Don't Let U.S. Horse Slaughterhouses Return
An Animal Rights Article from


Sharon Seltzer on
April 2010

The last horse slaughter plant in the United States closed in 2007. So why is Congress still debating about the passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act that would prohibit slaughterhouses and horse meat in the country? It’s because of a loophole that may bring these facilities back to life in the U.S.

The subject of horse slaughter in the U.S. is a topic that just doesn’t want to go away. For the past two years members of Congress such as Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have been trying to pass a law that would place a federal ban on the “intentional possession, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering, or receiving of a horse for slaughter for human consumption.”

Currently there is no federal law to protect horses from being sent to slaughter. And with each passing legislative session more states are questioning the value of such a law and instead are embracing the idea of reopening slaughterhouses once again.

Horses are considered to be companion animals by most Americans and have never been raised for human consumption in this country. It was this influence that helped to close the last slaughter plant in Texas in 2007.

Previous facilities were primarily foreign owned and the slaughtered horses were processed and shipped to countries such as France, Belgium, Japan, Mexico, Argentina and Australia. But even when the last processing facility closed, it left a loophole for domestic horses to be shipped across our borders for slaughter.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, “American horses can be legally transported across Canadian and Mexican borders to be slaughtered and processed for human food for foreign gourmands.”

The Fight

Now according to the Animal Law Coalition, several states want to see the domestic facilities reopened as a means of creating jobs and revenue. Idaho passed legislation that exempts the slaughter of horses from their animal cruelty laws and South Dakota has issued a feasibility study for equine processing plants in their state. Both open the door to reinstate slaughterhouses.

Tennessee Representative Frank Niceley has introduced HB 1428, which would make it legal to get a license for a horse slaughter facility in his state and Missouri has partially passed a law to promote horse slaughterhouses in that state, as well.

Both Minnesota and Oklahoma are actively fighting against the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act in Congress.

Rescued Horses

The operators of slaughterhouses try to convince politicians that the horses they kill are old or injured or without any other options. But the USDA statistics show that 92.3% of all the horses sent to facilities were in good condition and good health. Most could have been placed with equine rescue groups and adopted into new homes.

Miss Judge is a thoroughbred horse that was rescued from a slaughterhouse. She became a featured horse at a world-renowned event for natural horsemanship trainers. And a 17 year-old Dutch Warmblood named Jamaica was named “Horse of the Year” by the U.S. Equestrian Federation after she was saved from a slaughter plant.

A family of six horses in Maine attracted national attention after they were rescued from a slaughterhouse dealer at an auction. The family that included Sunny (Dad), Prancer (Mom) and kids Louden, Vixen, Merlin and Max were taken to a horse ranch. Later Max was adopted by Priscilla Presley and now lives in-style at world famous Graceland. The other horses have remained together and spend their summers in Maine and winters in Virginia with their adopted family.

Horse slaughterhouses, like any other facility of its kind are filled with fear, pain and suffering for the animals. It is no place for a horse or any other animal to die.

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