Measures would legalize horse slaughter in Oklahoma


Wayne Greene, World Senior Writer / / February 9. 2012

Rep. Skye McNiel: "They're being starved to death, which is a slow, painful death. These horses are dying in a very, very inhumane way."

Rep. Skye McNiel: “They’re being starved to death, which is a slow, painful death. These horses are dying in a very, very inhumane way.”

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two bills pending before the Oklahoma Legislature would legalize commercial horse slaughter – a humane alternative for dealing with aging, broken-down animals or a horrifying spectre that would destroy the state’s reputation, depending on which animal lover is speaking.

“The horse is a majestic, wonderful animal that is a great companion animal,” said Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, author of a bill that would allow horse slaughter for meat sale outside the state. “We just have an overpopulation of them right now, and, unfortunately, there’s just no end for them. They just end up getting starved and abused.”

On the other hand, Cynthia Armstrong, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, says the state must never allow the slaughter of horses.

“Horse slaughter is a death fraught with terror, pain and suffering,” Armstrong said. “We owe our horses a more humane and dignified end than that.”

McNiel’s House Bill 1999 would allow horse slaughter but would continue the existing ban on the sale of horse meat for consumption in the state. The meat would be exported to European countries, where there is a market for it, McNiel said.

Another proposal, Senate Bill 375, written by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, would revoke the state’s 1963 law banning the sale of horse meat. That would mean there would be no state prohibition on horse slaughtering or the sale of horse meat.

Allen did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

McNiel said killing horses for human consumption is an emotional issue but a humane step. Horse owners who have no other alternative for dealing with their old animals are turning them out on roads, abandoning them on other people’s pastures or simply allowing them to starve, she said.

“They’re being starved to death, which is a slow, painful death,” said McNiel, a lifelong horsewoman whose family operates a sale barn. “These horses are dying in a very, very inhumane way.”

McNiel said she’s seen aged horses abandoned on roads near her home and on her family’s land.

“I’ve seen it first-hand,” she said.

There are some horse sanctuaries for dealing with the animals – which is wonderful, McNiel said, but there are not nearly enough to deal with the state’s excess population of the animals.

“There isn’t, and there never will be,” she said. “There’s just too many horses.”

Last year a group of investors came to the state looking to open a horse slaughter facility, but when they learned about the state’s slaughter ban, they took their business elsewhere, she said.

“There are no investors at this time, and there may never be investors. … That’s really not the point,” she said. “I don’t have any interest in putting in a processing facility. I don’t know anyone who is, but I do know if somebody comes along that there will be an opportunity for these horses.”

Armstrong dismisses the idea that the slaughter of horses is humane.

“I am appalled at the contention of horse slaughter proponents that slaughter is a reasonable and caring way for people to rid themselves of unwanted horses,” she said. “Real horsemen make sure their horses aren’t put in overcrowded trailers for days, shackled and hoisted, sometimes fully conscious, and then served to someone for dinner in Europe. Horse slaughter is not equivalent to humane euthanasia.”

Horses aren’t raised to be food, and their meat can be toxic because of the drugs the animals have been exposed to, she said.

Rather than killing old horses for food, the Humane Society advocates their sale, retirement to rescue operations or euthanasia.

“Humane euthanasia and carcass disposal is affordable and widely available,” a Humane Society fact sheet says. “Horses who must be euthanized can be managed in a humane and cost-effective manner.”

When horse slaughter plants have been closed in other states, the number of abuse and neglects cases has not gone up, Armstrong said.

“It’s a profit-motivated scheme,” she said. “They will tell you that there’s some altruistic side to it … but quite the opposite is true.”

While horse slaughterhouses are in the business for profit, Armstrong said they do not bring economic development.

After years of trouble with an equine slaughterhouse there, the Kaufman, Texas, City Council voted unanimously to implement termination proceedings against the plant in 2005, according to the Humane Society.

Foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses operating in the United States have been repeatedly fined for violations of local laws and creating sewage overflows, the Humane Society fact sheet says.

While the plants would offer a small numbers of low-wage jobs, their very presence would have a much larger negative impact on the state, Armstrong said.

“It would destroy Oklahoma’s reputation,” she said. “They would be trucking in horses from all over the United States in order to butcher them for human consumption abroad.”


AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Annonymous

    This article is as disturbing as any I have read where proponents of horse slaughter is depicted a s”humane” means of euthanization. I would propose a sincere question to all who are in favor of horse slaughter using the “arguement” that it a humane way of dealing with elderly, sick or simply too much to take care of…would they do the same to a beloved family member? I am in a position of ‘caring for’ a family member who is ill and find it in my nature to do everything I can to make her comfortable and SAFE! I do this out of love the same as any horse owner should do for their equine family member!
    Horse slaughter is one of the most INHUMANE things I have had the displeasure of witnessing, it is a nightmarish ordeal for every horse that faces this tragic end to life…number control and population issues should be dealt with on the breeder level of this issue. If the beginning of the problem were brought to the forefront of the horse overpopulation problem there would eventually no longer be a need for horse slaughter at all!!!

    February 9, 2013
  • That there are proponents of this horror in our govt sickens me. I urge all Oklahomans to PLEASE contact your govt officials and voice your protest. Post videos and statistics everywhere you can, at your local horse clubs, online, and be very public about your concern. The idea that slaughter is humane is ludicrous. This is now, and always has been, about draining the last penny that can be had from the horses used up and thrown away. The agenda is not about anything else. Let’s fight for low cost euthanasia and disposal clinics. Somehow we have to make that fight unified and nationwide.

    February 9, 2013
  • janwindsong

    Hmm Ms McNeil has no regard for humane treatment. How do you send an aged horse, tired and deserving of retirement – to action. To then be rushed to and fro wih other equally disoriented, frghtened horses and then trucked (hihgly stressful) to slaughter. How can anyone who raises horses not admit to that?

    This woman is wearing what emu skin as a jacket?

    February 9, 2013
  • Tiffany Draw Ranch

    This is sickening. Pure unadulterated Bull S#@t and I know BS when I smell it! Slaughter is a stupid idea in the first place these horses have been given drugs in the life time of the animal that is PROVEN to cause cancer in humans. Our cattle are treated better then these poor loyal horses are treated. How dare a person in the industry of selling live stock say this is humane. Pure BULL this is not humane and as a cattle rancher this is a cruel way to make a buck. Horses made this country and deserve a better life and death than to end up at a rendering plant. Horses are NOT cattle and do not fit in those semi trailers and go through hell being transported to say anything else is pure BS. I have seen the worst side of this industry and is is truly a sicking practice. Oklahoma is making a big mistake indorsing this sad crime against horses!
    Cattle Rancher

    February 9, 2013
  • All you commenters, leave your comments on the news site. They don’t reach the public here—and the public needs to hear them.

    February 9, 2013
  • Bambi

    How does she plan on sorting out the old and crippled horses from the healthy? The foals who are born in the kill pens and THEN crippled from being trampled. How does she plan to make it a humane death when, now, they are being hung alive by their back feet and slitting their throats while they thrash around, scared and wild eyed, while they bleed to death??
    She has a sale barn for God’s sake??!! You think she knows anything about being humane to horses?

    February 9, 2013
  • liz

    This is sickening!!!! How can any person in their right mind say that horse slaughter for human consumption is humane? How dare them. It is all about money and profit. And how dare any and all horse owners cop out of their resposibilities to their horses. They served you now you must serve them!! Have them euthanized by your vet and buried. Where are peoples morals these days? I am sickened by the greed of so many.

    February 12, 2013
  • Margaret

    There needs to be not only laws but enforcement if someone starves a horse. I know sometimes things aren’t always as they seem–a horse is thin, the vet hasn’t yet pinned it down BUT THE HORSE IS UNDER A VETS CARE.

    Horses are left at the border by drivers–the ones rejected at the plant. Abandoned, left, no water, no food sound familiar? Yet these drivers who often have violations against them are allowed to just keep driving.

    And because a few people want slaughter back they get to vote this back in? What about the VOICE OF THE PUBLIC? Don’t we have a say?

    Europe has a huge black blemish with this beef/horsemeat crap going on. Do these folk in OK really think that anyone in Europe will buy our horses after this? There is no market in this country cause it’s illegal to possess.

    And we haven’t even talked about how toxic the meat is.

    February 21, 2013
  • Perhaps they should consider legilation to prevent the over breeding of horses so they don’t end up in slaughter houses. At is all about profit by breeders and butchers.

    February 22, 2013
  • Mindy Bruxvoort

    These 2 bills are nothing more than about the greed of a few. The company sponsoring this bill ought to be put to shame. Then a few legislators can decide to tell us what is good for us. The people of Oklahoma are not stupid. Some of us may live in the “city” but that doesn’t mean we know nothing of what is going on in Oklahoma. There are humane ways to put down a horse, but this atrocity is terrible. I’ve seen a slaughter plant the cries of the horses still haunt me. We are the people of Oklahoma, the heartland, the horse capital, our voices should be heard. And it our duty to protect these horses from slaughter, they are our trusted conpanion, our heritage, they are part of what has made this nation great. They deserve better tha this!

    years. Everyone has got to contine putting the pressure on the capital! We are thepeople of Oklahoma are voice should be heard. Our horses are a thing of grace and beauty, a trusted companion. They have been with us throughout history, they are heritage and we have a resposibilty to protect them.
    Oklahoma are voice should be heard.

    February 28, 2013