The theme of World Horse Welfare's conference this year was: What is the Value of Horses? A spirited debate took place on whether welfare would improve if horse slaughter were banned and what is essential for good horsemanship.
At last year's conference, Princess Anne* asked if horsemeat was a welfare solution, with her comments being widely discussed in the media afterwards.
In a new format for 2014, four equine enthusiasts were asked to argue for or against the statement:
‘Horse welfare would be improved if horse slaughter were banned’
Taking to the stage to air their opinions were international dressage rider Richard Davison, Professor Natalie Waren from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones and Peter Webbon, former chief executive of the Animal Health Trust.
The key message from those who agreed with ending the slaughter of horses for meat was an emotional one – claiming we owe our equines a “debt of gratitude”.
Immoral and abhorrent
“Euthanasia is very different to slaughtering horses in an abattoir,” said Liz Jones. “It isn’t doing horses justice – we owe them a great deal of gratitude and that isn’t about getting them into the food chain. It’s a moral question – and to me it’s completely immoral and abhorrent.”
However, Peter Webbon stated the fate of the carcass – whether it was cremated, rendered or entered the food chain – is “totally irrelevant to animal welfare”.
“But anything that encourages people to have horses slaughtered without undue delay or long journeys to the slaughter house would improve welfare,” he said.
Professor Natalie Waren agreed once the animal is dead there is “neutral welfare”, but said there is no evidence that industrial slaughter is good for animal welfare.
“It’s about the quality of the animal’s last few moments,” she argued. “We do not want to objectify the horses we enjoy and that have a place in our hearts, which gives them special value.”
Richard questioned the wording of the statement, declaring the debate should be about how slaughter or euthanasia can be conducted in a more humane way.
“If you remain, like me, open minded about this you can not support this motion, as it is worded,” he said. “Abandoning slaughter won’t improve horses’ welfare. Before we consider a ban we need to look at improving methods and the conditions they are subjected to during slaughter.”
It was also argued those horses currently neglected and abandoned, would have a market value.
“Owners of these horses would be prepared to take them for slaughter, so they are no longer suffering,” said Peter. “But we need to change conditions of slaughter.”
However, Natalie raised concerns that slaughtering horses for meat would encourage the breeding of low-value horses.
“Indiscriminate breeding of poor value horses leads to neglect and abandoning, we don’t want to end up encouraging that and rewarding it by allowing slaughter as an easy option,” she said.
"If we open doors to say slaughter is the answer we are doing a disservice to a wonderful animal. In my eyes they have more value than commercially produced pig. Horses are special to us, let's keep it that way.”
Source: Horse and Country
*Princess Anne is the current president of World Horse Welfare, which was founded in 1927 as a campaigning organization to prevent the export of live British horses for slaughter. Despite all their welfare advocacy, the organization does not campaign against horse slaughter and the eating of horsemeat.
The EU said today it has tightened rules to prevent horsemeat inadvertantly or fraudulently ending up in food across the bloc and avoid a repeat of last year’s scandal.
The European Commission said revised rules will require all horses before their first birthdays to be implanted with microchips, a kind of passport that must now be entered into centralised databases in all 28 member states.
“The introduction of a compulsory centralised database in all member states will assist the competent authorities to better control the issuance of the passports by different passport issuing bodies,” the Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said in a statement.
Not all countries, particularly Britain and Sweden, had such databases, EU sources said.
Under the new rules, all horses born after July 1, 2009 will also have to have microchips implanted in them. The new regulations will take effect in January 2016, while countries that do not have centralised databases will have until July 2016 to set one up, the Commission said.
The chips will serve as a medical record that would reveal whether a horse has been treated with bute or other medicines that disqualify the animal to be used for food consumption.
“As promised, this is another lesson drawn from last year’s horse meat fraud: the rules endorsed by the member states will strengthen the horse passport system in place,” EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said.
“I believe that closer cooperation will enhance the safeguards which prevent non-food quality horse meat from ending up on our plates,” he said.
The scandal started in January last year, when beefburgers sold in several British and Irish supermarket chains were found to contain horsemeat, before spreading to more than a dozen other countries.
Thousands of DNA tests on European beef products showed more than 4.5 percent were tainted with horsemeat after cases across Europe sparked consumer outrage and forced companies into costly product recalls.
A separate test of horse carcasses showed just over 0.5 percent were positive for phenylbutazone, a painkiller for horses potentially harmful to humans.
Borg and other officials insisted last year the core problem was one of fraud – horsemeat being passed off as beef – and not food safety.
Source: New Straits Times
Click Here for EU Press Release
A plea deal is in the works for Horse Slaughter hauler, Dorian Ayache, that could include no prison time
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A plea deal is in the works for a slaughter-horse hauler that could include no prison time and a fine of less than $25,000. Dorian Ayache is the owner of Three Angels Farm in Lebanon, a trucking company whose rickety trailers wrecked on the interstate twice in 2012, endangering drivers and causing several injured horses to be euthanized.
Ayache was facing 26 years in prison for violating a U.S. Department of Transportation order to shut down after inspectors found numerous safety violations.
Tuesday, Ayache entered a guilty plea in federal court. If it's accepted, all the charges against him will be dropped except one: failing to maintain a current driver's log. The maximum fine he faces is $25,000. Ayache would serve six months in prison at most, but he could end up serving no time at all.
"I think it's a pretty trivial sentence," said Leighann Lassiter, the Tennessee director of the United States Humane Society.
"This violation, number one, resulted in endangering thousands of people on the road, but also contributed to the suffering of thousands of animals who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in his care," Lassiter added.
Ayache was transporting horses to the Mexican border, where they were to be slaughtered for human food that is sent overseas.
The federal government criminally charged Ayache with continuing to operate an unsafe trucking operation after being ordered to shut down. The Department of Transportation found Three Angels Farm's equipment in disrepair and its drivers' logbooks inaccurate.
Scott York was driving the Three Angels trailer that broke in half on I-440 in 2012. He told Channel 4 that Ayache ordered drivers to stay on the road for longer than the law allows.
"He taught me how to fudge a log book," York told Channel 4 in 2012. During that time, York said, the horses were not given water, food or rest. And if the horses went down, he said, they were given electric shocks. "He makes you cattle-prod them up," York told Channel 4.
After the government shut down Three Angels Farm, Ayache hauled horses under a different company's name, Terri's Farm. Its owner, Theresa Vincent, is being offered the same plea deal of zero to six months in prison and a fine of less than $25,000.
The sentences aren't set in stone. The plea agreements have to be approved by a federal judge. Sentencing is set for Nov. 21.
Source: WSMV by Nancy Amons
WSMV slideshow of Ayache's trailer that was hauling horses that crashed on I-40 im 2012
Four years after strict import requirements for products of animal origin entered into force in the European Union, Humane Society International is renewing its call to the European Commission to halt the import of horsemeat from outside the EU.
Joanna Swabe, HSI EU director, said “These EU import requirements look great on paper, but the implementation thereof by non-EU countries has been farcical. Humane Society International has repeatedly warned that the measures implemented by Canada and Mexico to prevent meat from horses treated with banned substances, such as phenylbutazone, from entering the EU food system are fundamentally flawed and highly susceptible to fraud. Even the European Commission’s own audits have highlighted this, which makes it all the more outrageous that they have failed to take action to suspend the import of horsemeat products that do not meet EU food safety standards.”
Mounting evidence suggests that this issue is not restricted to horsemeat from North America. Food and Veterinary Office audits in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay  indicate that the measures implemented in these countries to prevent meat from horses treated with substances banned for use in food animals are also vulnerable to fraud. The drug treatment histories of horses slaughtered for export to the EU may also have traceability issues.
An investigative report on horsemeat imports recently produced by a coalition of European animal protection groups  corroborates HSI’s own findings, lending additional weight to our calls for the Commission to uphold its own import requirements for products of animal origin and to take urgent action to ensure that meat from horses that do not qualify for slaughter for export no longer ends up on EU consumers’ plates.
1. All FVO audit reports can be accessed here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/index_en.cfm
Source: Humane Society International
Media contact: Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440, email@example.com
Princess Anne wants her fellow Britons to chew on the idea of including horse meat in their daily diets.
The royal caused a stir Thursday after advocating the public consumption of the meat while speaking at a conference hosted by World Horse Welfare, a charity in which she serves as president.
"Our attitudes towards the horse meat trade, I think might, and the value of horse meat, may have to change," the princess said.
Anne, the daughter of Queen Elizabeth, suggested that the number of abuse cases would drop if horse owners saw future worth in the animal. "Would that reduce the number of welfare cases if there was a real value for horse meat in the public sector?" she asked the audience. "I think it needs a debate."
Horse meat is regularly consumed in other European countries like France, Italy and particularly Belgium, but there is a social stigma against it in Britain.
"As I was reminded, not so long ago by somebody who traveled in France, the most expensive piece of meat in the local butcher was a filet of horse meat," Anne said. The princess also made reference to the horse meat scandal, which rocked many parts of Europe earlier this year, when horse DNA was discovered in an array of food products sold throughout the U.K.
"The scandal was that that was food that was improperly marked, not that it had horse meat in it," Anne argued, "And that if you'd put the correct label on it and put it back on the shelves, that would've been the correct answer, for everybody."
After her comments sparked headlines, Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, came out in Anne's defense. "Around 7,000 horses are currently at risk of abandonment and neglect and charities like ours are struggling to cope as winter approaches," Owers pointed out. "The economic downturn has driven prices for horses and ponies to rock bottom, and the sad fact is that from a purely economic perspective, they can now be worth more as meat."
"Our president has been brave enough to say this openly in the hopes of generating a thought-provoking debate," he added.
Source: CBS News
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The man behind the Lebanon trucking company shuttered last year by the federal government after two interstate mishaps involving trailers loaded with horses headed to slaughter is in trouble again. Dorian Ayache has been indicted on a long list of federal charges, including continuing to truck horses to slaughterhouses along the Mexican border even after his trucking company was shut down, and trying to destroy evidence.
Also charged is the owner of a second company, Theresa Vincent, who the government says continued the trucking operation, just under a new name.
Ayache first came to the Channel 4 I-Team's attention in early 2012 when a load of horses he was hauling to slaughter tipped over on the interstate in Williamson County, killing three horses.
Then, it happened again a few months later, when another load of horses Ayache was sending to the meat packing plant overturned in south Nashville.
Both times, federal regulators cited his rigs and drivers for safety violations, and the U.S. Department of Transportation shut Ayache's business down.
But as the I-Team reported in August 2012, we found Ayache continuing to operate under a new company name: Teri's Farm.
Now, both Ayache and Vincent, the owner of Teri's Farm, have been indicted by a federal grand jury.
Investigators say Ayache continued to truck horses after the D.O.T. ordered him not to and then allegedly erased a series of emails in an attempt to cover it up.
Vincent is accused of lying to the grand jury, saying she hadn't had phone contact with Ayache when she allegedly had.
There's a third company involved in all this, too. According to the indictment, after the feds shut down Ayache's Three Angels Farms and then Teri's Farm, the investigators say Ayache continued to operate under a third name.
Source: WSMV by Nancy Amons
Introduced by Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 (S. 1459) would prohibit the hauling of horses on livestock trailers containing one level on top of the other. The bill has garnered bipartisan support in Congress, as well from the welfare, veterinary and agriculture communities.
Contact your U.S. Senator and urge them to support S.1459 in order to protect horses from being transported across the United States for any reason in a trailer having more than one level.
>>> Click Here to Contact your Representative
Press Release | August 5, 2013
Bipartisan legislation would prohibit interstate transport of horses in double-decker trailers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have reintroduced the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013, which would prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in double-decker trailers and would create civil penalties for each horse transported.
“Double-decker trailers are designed for cattle and hogs, not horses,” said Senator Menendez. “This legislation would put a much needed end to the inhumane and unsafe practice of transporting horses in trailers with two or more levels stacked on
top of each other, regardless of the purpose. Not only is this type of conveyance cruel, but it also jeopardizes safe roadway conditions for New Jersyans and all of those who travel through our state.”
Six states have banned the use of double-decker trailers for any type of horse transport: Maryland, Massachusetts, New York,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Other states, including Arizona, California, Minnesota, and Virginia have various state laws regulating their use. A uniform federal law is needed to eliminate confusion from a myriad of state laws on horse
In November 7, 2007, the USDA prohibited the transport of horses to slaughter in double deck trailers. The Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2013 codifies this across the board.
Senators Menendez and Kirk are both Co-Sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R.1094 and S.541) which will ban the slaughter of horses on U.S. soil. It will also prevent transporting horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.