Horse Slaughter: A Global View™: Reality check ...


Reality check ...

An unknown off-the-track racehorse slaughtered in the U.S., June 2008. Did you know him?

June 27, 2008 ~ EquusEditorial's work on the racehorse memorials and horse slaughter project returns little joy or encouragement. But today we are shocked and saddened at the truth which had escaped us until now, was so well hidden from us and no doubt from many of you out there.

Where were we? Our head in the clouds? How did we miss it? Maybe we're the only ones who were under the impression that horse slaughter had ended in the United States, with the closure of the three remaining slaughterhouses. Isn't that why the horses are transported now across the Canadian and Mexican borders to be slaughtered? Wasn't our next big hurdle to actually end that transport to once and for all save our horses from the whole tragic ordeal?

The public's focus has been turned to the inhumane slaughter methods outside the more "compassionate" United States. But did you know that it is still legal in most states to slaughter horses for human consumption? As well as for other purposes? We confirmed this with the Humane Society of the United States today, June 26, 2008.

We're not talking about sending dead horses to the rendering plant. We're talking about live horses taken to slaughter. And in the specific case that led us to this truth, we're talking about off-the-track racehorses slaughtered for zoo meat. That is, broken down, injured, abused, neglected, or ill racehorses dropped off by their owners who have taken the cowardly way out. Owners who no longer have need for the animals nor, obviously, any compassion for them. Owners who could not find it in their hearts or their pocketbooks to humanely euthanize the horses instead.

This feels more like the review of a ghastly low-budget horror movie than it does the truth of horse slaughter right here in our own country. We will be working on this story and publishing it in all its shameful facts as soon as possible.

We're giving you this heads-up first, compelled to share how our perception of U.S. horse slaughter has been shattered. The situation is more complex and further from resolution than we had thought, further away from sparing our horses such horror at the hands of humans.

Posted by EquusEditorial at 5:39 AM

The more I think about this, the more ambivalent I find myself becoming. The carnivores in the zoos have to eat something, and feeding deceased horses to zoo animals would be one way of solving the problem that catches so many horse owners off guard: What does on do with a dead horse?


I don't think I would have a problem with my horse being fed to zoo animals after his death. When you think about it, it's no worse than rendering, or even burying - for the worms and whatever else to feast on.

However, this article is not about feeding zoo animals horses that are already dead - it's about slaughtering them specifically for that purpose. Which of course is no more humane than slaughtering them for human consumption. I can't speak for others, but it was never about the human consumption thing for me. It was about how inhumane it is to ship horses in trailers intended for cattle, and to use slaughter practices designed for cattle. 

And, it was - and is - about they type of owner who would do this to a horse instead of spending the money to give their animal a humane death. I have no words to express my opinion of these people. So, we're back to square one, aren't we?

I honestly don't know. There is no way I can support horse slaughter for any purpose until they are guaranteed humane transport, and until slaughter practices are revamped to make them at least reasonably humane for horses. Transportation is the easy part, although many fight giving up the double decker trailers tooth and nail. I realize they are more economical, but even those tall enough for cattle are inherently unstable. I've seen an overturned double decker cattle trailer, and believe me, it was a sight I wish I'd never come across.

Double decker trailers tall enough for horses would be even more subject to accidents, and very unsafe for all concerned. And overhauling the slaughter process to make it humane for horses is even more problematic. Frankly, I don't know if it's even possible to come up with a mass slaughter routine that would be humane for horses, with their high strung nature and powerful flight reaction. 

Even worse, I have a feeling that horses euthanized with narcotics would not be suitable even for other animals to consume. So, how would your vet euthanize a horse in a way that would be humane for the horse, yet leave it acceptable for other animals to consume? I don't have any answers. How I wish I did...


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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra