Most of us haven’t given much thought to horse slaughter until recent stories emerged about the Bureau of Land Management roundups and the removal of a prohibition on spending tax dollars to inspect horse slaughter plants (a move, encouraged by wealthy slaughter proponents, that will reverse years of a humane policy that ended horse slaughter in the U.S.).  I had to look further into this industry and was horrified by what I discovered.

BLM roundups are strongly opposed by equine groups and animal activists for good reason.  Ample videos have demonstrated that the methods used to gather horses induce fear, injury, and in some tragic cases, death to the animals.  Anyone who thinks that all these animals go to a place where they can live out their days in peace is mistaken.  For many, their ultimate destination will be a slaughter plant. 

According to Southern Winds Equine Rescue, 130,000 horses were mercilessly slaughtered in 2012.  They were shipped over our national borders, only to end up dying brutal deaths in foreign slaughterhouses. 

There is profound animal suffering involved in both the transport and the butchering of horses. The terrified animals are crammed into overcrowded double-decker trailers that are not appropriate for horse transport.  They endure days of travel in this confinement, without food or water, and often in extreme temperatures.  This stressful transport often results in injuries which can lead to leg amputations, broken backs and extreme misery.  It doesn’t get better.  Investigators have witnessed horses with their eyeballs hanging from their sockets; horses being beaten, dragged, and having their limbs broken from rough handling.

At the foreign slaughter plants, the animals are prodded and whipped as they progress through the processing line.  Typically, they are either shot in the face or stabbed in the neck repeatedly in order to sever their spine and be systematically hacked apart piece by piece, usually while still alive.  This is such a frightful, agonizing, and gruesome ending for a beautiful animal that has been part of American history for so long.  And it’s so undeserved.

This year, approximately 100,000 American horses will be transported to their deaths in foreign slaughterhouses, while our elected officials are preparing to open the floodgates for legal horse slaughter in our own country – despite that the overwhelming majority of American citizens object to the butchering. This is outrageous!

Those who are fighting to save and protect these animals are demanding that Congress ban horse slaughter in America.  Citizens are urging the passage of The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act and The Horse Protection Act Amendments (that would toughen the laws against abusing horses).  These bills have bipartisan support and with everyone’s help, our newly elected officials will learn that if they value their jobs, they need to pay attention to the call of outraged Americans for whom they work.

Proponents of horse slaughter include breeders, ranchers and lawmakers who have pointed out the untapped economic resource, claiming that the reopening of horse slaughterhouses would create jobs and help increase the market value of horses.  They expressed an interest in seeing horse plants all over the country.  Former Montana state legislator Ed Butcher (appropriately named) commented that “We are looking at plants that will probably kill 100 horses a day, nothing big.”

To see what he considers “nothing big,” I strongly encourage readers to check out the links below to learn more about what the horsemeat trade entails.   It’s a travesty to permit such an integral part of our nation’s history and heritage to be treated so callously.  I urge those who care to contact their legislators or go onto the website and get involved.  Additionally, there are many local advocacy and equine groups in each town, as well as PETA, who are working on this issue.  We shouldn’t permit our Administration to cow-tow to those with big money.  Let your voice be heard loud and often.  That’s what we have representatives for.

– Annoula Wylderich