Lifted ban on US horse slaughter puts abandoned horses at risk of horrible death


All / Tampa : FL : USA | Mar 04, 2013

Sunrise at a horse auction lot brings hope for only a few victims of neglect and abuse.

When economic times were better, horses that ended up at an auction had a better chance of finding good homes with families who might one day have them prancing into the show ring.

But happy endings at horse auction lots are becoming rarer since the United StatesCongress lifted the ban on horse slaughter last year. Now bidders who would slaughter horses for their meat often outnumber families who can afford to keep them as pets.

By the time some horses go to auction, they are so weak from starvation that even if they are lucky enough to be bought by a rescue, they often die in the trailer before ever seeing their new home.

This heart-wrenching scene is being played out across America, often hidden from television cameras and the public eye. But ask anyone who has been to a horse auction and they will tell you that some of them bring in so many starved and abused horses they can barely stand to watch without pushing away tears.

Animal abuse in deplorable conditions is so shameful at animal slaughter facilities that Florida and Iowa have introduced legislation to make photography at farms a felony.

According to Food Safety News:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) secretly filmed a video revealing horrific images of workers at a West Virginia slaughterhouse kicking, stomping and slamming live chickens against walls and floors. …

The Humane Society published a similar undercover, investigative video documenting the abuse of… cattle that are too sick or injured to stand or walk, upon arriving at a California slaughterhouse.

In what Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and an expert in slaughter practices, called “one of the worst animal-abuse videos I have ever viewed,” the video showed workers kicking the downed cattle, dragging them by chains, pushing them with forklifts and delivering repeated electric shocks in an attempt to get them to stand up for inspection.

Is this level of cruelty what the future holds for horses once kept as family pets in the United States?

Few rural areas have been as hard hit by the Great Recession as central Florida. It was once a place where contented horses were commonly spotted grazing along roadsides in rolling green pastures. Now, the tumbled economy has emptied them and left behind a seemingly unnatural void in the landscape.

Abandoned horses have become as common as foreclosed homes in the Tampa area, and members of the horse rescue community are struggling to keep up with saving them from slaughter auctions.

Carrie Young of Ohana Rescue in Brooksville is among a handful of active nonprofit organizations taking in horses that no one else wants.

“It breaks your heart to see the condition some of these horses are in,” Young said during a recent interview.

Despite the fact that not all abandoned horses are rescued in time to be saved, Young often incurs the expense of taking them to the renowned veterinary college at the University of Florida in Gainesville for life-saving surgery.

Horses that have simply been starved have better odds for recovery but may be left with permanent organ damage or other issues if their nutritional deficiencies continued for an extended period of time.

At Ohana, even when the budget is stretched and the pastures are full, Young often finds room for one more horse, especially if their only other option is an auction that may lead to the slaughterhouse.

Young’s husband, Allan, has become a vocal advocate against horse slaughter for meat through a dedicated Facebook page titled, “My horse is not food!

Also working to save and rehabilitate abandoned horses in the Tampa area isBeauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue. The Batchelor family, who runs the nonprofit organization, has been doing extraordinary animal rescue work for more than 20 years.

Like Ohana, Beauty’s Haven often spends thousands of dollars for surgery and other expensive veterinary care so horses that have been abandoned and neglected have a chance to start again. These people work their rescues tirelessly, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fund all the feed and veterinary care solely through donations.

With horse slaughter becoming one of the most horrible fates that could befall these proud and gentle animals, rescues are often the only path between life and one of the most painful deaths any animal is forced to endure.

At many horse slaughter facilities, terrified horses are seriously injured as they are prodded into the hands of people who kill them by slashing their throats, then hang them up by their legs to bleed to death as they cry out in agony.

These horses can be saved and placed in new, loving homes. But as with all worthwhile efforts, it takes money, determination and dedicated people who are willing to try to make a difference.

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AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Ranching Cowgirl

    My heart breaks with the thought of loving horses ending up slaughtered. Again this all goes back to the dollar and who can sway the media and the votes! The morals of the country have gone down the toilet and no life matters any more. Horses are not cattle any rancher knows this. Many years ago, a little 10 year old boy came crying to my side at a sale barn only to hide his head in my lap; crying when a beautiful palomino mare with a broken leg was brought in to sell for slaughter. Dustin’s father had to make 200.00 dollars on that poor horse, his only sons horse! You know what that boy never forgot and 8 years later committed suicide! Why because the $ was worth more to his father then that poor boy’s feelings. Dustin never got over that! Horse slaughter is wrong no matter how you look at it!

    March 4, 2013
  • Sue Wallis Lies

    I abhor horse slaughter and especially fact the the ones who make a buck on the back of a horse are the only ones really profiting. Kill buyers are not heroes or life savers as Slaughterhouse Sue wrote in a editorial piece in the Elko Free Press in 2011. Horse slaughter is a bloody, brutal business that bodes ill for Americas horses.

    March 4, 2013
  • Maureen

    No Animal should be abused ever! And all abuse should be investigated and stopped. Animals deserve love and respect from us. Enough with people who abuse animals and get away with it. Say no to slaughter..of any animal
    Horse slaughter is always always wrong..horrible to profit and make $ off the death of a noble animal.

    March 4, 2013
  • Angela

    We need to step up and ensure we stop this madness! I’m not sure what disease our lawmakers have been infected with in the last couple of years or our national leaders, but its just madness. Let change what we can change and keep our voices heard, attend what we can attend and write what we can write. For the sake of our loving horses, our friends, our healers, our family members. Slaughter and horse should not even be in the same sentence in this day and age. They need us, lets not give up or let them down!

    March 4, 2013
  • mary Kate

    Horse slaughter is so so wrong and any one for it should be punished they should get slaughterted and they could see how it feels. Horses are a noble animal God dose not want you to slaughter them. I have two horses and they are my family members. Some people are so cruel and mean I hate those people.

    March 5, 2013
  • When I hear stories of horses arriving at auctions with broken legs, severely neglected, starving, etc., my firt thought is where are the folks that are supposed to be enforcing the animal cruelty laws? I was also under the impression that injured horses, blind horses, pregnant horses, are not supposed to be transported for slaughter. What good are these laws if no one is enforcing them? If slaughter is allowed to return to the US, we have lost the battle. Hopefully the EU will put an end to this insanity.

    March 5, 2013
  • jodi M

    Horse slaughter is a symptom-based solution to unregulated breeding of domestic horses and un- just round ups of mustangs. If we continually deal with the symptoms versus the cause of problems…. The problems never go away.

    Taxpayers (80%) want the mustangs left on the range. The ratio of horses to cattle on the range is very out of balance. Cattle leases cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year in un- paid grazing leases. If the cattle ranchers were not over grazing the millions and millions of taxpayer lands, the horses would be fine left on the range. Horse left on the range cost very little to manage, Mustangs left on the range would save the taxpayer more than 70 million dollars per year.

    If the states are looking for revenue….. I propose annual state registration fees on all horses, these fees would achieve many goals: reduce the number of horses bred, eliminate the over population of domestic horses, reduced population eliminates the slaughter threat, provide equine education programs, humane euthanization for horses and low cost gelding clinics. Regulated breeding of Mustangs through a PZP program would regulate the range horses and keep herds/families together for the American public to enjoy.
    The current proposed solutions to both domestic and wild horse population are in direct conflict with 80% of Americans. Time for Change.

    March 5, 2013