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About Horse Slaughter – Fact vs. fiction

Is horse slaughter a humane death for horses?
No. A comprehensive report compiled from information received from the USDA regarding the inhumane treatment of horses slaughtered in U.S. facilities proves this is an inhumane practice and causes much suffering to the horses. This report can be viewed at www.kaufmanzoning.net.

For additional information about horses in transport to slaughter, in slaughter feedlots, and at slaughter the following sites are a wealth of information:

These websites contain great information as well as some disturbing images which are clearly marked with a warning before you access those images.

Horse slaughter is inherently cruel. The inhumane transport and the grisly slaughter processes are well-documented. Former race horses, work horses, riding ponies, and carriage horses are purchased at regular horse auctions and crammed on double-decker trucks designed for cattle. Trucked long distances, they are subject to injuries and being trampled. Once at the plant, they throw their heads and are hard to accurately stun. In the U.S., horses were frequently improperly stunned and then hoisted and shackled, and bled out while still conscious and kicking.

Who would benefit from having a horse slaughter facility in Montana?
The Belgian-owned company which requested this legislation (House Bill 418), the “canner buyers” who purchase horses for slaughter, the livestock auction yards and the people who steal horses then sell them directly to the slaughter facility.

There is a lot of hype about a horse slaughter plant bringing tax money and jobs to Montana. Facts about the economic impact of slaughter facilities are available at www.kaufmanzoning.net. What happened in Kaufman, Texas, is a cautionary tale and we can learn from what happened there.

Have horse slaughterhouse closures in the U.S. caused horse abandonment or neglect?
No. Statistics demonstrate that horse slaughter does not alleviate neglect or cruelty. When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, it saw no rise in horse cruelty cases, but did document a 34% drop in horse theft. When the Illinois plant was non-operational for two years (March 2002 – June 2004), the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture documented a drop in horse cruelty in the state. When it reopened, the horse abuse cases went back up. A recent study released by the Animal Law Coalition (June 17, 2008) shows a decrease of abuse and neglect nationwide since the closure of U.S. slaughter facilities.

Horse slaughter has been decreasing for decades without causing abandonment. There used to be eight horse slaughter plants in the United States, processing 350,000 horses annually for human consumption abroad. In 2006, the numbers declined to three remaining plants killing 100,000 horses a year, meaning 250,000 fewer American horses were turned into dinners for Europeans. They did not end up abused or neglected either.

Are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter?
No. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Who will inspect the meat from a horse slaughter plant?
No one. The Federal 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill that was extended into 2009 with a Continuing Resolution is currently in place. According to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, federal inspectors are REQUIRED to inspect all meat transported between states and out of the US. Therefore, no horse meat could leave the state of Montana. It would be in violation of federal law, and European Union (EU) regulations would prevent its sale. Violation of this would be a federal offense and not subject to House Bill 418's proposed restriction on state court action.

U.S. House Resolution 2764, Section 741 says none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to pay the salaries or expenses of personnel to:

  1. inspect horses under section 3 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21
    U.S.C. 603);
  2. inspect horses under section 903 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement
    and Reform Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 1901 note; Public Law 104-127); or
  3. implement or enforce section 352.19 of title 9, Code of Federal

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Montana Horse Sanctuary
P.O. Box 10, Simms, MT 59477 • (406) 264-5300