Another Reason to Oppose Horse Slaughter

The Bush Administration, via the Department of Agriculture, now has gone on record as saying that it opposes H.R. 503, the pending bill that would ban the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption overseas. One day before a scheduled vote on the measure, the USDA told House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Kansas) what he wanted to hear-- that the USDA believes the legislation will make horses worse off, not better off, than they are now.

That's not a credible argument for many reasons, not the least of which is that under the USDA's industry-cozy watch foreign-owned slaughterhouses have been allowed to use barbaric tactics to slaughter horses before shipping them overseas for human consumption. These procedures involve the vivesection of horses (cutting them up while they are still alive) and other unspeakable acts of cruelty. The USDA now has the gall in its knee-bending, pre-vote exercise to Congress to cite its "stringent restrictions" upon the slaughterhouses that in the USDA's view makes horse slaughter a "safe and humane practice" in the United States. Trust me, if horse slaughter were a "safe and humane practice" in this country millions of people wouldn't be revolted by it. Look at this video and tell me the industry is well-regulated and concerned with the welfare of horses. If the USDA were doing its job perhaps Congressional intervention wouldn't be as necessary as it is today.

The folks who run the USDA are to the horse industry what the Energy Department is to Big Oil-- a government agency that exists mostly to do what the industry it is supposed to regulate wants it to do and tells it to do, which is mostly to back off and let things stay as profitable as possible regardless of the ethical or moral consequences. When the Congress earlier this year expressed its distaste for horse slaughter by cutting off federal funding for USDA inspectors-- no inspections, no horsemeat can be transferred across borders-- the USDA shills allowed the industry to police itself by paying for its own inspectors-- a tactic tantamount to the bank robbers being authorized to pay the cops to oversee security at the bank.

Whatever happens today and in the future with the American Horse Slaughter Protection Act, I hope that the publicity the legislation has generated brings both heat and light upon the USDA's unforgivable role in permitting the gruesome horse slaughter industry to thrive, heavily-subsidized, in a country that does not accept the human consumption of horsemeat. The USDA told Congress Wednesday that the pending measure would leave horses in peril. They already are-- thanks to the USDA.

By Andrew Cohen |  September 7, 2006; 8:00 AM ET
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Thank you, Andrew Cohen, for your informative article on the horrendous practice of horse slaughter. We who have been following Barbaro's recovery and posting at have rallied and have been calling all of our respective house members to support HR 503 without those Goodlatte amendments and those who were able were in Washington DC to rally on Tuesday.We appreciate your coverage on this atrocity and that you can give it media exposure for those uninformed about it.

Posted by: chris byers | September 7, 2006 09:44 AM

If there is to be a horse-slaughtering industry in the US, then it should kill the horses in as humane a way as possible. But I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with killing horses (or dogs or cats for that matter) for food. What's the difference between a horse and a cow or pig? One is prettier than the other? So what?

Posted by: David Curtin | September 7, 2006 09:55 AM

The difference is that pets are not raised for food. They often have antibiotics, chemicals, etc. from their medicine and pet food that have NOT been evaluated from the viewpoint of raising them for meat.

Many toxins tend to bioaccumulate, rather than leave the body. That literally means you could get a big heaping of carcinogens.
Also, many dogs have an infective type of cancer. Would you like to find if that and other diseases can jump to humans? Cats can and do carry toxoplasmosis, which is implicated as causing schizophrenia and other problems.

But the bottom line is that the meat industry is regulated, certain types of feed and antibiotics are banned from meat production (although organic is still your best bet).

Now take your neighbor's old rottweiler who has been eating carcinogenic plastic all his life, developed hypothyroidism from perchlorates, as well as always eating dogfood made from meat not fit for human consumption (think about that) as well as maybe the odd rat or two. Now there's no guarantee that dog's gonna have meat that's safe to eat. Unsafe to eat, oh yeah.

Likewise, many mustangs roam the badlands, which often have dangerously high levels of selenium in the soil. Their meat certainly can bioaccumulate selenium to dangerous levels.

Posted by: Pets are not food animals | September 7, 2006 10:01 AM

Considering the severity of innumerable matters in the US of A and the World, like wars, the economic recession, pollution, and clean water, this is not and/or should not be uppermost in anyones mind.

Take responsibility for your own wellbeing and respect the laws of private property of others.

Posted by: Name Witheld | September 7, 2006 12:40 PM

When we cease to care about the animals in our lives, the things that make us happy, that helped us win wars and tackle this country we call home, is when we should just pack it up and move to the moon.
Horses are a huge part of our heritage. They are bred to show and to run not to be eaten. If the French and Japanese want to poison their bodies with tainted horse meat, let them breed their own horses or take their own racehorses for slaughter.
When it comes to private property, why not ask the people in Texas how much their property values have fallen thanks to having the stench of rotting meat and the whinnies of scared horses to look forward to each and every day.
Have you ever seen the Captive Bolt in action? I have, it was designed to be used on cattle, which is it is good for. With horses, they first fall brain damaged, then writhe and kick out for about 30 seconds, then lay still. But they are not dead. You can see their sides heaving. Then as they string them up, they start to come back to life. You must slit their throat immediately or they run the risk of the horse trying to right itself. It is not euthanasia. It is a stressful, long painful death. Remember that when you are discussing death with your children. This is not like putting a dog down at the vets. Not at all.

Posted by: sirensong50 | September 7, 2006 01:53 PM

I couldn't watch the video but I have written my congressman and senator about this previously. I'm not suprised that Bush is a supporter of this industry. This is also not right that they pay such small taxes when it is probably a good profit industry.
I will watch and hope that this is passed and if it isn't I want to see who voted what because elections are right around the corner.

Posted by: Jennifer | September 7, 2006 02:19 PM

It passed!
HR 503 has passed. No longer can they transport for slaughter, thus they are out of business. Yes, despite Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. King's bogus arguements, it has passed.

Posted by: sirensong50 | September 7, 2006 03:27 PM

OK, what if I decide I want to raise cats, dogs, and horses on a special breeding farm, where they will not eat carcinogens but will be subject to a full FDA-approved regimen like any cow or pig. Not only that, but I'll kill them in the most humane way possible. You still have a problem with it, right? ... because dogs and horses and kitties are pretty. Pretty tasty too, I'll bet.

Posted by: David Curtin | September 8, 2006 02:38 PM

BTW sirensong, it has to pass the senate and a conference committee and then be signed by the President before it becomes law. At least, that's what they say on the schoolhouse rock videos.

Posted by: david curtin | September 8, 2006 02:39 PM

Anyone who is so taken with their own self-perceived glibness regarding an industry as brutal and inhumane as horse slaughter should go work at a slaughterhouse & see how long the smirk remains on their face.
Assuming a deconstructionist stance that horses are no more worthy to be saved than any other animal results in one thing. Lots of talk and no action to remedy any wrong simply because you can't remedy all wrongs. An all too familiar cop-out.

Posted by: IndyOndine | September 21, 2006 12:22 AM

Those private property owners should respect their private property, and anyone who treats their property to the slaughter house shouldn't have the right to own that property. It's called animal abuse and it's illegal in this country. The ridiculous arguments that pro-slaughter backers are raising are just that, ridiculous. It's all about MONEY. And make no mistake, it's blood money. I'm completely amazed each and every time some pro-slaughter proponent gets on their soap box and starts whining about "private property rights" or that "there's no difference between horses, cows, pigs or sheep" or that it would be the "first step to forced vegetarianism" or the lame argument that "it would subject horses to some future 'neglect and cruelty'" or to be so arrogant as to assume that the anti-slaughter advocates only want the slaughter stopped because horses are "pretty". If the issues we are addressing weren't so cruel and brutal it would be laughable. I mean, really, what's your stake in all this besides paying taxes so that the foreign-owned slaughter houses can be USDA "regulated". Also laughable. Do you really side with the killers? I hope for your sake the answer to that question is NO. Why would you? The horse slaughter industry is a shameful, dirty business that needs to be banned once and for all. It's unbelievable that there are so many uncaring people in this country that it takes an Act of Congress to do it.

Posted by: BlueMasterpiece | September 22, 2006 04:59 PM

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