Urging Congress to Bring a Permanent End to Stop Horse Slaughter
With the horse slaughter ban due to expire October 1, 2018, it leaves the fate of this companion animal in limbo. Horses were never brought up in the United States for human consumption and the practice was never widely seen. A complete prohibition did not take place until 2007 when the last slaughterhouses in Texas and Illinois were closed. Several loopholes regarding cross-border trade still allow for this practice to continue, however. Most Americans are unaware of the practice and the controversy surrounding it, leaving the task to animal rights advocates to bring greater awareness.
Groups like the Equis Save Foundation offer a much-needed alternative for neglected and unwanted horses. Rescuing horses from slaughter have become part of their mission. These groups need help though, not only in the form of donations but also in forming a grass-roots awareness campaign to urge Congress to act.
Horse Slaughter Is Inhumane
The practice of slaughtering horses is very different from the painless euthanization of an infirmed animal. It is senseless, cruel and can be avoided with a few policy and societal changes. To circumvent, U.S. laws auction middlemen know, as “kill buyers” will purchase sick or unwanted horses. They ship them over long distances to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico for profits. Sadly, the Humane Society states that there have been over 100,000 horses sent across the border this way. The conditions during transit and at the facilities are appalling. Horses can be kept in overcrowded pens without food or water while suffering through extreme weather conditions. More tragically, devices used to kill the horse do not always work effectively and merely stun or paralyze the animal. Meaning the horse is still alive and able to feel a drawn out and brutal slaughter process.
Animal & Food Safety
Horses were never bred or raised with the intent of becoming protein for human beings. Due to the medication injected into their bodies over a lifetime and food they have ingested health concerns could arise if consumed by people. Nearly all equine medications read, “Not for horses intended for human consumption.” The FDA placed a ban on many of these medications used for horses and other animals intended for the food supply. Since there is not well-established supply chain and verifiable tracking it is nearly impossible to tell which animal came from where. This, in fact, led to the 2013 horse meat scandal in Europe. Horses were slaughtered at the same facilities as cows and cross-contamination of the meats occurred. Some packages thought to be beef were even found to be 100% horse meat.
Overseas there is a cultural gap where many European, South American, and Asian nations have no issue with the practice. Here at home, we take a different stance–over 80% of American voters are in favor of banning horse slaughter altogether according to the American Society for Prevention and Cruelty to Animals. Moreover, rescue farms will take the unwanted animals and find it a better home and provide a dignified life. The problem is large and requires more awareness and help.