Trojan Horse Slaughter

As Americans watch Europeans condemn the discovery of horsemeat in their Ikea meatballs, we can take some solace in the fact that, for once, we’ve sidestepped an industrial food-related travesty. Our complacency, however, could be short-lived. Although less dramatic than horse DNA adulterating ground beef, another horse-related scandal is about to implicate U.S. citizens in a scheme that will send tainted horsemeat into foreign markets while enriching U.S. horse slaughterers with taxpayer dollars.  

The last U.S.-based horse slaughterhouse closed in 2007. The phasing out of horse slaughter in the United States ended the exportation of U.S.-produced horsemeat to Canada, Europe, and Japan. This development, among other accomplishments, spelled the decline of a niche business that profited from a product that American taxpayers financially supported (through USDA inspection of horse slaughterhouses) but were loathe to consume (plus, it’s illegal to sell horsemeat in the U.S.). 

Over the past six years, though, a small cohort of national lobbyists and state representatives has worked to reopen U.S. horse slaughterhouses. Five states—Oklahoma, Montana, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Iowa—have already taken legislative steps in that direction. Their collective justification for doing so is that U.S. slaughterhouses are better for the welfare of horses. Without them, they argue, an endless stream of retired race horses will inevitably head to Mexico for slaughter, a terrifying prospect for animals who, advocates further contend, will meet an especially gruesome south-of-the-border death. 

On the surface, this argument seems to make sense. Why slaughter horses abroad when we can do so at home? A closer look, however, reveals three problems, each of which suggests that any claim to reinstate horse slaughter on welfare grounds is simply a cynical ploy to dupe Americans into supporting a business most of us find abhorrent.  

First, advocates of U.S. horse slaughter—the very people who insist they care about shortening the distance a horse travels for slaughter—opposed legislation restricting the distance horses could travel in the aftermath of the American closings. Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state representative and the most vocal proponent of reopening slaughterhouses (they call her “Slaughterhouse Sue”), wrote in 2009 that, “A key early initiative is to muster resources to oppose bills now pending in Congress that would ban the transportation of horses to other countries for the purpose of slaughter.” The intent here was as simple as it was sinister: to normalize long horse hauls to foreign soil and then highlight its inherent cruelty, thereby buttressing the case for a more “humane” local option.

Second, the claim that Mexican slaughterhouses are comparatively inhumane is equally problematic. Plants where U.S. horses have been slaughtered in Mexico are owned by the same European Union companies that once owned horse slaughterhouses in the United States. Supporters of local slaughter suggest that U.S. horses are being killed in an especially cruel and unregulated manner in Mexican-owned slaughterhouses, mainly by stabbing them in the spine. In fact, EU companies deploy standard procedures, using (most notably) captive bolt guns to stun horses before bleeding and processing them, just as they do in Europe and once did in the U.S. Ironically, the only documented cases we have of horse slaughterhouse cruelty and abuse come from the U.S. (back when slaughterhouses were legal).

Third, advocates of U.S. horse slaughter insist that, without the reinstitution of slaughter at home, an unmanageable number of horses will continue to suffer the indignities described above. But the numbers don’t support this claim. Nearly 90 percent of U.S. horses die of natural causes or are euthanized at home. Bill Bullard, a California state representative and supporter of U.S. horse slaughter, says that the horse industry is desperate for “a way to dispose of our old, diseased, lame horses.” In fact, that problem has already been solved for the overwhelming majority of horses. They die the way our pets die—more often than not with quiet dignity.

Duplicity is one thing. But the upshot of this manufactured crisis is even worse: an impending public health disaster of global proportions. What supporters of U.S. slaughter never tell us is that the 150,000 or so U.S. horses that are annually slaughtered for export are bombarded daily with a hit list of toxic drugs, most notably phenylbutazone (“bute”), a common painkiller. While innocuous for horses, bute can cause, even in trace doses, aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, pancytopenia, and hemolytic anemia in humans. Eating U.S. horses, according to Tufts Veterinary professor Nicolas Dodman, “is about as healthful as food contaminated with DDT.”  The USDA currently has no program to regulate these substances.  

In other words, lost in all the discussions about horse slaughter and horsemeat is a fundamental point: horses are not raised for food. They are, in essence, an industrial product. For Americans to recycle them into an edible but toxic by-product for foreigners to eat, doing so with taxpayer dollars and through an underfunded USDA, would be bad for everyone involved, most notably the 150,00 horses a year who’d be much better off not being used as Trojan horses to hide the profits of those who claim to care about them.

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  1. cwb says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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    • Vickery Eckhoff says:

      Exactly how many abandoned horses are listed in the GAO report, cwb?

      You know, I asked Rep. Skye McNiel the same question: how many abandoned horses in Oklahoma. You know what she said?

      Nothing. Because no data exists.

      Of course, you are welcome to try and provide some. Go ahead: try.

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      • cwb says:

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    • Vickery Eckhoff says:

      If you’re going to argue on the basis of science based on evidence, then you should produce some.

      C’mon. Give a number and a source.

      The EU’s passport system may be prone to fraud, but at it attempts to keep horses out of the food chain whose origins and drug histories are unknown. That is the very definition of an abandoned horse.

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    • Lori says:

      “…the numbers clearly show an increase of neglect and abandonment since horse slaughter was banned in 2007.”

      Correlation does not equal causation. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people who advocate for horse slaughter use the rationalization that abandonment and neglect has gone up in the last 6 years. Do you know what else has been going on in that same time period? One of the biggest economic meltdowns in the history of our country. Maybe THAT had something to do with people not being able/willing to spend money on their horses??

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      • CanAmFam says:

        Surrender of ALL animals increases in economic downturns. That cause and effect has been proven.

        The GAO neglected to provide any proven cause and effect between increased neglect and moving the processing plants. That entire case is negated by the fact that actually increased numbers of US horses continued to be slaughtered. That report should be retracted for its blatant bias and shoddy research.

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    • CanAmFam says:

      Did you read McWilliams’ article? In in he refutes your claim that other countries have less stringent animal welfare standards, as is relevant to US horses being slaughtered in other Mexico and Canada.

      Also, regardless of country of origin, the EU is the entity that creates the food safety standards for horses slaughter for their consumption.

      Nice try though.

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    • gloria eighmey says:

      Government Accountability Office (GAP) would suggest that the numbers clearly show an increase of neglect and abandonment since horse slaughter was banned in 2007″ /// YES , and the GAP office also failed to mention that we also started a major recession in 2007. That hay and transportation prises sky rocketed ALL domestic animals ,and even children and wife abuse always climbs doing financially hard times of a recession. They also didn’t mention or explain the fact that horse slaughter remained an option and more U.S. horses were slaughtered after are plants closed then before. Making it IMPOSSIBLE that the closing of the us plants had any affect on abused or abandoned horses. Or for that matter, any other horse negative horse situation . Gloria Eighmey

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    • Morgan Griffith says:

      Actually the GAO simply asked state vets if there was an increase in abandonment and abuse cases. They replied that there seemed to be with absolutely NO data to support this “feeling”. When FOIA’d to disclose their sources and their data GAO refused the FOIA request.
      Many of the abuse and neglect cases involve large amounts of animals of all kinds–behavior of a hoarder. No amount of animal shelters, rescues or slaughter houses are going to change the behavior of a hoarder.
      You seem to be under the impression that if a slaughterhouse is located on US soil there will be no cruelty. When slaughter was up and running before this was very far from the truth. In fact in Canada one of the plants designed by Temple Grandin was videoed showing pretty extreme cruelty. The plant in NM that wants to open as a horse slaughterhouse has been shut down before due to animal cruelty. We continue to see vidoes of animal cruelty in US run slaughter plants. No bringing this egregious business back to US shores will not change one wit of the cruelty these animals endure.

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      I guess you don’t realize that the vast majority of instances HAVE been investigated and have been shown to be misunderstandings, mistakes or downright fraud. The only significant abandonment that has actually been documented is in the desert southwest.

      These horses – thousands of them – were proven to have been abandoned by the kill buyers themselves after they were rejected by the Mexican slaughter plant. The kill buyers freely admit that they do this. When asked about these horses, the USDA said, “They just fall through the cracks.” They do indeed.

      Uh, and I guess you also don’t know that it’s illegal to slaughter diseased horses for human consumption. Do you actually think these soft hearted killers go out and round up these old, sick, abandoned horses and take them to slaughter? SWEET!

      I guess you must be the only person standing that thinks that GAO report wasn’t “severely flawed,” as Trent Lott put it. Given that Charlie Stenholm and his cronies knew what was in the report WEEKS before it was released – they were caught on video discussing the contents – one has to wonder, especially since the GAO itself used the word “anecdotal” in describing their so-called “evidence.”

      Also, why don’t you people ever mention that the main recommendation from the GAO was to ban domestic horse slaughter AND ban the transport of horses across borders for the purpose of slaughter? It’s right there. Ah, but you don’t WANT to mention THAT part, huh? There are bills in both the House and Senate right now that would do both these things. Contact your Senators and Representatives in Washington and ask them to support H.R. 1094/S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act which will ban horse slaughter in the US AND ban transport across borders for the purpose of slaughter. I know you will want to support both these bills.

      BTW, abandonment and neglect of your horse is a CRIME. These irresponsible owners need to learn that THEY are responsible for their own horse and that human consumption horse slaughter is NOT a dumping ground for the horses they want to throw away like yesterday’s newspaper.

      You DO report these crimes to the proper authorities when you see them don’t you?

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      Since we don’t keep records of every substance a horse has been exposed to since birth, just HOW are these horses supposed to be identified and removed from the human food chain? THAT is the problem.

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  2. Seminymous Coward says:

    USDA inspections do not constitute financial support by any sane definition. Regulatory oversight is hardly a benefit to a business. Even if it were, charging annually for licensing neatly solves that supposed problem.

    Starting a USDA program to regulate drugs given to animals before they enter the food supply sounds like a good idea. Oh, wait, look it does have such an order for cattle: . I guess that problem is about 5 bureaucrat’s signatures from solved for horses, too.

    It’s fine if you want to object to slaughtering horses for meat because of some squeamishness, but dressing it up with the other objections is just adding noise.

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    • Seminymous Coward says:

      Actually, I missed a bit of that order I linked before: “Use in horses is limited to use in horses not intended for food. There are currently no approved uses of phenylbutazone in food-producing animals.”

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      • Vickery Eckhoff says:

        Seminymous and John:

        Let’s try this again. A slaughter plant cannot operate without a USDA inspector on hand, which is funded with federal taxpayer dollars. This is why the defunding of slaughter inspections shut the industry down in 2007. It is poised to do so again in 2014.

        Once a plant has been approved for inspections, then it can slaughter and sell to the public. Not all plants get approved. Do those that get approved charge a separate fee to producers? Sure‚ but it’s not for inspections—it’s for slaughter/processing. They don’t do that for nothing. But that’s different from funding USDA inspections, which is part of the yearly agricultural appropriations budget voted on by Congress and the POTUS.

        As for you, Semi, would you mind describing a slaughter house that does “humane” slaughter for horses? What process? Captive bolt? 22? How many shots to the head is humane to you? Is it OK if horse is blind/can only walk on three legs? Have you actually seen the process or is this just guess work to you (since you describe yourself as “squeamish)?

        And please don’t rely on John for your answers. He doesn’t know.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        I have explained why regulation doesn’t constitute financial support twice, as well as noting its irrelevance. I raised several points regarding what you said that you have flatly ignored while continuing to repeat requests for information I have provided. You refuse to reply in a correctly threaded manner. You attributed the word “humanely” to me though I have not said it. You presumed my ignorance of abattoirs for lack of consuming their outputs. I was merely critiquing an argument and have expressed indifference to the conclusion, yet you persist in addressing me as an advocate for the other side from you. Actually, you have addressed me disrespectfully from the start. You have likewise spoken condescendingly or insultingly to everyone who has differed from your position. You were shocked that one veterinarian can disagree with some others. You demand quantitative data from those who have provided independent qualitative assessments by experts with which you disagree, but you have provided no such data to support your own disagreement; do please recall that barring an extraordinary claim or a legal context, the burden of proof is symmetric. You have made numerous unsupported claims, including statistics without citations. Either you hold yourself out as a journalist ( ) despite a clear lack of impartiality or even an ability to write in a civil tone to those with whom you disagree, or you have falsely assumed the identity of a subject-matter expert.

        For these reasons, I am no longer going to reply to you.

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      • Vickery Eckhoff says:

        I am a indeed a journalist, Seminymous Coward. I have worked on this issue every day for 17 months, and recognize someone trying to join a conversation by asserting a fact without supporting data. A number was all that was asked. No number, no argument.

        I have published 17 articles on this topic (, the Huffington Post, Newsweek) and produced a book proposal. Here, I am a commenter.

        I don’t believe I have offered any statistics here. My comment on pharma industry was specific to equine pharma, not entire industry. And I was not debating you, by the way, but correcting you. There is a difference. And no, you don’t need to reply.

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    • Vickery Eckhoff says:

      People always say “oh, you’re just squeamish” right before they reveal ignorance of basic facts.

      Like your idea that horses can be treated like cattle.

      100% of cattle go to slaughter. So they are “livestock.” Their meds are restricted as such by the FDA (not USDA).

      1% of horses go to slaughter. 99% don’t. The FDA classifies them as such as companion animals, recognizing that it makes no sense to tell the 99% not to medicate their horses. Doing so would wipe out the vast economic industry that living, working, competitive horses support. No more pain killers enabling sore horses to feel better. No more wormers, vaccines, flysprays, no more racing meds. The pharma industry would be dead. Vets would no longer dispense meds. What do you suggest they all do? Work at slaughter plants?

      Inspections not financial support? Without funding for USDA inspections, there is no slaughter industry. The same goes for other tax-payer funded items, like town wastewater and sewage systems, without which it can’t operate.

      Do some homework, cowboy.

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      • john says:

        I’m no expert, but when I checked with a local meat processing facility they quoted me a USDA inspection fee if I wanted my animals inspected and USDA stamped. Farmers eating their own animals wouldn’t pay it, those selling the meat to others would need to do so. Seems to me, admittedly without knowing all the details, that if the USDA is collecting a fee it isn’t “tax-payer funded” or at least not entirely.

        Quibble: Not all cattle go to slaughter, say 95% or so based on personal anecdotal experience.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        First off, as a vegetarian, I’m actually on the squeamish side; I won’t be eating any horses either way. All the same, I don’t much care if horses are buried, burned, or eaten, so long as they died without cruelty. I don’t see how liking horses even impacts on that; we’re discussing what happens to horse corpses, which are not actually horse any more.

        The FDA restricts the medication of horses intended for slaughter per the order I cited. Maybe they do a bad job of tracking which horses have been given such medication; if so, that’s a problem to be addressed before slaughtering can be conducted safely, not a reason not to slaughter horses.

        The article claims a different rate of slaughter, and your number has the convenience of one materialized to support a claim. Please cite a source for it.

        No, without funding for inspections, there is no oversight of the horse slaughter industry. Choosing to make the industry illegal for lack of oversight after removing inspection funding is a separate decision with some… quirky reasoning. Also, John confirmed that there are user fees involved already.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        I missed addressing your claim that ” The pharma industry would be dead.” before. What fraction of the pharmaceutical industry do you imagine horse medication sales are?

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    • CanAmFam says:

      I am LMAO at your insinuation that we should (or even could) institute a program restricting medications for equines, *just in case* they are part of the unlucky 1% of horses that end up at slaughter every year. It appears you are woefully ignorant about the equine industry.

      Food animals are raised for food, and most live only a couple of months to a year (or a few years in the case of dairy cows) before they are slaughtered. A relatively short period of time compared to equines, bred and raised as sporting and companion animals, and routinely medicated to enhance performance, treat injuries and address chronic and acute conditions. We’re talking about many animals receiving drugs banned from the food chain on an almost daily basis. Phenylbutazone, a potent anti-inflammatory that renders an animal unfit for human consumption after a single lifetime dose, is used as needed for pain management by 85% of horse owners and administered regularly to 92 to 99% of racehorses, both according to credible studies.

      In economic terms, the business around live horses accounts for 99.97% of the equine industry. Of that, equine medications and related veterinary care are a HUGE part of it. Horse slaughter by contrast accounts for a paltry 0.03% of the equine industry. And you ain’t never going to see the 0.03% dictate the needs of the legitimate equine industry majority.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        First off, please provide citations for the 85%, 92-99%, and 99.97% statistics you quoted, preferably including confidence intervals for any determined by sampling. Any reply that doesn’t address that issue will receive no further response from me.

        Secondly, I made no insinuation. I directly stated that the government should regulate the medication of animals that become food (which it in fact does). I don’t care what species they are or if that’s difficult in some cases. I don’t even care that it’s solely for the benefit of people who aren’t me (as I do not eat meat). The commerce clause and a clear public mandate allow for federal oversight of food safety, and the medications given to food animals clearly impact their safety for consumption. If the law and regulations about which medications are appropriate for use in food animals are poorly enforced, that’s a problem, but it’s still a separate issue from the legality of horse slaughter.

        I do not think horses without a documented veterinary history should enter the food supply. If providing that history is expensive, then that will either make horse meat more expensive or make the horse slaughter industry nonviable. I don’t care about either of those outcomes when weighed against food safety. I have the same conviction regarding cows, pigs, and whatnot.

        I’ll even sketch out three versions of such a system, despite your claim of impossibility. Every horse intended even for the possibility of human consumption must get a specific brand in a specific place by a specific young age. (Alternatively, it could be a tattoo or a subdermal RFID chip with a unique code registered with the USDA.) Every time a veterinarian prescribes or provides a drug that makes a horse unfit for human consumption, they are required to check for such a marker. If the marker is found and the drug is given, the marker must be branded over. (Alternatively, the unique code of the tattoo or RFID chip is reported as invalid to the USDA.) If a drug supply is provided for the shared use of multiple horses, all are considered to have been given that drug immediately. Every slaughterhouse must confirm the presence of a valid marker before processing. That doesn’t sound prohibitively expensive, and it makes no significant impact on non-participants.

        If you’re very lucky, no one will bother to go through the tracking program. Then you can be happy that no horses are slaughtered, and I can be happy that I have the freedom to kill and eat horses subject to reasonable oversight, which I wouldn’t use but still want on general freedom-loving principle.

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      You’re kidding, right? There IS a program that regulates the drugs given to animals before they enter the human food chain – but it’s for FOOD animals, which horses are NOT.

      The FDA is the one that regulates the drugs and which can be given to food animals and which can’t. The FDA considers horses to be COMPANION animals and therefore permits equine veterinary medications and other widely used over-the-counter products to contain ingredients that are expressly banned in FOOD animals. As you noted in your follow up post, these products are clearly marked NOT FOR USE IN HORSES INTENDED FOR FOOD PURPOSES.

      Exactly what is it that you don’t understand………

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

        From the linked FDA order: “Use in horses is limited to use in horses not intended for food.”

        It’s not allowed in horses that are food animals. If they do a poor job enforcing that, that’s a separate issue from the legality of horse slaughter.

        What you seem not to understand is that the fact that few to no people raise horses for food in the USA now doesn’t preclude the possibility that someone might in the future. There’s no reason for the law to ban horse slaughter when it can ban what’s actually the problem, which is drug-contaminated horse slaughter. The fact that you’re advocating for horse slaughter to be illegal in general and not for tougher enforcement of medication restrictions on horses that are slaughtered shows that it’s not the food safety issue that drives your objection.

        “Most people use X for Y, so let’s ban using X for Z.” is not a well-reasoned argument, no matter how much of it you capitalize.

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      • Kim says:

        SC – The same thing could be said of your comment. Wasn’t it you who stated …..
        ” I don’t much care if horses are buried, burned, or eaten, so long as they died without cruelty.”

        It would seem it’s not the food safety issue that drives your commenting either. Do you think it is possible to slaughter horses without cruelty? “So long as they died without cruelty”. Out of 100k + horses slaughtered, which one in the slaughter pipeline died without cruelty (before ’07 or after) that you base your care factor on?

        The one shining brilliant statistic is that the majority of the American people will never ever support horse slaughter

        Maybe America should vote on the ban, with or without a food safety invisibility cloak

        Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2
      • Seminymous Coward says:

        I don’t follow what you mean by “the same thing.” I don’t have an objection, driven by food safety or otherwise; at most, I have conditions. As far as a motivation for posting, it’s actually the coordinated rejection of dissension motivating me at this point. Furthermore, the sub-80% thumbs down rate on most of my comments actually implies that at least some of the people who don’t agree with me still find merit in what I’ve said.

        Inert gas asphyxiation, e.g. a room filled with nitrogen, is a pain-free method of killing most land animals not adapted to burrowing or diving. Don’t trust me; look it up. Watch a video of it. It is in current use on other animals. Note that it’s irrelevant that inert gas wasn’t used on any of the horses killed in US slaughterhouses. The legality of slaughter itself and the legality of specific methods are separate issues.

        Your “never ever” claim purports to see the future. That would be impressive. Keep in mind that, whoever your ancestors are, there was likely a time when they could not imagine people refusing to eat horses. (That part is not an argument for horse slaughter, as their opinions are of little relevance, merely an example of how things change.)

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      • Kim says:

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  3. tish says:

    like a dog or a cat, spade or euthanize them? are we that greedy? if so, open cat and dog slaughter as they eat them there to and its the same problem, hypocrites!

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    • Ileen Murphy says:

      Yes, why not. Why not raise every animal known to mankind for food. To make our country’s standards the same as China or other countries that skin cats and dogs for fur and for food would be an appalling step backwards. We are talking about animals with feelings and intellect. To raise animals for food would mean factory-like farming. Keeping these animals from birth until it’s time to slaughter them would entail much cruelty. This is unacceptable in a civilized society. Factory-farming has been shown to endanger the environment. It should be abolished. To think of letting this happen to horses, which are not considered food, is unspeakably revolting.

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  4. Enter your name... says:

    Anyone else struck by the irony of a Freakonomics post that opposes eating horse meat because “most of us” (by which he means “Americans, but none of the millions of people who think eating horse is the same as eating beef or pork or lamb”) find it abhorrent, when we’re supposed to all agree to let poor people sell their kidneys to rich people even though nearly every culture in the world finds it abhorrent?

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    • CanAmFam says:

      As a longtime fan of Freakonomics, I find it completely appropriate for this to be a forum on the horse slaughter debate.

      Why? Because this debate is often incorrectly framed by misinformation from the horse meat lobby–information easily disproved with statistics and logic. And Freakonomics often takes on controversial subject matter that has been muddied by rhetoric to expose the reality, as supported by statistics and critical thinking.

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      Why should we be influenced by what people in other countries eat? I’m sure they don’t care what WE eat. The reference was to Americans and it was quite correct.

      Actually, you might be surprised how many people in the so called “horse eating countries” do NOT eat horse meat and find it as repugnant as Americans do. Also, the number of people who do eat horses is dropping, and that was BEFORE the found out that their beef was being secretly “supplemented” with horse meat.

      These people are also calling for a ban on importing horse meat from North America because of cruelty issues. Already, the European Union has decided they will not accept meat from American domestic horse slaughter plants. Without the EU, there is no market. I wonder how many potential investors know about this.

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  5. Matt Byrne says:

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    • Vickery Eckhoff says:

      As the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated back in 2007, “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption.”

      Then again, horses take dozens upon dozens of other drugs, that are not tested for. Some are known carcinogens, as bute is. Some require protective mask and rubber gloves to those administering. The drugs can cause cancer, miscarriages, breast development in men, and a host of other illnesses.

      Because they are banned in animals slaughtered for meat, and are not in human use, no safe levels or withdrawal times are met.

      But sure, knock yourself out. Buy yourself a racetrack reject, shoot it yourself, put the meat in the freezer and eat yourself silly.

      Just don’t sell it to the public.

      And please don’t quote CNN on this issue. It doesn’t know a damn thing.

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      • Seminymous Coward says:

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    • LNorman says:

      Yeah, ironically the global economy crashed in ’08 and the SE U.S. was locked in an extreme drought. I’m sure that had nothing to do with people not being able to feed or care for their animals.

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      Haven’t you ever seen a government trying to keep the lid on things? That’s what the UK is doing. They are making a very bad mistake – or maybe they really believe that you have to take a human “therapeutic” dose to cause harm – but they are WAY off. The problem with bute is that people vary SO widely in their reaction to this drug.

      In their latest pronouncement they say the bute that was found to have entered the human food chain should be “of low concern” because it was in relatively few carcasses and the chance of a reactor getting any was – they gave some odds – but, if YOU are the one reactor that ate some of this meat, it ain’t of LOW CONCERN to you. That’s why they should err on the side of safety, especially since the reactor is more than likely a child. These guys went on to say that no, they didn’t know what the minimum dose would be to be safe for everyone – no one does – and it was still banned from any use in food animals. Right.

      Banned substances are banned for a reason – and EVERY country absolutely banns bute. Not only are it’s effects idiosyncratic, they are not always DOSE RELATED. That’s why bute is NOT safe, no matter how you spin it.

      Another thing about banned substances – and here is where you who know nothing about horses or horse keeping – are apt to make huge mistakes – banned substances don’t have to be taken regularly or in high doses. ONE dose of bute, or other banned substance, and that horse can NEVER enter the human food chain. I don’t care if he’s 30 and had one mg of bute at age two, he’s still banned forever. And, there are NO withdrawal periods for any banned substance. That is the LAW, and we anti-slaughter advocates didn’t write it.

      Horses – and every other pet animal – were hard hit by the worst recession since the Depression. People were turning in their dogs and cats to shelters in the thousands. Why wouldn’t the horse industry expect the same? They use the recession as an excuse. Since horse slaughter never stopped – or even dipped – it’s impossible that it had anything to do with anything.

      Horse abuse and neglect are crimes that should be prosecuted. Owners are responsible for their horses. Besides, the slaughter plants will not accept starved horses! Why would they? No meat, no profit.

      The vast majority of horse owners – of which I am one and have been for 35 years – do just as the article says: veterinary euthanasia and proper disposal for which there are a number of options – and we never even THOUGHT about slaughter for God’s sake. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the last 35 years, but I always managed not to make my horses suffer because of it. It’s called “responsibility.”

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  6. Barbara Leonard says:

    Thank you for this very truthful and well-researched article. US taxpayers want their food supply safe (which will NOT happen if US slaughterhouses are opened…..thanks to unethical behavior by some food companies, the US may already be eating tainted meat with horsemeat being mixed in with beef) and we do not want our tax dollars spent on USDA inspectors at foreign owned horse slaughter plants.

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  7. Jo-Claire Corcoran says:

    First we don’t raise our horses for food in this country, under food safety guidelines. Therefore horses are given medications which ate banned from use in any food animal at any time in their life. To export a product we must inspect to the regulations of the country receiving the meat. The largest consumer of US horse meat is the EU and our horses do not meet their new regulations bring implemented this year.

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  8. John says:

    As a horse owner who has been following this situation, James misses the mark on many points. For the sake of brevity, I would just like to highlight the author’s ulterior motives.

    A quick google search for James McWilliams and you will be led to his blog where he writes about how veganism may cure cancer ( and the “blood lust” of hunters (

    I respect his right to an opinion, but it is an issue to proclaim facts when one is clearly biased.

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    • Suzanne Moore says:

      I’m not a vegetarian or Vegan. Just because Mr. McWillians is doesn’t mean he can’t report objectively. People do it all the time. We all have our opinions about EVERYTHING, but we can still report accurate FACTS.

      As a horse owner, just what do you disagree with him on? As a horse owner, I think this was one of the most accurate portrayal of this subject that I’ve seen.

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    • Kelli Norcross says:

      Now that is interesting. Rather than take each very important point that is addressed here and giving a rebuttal, you are attempting to dismiss all of the facts presented because the author is a vegetarian who has empathy for animals? When did being a vegetarian become a crime? As far as I know, most people become vegetarian for one of two reasons; either because they love animals and do not like the way they are treated, or because they do not find eating meat a healthy option. This author addressed both valid points and I happen to think he did a fine job. Every person that has advocated for horse slaughter in the United States on the other hand, has had an ulterior motive. They claim it is for the horse, but I have seen breeders who are for horse slaughter who claim they love horses, and a few that said they have no problem eating them. I feel people that claim they love horses and eat them are the biggest contradiction and those that breed them and are pro-slaughter are trying to have a secondary market for the horses they cannot sell. It is not a way of life that we want here in America. Horses babysit our children, give them something fun to do, teach them responsibility, they are great therapy, contribute to the paychecks of of Veterinarians, Farriers, Feed store employees, the people that deliver that feed and horse supplies, the people who manufacture them, and they contribute more to our economy than many give them credit for. Make owning horses more affordable and so many more people would be able to be responsible owners. Then we don’t have to worry about unwanted, starving horses that are being under-cared for and passed around. Then those that want to profit off of peoples’ pets or sport horses that have been over-doped and dumped can find another host to feed off of. Pro-slaughter people do not care about the horse. They are leaches.

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