September worst month since 1995 for horse slaughter in US

October 29, 2006

September closed out the bloodiest month for horses in the United States since 1995, as 11,166 were sent to slaughter at one of three foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the US, a report by the US Humane Society has revealed.

September's record number brings the year's total to nearly 100,000, including horses slaughtered in the United States and those shipped to Mexico, Canada or Japan for slaughter, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures.

The 2006 weekly average of horses sent to slaughter is up to 2,178 up 235 per week over 2005. During the last week of September alone, 2,225 horses were slaughtered.

The U.S. House of Representatives outlawed the slaughter of horses for human consumption Sept. 7 by a vote of 263-146. The bill, H.R. 503/S. 1915, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, is now in the Senate for a vote.

"The horse slaughter industry is racing to gather up and kill as many horses as possible trying to squeeze out more profits before the Congress puts an end to their despicable business of butchering healthy American horses," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "Americans must call on the Senate to act this year to put an end to the carnage produced by these foreign-owned companies."

Opponents of the legislation claim that slaughter is necessary to deal with the "unwanted" horse problem, saying most of the animals are old and infirm. But, according to the USDA, nine out of ten of horses slaughtered are healthy. Further evidence that no link exists between "unwanted horses" and slaughter is the fact that the industry continues to import horses from Canada for slaughter, including 2,773 horses so far this year and 298 in September alone.

The legislation was introduced by Representatives John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va) and by Senators John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.), It has been assigned to the Senate Commerce Committee, led by Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), both cosponsors of the bill. Last year the Senate overwhelmingly approved an amendment to stop horse slaughter by a vote of 69-28.

Other data reported by the USDA:

In addition to a record-breaking month for horse slaughter, September saw two serious vehicular accidents involving horses en route to slaughter. In Missouri, 41 horses and a mule were being transported to slaughter in Dekalb, Illinois, when the cattle truck in which they were being hauled crashed. Seven horses died when crushed by others and nine others had to be euthanized at the site because of the severity of their injuries.

In Texarkana, Arkansas, several horses were injured when a tire blew on the truck hauling them to slaughter in Fort Worth. The horses appeared to have suffered injuries from the accident or while fighting in the close quarters, according to news accounts.