Jarl: Horse slaughter is not ‘euthanasia’


Katie Jarl,  News-Journal.com. May 3, 2013

images-1Here in Texas, we know a thing or two about horses. These loyal animals have been a part of the fabric of our state from the very beginning, and Texas continues to be a place where horses work on ranches, demonstrate their athleticism in the show ring, and serve as our trusted companions. Never have horses been considered dinner.

Our love of horses is the primary reason the idea of slaughtering them for human consumption is so abhorrent to the vast majority of us. A 2012 national poll found 81 percent of Texans disapprove of horse slaughter.

The realities of the practice make it clear why we find it to be such a despicable end. From the auction to the kill box, the process is inhumane. Inside the slaughterhouse, horses often suffer repeated attempts to render them unconscious.

The transport process is hardly better. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented injuries to horses during the long-distance journey to slaughter plants, some of them severe.

U.S. plants have since been closed. But Texas serves as host to several border pens, where U.S. horses await transport to slaughterhouses in Mexico, which exports the meat to Europe and Asia. The USDA has documented dead and severely injured horses in these border pens. Worse, horses that are rejected for slaughter by Mexican authorities can be left in pens to suffer and die.

The horse slaughter industry is a predatory enterprise. It doesn’t “euthanize” old, sick horses — but precisely the opposite: young and healthy horses are purchased at auction, often by people misrepresenting their intentions. The USDA reports 92 percent of horses going to slaughter are in good condition and able to live healthy and productive lives. The existence of horse slaughter actually hinders rescue efforts, as rescuers are routinely outbid at auctions by kill buyers seeking healthy animals that bring the best price per pound.

In addition to opposing the cruelty of horse slaughter, The Humane Society of the United States is concerned about the risk to human health associated with consuming meat from these animals. Horses in the U.S. are not raised as food animals, so they are routinely treated with dozens of drugs over the course of their lives that have not been approved for use in animals raised for food. One example, phenylbutazone or “bute,” is as common to horses as aspirin is to humans, and is banned for use in any animal intended for human consumption. Racehorses are known to be administered a variety of dangerous substances, including cocaine, cobra venom or frog juice, sometimes just days before being shipped to slaughter.

CONTINUED at the News-Journal.com

— Katie Jarl is Texas state director of the Humane Society of the United States.


(Note – While we love to read your comments, please know that commenting here is like preaching to the choir. To have an impact, your comments need to be on the New-Journal website where they can be absorbed by those who might have a tendency to think that slaughter is perfectly okay. – Jerry)

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Ranching Cowgirl


    With the threat of slaughter opening up; back yard horse thefts have risen.

    Stop the slaughter of American horses.

    May 5, 2013
  • debbie heverly, m.d.

    Wow! Great article, thank you very much!!

    May 5, 2013
  • I have already commented on the web page for the News- Journal.

    May 5, 2013
  • Shared and commented this blog and the New-Journal article with this:

    “The issue is not whether horses are livestock or pets. It is that they are not “food animals”, which are documented from birth to death as to what they have ingested and where they have been. This is the only way to ensure a modicum of quality and purity in our food chain. It is ludicrous to even consider introducing animals (horses) into the food chain, not knowing anything about them, especially with so many of them have forged and falsified documentation.

    The only way horses could be used as food is if they were raised for food and required to gain a considerable amount of weight in a short period of time – 2 years or less. Overfeeding horses, especially when they are young, cripples them and deforms their joints, and that is if they make it to the age of two without foundering. This is seen in some Canadian feedlots where they have obese draft crosses who are lying down most of the time because of the pain experienced in obese horses. Some can just barely make it through the chutes to the slaughter room.

    Even the economics of raising horses for food is a folly… just feeding a horse for two years would return very little profit. They need much higher quality feed, they need exercise, they need a degree of handling and training to be able to get them into a chute without mishap (just watch the wild horse roundups).

    The use of “unwanted” horses which are not really necessarily unwanted, for human consumption, rather than marketing them properly, as one would to sell anything else, is a sham. It can be likened to the production of Pink Slime (lean finely textured beef – LFTB), giving it a euphemistic name “Cheval”, and pretending it is a delicacy. And how did that “Pink Slime” scheme work out once the truth was known? “

    May 5, 2013
  • Thanks for the link, Jerry! Totally agree with you, Margo.

    May 5, 2013
  • Terra Pennington

    All that toxic meat is going to end up in our food chain. I hear this meat is to be sold to Japan because the UK has ban all US horses and horse meat due to all the toxins in it. Greed is the only reason for horse slaughter when Horse Plus has proved that euthanizes is more humane than slaughter but then again there is no money in that.

    May 5, 2013