Friday, September 22, 2006

Horse Slaughtering in America

Each year in the United States close to 100,000 horses are sent to the slaughter house. The horse meat is shipped abroad to be sold as specialty meat for human consumption. In addition, thousands of US horses are shipped to Canada for slaughter. There are only 3 horse slaughtering facilities in the US and all three are foreign owned.

Many people who have sold their horses at auction do not even realize that their pets are being bought expressly for slaughtering. These are people who bought a horse for their kids never realizing the amount of time and money it takes to care for a horse. Or people whose kids have grown up and lost interest in the horse. There are also people who think it is fun, special, or educational for the kids, to breed their horses. These people wind up with more animals than they have time for or can afford to support.

When these people decide they can no longer keep their horses they will put an ad in the paper, place ads in magazines, post ads at veterinarian offices, at stables, and a variety of other places. But because there are so many horses in the US, and relatively few people who have the time and money to care for them, these ads often go unanswered and the horse owners are forced to take their animals to a livestock auction where they are sold to the highest bidder.

During the auction the horses are subjected to noise and confusion, something most of them are not used to and none of them like. After they are sold, they are loaded into trailers, often double-decker, and often overcrowded. The double-decker trailer ceilings are not tall enough for most horses to stand up straight in the trailer. They are forced to hold their necks down low, which after several hours causes pain. The floors are often slippery and the horses often fall and are injured because they are unable to maintain their balance. Federal regulations were changed in 2002 to disallow the use of this type of double-decker trailer but not until 2007! Regulations also allow horses to be transported for 28 hours without food, water or rest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture was given jurisdiction over horse slaughtering by Congress in 1996. However, the new regulations that the USDA put into effect in 2002 still allow the transporter companies to oversee themselves and to certify the care that the horses receive!

Many horses arrive at the slaughter house sick, injured, unable to walk, exhausted and most have gone without food or water for over a day. These terrified animals are then lined up under stressful and frightening conditions and shot with a captive bolt gun that shoots a metal rod into the horse’s brain. The intent is to render the horse unconscious while they are strung up by their hind feet and their throats are slit. Unfortunately, many horses are not rendered unconscious by the captive bolt gun, yet the slaughtering process is not halted for these animals.

A bill titled, “To amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes,” has been passed by the House of Representatives and is currently on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar 631.

Please, let your Senators know that you want them to vote YES on this bill.

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