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Mane issue

The slaughter of horses and consumption of horse meat are at the center of a fierce legislative battle.

Greg Horton March 13th, 2013

Supporters and opponents of legislation to allow horse slaughter in Oklahoma agree on exactly one thing: Horses should not be slaughtered in Mexico.

Opponents of a horse slaughter bill protested in downtown OKC March 4.
Credit: Mark Hancock

Two measures alive in the state Legislature, House Bill 1999 and Senate Bill 375, would allow for the humane slaughter of horses while maintaining a ban on the sale of horse meat for human consumption in the state.

The bills are in response to a lawsuit filed by Valley Meat Company that forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to renew inspections of horse slaughter facilities. When such facilities were defunded by Congress in 2006, horse slaughter effectively ended. Assuming there are no more legal hurdles, Valley Meat will open a domestic slaughterhouse in New Mexico this spring.

Proponents, including the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF), say domestic slaughter is badly needed.

“We need a humane way to dispose of these animals,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF. “The horse market is seriously depressed because we have no way of disposing of horses economically or humanely. Shipping horses across long distances creates stress on the animals, and then they are delivered to a slaughter facility in a country that doesn’t use the same humane practices we do in the U.S.”

Simone Netherlands, founder of Respect4Horses, which opposes domestic horse slaughter, organized a March 4 rally in downtown Oklahoma City. She agrees that U.S. horses never should be transported to Mexican facilities — and has ghastly photos to make her point — but said no horses should be killed.

“If breeders would be responsible enough to reduce breeding by as little as 10 percent, no horses would need to be slaughtered,” she said. “The slaughter industry keeps talking about sick and old horses. This is not about sick and old horses; it’s about supplying healthy animals to slaughter facilities for monetary gain.”

‘Don’t buy the horse’
HB 1999’s author, state Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, acknowledged that private interests will make money as well as create new jobs but said profit is not the primary motivation.

“This is necessary legislation because we have an overpopulation problem, including large numbers of abused, neglected, diseased and old horses,” McNiel said.

Approximately 21,000 horses are transported to Mexico annually for processing, according to McNiel and Netherlands. The meat is sold to nations for consumption. Some of its largest customers, however, are U.S.based zoos and circuses that import the meat back from Mexico because it’s a staple in the diet of lions and tigers.

Bullard said reducing the numbers by changing breeding practices will not solve the problem.

“Horses are used for work, sport and recreation, and any breeding practices will always produce horses that are not fit for these things,” he said. “We will always have diseased and old horses, as well. Euthanizing horses creates a financial hardship.”

Rep. Skye NcNiel

Prices across the country vary, but veterinarian charges, drugs and disposal fees can combine to total between $400 and $1,000 per horse.

Netherlands calls that the price of responsible animal ownership.

“If you can’t afford to euthanize your horse, don’t buy the horse,” she said. “It’s the same principle you would use for any companion animal.”

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, who voted against HB 1999 in committee, said the horse owners she has spoken to are overwhelmingly opposed to slaughter.

“I’ve received more emails opposing this legislation than I have on any piece of legislation in the last nine years,” she said. “I understand both sides, and we do need a solution, but my constituents have clearly said this is not it.”

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03.12.2013 at 10:32 Reply

Pro Slaughter wants everyone to believe that all the horses going to slaughter are old or injured, without any other options, or unwanted. In truth, USDA statistics show that 92% of all horses sent to slaughter arrive in “good” condition–meaning they are sound and in good health.

Horse slaughter actually prevents horse welfare; rescue operators are routinely outbid by killer buyers at auctions. When no other option exists, unwanted horses should be humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. Horse slaughter is a far cry from humane euthanasia and any proper horse owner understands that the fright and flight instincts of a horse make the slaughter process impossible to be humane.

The horse is a companion animal and labeled as such by the FDA and by God (Unclean). Their meat is highly toxic due to everyday medications we give our companions to be free of aches and pains. A horse is not raised as a food animal and a food animal is not our police officers, used by our military, fought our pass wars, stood stall in riots, used to pull the casket of a passing President, used as therapy animals for those with autism, MS and, etc.

Never mistake the slaughtering of a non-food animal as welfare. This is pure clap trap spoken by those driven by greed and/or the irresponsible.


03.12.2013 at 02:29 Reply

Pro slaughter advocates want the public to believe that their "old and sick" horses will be humanely euthanized by a group of caring individuals at the horse slaughter plant, when that is as far from the truth as you can get. That facts are the old and sick horses are not the ones being purchased at auction by the kill buyers. These kill buyers are looking for healthy and sound horses and routinely pay higher prices (outbid others) at auction. As to the sick and old, these horse should be euthanized by the owner's vet, that is responsible horse ownership. As to abuse and neglect, these issues are simply against the law and should be handled by local law enforcement. Rescue organizations are around to care for those animals. Breeders need to step up and take responsibility. Stop over breeding. The American Quarter Horse Association is PRO horse slaughter, and one of the most slaughtered breeds is the quarter horse.

The pro slaughter movement in Oklahoma is greed driven and corrupt. A huge conflict of interest exists. Skye McNeil is in the horse killing business. Her family owns one of the largest livestock auctions in Oklahoma. There are advertisements with her husband's name on them seeking "horses of any type." This is purely greed and corruption.

Domestic horses are not meant to be consumed by humans. Horses are our companions and as such they are given all types of substances on a daily basis such as, daily worming products, supplements, bute and banamine among other things. These substances are toxic to humans and it clearly states on all product labels that they are not meant to be given to animals for human consumption.

The FDA categorizes horses as companion animals. Horses are not cows, and therefore, the captive bolt is in no way humane when used on a horse due to the horses flight and fright process, additionally there is no way to restrain a horses head for this captive bolt to work as it does on cow.

Don't be deceived by the lies being perpetrated by the big money, small numbers PRO slaughter group. There is no such thing as humane slaughter of a horse, ever HORSE SLAUGHTER IS NEVER AN OPTION! Horse slaughter needs to be banned in this country and exporting of our horses to Canada and Mexico banned. Additionally, I believe each and every member of congress in Washington DC and Oklahoma should be required to watch a video of a horse slaughter plant, from the auction, how they are transported, to the kill pen, to the kill shoot and the captive bolt in action, to the kill floor. Let them see the inhumane treatment of our horses, the terror, the fright/flight process coming into play, the complete and total inhumanity of it all. HORSE SLAUGHTER IS INHUMANE.


03.14.2013 at 11:41

I'd have to disagree that a captive bolt gun can be used humanely on a cow.  Check out the documentary "Earthlings."  Don't forget the tissues, you'll need em.