Horse Slaughter

Horse Slaughter- FAILED!

In 2009-2010 the Minnesota Legislature considered a pro-horse slaughter resolution, SF 133/HF 840, but the bill failed to become law. Though it passed the Senate in 2009, it failed to pass the House in 2010. It’s good news that Minnesota’s Legislature did not pass this resolution; the bill urged Congress to oppose the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act—legislation that would prohibit the transport and slaughter of American horses for human consumption.

Pro-Horse Slaughter Bill Introduced in MN Legislature

Pro-Horse Slaughter Bill Update

A bill in the MN Legislature (S.F. 133/H.F. 840) has been introduced that resolves to oppose the federal Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503) because the Act would interfere with the state’s ability to direct the transport or processing of horses.

MN bill S.F.133

MN bill H.F. 840

The Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503) was introduced in the U.S. House on January 14, 2009. This bill will end the slaughter of horses for human consumption and the domestic and international transport of live horses or horseflesh for human consumption.

Click here for information on the federal bill.

On March 10, 2009, the Minnesota Senate Agriculture Committee voted overwhelmingly in support of the pro-slaughter resolution. On March 3, 2010, the Minnesota House Agriculture Committee voted unanimously in favor of the resolution. Please see our update page to take action.

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Background

The history of horses in the United States has been one of work, companionship and sport. Their strength and endurance have carried people across the country, settled land, and worked fields. Their courage has seen them through savage wars. Their beauty and athleticism have offered inspiration and challenge. Their good nature has made them loyal companions. Sadly, despite Americans’ strong relationship with horses and their part in our culture, many horses meet brutal ends at slaughterhouses.

Horses have never been raised as a source of food in this country yet there is an international market for horsemeat. American horses have been slaughtered for decades at foreign-owned plants operating in the U.S. These plants supplied horsemeat to satisfy the palates of diners in Europe and Asia. In 2007, horse slaughter ended in the U.S. when legislation was passed in Texas and Illinois. However, since the slaughtering of horses was not banned by federal law, American horses are now being shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter where their meat is eaten by people in Italy, France, Belgium and Japan. There is the threat that without a federal law, slaughterhouses may attempt to set up their operations in states that have no bans.

Why MVAP is opposed to MN S.F. 133 and H.F. 840

  1. Horse slaughtering is inhumane – Horses are transported to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada where they meet horrible deaths. In Mexico, a “puntilla knife” is used to stab the horse multiple times in the neck. This is not a stunning method, nor does it render the horse unconscious. Instead it severs the spinal cord and paralyzes the horse where it is unable to move or breathe. The animal then dies from suffocation or from blood loss and dismemberment. In Canada, the captive bolt process is used which involves aiming a bolt gun at the forehead of a partially restrained horse. Often, human and technical error leads to horses being conscious while they are hung up and bled to death.
  2. Transport of horses to slaughterhouses is inhumane – Horses are very intelligent and do not like to be crowded, yet they are packed onto trucks regardless of their age or condition. The ride is often terrifying for them and often lasts more than 24 hours in all types of weather with no food, water or rest. Many horses are trampled in the process and arrive at the slaughterhouse injured or dying. There is a loophole in current USDA regulations that bans double-deck trailer use only for hauling directly to slaughter plants.  Horses in the slaughter pipeline can still legally be hauled in double-deck trailers to feedlots or other holding points (sometimes in close proximity to the slaughterhouses), provided they are off-loaded and transferred to single-deck trailers for final delivery. Relative to food, rest, adequate space and other services meant to protect horses during transport, the only proof that such services are provided is a signed owner/shipper certificate. Because no veterinary inspection takes place prior to loading the horses, whether or not the conditions have been met depends entirely on the word of the owner/shipper. There is nothing to prevent falsification of documents which is in the financial interest of the owner/shipper. Read more.
  3. Humane alternatives are available and affordable – Many horse rescue groups will assist owners in finding new homes for their horses. If euthanasia is considered, the procedure is gentle, painless and affordable. Estimates for euthanasia are $250-400, or about the cost of one month’s care. Providing for a peaceful, good death is part of responsible horse ownership.

Common Myth

Myth: There has been an increase in the number of abandoned and unwanted horses in the United States, and a slaughter ban will lead to an increase in horse abuse and starvation or neglect cases in Minnesota and around the country.

Fact: There is no evidence to support these claims. The vast majority of horses that currently wind up at slaughterhouses are in good condition (92.3 percent according to the USDA Guidelines for Handling and Transporting Equines to Slaughter). The remaining 7 to 8 percent who may need rescue may either be placed at one of the more than 400 horse rescue and sanctuary facilities in the United States or be humanely euthanized.

Take Action

Please make a brief, polite phone call to your Minnesota state representative to urge opposition to this resolution. Click here to look up your state representative and the phone number.

When making your call, you will most likely speak to a staff member who can pass your message along to your legislator. Please be polite and professional, and leave your name and address so it is clear that you are a constituent.

What you can say:

“As a constituent, I’m calling to ask [representative’s name] to oppose H.F. 840 which would oppose federal legislation that would protect our horses from being killed for human consumption overseas. I urge [representative’s name] to oppose H.F. 840. Thank you.”

After making your call, please send a follow-up email to your representative in opposition to this resolution.

Support our work

For more information, please see:

  • Veterinarians for Equine Welfare
  • Animal Welfare Institute
  • Humane Society of the United States
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