Horse Slaughter Legal Once Again in U.S., Maybe Even in Florida

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horse slaughter.jpg
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Back to the future: horse slaughter is now legal again in the U.S.
Woah, Nelly. Horse slaughter is once again legal thanks to Congress.

Florida currently has some of the toughest laws against horse slaughter in the nation, but activists disagree over whether the practice could soon be booming in the Sunshine State.

"If someone were to open a licensed slaughter house in Florida and the USDA were to inspect it, then they could now sell horse meat," says Keith Dane of the Humane Society.

More than 70 percent of Americans disapprove of the practice, which may be why President Barack Obama quietly signed a bill containing the horse slaughter reversal via autopen while in Asia two weeks ago.

Although never explicitly banned, horse slaughter effectively became illegal in 2006 when Congress banned the USDA from using taxpayer money to inspect equine slaughterhouses. Since horse meat can't legally be sold without inspection, it was syonara basashi sashimi.

A recent study by the Government Accountability Office found, however, that just as many American horses were being slaughtered as before the ban, but the dirty work was being done in Canada or Mexico.

So on November 18, Obama signed a veto-proof, bipartisan omnibus agriculture bill that removed language blocking the inspections.

Dane says he doesn't blame Obama for signing the bill that will likely re-open horse slaughterhouses across the nation next year. "The president was staunchly opposed to horse slaughter when he was a senator from Illinois and he campaigned against it," he says. "But he didn't have a choice here."

Instead, the Humane Society's Director of Equine Protection says that the U.S. agricultural industry is at fault.

"Even though they represent a minority of Americans, they are a powerful and wealthy lobby," Dane says. "They were successful in convincing a relatively small number of appropriators... on the conference committee to overturn the ban."

He says Florida's strict laws against unlicensed horse slaughter -- passed in 2010 because of horrific accounts of horses being hacked to death while alive -- don't mean that legal slaughterhouses can't crop up next year in the Sunshine State.

But Richard "Kudo" Couto, who New Times profiled last year, believes Florida's laws should be enough to stop legal horse slaughterhouses from moving in.

"Florida only place that it is a serious crime to slaughter a horse," he says. "It will never and can never be legal to slaughter them in the state of Florida because of laws we helped pass last year."



In the 18 since those laws were passed, Couto has had his hands full documenting the black-market slaughterhouses in Hialeah that are still carving up stallions in squalid conditions. But he doesn't think USDA-inspected horse slaughterhouses -- in Florida or other parts of the country -- will be much of an improvement.

"There is no humane way to eat a horse," he says. "Even if the drugs pumped into American horses didn't make them toxic for humans, they are really smart animals and they are really agile. They move their heads and necks quickly so you really have to hold their heads like cattle to kill them. But while cattle will just stand there, a horse while thrash around."

"Sometimes it takes ten bolts to take down a horse," he adds.

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14 comments
Reelcheeper
Reelcheeper

We Americans always let our emotions get in the way of practicality. "Horses are beautiful, loving, intelligent animals!" Well, yes, they can be. But Hindus think cows are sacred, and they still eat them because THEY ARE A SOURCE OF FOOD. I'm sure some Asians love cats and dogs as pets, but they also eat them because, once again, THEY ARE A SOURCE OF FOOD. Our culture is way too picky about the kind of meat we eat, mostly because we have more emotions than hunger. Sure, horses are subject to cruelty when they're slaughtered, but so is every other animal we eat. It's just the price you have to pay if you want meat. And I would be glad to see slaughterhouses for cats and dogs, too. We may love certain animals as pets, but if we're gonna have 10 billion people on the planet, it's time to put our feelings aside and start looking for more ways to feed the population.

Rebel1925
Rebel1925

People that kill these nobole,smart,beautiful animals should be killed instead and do it nice and slow.

Jenny
Jenny

I too am a horse owner and have bought all my horses from the horse auction.  One of them bought off the truck meant to go to slaughter. It sickens me the greed and abuse we humans show towards any animal. Unfortunately horse slaughter houses is just a small % of what goes on in all slaughter houses.  Look how we breed mass amounts of poultry, pigs and cows and the Hell they go through before they end up on our tables. If we must eat meat buy from local farmers who raise their animals in clean free range environments. Man has dominated animals to their injury. We were put in charge to care and protect them not not abuse them.

Teenaluna
Teenaluna

Why are they blaming our President for slaughtering horses. He was opposed to it for 5 years but now has no choice. Can someone answer why are they blaming the President? Is it because it is election year?

obamahater
obamahater

What the hell does obama think hes doing!!!!!!! i hate the old ideot. i have horses and i love them more than anything. obama should end up like john f kennedy! i hope he reads this. horses r pure and not meant for eating.

Marie Haughey
Marie Haughey

PLEASE call, email, mail, fax, not only the President, but your representatives, and ask them to co-sponser the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 2966 / S. 1176. Send postcards to the White House, they don't go through the weeks-long inspection regular mail goes through.

Marie Haughey
Marie Haughey

Footage from inside the horse slaughter facilities in the United States showed abuse and cruelty. Many horses were conscious when they were shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. Horses were whipped in the face while others gave birth on the killing floors. The USDA recently released photos of horses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds – all taken at former U.S. horse slaughterhouses. No animal, food animal or not, should be subjected to this tremendous cruelty inside – or outside – of our borders. This is not humane, but a brutal and terrifying end for horses.

Marie Haughey
Marie Haughey

The recent GAO report shows the same number of horses are being slaughtered today that were being slaughtered back when the U.S. plants were open. This reinforces the fact that despite the major downturn in the economy, the same number of irresponsible horse owners, not more, are sending their horses to slaughter.

In states like California, where slaughter was banned, neglect and theft actually decreased after the ban. The rate of horse theft dropped by 34% in 1998 alone when California horse slaughter. In Illinois, horse neglect and abuse decreased when the state’s horse slaughter plant closed down.

The vast majority of horse owners, 99%, use humane euthanasia for their old or ill horses. About 900,000 horses die annually, and they’re safely disposed of by means other than slaughter.

USDA documents state that more than 92% of horses who go to slaughter are in good condition. Slaughter houses want fat, healthy horses, not thin starving ones. The surplus, unwanted horses are thin and starving; opening slaughter houses is not addressing or solving this. Slaughter houses are creating a market for healthy, wanted horses.

Many domestic horses are stolen every year for the horsemeat trade. Ohio newspapers reported the theft of two prized former racehorses who were sold for $250 each to an auctioneer, who then sold them to a killer buyer. Their owner had planned on retiring them at a sanctuary. Sky Dutcher came to Washington, D.C. to tell the story of how her horse, Cimmarron, was stolen from his corral on her twelfth birthday and sent to slaughter within two days.

Bev
Bev

WOW! Words can't begin to describe what I am feeling right now but just a few off the top of my head disgusted, hunger, hurt, and disbelief that we live in a country that would allow this to go on. Obama has some nerve. All he did was open the flood gates for crime! If he doesn't think that there won't be people stealing horses to take to auction to sell for $ Per Pound he has another thing coming. Thanks Obama!!! whats next our puppy's and kittens? And yes I own horses and I am very upset and fearful for my horses now.       

Teri
Teri

I've heard different excuses for this issue.  One of them claiming it would be a solution to horses starving to death.  Claiming our economy has made it impossible for horse owners to feed and care for their animals.  Our government determined that it's better to humanely slaughter the horses and use them for meat. This is BS.  Slaughtering is a violent and inhumane act.  It is never be the same as Euthanasia.  So, how does our government plan to "humanely slaughter" the horses?I think it's time to mandate controls on breeding of ALL ANIMALS.  Lazy hypocritical humans!  If your must eat meat, go hunt it yourself like the other carnivores do.  Really, our earth would be healthier if we didn't over-produce animals.  

Jules Winnfield
Jules Winnfield

It's ok to kill a cow or a pig or a chicken because, like, um.....they're just not as cute as horses.

Roxanne Ekblom
Roxanne Ekblom

Wow, this might be one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.

michael wind
michael wind

with the growing population from other countries,soon you will be able to eat dogs and cats,maybe even humans....

me
me

Teenaluna...please explain to me WHY obamaslamadingdong had no choice??????? He had a choice and he chose to legalize it anyway.  One thing though that I see as a blessing is he is going to be a one termer.

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