An eight-month long CBS News investigation examines the shadowy practice of slaughtering U.S. horses in Mexico and Canada.
An eight-month long CBS News investigation examines the shadowy practice of slaughtering U.S. horses in Mexico and Canada. In a two-part report on the "CBS News Weekend Roundup," correspondent August Skamenca tells us, the impact posed by killing an estimated 150,000 horses every year goes far beyond the emotional.
Skamenca interviewed many well known horse activists, including: musician, Willie Nelson and his daughter Amy, Chris Heyde, Deputy Director of the Animal Welfare Institute, Jerry Finch of Habitat for Horses, and Texas oil and gas executive, T. Boone Pickens.
Audio report can also be found by >> clicking here.
Animal Welfare Groups, New Mexico Leaders Appalled by USDA's Decision to Process Application for Horse Slaughter Plant Inspections
Press Release | Friday, June 28, 2013
Washington, D.C.--The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals®), and Animal Protection of New Mexico are dismayed over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent
decision to approve an application for a horse slaughter facility at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, N.M. on the grounds that killing horses for human consumption is inhumane and creates a serious health risk to consumers. Similar applications are pending for Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, Mo., and Responsible Transportation LLC in Sigourney, Iowa, and could be approved as early as Monday.
Valley Meat is slated to be the first facility in the U.S. to be green-lighted to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed after Congress voted to eliminate funding for horse meat inspections. This surprising move to reopen a horse slaughter plant defies common sense, given Congress’s recent votes to eliminate funding for such inspections and the scandal in the European Union, where horse meat was found to be mislabeled as beef in prepared food products. On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee voted to include language prohibiting the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter inspections in its Agriculture Appropriations bill, and on June 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted in favor of including the same language in its version of the Appropriations bill. These bills are both expected to move for floor action in July, signaling revocation of the USDA’s inspection abilities in a matter of months.
“The writing is on the wall – Americans don’t want our horses slaughtered, here or in any other country. Moving ahead with a government program to fund horse slaughter inspections is a cruel, reckless and fiscally irresponsible move,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “Recent polling shows that 70 percent of New Mexicans, along with the
overwhelming majority of Americans, are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption. Given the recent firestorm of concern and outrage over horse meat entering the food supply in Europe, this decision is shocking. The USDA is knowingly diverting tax dollars from programs that protect American consumers to programs that jeopardize them. It is time for Congress to take action to prevent American horses from suffering this terrible fate and stop horse slaughter in the U.S. once and for all.”
Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and often erroneously compared to humane euthanasia. The methods used to slaughter horses do not always result in quick, painless deaths, as horses are difficult to stun and may remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment. Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, these equines typically suffer abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, and in
dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals may be seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.
“I am baffled and greatly disappointed that the USDA has chosen to approve this application despite strong opposition from the state of New Mexico, the U.S. Congress and the American public,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI. “Given an earlier statement from USDA Secretary Vilsack opposing horse slaughter and calling for alternatives and recent votes in Congress against this practice we had hoped no plant would be allowed to open. It just means we will have to redouble our efforts to pass the SAFE Act which will ban slaughter and ensure our horses are safe from this cruel and predatory industry.”
“New Mexicans reject the idea of a horse slaughter plant in our state,” said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection of New Mexico. “Horses are a valuable part of our heritage, and we have worked hard to develop a robust
safety net for them, not condemn them to slaughter.”
“Despite the federal government’s decision to legalize horse slaughter for human consumption, I believe creating a horse slaughtering industry in New Mexico is wrong and I am strongly opposed,” said New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. “Like the overwhelming majority of Americans across the country, New Mexicans opposed the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Not only is there not a domestic demand for horsemeat, the act of slaughter itself is considered inhumane by experts, given that a horse’s biology makes them difficult to stun, leaving them conscious during the slaughter process.”
“Granting an inspection of the proposed horse slaughtering facility does not resolve the issues of potential violation of New Mexico State requirements,” said New Mexico’s Attorney General, Gary K. King. “Our office has expressed concern that under current practices it is unlikely that the plant can show that it meets the requirements of the New Mexico Food Act in their manufacture and delivery of horse meat for human consumption. The plant will also likely be required to meet State environmental standards for their discharges.”
“As a veterinarian, natural resource manager, and someone who has had the great good fortune to grow up with and around horses, I am very concerned about their health and safety. If a horse is hurt, terminally ill, or has no chance to find a loving home, then humane euthanasia is an important option,” said New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell, D.V.M. “I am told the USDA is considering the proposal to open a horse slaughtering facility in our state. Since we do not have enough unwanted horses in New Mexico to make this economically viable, it means that horses would be trucked in from across the
nation. We do not have the safeguards and oversight in place to ensure their humane handling, transport, and euthanasia. New Mexico can do much better by these intelligent and gentle creatures, and I strongly oppose this ill-conceived proposal.”
The decision to allow facilities to slaughter horses adds further to the burden on U.S. taxpayers at a time when spending cuts associated with the sequester could curtail food safety inspections for U.S. meat products.Additionally, with the opening of a horse slaughter plant in the U.S., it will be more difficult to prevent the kind of comingling between horse meat and beef products that has occurred in Europe.
In March, U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., introduced the Safeguard American Foods Export (SAFE) Act (S. 541/ H.R. 1094), bipartisan legislation that will prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. AWI, APNM and the ASPCA urge Congress to
swiftly pass the SAFE Act to protect horses and consumers.
Sen. Landrieu, Reps. Meehan & Moran, school children and other horse activists push for permanent ban on horse slaughter.2013 "Horses on the Hill" in Washington, DC
On May 15th, 2013, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., U.S. Representative Patrick Meehan, D-Pa., and U.S. Representative Jim Moran, D-Va., co-sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, will join school children and citizen advocates on Capitol Hill for a press conference to kick off “Horses on the Hill.” Participants will spend the day pushing for passage of the Safeguard AmericanFood Exports (SAFE) Act, which will prohibit horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export and slaughter of more than 150,000 American horses abroad each year and prevent the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.
The event is co-sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the Humane Society of the United States. After the press conference, horse advocates - including local school children and young equestrians - will meet with legislators to ask that they permanently protect our nation’s horses from
WHEN: Wednesday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m.
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
Rep. Patrick Meehan, D-Pa.
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va.
Bonnie-Jill Laflin, sports commentator, actress, horse owner
Wendie Malick, actress
Brittany Wallace, horse sold into slaughter, but rescued at last minute
Stacia Madden, equestrian and award winning show jumping trainer
John Boyd, president, National Black Farmers Association
U.S. Rep. Meehan, National Animal Welfare Groups Urge Philadelphians to Support Federal Legislation to Ban Horse Slaughter
Source: Animal Welfare InstitutePhiladelphia Police Department’s Mounted Police Unit
Press conference held at mounted police headquarters to discuss
animal welfare, human health concerns associated with slaughtering horses for human consumption
PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Police Department’s Mounted Police Unit was joined at its headquarters by U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and The Humane Society of the United States to garner public support for federal legislation to stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption.
In addition to being terrifying and painful for the animals, slaughtering American horses poses a potential risk to human health. In this country, horses are raised for use in show, sport, work and recreation and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by current federal regulations for use in animals intended for human consumption. There is no known safe level for consumption of these drug residues in horse meat, and most horses have no medical record that documents the type and amount of drugs received.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a foreign industry that produces potentially unsafe food for consumers. Reps. Meehan and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., along with Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R S.C., introduced the legislation into Congress last month.
Rep. Meehan said: “The pending approval of the first domestic horse slaughter plant underscores the urgency of Congressional action. This legislation has bipartisan, bicameral support. It's time for Congress to act to ban horse slaughter. The partnership between Last Chance Ranch and the Philadelphia Police Department is an example of one of the many alternatives to the inhumane slaughter of horses for human consumption, including adoption and donation. Horse slaughter is inhumane to horses, it's unsafe for humans and it must end.”
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey issued the following statement: “The welfare of all animals is important to our department. Our Mounted Unit is an important component of our crime fighting strategy and another resource in building relationships with various communities. Therefore, preserving the lives of these animals is meaningful and beneficial for both
human beings and horses.”
Valerie Pringle, equine protection specialist for The HSUS, said: “Horses have served humanity in so many ways, including helping our law enforcement efforts. We owe these animals better than a cruel, terrifying death in a slaughter plant, and I thank Representative Meehan for his leadership in protecting America’s horses and consumers from this predatory industry.”
Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for AWI, said: “We are all humbled to be standing in the presence of the magnificent horses that make up the Philadelphia Police Department’s Mounted Police Unit. These horses—some of whom were rescued from slaughter—are hooves-on-the-ground proof that the overwhelming majority of horses going to slaughter are full of life and have value to provide the community. Surely we can provide them a second chance; we owe them that for all they have given us.”
Carolyn Schnurr, federal legislative manager of ASPCA Government Relations, added: “The overwhelming majority of Americans are intensely opposed to the cruel practice of horse slaughter, and we thank the sponsors of the SAFE Act for their efforts to not only protect public health, but also safeguard our nation’s equines. This predatory industry is actively trying to establish horse slaughter plants in the U.S., and it is time for Congress to permanently ban domestic horse slaughter and the export of our horses to neighboring countries for slaughter.”
The passage of the SAFE Act is a priority for the nation’s leading animal welfare organizations, as well as many veterinarians and equine groups across the country, including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinarians for Equine Welfare and National Black Farmers Association. A January 2012 national poll commissioned by the ASPCA confirms that 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption.