Pigs are flying, or they must be somewhere in the world. President Barack Obama (while campaigning for his second term in office, I might add) has signed a bill essentially re-legalizing horse slaughter, and PETA is happy about it!  Had you told me this a couple of weeks ago, I would have thought these events as likely an Occupy Wall Street protester taking an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs.

The recent bill reinstituting federal funding for horse slaughter plant inspections has been covered ad nauseam in a number of news stories, so I won’t belabor the details.  It is important to note at the outset that there was never a federal law "banning" horse slaughter in the U.S.  In a nutshell, there was law prohibiting federal funding of USDA horse meat inspections put in place in 2006, and that law esentially ended horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S.  The 2006 "USDA defunding" provision was lifted on November 18, 2011 as part of a Congressional bill signed by President Obama. As a result, horse slaughter plants are already being considered several states and may be operational in 30 to 90 days. But plants specifically designed for horse slaughter cannot be developed in Texas, California, Illinois and Oklahoma, where state laws specifically prohibit horse slaughter plant operations. For more information, see this article.

But the real news story, to me, is the astounding fact that PETA believes resuming horse slaughter in the U.S. will reduce overall horse suffering, and supports the move. Yes, we’re talking about PETA–the same, often controversial animal rights group known for campaigns like “fur is murder” and the lawsuit filed against Sea World for "enslaving" killer whales. 

In a Christian Science Monitor interview, PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said PETA believes the United States never should have banned domestic horse slaughter because “the amount of suffering that it created exceeded the amount of suffering it was designed to stop.” 

According to the Christian Science Monitor article, “PETA says the optimal solution is to ban both consumption slaughter and the export of horses, but it supports reintroducing horse slaughterhouses in the U.S., especially if accompanied by a ban on exporting any horses at all to other countries.” Really? A ban on exporting any horses at all to other countries? Does anyone know if PETA really proposes that we make it illegal to export any horse to any country outside the U.S., for any purpose? If so, how would this possibly work and what would it do to our horse industry? 

These questions aside, at least proponents of horse slaughter can be glad that for once, an association like PETA agrees with them. 

Compare PETA’s position to that of Forbes contributor Vickery Eckhoff, who blasts the Thoroughbred industry in an article this week for allegedly being “silent” with respect to the fate of ex-race horses that end up being slaughtered (and tortured in the process, according to Ms. Eckhoff). 

As an aside, it should be noted that many Thoroughbred racing industry associations are members and sponsors of the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC), whose goal it is to reduce the numbers of unwanted horses in the U.S. so that fewer end up being slaughtered…or worse (yes, I consider many fates worse than slaughter, such as dying of starvation, dehydration, or illness in the back pasture). For a list of the current member associations of the UHC, click here.

Ms. Eckhoff, like many in the “anti-slaughter” camp, believes horse slaughter should be banned because is inherently cruel and abusive and it cannot be made humane, even if it is done in accordance with USDA regulations.  Anti-slaughter groups and individuals often place the blame on breeders, and urge the government or others to penalize people for over-breeding instead of allowing horses to be slaughtered. How would this be done, I wonder, and at what cost? And is there really no way a horse slaughter facility can be designed to make the slaughter process as humane for horses as it is for other livestock? I welcome your thoughts.

  • “as humane as it is for other livestock”? That’s a pretty low bar, isn’t it, given the horrors that cows, pigs, and chickens face during their lifetimes and during the slaughter process?

    As for an end to exporting horses, I imagine that the horsemen in the United States that ship to Woodbine would have something to say about that.

    The New York Times ran a compelling article last October on the unintended consequences of ending slaughter in the United States.

    Thanks for writing this; it’s one of the few pieces on this issue that doesn’t rely on sensationalism to make its point and that thoughtfully considers multiple perspectives.

  • Alicia

    I believe Obama should personally see a horse slaughter and then tell us he thinkss it shouldnt be banned. He’s a fool and I think he doesnt deserve to be president hes just wasting our money for what? On things that arent a neccessity nor improving? He needs to ban horse slaughter. Their are more important things in the world than us humans. They don’t deserve this treatment. I think the bastards doing the slaughter deserve to be slaughtered

  • Jana Caldwell

    Any person who thinks US regulated horse slaughter is humane needs to view these reports. See links below. This is the reality of it. There is currently an effort to find the source of unwanted horses in the US and if it’s found that large commercial breeders are at fault (or whoever)…then it’s time people are forced to take responsibilty for what they are creating. The freedoms we’re given in this country to engage in free enterprise and the rights to own property must come with responsibility and accountability or they are inherently worthless.



  • Wendy Ketcham

    Here in Florida people kill horses for meat in pastures, and mothers are killed in front of foals. Carcasses are left for people to find there beloved pets dead and mutilated. SWELL! Now they can do this and REALLY not get in trouble!

  • as promised

    I and my family have been involved with horses forever. One of the biggest culprits are the pedigreed horse breeders (thoroughbred, standardbred, arabian, quarter horse, etc…) They are overbreeding and overproducing. Can’t really fault them for it, but they are. In MY ideal world, every foal registry would include a fee (say.. $500) that should the horse need to be culled or put down for whatever reason the owner could have it humanely euthanized and be compensated for cost. They would have no excuse for sending it to slaughter.

  • There is no humane horse slaughter. They know what is taking place.

  • Tom Durfee

    Since most of the meat is poisoned with Phenylbutazone (Bute) I laugh at all who eat it. Bute is one of the two most widely prescribed medications used in horses and it is banned in any concentration in all food producing animals. Eat up Europeans as America laughs at your stupidity. A VA farmer raising Angus beef cattle and owner of twenty horses.

  • Ellie Dupree & Casey Weekley

    To all you dumb asses that think this horse slaughter is inhumane!!!! Letting horses starve in pastures is a LOT less humane than euthanizing them. What are you gonna do with all of the horses that are crippled, or old, or unbreakable? You can either sell them to a slaughter house that will use their meat for human consumption or uses, or just dump them on Indian Reservations to starve because they don’t know how to fend for themselves in the wild, and inbreed. Think about it, we need horse slaughter to help our horses stay healthy and get rid of the ones that we don’t need! Horse slaughter also creates more jobs. You would have jobs for a lot of people, like meat inspectors and the slaughterers.

  • Elizabeth Bowers

    This is an outrage!!! i don’t believe horse slaughter should be legalized in anyway! I understand about the worse side of equine negligence, i’ve been around a few cases myself. I believe in euthanization, its alot kinder to them. But i also think that breeders need to limit what happens to their stock, over breeding is a problem, and in turn is why so many finely bred horses end up in slaugher houses. What about their chance at life, some of them havent even reached maturity!! And for those people who by horses and don’t take care of them, they need to be investigated, and if they don’t have the facilities or space for a horse, then they don’t need one. They should be on a list for those who are incapable of maintaining any sort of livestock. I personally think PETA is a bunch of crap for thinking this is a more humane way of ending a horses suffering, when they are tortured in the process. Find a more humane way of doing things and maybe my opinion will change…

  • Dawn M. Clark

    Ellie Dupree & Casey Weekley(if these are your real names) – you two are morons if you believe that horse slaughter is humane. But like any good liberal, you believe the lies. Have you ever seen what goes on at a horse slaughter??? It is NOT humane, Hitler would be taking notes and be very proud that PETA is supporting this.
    Breeders do need to be responsible, but not to use this as a way to cull the herd.

    “Think about it, we need horse slaughter to help our horses stay healthy and get rid of the ones that we don’t need!” – change horse to people and you have another holocaust…

    Horse slaughter needs to be banned, responsible breeding needs to be enacted and enforced…there are your new jobs.

  • Leslie Davids

    For those in support or opposition to horse slaughter-you need to go to the link and read the entire article. Temple Grandin has the truest insight to animals of any person I know. I use to be in opposition to horse slaughter (still am) but if I knew she was in charge-I would back her. She has aid in regards to cattle, we may have to slaughter them but it can be done with respect to the animal, we don’t have to be heartless, there is a better way. Its not her words exactly but the idea is there. Follow the link-its worth the read.
    But instead of U.S horses being sneaked over the borders to Canada or Mexico, suffering through horrific transport accommodations, and then experiencing horrible treatment and abuse in the slaughter house itself, at least if we make it legal here in the U.S, and control where the horses go (

  • iwannahorse

    I saw a video of a horse being killed in a slaughterhouse with a knife. The creep had to stab and slice many times before the horse went down. Meanwhile, I could hear several people in the background cheering and laughing. NOT HUMANE!!! I believe in God and Karma. May they all burn in hell! And Obama can go with them!

  • Susan

    I am sick to read that someone I had trusted (Obama) actually had the nerve the sign such a statement. I am not a “political” person at all. I believe in who actually is good and has a heart. I have been sick at my stomach all week about Three Angels Farm in Tennessee has been “obtaining” in some unknown way a large amount of horses he is cramming into semis and taking them from Lebanon, TN to Presidio, TX for sale to the Mexico slaughterhouse Inter-Meat. Presidio, TX holding facility C-4 Cattle has actually been leaving “almost dead” horses around to rot in creeks on the way to the Rio Grande River. They have had a series of wrecks in TN, this week being rush hour right outside of Nashville. There were 38 horses crammed in a trailer which overturned. The driver admitted he was taking the horses to Presidio. The owner of Three Acres Farm, Dorian Ayache, admitted after lying to the press that they were in fact headed to Presidio. These horses were taken to a farm in Dickson TN where in the middle of the night, another semi loaded up their precious cargo and escaped to Texas/Mexico. Something dirty is already happening. I have heard these people actually have children with them when they obtain “free horses” and send people’s pets off to the slaughter house. This is sick and I cannot believe I live in a country which allows this sort of behavior. I have read plenty this week and it is plain torture. Stop it. How can we make Obama stop? Is there any way to make him visit this area and see for himself, go down to Presidio and see the C-4 Cattle “holding area” for Inter-Meat? Please help me help these poor animals. They are being stolen everywhere now and people are distressed.

  • Kasi

    I am a horse lover myself, but if you really look at ALL of the facts, and stop being so closed minded it would help. EVERY plant in the US was shut down when the bans were set, and now there will be stricter rules and regulations as well as more inspections to make sure everything is being done safely and humanely. Most of the videos on the internet of horse slaughter are from Mexico, and very few are done properly, which is why horses could no longer be transported over the borders to Mexico or Canada. Along with that, before there were really no regulations on how a horse was to be slaughtered humanely. And you say that euthenizing a horse is more humane? Do you know how barbituates work? They are paralitic. Basically they paralize the heart and brain until they are so deprived from oxygen that all of the systems shut down. This type of death can take up to half of an hour, varying from horse to horse. It’s basically suffocation, and not very humane at all, if you think about it. Death by bullet or penetrating bolt is much more humane because it is an instant kill, and in properly maintained and monitered facilities with a well trained staff the most stress that the horse will feel is the trailer ride.

  • sandra longley

    Kasi, I am certsin you are aware that it is the circumstances prior to death, that cause the suffering..being removed from their home familiar surroundings, humane and animal companions they have known..prodded and poked with hotshots and whips hauled in crowded semis with other terrified horses, no water or food..suffering head and leg wounds..all this in the days and weeks prior to the actual slaughter..whereas -euthanasia usually happens on their home turf in the company of people they know..horses are a flight animal and their reaction to all the circumstances i mentioned are the critical factors

  • kwnichole*15

    What’s the point in slautering horses? Why do we do it? I just cannot see what we gain when we kill these beautiful creatures. I am not a supporter of PETA. They have lost any meaning they once stood for.

  • C.J Privett

    A few weeks ago, I met a young man who was very excited about the ranch he works for bringing in over two hundred horses to be raised for slaughter for human consumption. He explained they would be pasture breeding this herd to keep the herd size viable to continue the operation. He said they believe they can get $1.29 a pound or more at slaughter. How does this type of operation help reduce the unwanted horse population? All of the blogs I’ve read only mention that this is a way to control the number of unwanted horses. I believe we need to increase the penalties for abusing animals. In most states animal abuse is merely a misdomeaner punishable by a small gail sentence, a small fine, and some form of probation. That seems appropriate, however, in most cases the judge suspends most if not all of the above. In my state, felony animal abuse is charged only in cases where the animal is abused for financial gain, I.e. dog and cock fighting. I also believe over breeding should be controlled just as many of the puppy mills. The BLM has a much different problem. Mustang herds can get out of control through uncontrolled breeding. We have long been able to roundup, corral and castrate cattle. There must be a way we could do the same for the wild horse herds. (Maybe it’s already being done. Is the program well funded enough to make an impact on the herd sizes?)

  • I’ve never heard of anyone raising horses for slaughter in the U.S. I don’t see why it would make economic sense to do so. Why pay to feed a horse from a foal to adulthood for slaughter, when there may be plenty of unwanted adult horses available that don’t have those expenses attached?

    Further, raising horses for slaughter (something I have never heard of anybody doing before you commented on this blog post) would not increase the number of unwanted horses. For example, there is no “unwanted cattle” problem in this U.S. because the cattle are being bred for the purpose of slaughter and are never “unwanted” in the first place.

    Thanks for posting!

  • C.J. Privett

    @Alison Rove I Have been the Lead Equine Cruelty Investigator for the United States Equine Rescue League for 7 yaers. I had to resign that post due to personal financial hardship. However, during my stint with USERL I covered 11 counties in Eastern North Carolina. One case involved a horse operation that was raising horses for slaughter for human consumption. The owner fell on hard times when the ban on slaughter was enacted. He had a herd of about thirty five mares and five stallions that were used for one purpose — pasture breeding. According to witnesses, when slaughter was still allowed this gentleman did not bother to feed properly. Just occasionally steam crimpped oats. No vet bills were discovered and the horses hooves were not cared for. Witnesses also mentioned many horses died on his property over the years due to inadequate care. We found eight recent carcases in our investigation. We were initially called to the property because a person reported seeing a starved horse on the property that was unable to get up. When we arrived the mare was down and had foald the night before and was severely underwieght. She had a body score of less than 1 (.5). I found the foal upside down in a dry ditch about 50 feet from the mare. She was still alive. It took five USERL volunteers to get the mare up and walk her to my horse trailer. We put the foal in the back seat of my truck and drove 77 miles to the Neuse River Animal Hospital. They miraculously servived and are now in a fine adoption home. We were able to rescue 17 of the horses, and fine good homes for all. When we returned two days later to get the remaining 24 horse they had been transported to a kill auction in N.J. This type of situation happens every day in the U.S. I’ve rescued a horse that weighed 459 LBS. When completely rehabbed he now weighs 1190 LBS. Another horse weighed 830 LBS and when rehabbed he now weighs 1350 LBS. These horses and several hundred horses have been rescued this year alone by USERL and most have been adopted by loving families. Of, course some did not survive and were humanely euthanized by our on-call vets.

    My point being many neglected equine can be saved and given a good home.

    If the new horse operation is infact bringing in unwanted horses,that can’t be saved that’s fine. Question, have you ever seen the way horses are slaughtered in Mexico? I have,it’s nothing I want to ever see again. So, If we open slaughter houses in the U.S. (It has already happened in Turkey Hill N.C.) does the bill state that raising horses for slaughter in NOT ALLOWED and TRANSPORT OF HORSES TO FORIEGN COUNTRIES FOR SLAUGHTER IS ALSO NOT ALLOWED? If so O.K. That also seems to be the opinion of PETA. Certainly there are too many unwanted horses. How about much more severe penalties for not caring for your animals? And judges willing to impose the fullest extent of the allowed penalties.

  • skylar

    there are so many horses out there that are in a field starving to death, not knowing what to do, but slaughter is NOT the answer. i got my off the track thoroughbred, secritariats proven full grandson, headed to slaughter. why? because when je was thinking “ive tried my harded and done all i could do its just not enough i was thinking “life on earth wasnt intended just for humans, you tried your hardest but yet have i” imlove my horse, and if i hadnt rescued him he wouls have been eaten. horses are too intellegant. there is no humane way to slaughter any animal. im america, we humanely shoot horses thru the skull with a .22 leaving them paralzed, in fear, them hung by one leg, still concious, and skinned alive. humanely. and that is why we should not allow slaughter.

  • Amie

    The more money we allow these fools to make off of these horses, the more these morans are going to breed! I hope they all rot in hell!