Keep Your Horses Safe: H.R. 6598, The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008

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Greetings equestrians and welcome to my Blog dedicated to the care and shelter of horses. While my expertise is the architectural design of equestrian facilities, I am part of the larger community of horse lovers dedicated to the humane treatment of horses and all animals. It is in that spirit that I’d like to call your attention to important legislation that is currently under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives written to prevent the cruelty inherent in the horse slaughter industry.

As horse lovers who give the greatest care to your animals, you may not realize that despite the fact that the last horse slaughter factory in the U.S. was closed in 2007, that there is still a market for the transport of horses across our borders to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for horsemeat. I was surprised to learn that there were still horse slaughter facilities in our country as recently as last year and stunned to know that horse for horse, the same number of horses are now finding their way across our borders for slaughter.

The transport of horses across long distances in extreme temperatures simply adds to the degree of cruelty inherent in the horsemeat industry. According to Representative John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, and Representative Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana, authors of H.R. 6598, The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, amends a previous section of U.S. Code that prohibits cruelty of animals for financial gain. That code, Chapter 3 of Title 18 of U.S. Code, resulted in the closure of the last horse slaughterhouse in the U.S. just last year. However, it didn’t anticipate that the market for American horses for slaughter would simply move across the borders to Canada and Mexico therefore increasing the suffering of horses destined for slaughter.

The new law specifically prohibits the transport of horses for slaughter and specifies punishment stringent enough to be effective. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the legislation—let your representative know that you think this is a crucial step to take to ensure the humane treatment of American horses. Here is a link to a form letter written by the Humane Society of the U.S. to make speaking out on behalf of horses as easy as possible:

If you’re interested in an eye-opening, in-depth history of the consumption of horsemeat, you should see the March 2008 issue of Horse Connection Magazine. Editor Geoff Young shined the light on this American taboo.

Please let me know what you think about this important issue.

Posted in Equestrian News |

9 responses to “Keep Your Horses Safe: H.R. 6598, The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008”

  1. Elizabeth Sherstoff says:

    I just want to thank you for your effort. I have painstakingly written to my state officials and received letter after letter stating the matter will be considered.

    I would love to be in touch with another person who recognizes the intrinsic value of every equine and who would be willing to go to great lengths to get this horrific situation stopped once and for all.

    I have met pure apathy amoung many of my horse friends and I am sickened by their unwilliness to look at this. Many simply don’t understand the economics of this situation and continue to breed recklessly; tragically. Others, seem to buy in to the purpose of equine slaughter and unload yet another lame horse for a younger more promising servant.

    I am available to assist you in the cause any way I can.

    Elizabeth Sherstoff
    Chesterfield, Missouri 63017

  2. Susan says:

    I do NOT agree!!

    This bill would further complicate the plight of horses and horse-related businesses following the closure of U.S. processing plants.

    H.R. 6598 stems from animal rights activists’ misguided and damaging efforts to permanently ban horse slaughter. The anti-slaughter movement campaigns on emotion, ignores the facts, and denies the unintended consequences of the ban. Since the last U.S. processing plant was closed almost a year ago, horses have been abandoned in greater numbers; many more horses now suffer inhumane journeys and painful deaths at slaughter facilities outside our borders; and honest, hard-working people involved in the horse industry find their livelihood in danger.

    The animal rights movement has a well established and well-funded political machine already in place. Its voice is drowning out the voice of the horse industry. We, the people who care the most and know the most about horses and their management, should have the greatest influence on the laws that affect our industry and the animals we are devoted to.

    And we should try to STOP, as Elizabeth puts it – continuing to breed recklessly!

    Thank you,
    Susan Schulz
    Horse Owner

  3. Elizabeth–

    Thanks for your concern. Perhaps this article from the Washington Post will be of interest to you:


    It’s about CANTER, The Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, and it’s a great effort to prevent ex-racehorses from going to slaughter. (http://www.canterusa.org/)

    They have different chapters across the U.S. and would certainly welcome your time and donations.

    And, of course, the Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org/) continues to be a huge advocate in preventing horse slaughter and inhumane treatment and is a fantastic resource.


  4. Horse Owner says:

    Why would anyone who ever has owned a horse ever want something as ridicules as this to become a law??? As a horse owner you have several option for destorying a horse if you cannot sell it, you can no longer aford it, or it is terminally injured or old:
    1) put it to sleep and bury it – if your county allows it.
    2) put it to sleep and call a rendering company.
    3). Send it to a kill sale and receive a small amount of money.
    4) Let it suffer and linger on….

    A law such as this will only create many issues… first the people who can no longer aford their horse or the cost to but the horse down will turn them loose or they may not feed them.

    There is nothing worse to see than a skinny ribby horse or hitting a loose horse on a road, which could kill or injure someone.

  5. Cindy Robinson says:

    As a professional horseman of over 30 years I speak to veterinarians and breeders throughout the country on a daily basis. Unfortunately the closure of slaughter plants in the US has done more harm to horses in the US than good. Each and every day veterinarians from coast to coast tell me that they are disgusted by the huge increase in neglect, starvation and abandonment in the US since the closure of slaughter plants. The experts in the equine industry are the members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. These are veterinarians who SPECIALIZE in horses and dedicate their lives to caring for horses. The AAEP testified to Congress that the closure of slaughter plants would result in these horribly cruel deaths of starvation and neglect. With the economic trouble in this country we will only continue to see more cruelty and slow, horrific deaths by starvation.

    I have taken in many rescue horses. Try to find a good, loving home for these horses. It is practically impossible. Rescue facilities are over maximum limits and out of funds.

    Passing this bill as it is written will only increase the suffering. If you want to do something to HELP these unwanted horses, then find funding for euthansia clinics where owners of unwanted horses can turn to. Or, in the alternative, require USDA Veterinarians to supervise at slaughter plants to ensure a quick and humane death. If a person cannot afford a $10 bag of feed, then they surely will not be able to afford the $500 + it will take for euthanasia – veterinarian fees, fees for someone to come in to bury the carcass (IF it is even allowed in their region) or a rendering plant to come get the carcass. Even our State Veterinary Lab has increased their fees for equine necropsy to almost $700, stating the high cost of disposing of the body makes this huge increase in fees necessary.

    The bill as it is written offers no solution to the problem and only adds to the plight of these horses!

    For those who believe that the same number of horses are now being slaughtered in Mexico and Canada as were being slaughtered in the US are sadly misinformed. Ask any auctioneer and he will tell you that the high cost of fuel to transport these horses across the border have greatly decreased the number of horses sold for slaughter. This same decrease in the slaughter market has also decreased the value of some horses to less than $25! Sadly this has allowed people who normally would not have the funds to purchase and care for a horse to become a first time horse owner. Uneducated (and in some cases, well meaning) buyers have also lead to the mistreatment, mismanagement, etc. of these horses, causing them to suffer a slow and agonizing death. I PERSONALLY spoke to a vet who was sickened when he was called by a new horse owner that his horse was sick. The person bought a horse at a local sale for $20. Not knowing how to care for a horse (but always wanted to own one) he fed the horse dogfood and kept him in his backyard. The horse died a horrible and agonizing death from colic. In this instance a retractable bolt and instant death would have been more humane!

    For those who say the reports of increased neglect, starvation and abandonment are untrue, I invite you to talk to the REAL equine professionals, call the major equine breed associations, and talk to a representative from AAEP on this issue. Anyone who says that the closure of the slaughter plants in the US has not affected the well-being of horses in this country only has their head in the sand!

    Listen to the experts (the equine professionals) rather than the “do-gooders of the world” and THEN find a solution, rather than adding to the problem.

  6. gabz says:

    PLease People. Ending slaughter is NOT a good thing. As Blackburnarch says …”The transport of horses across long distances in extreme temperatures simply adds to the degree of cruelty inherent …”

    That’s right. And that’s what horse people were upset about when the slaughter plants were in the US. Long Hauls of horses and double-decker transport. No stopping for food or water. Over-crowded trailers.

    We wanted the government to monitor the facilities and stop double-decker transport!!! That’s cruel and unusual punishment. The American Association of Equine Professionals (AAEP) and the Veterinarians say that a captive bolt to the head is one of the best ways to kill a horse. It’s not perfect. But I tell you what – you ask any experienced Equine Vet who has euthanized a horse using drugs and ask them if it’s perfect. IT’s NOT. To witness a horse thrashing around – half in and half out of the hole it’s going into is a horrible, horrible image. And what happens to the buried meat with the poison in it? Do you know that some people’s dogs have died from digging up the carcas and eating the meat? That’s not very pretty either.

    What about those areas of the US where horses cannot be buried? How can a person dispose of their horse? Horses don’t go to the glue factory. They haven’t done that in DECADES.

    Does anyone stop and think about where the food comes for meat-eating zoo animals? Yup. Horse meat. But it’s getting might expensive. It’s okay to feed fish to other fish; or feed rodents (rats or hamsters, etc) to crocodiles; feed bugs to animals… but gee whiz … can’t feed a horse to captive wild cats.

    In the US, most people choose not to eat horsemeat – although the Army has fed it to soldiers in mess halls in the past 50 years. In India – the choose not to eat cow. Some societies eat dog and cat meat. Should we stop the slaughter – euthanazia of the millions of dogs and cats in the US? How is it any different?

    Please. Horses are livestock. Like pigs, cattle, sheep, goats. By ending the slaughter plants, the whining emotion humanitarians have created a vacuum. Horses are turned loose; horses are abandoned at auctions; horses are abandoned in back yards because people who could once afford to feed them, no longer can with commodity (corn, oats, wheat, hay) prices triple what they were just 2 years ago.

    A solution is for everyone who thinks slaughter is awful – to fork over $2500 (minimum) for the rescue of a horse. Then, the following year, they will need to contribute $5000 to care for that horse and another horse; and the third year, contribute $7500 to care for the 2 and now yet a third horse, on and on, for the 25+/- years each of those horses will live.

    There is NOT enough land for the wild horses of the west – BLM (Bureau of Land Management) is in constant budget battles about the every increasing herds that encroach on farm land. If the US cannot even provide enough space for the wild horses, where will it find the space to support domesticated horses?

    CANTER does a good job – but it’s only a drop in the bucket.

    Please, I urge each of you, who do not own, raise, train horses to speak with people who make their living from horses to help you decide.

    P.S. I have rescued a horse from the inevitable slaughter train. But I cannot afford to take on any others. It costs a bunch of money to own and properly care for a horse.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Horse slaughter plants need to be legalized in the United States again. More than 50,000 horses were slaughtered in 2003, in 2004, the number rose to more than 66,000, and in 2005, nearly 95,000 of our horses were slaughtered for their meat. Some government officials, animal rights activists, and others were upset with the high number of horses being slaughtered. They were able to pass a bill to end slaughter. Since the closing of the last United States slaughter plant in Illinois the number of unwanted horses rose to an estimated 190,000 in the year 2008. Those who pushed to have the slaughter plants closed down see it as inhumane, but many others see reinstating horse slaughter plants in the United States as a way to solve the problem of unwanted horses. Unlike in France, the cowboys of the United States do not raise horses for slaughter. Horses that were shipped to slaughter in the United States were sick, dangerous, unwanted, or had untreatable wounds. Closing horse slaughter plants has resulted in cruelty for horses, caused problems in the horse industry, and has given animal rights activist a voice over horseman.

    This is a piece from my college argumentation paper. I was required to have at least 14 pieces of literature or interviews to support my opinion. Everyone from local horseman to equine vets felt that slaughter was a necessary evil. I am a young girl and a member of AQHA, NRCHA, and a youth group leader for the Great Lakes Reined Cow Horse. I support CANTER and what they do, but this is not yet an option for all horses. Until it is I feel sorry for all the mistreated, abandoned horses out there. The majority of H.R. 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act supporters are people who are not horse educated.

  8. Elizabeth Sherstoff says:

    Horse slaughter is not the answer. Just have a look at the process. Does any horse deserve this? Seriously, while I agree that traveling to Mexico or Canada is worse than before, it is still NOT the answer.

    The cost of grain and hay have more to do with turning horses loose than the fact that slaughter in the U.S. is no longer available. Besides, horses are still trucked into Mexico/Canada daily. Slaughter has always been an option. Turning a horse loose has nothing to do with slaughter, it has everything to do with being unable to afford or unwilling to care for a horse.

    Today, horse ownership is a luxury. If you cannot afford to euthanize (way better than slaughter!!) your horse, don’t get one. You don’t deserve one.

    Don’t buy, don’t breed and don’t let your horse go to auction! If you cannot be a responsible horse owner, don’t call yourself a horseman!

    Watch the process; it will take your breath away. If you have no BRAIN (let a lone a heart) you cannot find this an economic solution to a stupid irresponsible human problem!

    Make this world a better place for horses!! Support anti-slaughter legislation!

  9. Mani says:

    I have the same collection but with cows insaetd of horses. Some of them were my dad’s when he was little and I love trying to picture him as a 4 year old with his toy cows.I bet she will be excited about the ponies when she gets older!

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