Horses slaughter returns to US

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Horses slaughter returns to US

Just as Missouri looks like it might be the first state since 2006 to welcome a horse slaughter plant, another slaughterhouse in Central California is shut down after undercover video documenting heart-wrenching abuse of spent dairy cows was sent to the USDA.

The video, shot by Washington D.C.-based Compassion Over Killing by an undercover investigator and sent to the USDA and Associated Press, is sadly not shocking. In an industry that tortures and kills 10 billion animals a year, the abuse caught on camera is standard.

A cow, still conscious and flailing, is lifted by a conveyor by one leg and transported to the area where its throat will be slit for blood draining. In another clip, a worker stands on a cow’s muzzle in an apparent attempt to suffocate the animal after the bolt gun meant to render it unconscious failed.

This particular slaughterhouse, Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., which slaughters cows after they lose their value as milk producers, is not only inspected by the USDA, but also supplies meat to the agriculture department as part of its food program.

The video shows some cows who are unable to walk being shocked and beaten in order to get them to slaughter, a big no-no when it comes to meat meant for human consumption, so an investigation into whether the meat needs to be recalled is now underway.

This begs the question, why is a non-profit watchdog group doing the work we pay the USDA to do? Kind of a rhetorical question as the relationship between the animal agriculture industry and its supposed regulators is well known to be cozy enough to make the USDA essentially worthless.

Humane horse slaughter?

The inability, or rather unwillingness, of the USDA to properly regulate even the lowest humane treatment of animals standards as demonstrated in this newest video makes the argument behind the recent lifting of the ban on slaughtering horses on American soil largely invalid.

Late last year, President Obama quietly signed into law a spending bill that restored funding for government inspections for horse slaughter plants. This breathed new life into the American horse-slaughter industry that had disappeared after Congress defunded the government’s ability to inspect such plants in 2006, essentially killing the industry.

As the government investigation showed leading to Obama’s signing of the bill, the domestic ban didn’t stop American horses from being slaughtered, it just meant they needed to endure thousands of miles of transport to Mexico or Canada, where our laws don’t protect them from cruelty before death.

Congress could have chosen to also ban the export of American horses to slaughter, but instead chose to backtrack on humane progress by reinstating funding.

According to Reuters, the probable first horse slaughter plant will be located in Rockville, Missouri, where the 150 residents fully support the news that their small town will be graced with 50 new jobs as early as September. The company, Unified Equine, also hopes to open another in Hermiston, Oregon.

While the argument for reinstating slaughter in the United States that unwanted horses are suffering further abuse and neglect as they are often left to starve or shipped thousands of miles to slaughtering plants across the border makes sense on the surface, it only serves to address the symptoms of the disease rather than the cause.

The majority of those sent to slaughter are byproducts of the race horse and rodeo industries as they turn out horses puppy-mill style in order to breed a winner that will make them good money until it is no longer useful in which case it is then sent to slaughter.

The argument also goes that poor people unable to afford the cost of feed are forced to abandon their horses because they can’t foot the euthanasia bill and they can’t easily unload their horses on an American slaughterhouse.

Any industry whose byproduct is death should not be something allowed to continue. And any person not able to afford to properly care for a horse should not be allowed to own one. Do we open dog and cat slaughterhouses with the same reasoning?

The answer to widespread abuse and neglect is to give people an easy way out of being irresponsible and also make a few bucks in the process?

Humane slaughter is an oxymoron. While we can’t argue that slaughtering horses is bad but killing cows for meat is less bad, adding more species to the list of what’s not acceptable to mass kill for consumption is at least moving in the right direction.


Tina is a journalist and mother of three who's lived all her life in the South Bay of Los Angeles except for a two-year stint in the heart of Spain. She believes humans have the capacity to make this a beautiful world for all species to live, and mothers have a special charge to raise their children to enjoy, love and respect all creatures.

  • George

    You are incorrect about the majority of horses sent slaughter coming from racing and rodeos (Please list your sources for such statements in the future). I live in KY, we have retirement farms for Race horses. How many Rodeos are there touring the country? Not many! The fact is they come from people who have horses for pleasure. Because of the rising cost of feed due to the Government forcing corn to be used for ethanol, droughts, and the poor economy in general many can no longer afford to keep them. We hear all the calls from animal rights groups to stop horse slaughter but they have no answer for what to do with all the old or unwanted horses??? Also, just in case you do not know it, Animal Shelters euthanize thousands of unwanted dogs and cats every year.

    If Animal Rights Groups do not want horse slaughter, then they need to take all the money they spend on ads, executive salaries, and waste putting forth their agenda and Open horse rescue centers!

    George from KY!

    • Jo-Claire Corcoran

      The majority of horses going to slaughter are Quarter Horses, then race horses. The TB industry is one of the few who are making strides in changing the culture of their business and yes there are retirement farms, but those are usually only for the horses who won lots of money, have sponsors, and or came of better tracks. There is an undesirable underworld of lower end tracks, where the trucks leave the backside almost daily with horses who have broken down because of over use, lack of care, etc, quit winning, etc… those are the horses we try to rescue. Some of those tracks have stepped up to the plate, most have not.

      How about the pro-slaughter side take all the money they have spent on adds, lobbyists, salaries etc… Sue Wallis, Charlie Stenholm and put that money into rescues and training.

      Stop the over breeding, change the culture, as long as slaughter is an option the over breeding will never stop, it will be the dumping ground for bad business people and idiots.

      The plant will not open in MO, Sue Wallis continues to spew forth her lies, she cannot open one in OK as she professes, against the law to sell horse meat in OK>

    • kiki

      Hey George We have thousands of American tax paid land all over the USA instead of being barbarians we could put them out to pasture to die a natural death. Problem solved.

      • cjm

        Have you not noticed that we are in a drought all over the country? These horses would starve!! You should visit the BLM wildlife ranges, these horses are monitored regularly and receive feed rations.

    • CJM

      You are exactly right. How many of the animal activists are taking in unwanted horses to prevent them form going to slaughter? I live close to a horse auction that sells to slaughter buyers and approximately 90% of the horses being bought are from backyard breeders who do nothing with their horses except allow them to reproduce. Once the animal becomes unmanagable and they are no longer able to sell it for their inflated price (just take a look at craiglist farm and garden) then they take them to the sale. Out of over 200 head of horses, there is generally only a handfull of OTTB’s. Although I am pro-slaughter, I am active in horse rescue and rehab and currently on the County’s list for foster homes. Many of these horses can be returned to optimal health and placed in new homes, but I have seen several who are unmanageable at unhealthy weights and become 100 times worse when they are healthy and feeling better. No one would bat an eye to put down a dog who had attacked a human, but we currently do not have a process in place for dangerous horses that are products of unknowledgeable owners who can no longer care for them.

  • Sue

    Did you actually investigate this story or dig up outdated articles to repeat? There is no plant in Missouri. That was a PR stunt by the slaughterhouse lobbyists which turned out – shocker – to be fake. Anything Sue Wallis says can just be ignored. She finds sloppy repeaters to just spread her falsehoods. There is NO plant currently in development. The internet sure has allowed goof balls the opportunity to confuse the public.

    Uh George, why is is the responsibility of those who care about the welfare of animals to pay for abusers? The largest contributor to slaughter is the Quarter horse industry. Their irresponsible breeding and dumping is pathetic. Also, and this is according to the slaughter houses themselves. They DO NOT take the old and sick. They are a meat industry and want younger, healthier animals. Strop drinking the kook aid and get out side into the sun and fresh air.

    • Jan Myers

      My thoughts exactly Sue. I live in Missouri and we have successfully fought off Sue/Unified Equine/Chevedico twice now and are prepared to repeat if needed.

    • CJM

      It has nothing to do with the quarter horse industry. Most owners who have these horses are probably not even members of AQHA. I have rehabilitated several horses where the transfer was dated several years back, these horses are not being put in their names because it would require spending money on membership fees.

  • Curt

    The plant in Rockville will not open anytime soon. It will be years in litigation before it could even produce widgets. The only investors that listen to Sue Wallis are people that have legal or financial trouble and need a quick way out of trouble by offering their facilities encumbered by legal problems. The same thing happened in Mt. Grove, Mo. and we kicked her donkey out of there.
    Obama didn’t quietly sign the bill that allowed horse slaughter to resume. It was quite loud and public. It was the budget last year! He was under pressure to sign or shut down the government, if you all remember the GOP wouldn’t give him the time of day on anything. The language that would have removed funding by the USDA to inspect horse slaughter plants was passed by the House and the Senate. But then was reinstated behind closed doors by three members of congress in conference committee. They were Jack Kingston, R-Ga,, Herb Kohl D-Wi and our very own Roy Blunt R-Mo. Three men going against the congress and 80% of the American public who oppose horse slaughter. Now hows that for democracy?

    • Jan Myers

      The truth hurts sometimes and it hurts Sue Wallis. She hides behind the darkness of lies and the light of the truth melts her…..

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