I know that this is a controversial topic, so I am going to try to keep it brief. Horse slaughter is an issue that I find particularly important because, well, I’m obviously a horse person. I actually wrote a whole paper on domestic horse slaughter last year as part of the Advanced Writing Requirement at my school. In the paper, I explain why horse slaughter and consuming horse meat are a public health risk. Although I personally am against horse slaughter, I proposed that if horse slaughter absolutely had to be allowed in the United States, we would have to have a regulatory system similar to that in the European Union which would ensure that horses with deadly chemicals in their system (such as the ever popular anti-inflammatory, Bute) would not make it into the food consumer market of any country.
The reason that horse slaughter was at risk for becoming allowed in the United States (again) was because funding for Food Safety Inspectors at equine slaughterhouses was placed into an Agricultural Appropriations Bill. This funding would ensure that Food Safety Inspectors would be able to inspect horse slaughterhouses thus allowing horse slaughterhouses to reopen in the United States. For meat to be used in our country, or exported to others, it must be inspected to ensure it is able to be consumed. Without the funding, there would be no inspections, and without no inspections, equines could not be slaughtered domestically.
Earlier this week, both the House and the Senate amended the Agricultural Appropriations Bill to ensure that the funding for equine slaughterhouse Food Safety Inspectors was removed. This puts the plans for potential slaughterhouses in the midwest on hold. According to the release by the ASPCA, the bill is not expected to be met with any opposition and will be signed by President Obama at the end of this week (fingers crossed).
I realize that some people advocate for domestic horse slaughter because the alternative – having horses shipped to Canada and Mexico to be killed – is a fate far worse. However, I do not agree. Based on some of the things I have seen in the media about how potential horse slaughterhouse operators feel about equines and slaughter, doing this domestically would not be helping the problem. I also understand the argument that there are far too many horses out there than can be cared for, so using them for meat is the next best thing rather than letting them starve and waste away from neglect and abuse. I’m sorry, but I personally cannot support that viewpoint. I do recognize there is a massive overbreeding problem in this country, but that is why I do not advocate for backyard breeding and the like. Horses are in the same boat as many of the cats and dogs in this country that are abandoned, neglected, and abused every single day. Is the solution to slaughter cats and dogs so that they can be used for food? I don’t think so. Perhaps eating a cat or dog is a more bitter pill to swallow because I think most everyone can agree that a cat or a dog is not a food animal. Not everyone feels the same way about a horse.
Do I know the solution to the overbreeding problem? I don’t, and I am not going to pretend I do. But that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with what others have felt is the solution. Slaughter is done in an inhumane manner, and I cannot advocate for any of my equine friends – whether I know them or not – to be killed in such a vile manner. Horses give us a lot of themselves, and they do not deserve to meet a cruel fate just because they were sold to the wrong person or were met with unfavorable circumstances.
I do hope that this bill passes as it is with no amendments made to the equine slaughterhouse inspection provisions. It is my impression that the majority of Americans do not agree with equine horse slaughter. The ASPCA also has an impressive list of equestrians who advocate for the welfare of equines, including the prohibition of horse slaughter. Brianne Goutal, Jessica Springsteen, Georgina Bloomberg, and Stacia Klein Madden are just some of the well-known horse people that make up the ASPCA’s Equine Welfare Ambassadors (what an awesome title to hold, by the way!)