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Will lifting the ban on horse slaughter in the country lead to more humane treatment?
Five years ago, Congress cut off federal funding for horse meat inspection, which effectively killed off the factory slaughter of horses in the United States. The unintended consequence of that action has resulted in the inhumane transport of old, abandoned and neglected horses to slaughterhouses outside of the U.S., to Canada or Mexico, where they may be subject to cruel treatment and unregulated slaughter.
Last week, the funding was quietly reinstated as part of Department of Agriculture bill, ending the de facto ban on domestic slaughter. Animal rights activists are up in arms, saying any factory slaying of horses is inhumane, and advocate for affordable euthanasia. Supporters of the bill cite horse welfare and the economic health of the equine industry as reasons to reopen horse processing plants. They say horse slaughter is as acceptable as that of cattle, pigs or any other agricultural animal, and should be monitored and regulated by the USDA.
Either way, the practice is illegal in California, as is the transport of horses for the purpose of slaughter. But, say horse lovers, those laws aren’t being enforced, and horses are being shipped outside of the country illegally to be processed and consumed in China, Mexico and Europe.
Should factory slaughter be allowed in the U.S. in order to ensure safe and humane practice? What should be done about horses who have reached the end of their usefulness? Is humane slaughter preferable to abandonment, neglect and starvation?
Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States
Sue Wallis, Vice President, United Horsemen and Republican Representative from Wyoming