more horse owners, and more onward.


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