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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.


  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).


I suggest that you try to take care of a horse before you start going and defending it's rights. It is VERY expensive to take care of horses. As a horse owner that uses the horses for a specific sport I know that it is better for them to be let go than for them to suffer. Animals get hurt and horses are so fragile that it happens. Consequently they should go to a happier place. strong> [Blog editors' note: Slaughterhouses are not happier places, Lindy. Liberites end when free-living horses are rounded-up from public lands, and channeled into a system of private ownership.]

stop killing animals we are in religion and we are angry very angry because we love animals this has to stop!!!!! love mikki gemma and sian and elfi! xxoo

If these horse weren't sent to slaughter they would live the rest of their lives in horrid conditions slowly being starved to death. People rarely understand the cost of proper mantenance that goes along with horses, they require housing, farriers, vetrinarians, worming, grooming, training, high quality hays and grains. You cannot just stick a horse out to pasture, they don't work that way. To end horse slaughter would mean the beginning of the slow long painful starvation of hundreds of thousands of horses. We need to stop breeding for profit before we can stop killing for profit. Do some research on the PMU industry and Premarin. How many foals go to slaughter so some woman going through menopause won't have a hot flash?

I am terrified at what I have witnessed online at the slaughter plants, nothing deserves this fate! However, the list is long when it comes to how these beautiful souls end up with this being their last experience, we must begin with putting much needed pressure on the breeders, the private owners, the riding stables, the boarding stables, we all must be in this together, be a voice, an investagator, and most of all, if you are lucky enough to own a horse or horses, make damn sure that they never have to experience the horror that so many others have endured!!!!!

Alright. Here's the thing...I believe that people should kill animals only to eat. Seeing how this is happening, I don't really see a problem. The only reason people are raising such a big deal out of it is because they can't deal with the fact that horses are being killed. While I agree that the way they are slaughtered might be inhumane, I must say that I agree with Tom. People say that they are against killing animals and humans and horny toads and whatever else they are against, and yet they promote killing another human being? seems as if the morals and viewpoints of people have become skewed. Oh well. Now horse killing is just killing. Calm down people. You may not like it but it happens. If you want to change it...start a revolution.

i am really sad to here this is happen to animals. we need to save them not kill them. this is so cruel.

How dare human beings decide to kill such loving caring beautiful animals. without them i wudnt be the person i am today. its digusting. i hate the thought i want to track every horse slaughterer down and..... well we all know what everyone wants to do to horse slaughters, if a horse slaughterer is reading now i just wanna say 1 word, MURDER!!!!!!!!!!!!! lots of love Emily x STOP HORSE SLAUGHTER NOW!!!

Yeah, great job. I've had horses my entire life & keep them until they die naturally. Do you realize what you've done? Just because they can't be slaughtered in the US dosen't mean they won't be slaughtered. It's either a longer ride to Mexico or starvation in the back yard. Thanks for saving them.

Tremendous thanks to all of you who are able to rescue unwanted or neglected horses in our country. I myself can currently only afford one horse - one which I rescued from a killer auction two years ago. Like many horses that end up in auctions - he is actually sound and sane - but for some reason he ended up in a horrible place. Someone must have loved him at one point in his life - as he trusts people and has been a wonderful guy for the two years I have had him. I plan to keep him until the end of his life as I have my horses before him. With regard to the US ban on horse slaughter - I too called in support of having the bill passed - eager to save horses the misery of being transported in cramped/crowded cattle trailers to only arrive at a US slaughterhouse. I felt that I had contributed to a major victory when horse slaughter came to an end in the US. I was wrong. You can only imagine how horrified I was to learn that horses bound for slaughter NOW have to endure longer trailer rides to reach our borders - they are ending up Mexico or Canada. Not only are they still being slaughtered in great numbers, but in far more inhumane ways. It's a devestating and sad situation. Though not one that is impossible to correct in my mind. Through raising awareness, responsible horse ownership and lack of greed - perhaps our love of these animals will persevere one day. In the meantime it's comforting to know so many people care about the plight of these wonderful animals.

Think about it. Without horses, there would be no west. I'm from the midwest and I believe with a 150% of my heart that the west, or the revolutionary war, or even the civil war could not have been won without the help of horses. As for tom who says, "Don’t you understand that people have to eat to survive just like the wolves and grizzlies do??? Did you really think we eat only because we are just low down and evil and mean??? Or we do it because we are filthy capitalist pigs and white skinned on top of it???" You do not need to eat horses because you want to. It's cruel punishment.


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