U.S. horse slaughtering okay'd by Obama, Congress

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

Horse slaughter houses will again be opening in the United States, but the outcry from activists may not come as loudly as one would expect.

Horse slaughtering is again on the table in the United States.

Funding for inspection of horse slaughter houses was ended in 2006, which basically shut them down. This was done with the idea that more horse rescues would follow. However, that is unfortunately not what happened.

Patty Livingston, a horse rescuer in Bethlehem, GA, and president of the Georgia Equine Rescue League, spoke with 11Alive News in Atlanta about the controversial move of putting horse slaughterhouses back in business in the United States, supported by Congress and President Obama. The bill was sent to the president this month; he signed it on Nov. 18, allowing the slaughterhouses to get back to business in the U.S.

But, Livingston indicated that, horrible as it seems, it is the best of the options out there right now. "In 2006 I actually voted to shut them down, not knowing what that was going to mean for our horses," she said. The collapse of the economy led to more horse abuse, Livingston indicated, and abandonment has increased—as much as 60 percent in Colorado, she said, leading to rescue groups becoming overwhelmed and unable to deal with the problem of abandoned and abused horses in the United States.

Slaughter houses in Canada and Mexico have continued to demand horse meat since the U.S. slaughter houses shut down five years ago. So, many old and abandoned horses have been taken across the borders for slaughter—under less humane conditions, Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) pointed out to 11Alive News.

"In those facilities, particularly in Mexico, the USDA has no jurisdiction and we don't know what kind of facilities they are, if the horses are treated humanely," Rep. Kingston said.

Rep. Kingston did vote to allow horse slaughter houses to reopen, as did various Congressmen from both sides of the political aisle, allowing the bill to be signed by President Obama.

Surprisingly, some horse rescuers, like Livingston, do support the move as the lesser of the evils.

"The cruelty that they endure now is ten times worse than they ever endured when we had slaughter houses in this country," Livingston explained to 11Alive News.

There are over 9 million horses in the United States today; just over one percent, approximately 125,000 are slaughtered each year.

Image: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by Drifter81 (not verified) on
If you think for one second that while horses where helping us build this country the cowboys and pioneers weren't eating thier horses out on cold prairie you are sadly mistaken. Horses were viewed as livestock than and should be now.

Submitted by Drifter81 (not verified) on
If you think that none of the pioneers ate thier horses out on the cold prairie trail across this great country you are sourly mistaken. Although horses were valued as mounts they were also valued as food. I find most people who are against the slaughter of livestock have never in thier life owned any livestock. They think hamburger just comes from the store.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Clearly it sounds like you are the pioneer and you need to go back to the prairie. Yes, horses were consumed by people WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE TO EAT, DUH!!! You are clearly living in the wrong century and should move to Canada or Mexico or somewhere people really give a crap about your 100 year old opinion..

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Really??? How is imposing a foal impact fee on the "major" horse breeders fair or realistic? You want to punish those who attempt to breed quality horses and sell them as performers? Exactly which large breder do you know of that uses slaughter to get rid of horses that won't be champions??? That's a bunch of crap! They might sell them for less money or sell them for pleasure riding instead of competetion. if they have a good quality horse, they are not going to sell it for $300 regardless. How is it fair to charge some breeders a foal impact fee and not others? The backyard breeders are most of the problem and you will never regulate them. There is no way to regulate what someone does in their own backyard. I know of people who have 20-30 horses that they can't afford to feed and care for properly. These horses are allowed to breed at random. This is very wrong! These horses will never have a decent life! So why do you want to try to punish those who breed responsibly? Wake up! Just because horse slaughter was not legal in the US did not mean that it stopped. It will NEVER stop. At least if it is done in the US, it can be regulated and humane. If you think that a trip to Mexico is a better option then you are nuts! Slaughter can be humane when it is regulated in the US. Unless you are a vegan then you can't oppose the use of animals for food. They are stock animals like cows and pigs. Do you drink milk or eat cheese or hamburgers? I want these animals to be treated as humanely as possible, but I still like cheeseburgers. If there is no animal slaughter, then what will happen to all the unwanted cows? Cows chickens, and pigs would be extinct (except for in a zoo) if we didn't eat them!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I don't think culling incentives is going to, even over a long period of time, make there be no need for horse slaughter. Most the horses in breeding incentive programs would never end up in slaughter houses in the first place. It's all the un-registered and crippled horses that the slaughter houses are intended for. Tell me, are you willing do to your part to 'save horses from slaughter' and dedicate a huge portion of your paycheck every year to feed and maintain a crippled horse? Didn't think so. A good solution might be to require standards to be met by parents of horses in order for their foals to be registered. It would cut down on breeding quite a bit of the 'not so nice' registered horses.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Dear Miss. Sellers, My name is Sunnie Wynn I am 16 years old from South Georgia. My family raises and trains horses for a living & horses have always been my passion! We show all of our horses and are ranked top in the nation and world. If you truly care and love horses then you should be for slaughter. I know it is a terrible thing to think about, but its done humanily do your research. Would you rather we have millions of horses starving and being turned out in the wild because people can't afford them, or would you rather they be put down humanily and used for something. America isnt in demand for horse meat the middle eastern countries are. Money will not stop slaughter because no one has that kind of money. Slaughter is for the best believe it or not. People think they are trying to save them by buying horses untilo they have no money to feed them & then the horses die and suffer a terrible death. Think about this, would you rather horses die an inhumane death (which is what will happen if you tyr and stop it, look around its already happened) or would rather them be served justice and humanily be put down? -Sunnie Wynn

Submitted by NC (not verified) on
I'm delighted the slaughter houses are being reopened. As a horses breeder and seller, the horse market has become saturated with trash horses. Horses the have been inbred that they become crazy and will never be ridden. Think about it...a stallion in a pasture with several mares, breeding the mares, then breeding the offspring, then breeding the offspring's offfspring. A 10 year old well trained horse suitable for a child to ride selling for less than a $1,000.00! How do you thing that horses got trained to be that gentle - a lot of work and ten years of feeding twice a day. We have 9 horses and haven't sold one in five years, since the slaughter houses closed and the price for horses went into the manure pile. Obama did something right.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Not only that, but some "breeders" and "sellers" have taken advantage of the non-market to sell their own foals and other horses they can pick up off Craigslist for free or $100, and haul a stock-trailer load to Mexico (or Canada, whichever is closer), once a month or more. I know of at least 2 local breeders who do this on a regular basis to get a per-pound profit because they can't sell their crappy-bred horses any other way. These are breeders who were breeding crappy horses BEFORE the market crashed, and never stopped. 60-80 poorly-conformed, bad tempered babies a year that they couldn't sell then...surely can't sell now...So Mexico is their answer. At least slaughterhouses INSIDE the US will create US jobs, will have USDA standards for handling, and will be a closer destination for those unwanted horses that would otherwise endure a 26 hour final ride. Not to mention, put a bottom back in the market -- there used to be signs at the auctions as 'warnings' to sellers, for example $800 was meat price - if you sold your horse for that price or less, you knew he was probably going to the slaughterhouse. That gave every marketable, sound, well-trained horse an immediate perceived value above that $800 mark - both inside and outside the auction house.

Submitted by WASinthe horse ... (not verified) on

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
excuse me?! crappy horses? who are you to say that a horse is, "crappy?!" beauty is subjective. you are an asshole.


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