There's no such thing as a commercial horse slaughter plant that doesn't inflict cruelty on horses. And horse slaughter isn't only bad for horses, it’s also bad for people and communities. Listed below are concise facts, recent history, and current developments on the horse slaughter issue.
■ American horsemeat is unsafe for human consumption. Because horses aren't raised as food animals in the USA, it's permissible to administer medications and other toxic substances that are expressly forbidden for use in animals intended for human consumption. There is currently no effective system in place to trace the drug histories of American horses.
■ Horse slaughter is inherently cruel. Because horses' instinctual flight response makes them ill-suited for stunning, they often endure repeated blows and sometimes remain conscious during dismemberment. The road to the slaughterhouse is also rife with cruelty and suffering. After being purchased by kill buyers, the horses are trucked long distances to Mexico or Canada without food, water or rest. Many are injured or die in transit.
■ A national poll revealed that 80% of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter and recognize that we have a responsibility to protect these intelligent, sensitive animals from being butchered.
■ Subsidizing horse slaughter plants in the USA will divert important food safety resources away from products that Americans eat. At a time when the nation is focused on fiscal responsibility, it's outrageous that Congress continues to consider taxpayer dollars be allocated for USDA horsemeat inspections every year in the fiscal budget.
The last three U.S. horse slaughterhouses were shut down in 2007. In 2006, these facilities—two in Texas, one in Illinois, all foreign owned—killed and processed more than 90,000 horses for human consumption. Americans don't eat horsemeat, so it was shipped overseas to countries like France, Belgium and Japan. The owners of these slaughtering plants paid no export taxes and little in income taxes. The slaughterhouses themselves were not clean or green enterprises, and proved to be environmentally damaging as well as economically draining. It's telling that Texas and Illinois have implemented laws specifically banning selling, giving and possessing horse meat intended for human consumption: States with experience hosting horse slaughter facilities don't want them back.
KEY STATE LEGISLATION
■ In 1949 the state of Texas outlawed the commercial possession, sales, and transport of horsemeat intended for human consumption.
■ In November 1998, California voters passed Proposition 6 which banned the slaughter of horses, donkeys and mules and sale of horsemeat for human consumption in the state.
■ In May 2007, Illinois Governor, Rod R. Blagojevich signed legislation (H.B.1711) that bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The state law bans importing or exporting horsemeat if any horsemeat will be used for human consumption.
■ In September 2012, Governor Chris Christie signed a law banning horse slaughter in New Jersey. The law prohibits the in-state slaughter of horses, transportation of horses to slaughter, and the sale of horsemeat for human consumption.
■ Oklahoma lifted its 50-year ban on the slaughtering horses in March 2013 when Governor Mary Fallin signed a new law that will allow facilities to process and export horsemeat.
■ A New Mexico, bill (H.B. 90) was introduced in the state house in January 2013 that would allocate money for the state's Department of Agriculture to study the feasibility of locating a horse slaughter facility.
■ The New York State Assembly introduced a bill (A.B. 3905) in January 2013 that would prohibit the slaughter of horses intended for human consumption and the export of horse meat.
■ In March 2013, Maine’s House of Representatives introduced a bill (L.D. 1286) to prohibit the commercial slaughtering horses for human consumption in the state.
■ On December 1, 2021, New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, signed S.1442B/A.4154B into law. The new law prohibits thoroughbred and standardbred racehorses and breeding stock from New York to be commercially slaughtered for human consumption. Provisions also require all New York racehorses to be microchipped.
■ January 2023: Wyoming state legislators introduced a bill (HJ0003) to slaughter wild horses in the state and commercially sell the horsemeat for profit. Even if the bill should be signed into state law, it has no teeth. Federal law, through the defunding of USDA horse slaughter inspections, effectively bans the slaughter of horses on U.S. soil.
■ January 2023: Colorado state legislators Sen. Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D-Eastern Boulder County) and Rep. Lorena Garcia (D-Commerce City) introduced a bill (SB23-038) to make it illegal import, possess, or transport slaughter-bound equines within the state of Colorado or over state lines.