Horse slaughter is not euthanasia.
Most Americans are completely unaware of the realities of horse slaughter—both that it’s horrible and inhumane and that, despite horse slaughterhouses closing forever in the states, the U.S. is still a heavy supporter of the practice.
Unwanted horses are slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands every year, and over 100,000 are shipped from the U.S. alone to other countries to be killed for meat. The majority of horses are killed and shipped to the EU, where horse meat is eaten regularly in some of the countries, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. from engaging in the trade.
The last horse slaughterhouses were closed in 2007 in the U.S., as bans on horse slaughter or the consumption of horse meat were enacted on a state-by-state basis, but this just caused sellers to ship horses long distances to have them slaughtered instead. The U.S. transports 30,000 to Canada annually, where horses are put in trucks for more than 24 hours without food or water and are often severely injured or killed during the trip.
Despite what some lawmakers might have people believe, horse slaughter is not euthanasia. Since consuming horse meat in the U.S. isn’t all that common, people mistake horse slaughter for humanely putting down horses rather than recognizing it for what it really is: brutally killing these beloved animals for profit.
The reality is that slaughtering horses is very difficult because of the behavior of the creatures, who are extremely scared and make the process even harder. If they survive the trip to the international slaughterhouse, they arrive so skittish that they fight incessantly during the pre-slaughter stunning. This means that they are typically stunned several times, and may even be ineffectively incapacitated, causing them to be completely conscious during the brutal dismemberment.
Before the closure of the slaughterhouses in the U.S., the USDA recorded endless amounts of cruelty at the facilities, including horses having broken bones protruding through their skin, eyeballs barely hanging in their sockets, and horrible wounds that were infected, which isn’t exactly what people want to be eating anyway. The EU even banned the import of horses slaughtered in Mexico because many sick and drugged horses were being slaughtered and sent to them undetected, causing illnesses among consumers.
If the slaughter of horses wasn’t cruel enough, their transport from the U.S. to other countries makes the whole process even worse. Advocacy groups that track horse shipments have found that horses arrive at the slaughterhouses sick, emaciated, disabled, and sometimes even blind from the trauma of what they endured on the trip and at the farms before that. Many arrive dead, which is no surprise considering the groups found that those who are selling the horses usually don’t have vets come in when a horse is sick or dying.
While people in the U.S. can’t control the conditions of slaughterhouses elsewhere, they can take action by urging their representatives to vote yes on the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. The act would officially ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and stop the exportation of horses internationally for slaughter as well. It’s important to call your representatives personally to voice your opinion on the matter and speak up for the horses that can’t.
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