American horses have always been a living symbol of our nation’s history, its natural grandeur, and its deep compassion. But to some unscrupulous actors and industries, they represent nothing more than political pawns, instruments of profit, and – most horrifically – food.
The practice of slaughtering U.S. horses and turning them into food products represents a deplorable and inhumane betrayal. While horse slaughter is currently halted in the U.S., roughly 100,000 American horses have been annually shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for the purpose of food production.
The process of moving and killing these animals is crueler than you might imagine. Transporting them typically means treating them as if they’re already dead — crammed into trailers sometimes for days without sufficient food, water or rest. Under these conditions, fights often break out, leaving horses severely and sometimes fatally injured. And due to their biology, horses are difficult to stun and often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment.
Even when horse slaughter plants were allowed in the U.S., horses were still transported over long distances, and tens of thousands of them were still exported annually for slaughter. Several thousand horses were actually imported for slaughter. The only humane way forward is to end this practice completely.
Ending horse slaughter is not only in the best interest of horses – it would also help protect human health. Because American horses are raised with no intention of using them for food, they are routinely given hundreds of drugs and other substances that have not been approved by the FDA for use in animals intended for human consumption. More than 50 of these drugs are expressly prohibited for animals that are later consumed by people, representing an enormous health risk. If horse slaughter resumes in the U.S., there’s a strong risk that, during food production, horsemeat will be commingled with beef – as we’ve seen done in other countries – so consumers may not even realize they’re eating toxic horsemeat.