Horse slaughter is a very dark reality for a majority of horses in America. Currently, however, there are no horse slaughter plants operating in the United States because in 2005 the Agricultural Appropriations bill yanked federal money used for inspections of horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. Without USDA inspections, U.S. based slaughterhouses cannot operate because the meat may not ship across state lines and the major market for horse meat is overseas. This all recently changed on November 14th, 2011, when a Congressional Conference Committee issued a report failing to recommend the defunding of inspections of horses slaughtered for human consumption. So this has positioned U.S. based horse slaughter plants to reopen despite the fact that horse meat is consumed largely in foreign countries; Americans would be required to subsidize what is essentially a foreign-owned industry.
The opposition to horse slaughter argues that it’s the ultimate betrayal of American icons and that horses that are slaughtered for human consumption are not raised for human consumption and are therefore not safe for human consumption. Those supporting horse slaughter argue that it’s a humane end to what would otherwise be a life of neglect and cruelty for the vast amount of unwanted horses in America. But the reality is that American horses are not raised for human consumption and since American horses are not raised with the anticipation that they will one day end up on someone’s dinner plate, humans administer a variety of de-wormers, ointments, supplements and medications to them for varying reasons. One in particular being Phenylbutazone or “Bute” which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug originally developed for treating severe cases of arthritis in horses. Bute is not exclusively used in racehorses or competition horses, in fact Bute it used in pretty much any horse that engaged in any strenuous exercise. Bute is akin to ‘horse’s aspirin’ but it’s also a known carcinogen and its use is illegal in any animal that enters the food supply. In fact, there are currently no approved uses of Bute in food-producing animals. Additionally, there is no system in the United States to track which medications a horse has received throughout its lifetime making horsemeat consumption a serious health risk.
Approximately 70% of Americans oppose horse slaughter and very few, if any at all, actually consume horsemeat. Supporters of the reintroduction of horse slaughter contend that reopening these slaughter plants will create jobs—but this is not necessarily true. Reinstating horse slaughter means very few, very low wage jobs with horrific daily tasks; in areas where horse slaughter plants operated the business brought in virtually no tax revenues and the standard of living dropped during the time the facilities were in operation in addition to a rise in violent crime in the area.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 would amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes—it would essentially put an end to the slaughter of America’s horses for overseas consumption. If the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is something you think should be passed, you can show your support here.