Unwanted Horse Myth
Horse slaughter is a dark, deceptive industry that wants the American public to believe that horse slaughter is a “humane” solution for abused and unwanted horses. In recent years, some industry groups, such as the American Quarter Horse Association, and other supporters of horse slaughter have consistently fought passage of federal legislation to ban horse slaughter. Ironically, these groups were largely silent on issues of equine welfare prior to introduction of federal legislation. Yet now that the horse slaughter industry is seriously threatened, the pro-slaughter organizations are claiming horse slaughter improves horse welfare.
The truth is that no hard data exists on an “unwanted horse” population. What is clear is that kill buyers seeking fat, health animals routinely outbid other buyers and rescues at auction because they have a financial incentive to do so. The market for slaughtering horses is set by the international demand for their meat in other countries, not by the number of “unwanted horses.” The facts about horse slaughter show that this is an industry motivated by greed that only benefits those seeking to make a profit from the suffering of our horses.
Here are the facts:
Horse slaughter is a brutal, predatory business that purposely seeks out healthy, marketable horses. While the pro-slaughter industry wants us to believe that old, sick, and injured horses are going to slaughter, that is simply not the case. In fact, a U.S. Department of Agriculture study revealed that more than 92% of horses going to slaughter are in good condition.
The notion that without horse slaughter there will be a flood of abandoned horses is simply unfounded. In California, there was no increase in horse abuse and neglect cases following passage of the state’s stringent anti-horse slaughter law in 1998, and there was a 34% drop in horse theft. In Illinois, there was no documented rise in abuse or neglect cases following the two-year closure of the horse slaughtering facility in that state in 2002. It is illegal to abandon or abuse horses, and any instances of abandoned equines (or other animals) should be reported and prosecuted.
Horse slaughter actually encourages abuse, neglect, and overbreeding. Irresponsible breeders often dump their surplus horses at auctions where they are bought by kill buyers who then transport them to slaughter. As long as slaughter is an outlet, irresponsible breeding will continue to grow unchecked and unscrupulous breeders and owners will be rewarded for dumping their horses at auctions.
Horse slaughter has no place in a society that cares for its horses, and there are numerous alternatives to slaughter. The vast majority of horses sent to slaughter would be able to live productive lives if given the opportunity. These horses could be sold, donated, or otherwise rehomed. Responsible ownership and breeding, coupled with veterinarian-administered humane euthanasia when necessary, are the answer – not slaughter.