Horse News

Lawsuit Filed to Block Horse Slaughter

Source: Front Range Equine Rescue and HSUS

“The USDA has failed to consider the basic fact that horses are not raised as a food animal”

The Innocent by Terry FitchIn response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow horse slaughter facilities to resume operating on U.S. soil, animal protection organizations have filed suit against the agency and asked for an immediate injunction. The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, Marin Humane Society, Horses for Life Foundation, Return to Freedom and five private individuals are suing under the National Environmental Protection Act, due to the agency’s failure to conduct the necessary environmental review before authorizing horse slaughterhouses to operate.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted an inspection permit to a discredited horse slaughter plant operator in New Mexico, bringing the nation closer to its first horse slaughter operation since federal courts and state lawmakers shuttered the last three U.S.-based plants in 2007. The USDA has let it be known that it may also approve horse slaughter plants in Iowa and Missouri in the coming days. Meanwhile, U.S. House and Senate appropriations committees voted in June to halt all funding for horse slaughter in FY 2014, which means that the federal government could spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start up inspections at horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in the coming months.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS, said: “Horse slaughter plants pollute local water bodies with blood and offal, permeate the air with a foul stench, diminish property values and put horses through misery. USDA’s decision to visit these horrors on the citizens of New Mexico, Missouri, and Iowa – without even conducting an environmental review first – is irresponsible, and a clear violation of federal law.”

Hilary Wood, president of Front Range Equine Rescue, said: “The USDA has failed to consider the basic fact that horses are not raised as a food animal. Horse owners provide their horses with a number of substances dangerous to human health. To blatantly ignore this fact jeopardizes human health as well as the environment surrounding a horse slaughter plant. The negative consequences of horse slaughter will be felt immediately and over the long term if allowed to resume in the U.S. America’s horses are not food.”

Allondra Stevens, founder of Horses For Life Foundation, said: “The USDA’s decision to grant horse slaughter inspections is an outright insult and a betrayal to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are against horse slaughter, to the welfare of the animals themselves, and to consumer and environmental safety. With the environmental and food safety risks of horse slaughter operations, the FSIS is leading the USA down a reckless and dangerous path due to the toxic byproducts of horse slaughter. As a nation of horse lovers, our time and resources will be better spent thinking outside the slaughterbox, working to implement more programs and infrastructures that assist with horse rescue, retention and retirement solutions.”

Neda DeMayo, president of Return To Freedom, said: “We join 80 percent of Americans in their opposition to horse slaughter. America is the original home of the horse and has never been a horse eating culture. Horses have been our companions, fought battles with us, worked from sun up to sun down by our side. They have never abandoned us and we will not abandon them now. We will not have their blood on our hands.”

Any facility slaughtering thousands of horses will necessarily be processing the blood, organs and remains of animals whose tissues and blood may contain significant amounts of dangerous substances, which are either known to be dangerous, or which have never been tested on humans and therefore present completely unknown dangers. At least six applications for horse slaughter inspections have been filed with the USDA.

The plaintiffs are represented in the case by Schiff Hardin, LLP and attorneys within The HSUS’ Animal Protection Litigation section.


  • Last month, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations committees voted to block funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants. President Obama’s proposed FY 2014 budget also included a request for Congress to prevent tax dollars from supporting horse slaughter.
  • The federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to start up inspections at horse slaughter plants, only to have Congress terminate the process in the coming months.
  • According to a national poll conducted last year, 80 percent of Americans disapprove of horse slaughter.
  • “Kill buyers” gather up horses from random sources and profit by selling healthy horses for slaughter that bring the best price per pound for their meat. USDA reports show that approximately 92 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and would otherwise be able to go on to lead productive lives.
  • The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated blows to render them unconscious and sometimes remain conscious during the slaughtering process. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented severe injuries to horses in the slaughter pipeline, including broken bones and eyeballs hanging from a thread of skin.
  • The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a bipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.

15 replies »

  1. Animals should have rights! Horses are NOT RAISED FOR HUMAN CONUMPTION! DUH! Stop this insane way of treatment on our companion animals!!


    • Has anyone at the USDA or other agencies considered the very real possibility of law suits from families & individuals (from around the globe) who are or will become seriously ill (especially if the victims are children – because of their size, they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of the drugs in horse meat) from consuming horse meat &/or beef tainted with horse meat? There could be some in the works in Europe already, & if the meat can be traced back to the U.S – the victims won’t hesitate to sue – why does USDA only care about suits from felons? Something is very wrong with their thinking. The SAFE Act is the only thing that will permanently protect all involved: horses, people, & the governments who allow this atrocity.


  2. I still say we are all waiting to come to the 2 Million Person March for the Horses and other equine friends in Washington,DC. I spoke with someone from the ASPCA and told them they need to let their Legislative Dept. organize such a march. Its pretty hard for individuals to do this as we do not really have all the connections. This is long in coming…will these humane societies let us down? I am all for putting in the time to help out. However, I do not have all the contacts or know what it takes to put on such a march. Americas horses are waiting for us, can someone please organize this?


    • I would make a special effort to make it if we can get more then 200 people. If the BIG orgs can get this going I’m sure many with be there too.


    • If such a march can be organized, my husband and I will attend. That actually sounds much more sensible than a protest at the slaughterhouses in New Mexico, Iowa, or Missouri. Those are very rural and perhaps dangerous places for gentle folk, the 80% of us who are vehemently opposed to their deadly aims.


  3. BRAVO for this LAW suit !!!!!!!!! Bravo to all the societies for issuing, this law Suit !!!!!!!! PUT OUR ICOnS BACK damn it !!!!!!! Their own 25 million plus acres , give it back to them !!!!!!!!


  4. Do we have any idea when we will know the results of this lawsuit? I mean as to what will happen and when. How long before the judge will set a court date? I am tired of waiting for some kind of court action. I want to know right now that these horse slaughter hell holes will not be going forward anytime soon.


  5. Will the lawsuit address the discrepancies in regulations between USDA and FDA (screw the petition HSUS filed unless it is required to pursue the law suit)?

    Petition denied, but was an injunction filed and what is it’s status?

    Popular opinion citations, polls are great but they are not worth squat in a court of law.


  6. The 36-page petition to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco alleges the USDA did not prepare required environmental reviews for Valley Meat Co.’s horse meat plant in southeastern New Mexico or for any of the pending requests. It lawsuit cites negative environmental consequences caused by horse slaughter, including air and water pollution.


  7. I wish you people new the truth about animal agriculture. I can’t believe you call them companion animals. Horses are livestock and should be treated as such. Horse slaughter plants are not bad for the environment. I bet not one of you have experience in the ag industry.


    • Actually, Jerry…I own a ranch were I grow grass to support our horses and my neighbors are cattle ranchers. Your argument is lost and YOU are the loser. It is obvious that you have done NO research and have no clue as to the negative impact horse slaughter plants have on local communities. Have YOU been to a town where a plant was located? Have you actually talked to and interviewed residents who lived near a predatory plant? I think not.

      Until you can place your person, face and questions before a destroyed community that was sucked down the drain by a foreign owned horse slaughter plat your time would be better spent NOT offering an opinion that is based on nothing but lies, deceit and fabricated miss-information.

      You CANNOT deny or argue the facts.


  8. Horses are our trusted companions and have never been raised for human consumption in America. A symbol of grace and beauty, horses have contributed greatly to our society throughout history. They have carried us into battle, plowed our fields, and served as endless sources of inspiration and beauty. Americans hold horses in high esteem and believe they deserve respect and dignity. National polls show that 70% of Americans strongly favor a ban on horse slaughter. However, American horses are being killed for foreign gourmands in France, Belgium, and Japan. Show horses, pony ride ponies, racehorses, wild horses, carriage horses, and family horses are victims of the horse slaughter industry.


  9. I woulld do my best to attend and participate in a protest march in D.C. It is time to hit the streets. Hopefully it’s not too late.


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