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New Anti-Slaughter Amendment: What Does It Mean for Horses?

October 28, 2005 | Horses
By Laurel Lundstrom

UPDATE (February 07, 2006):

Despite a measure passed by Congress late last year (see below) to prohibit taxpayer money from funding the federal inspection of live horses for slaughter, the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption will continue unabated in the United States.

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that three slaughterhouses - two in Texas, one in Illinois "“ will be paying for inspections on a per-fee basis. Beginning 10 March 2006, the companies will maintain their operations by financing inspections themselves.

The announcement follows a rulemaking petition, delivered by the three slaughterhouses about a month ago, demanding inspections. Without such inspections, horses could not legally be slaughtered in the U.S., nor shipped elsewhere to be slaughtered for human consumption.

 

28 October 2005 - In four months' time, under an amendment passed with the 2006 agriculture appropriations bill,[1] the U.S. Department of Agriculture will no longer be allowed to provide the inspection necessary to process horse meat for human consumption. The measure also deems shipping horses to other countries for slaughter illegal, although there is no penalty for doing so. Animal welfare groups are ecstatic, calling the legislation a "historic victory on behalf of country's beloved horses." [2]

For certain horses, that might be true. But others won't be so fortunate.

Once enacted, the amendment is only valid for one fiscal year; in October of 2006, horse slaughter will be up for Congressional debate once again. In any case, horses not saved from human consumption may be rendered for zoos or for pet food.

While two of the three horse slaughter plants in the United States may see a dip in sales come February, the Beltex Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas will continue to stay in the business of processing wild boars, ostriches, and bison. [3]

The slaughtering of horses is decried, in part, for its foreignness. Much of the horse flesh is shipped to places abroad such as Belgium and Italy; the three slaughterhouses exporting, we frequently hear, are also foreign-owned.

Yet it is the U.S. government and U.S. ranchers, relying on U.S. demand for beef and other animal products, who remain unwilling to give up their use of public land. And that is what really pushes wild horses and burros off the land and into slaughter. With less land given to the ranching industry, the 41wild horses found slaughtered in the Illinois plant earlier this year might still be alive.

In addition, private owners across the United States will still discard lame, old, outgrown, and otherwise unwanted horses. Horses used for sport and other large commercial purposes also outlive their usefulness and are discarded. An estimated 15,000 horses are actually conceived as throwaways by the menopausal hormone industry each year. Because the legislation does not address the root of the problem, the Congressional debate will continue.

Horses serve us all of their lives, say the animal welfare proponents, and thus we ought to stop slaughter. But it is precisely because we do see horses as put on earth to serve us that we wind up with the issue of how to dispose of them. That won't go away so easily.

Until we stop seeing horses as an item to be privatized and traded -- whether for sport, for companionship, or even for their iconic value as symbols of romantic western ideals, killing is inevitable.

Starting with the few free-living horses still roaming the plains and islands, an enlightened society would ask how we can begin to respect these animals on their own terms.

 
Footnotes

  1. House Amendment 236 of House Resolution 2744.
  2. "Ban on horse slaughter survives Republican effort to kill it," Associated Press (26 Oct. 2005), quoting Nancy Perry, vice president of governmental affairs for the Humane Society of the United States.
  3. Personal Interviews, Beltex Corporation, Cavel International and Dallas Crown Slaughterhouses (28 Oct. 2005).

Comments

My family currently have 2 horses.One is 18,the other 6.There is no way in the world I would ever dispose of either one of them.When we obtain any pet, it is for life.The idea of slaughtering horses for any reason is obscene to us.I feel it is about time people wake up & start caring for our domestic & wild animals.If more and more species are eliminated from the world,our ecosystem will be so screwed up there won't be anything left.

I think that America is just being selfish! The enviroment provides so much for us, our food, homes, and medicine. But instead, people decide to use a free soul for their entertainment and when their done with it? They just KILL IT! Horses are beautiful creatures that never did any human any harm. It hurts me so much to think of people just discarding these animals like they were trash! It needs to be stopped!

I AM 64 YEARS OLD, I HAVE SPENT MOST OF MY LIFE SAVING UNWANTED, SICK, AND STARVING HORSES. I NOW HAVE 6 THAT WOULD BE DEAD IF WE DIDN'T CARE. IT'S TIME TO STOP SLAUGHTERING THEM . THEY DESERVE WHAT WE HAVE. WITHOUT THEM WHERE WOULD WE BE ?????

It's really sad to know that horses are being killed everyday. And whats even really sad is that not only horses are being slaughtered, but thousands of other innocent animals are being slaughtered everyday also and we need to end this once and for all.

WE GOT HORSES DOGS CATS AND BIRDS IN OUR FAMILY , AND WE LOVE THEM, THE ARE EVRY THINGS TO US, I DONT UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE LET SUFFER ANIMALS OR.KILL THEM ,HOW CRUEL PEOPLES CAN BE. THIS KILLING AND ABUSING ANIMALS GOT TOO STOP!!!!!!

stop killing animals

I have recently saved an ex Thoroughbred glending race horse from being sent to a slaughter house and before then i had no idea that horses where being killed everyday. I am only 13 and would do just about anything to stop this cruelity*.Every one i tell says i am to younge to do anything, but i'll reasure everyone that nothing but death itself is going to stop me...I'll even gallop all the way to the white house on my new best friend that i renamed from Irish to "BUBBA". STOP HORSE SLAUGHTER NOW!!!!!!!!!

Humans are the reason that the horses are there, we used them for transportation once upon a time and they were depended upon to complete every day tasks at one time. We put the horses there to help make our lives easier, not so that we could mistreat them and then slaughter them.

Slaughter is just greed from over seas markets. This does nothing for the American people. Stop the slaughter!!! We will prevail. I think anyone who supports horse slaughter should be run through the kill chute to see what it is like.

Dear Lynn Klenow: Thank you for writing. Please note that horses are for sale in this country. They are treated as articles of commerce right here. If we wish to get to the core of the problem, it's important to understand that it cannot simply be written off as a problem caused in some distant place. And the nationality of the owners of the slaughter enterprises makes no difference. Do you happen to know how many rendering plants exist in the United States -- places that process horse bodies for reasons other than human food? Do the personal characteristics of the plant owners really matter? It is a tempting form of advocacy to collect support by pointing to something They do, and We don't. It commonly means that nothing really has to change. In this case, there simply is no serious argument that Belgians and Italians ought to stop selling horseflesh unless a broader argument for a plant-based diet is made. It makes no sense to state or imply a fault specific to foreign horse-eaters, when we are talking from a land that incessantly promotes animal agribusiness around the world. If our own dietary customs and habits aren't challenged, then we, from North America, really are not posing any serious challenge to horse-eating anywhere. Indeed, it's the wealthy ranching industry -- animal agribusiness in service primarily for the U.S. market -- that forces the privatization of free-living horses in the first place. In other words, the beef sellers are clearing the land of horses so that there is more room for grazing. The market for beef products results in the removal of free-living horses from the land. And it is our own society's view that horses should be bred and traded for our competitions, our entertainment, or for companionship that brings them into the cycle leading to the killer buyer. Thus the argument that the selling of horseflesh is a foreign problem has no meaning, except, perhaps, that it allows people to vent anger at people identified as foreigners. Every hour spent indulging in this conduct is an hour forever lost to animal rights. Lee Hall, Friends of Animals.

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