Confused about Horse Slaughter?

Here are the answers.


How many horses are slaughtered in the US each year?

According to the USDA, the three horse slaughter plants remaining in the US (two in Texas and one in Illinois) killed over 94,000 horses in 2005 for human consumption.  An additional twenty thousand horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.


How will banning slaughter affect the economy?

The three existing slaughter plants are foreign owned, and pay no corporate taxes or export tariffs. The entire horse meat industry is only 0.001% the size of the U.S. meat industry, making it economically insignificant.


What types of horses are being slaughtered? Aren't these old, sick, horses?

According to 2001 field studies conducted by Temple Grandin, 70% of all horses at the slaughter plant were in good, fat, or obese condition; 72% were considered to be “sound” of limb; 84% were of average age; and 96% had no behavioral issues.  For obvious reasons the meat of old or sick horses is not acceptable for human consumption.


Isn't the transport of horses to slaughter regulated by the federal government?

Yes. However, it is currently legal to transport horses more than 24 hours without food, water or rest; legal to transport horses in low clearance double-decker cattle trailers; and legal to transport horses without separating the stallions from the mares and foals. Approximately 30% of horses headed for slaughter are injured from fighting and transportation.


How are horses killed at the slaughter plant?

According to federal law, horses must be rendered unconscious prior to slaughter, usually by captive bolt. However, videos and personal testimonies reveal horses that are not effectively stunned, even with repeated blows. These horses are still conscious when they are shackled, hoisted by a rear leg, and cut across the throat. Although a recent animal welfare audit commissioned by the USDA recommended a 0% live vivesection as acceptable, current regulations allow for a 10% live vivesection rate. This 10% tolerance theoretically allows for almost 10,000 horses to be slaughtered alive annually.


If horses aren't slaughtered, where will all the unwanted horses go?

The annual number of horses slaughtered in the US dropped from over 300,000 in the 1990s to less than 66,000 in 2004, with no special infrastructure to absorb the thousands of “unwanted” horses that were not slaughtered. Horses are being kept longer, sold to others, humanely euthanized, or donated to retirement and rescue facilities. The “surplus horse population” is a myth.


Will banning horse slaughter mean more cases of horse abuse and neglect?

No. In fact, both the Hooved Animal Humane Society (HAHS) and the Illinois Department of Agriculture reported that during a year long closing of the only slaughter plant in the region due to fire, abuse cases actually decreased. California banned horse slaughter in 1998—since that time horse theft has dropped 34% and cruelty reports have not increased Texas, which had the only two slaughter plants in 2003, had among the nations highest rates of cruelty and theft that year. The existence of horse slaughter plants seems to be directly related to increased horse abuse and theft.




How you can help

Ask your Congressman to cosponsor the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503), a bill to ban the slaughter of horses and H.R. 297, a legislation to restore the ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses and burros.