Abandoned horses are slaughter rejects, say advocates

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A two-year-old filly who was found in Nevada in 2009 with her brand cut out, so she could not be identified.
A two-year-old filly who was found in Nevada in 2009 with her brand cut out, so she could not be identified.

Many horses being found abandoned in the southwestern United States have been set loose after being rejected for slaughter at the Mexican border, animal welfare groups allege.

That is the finding of a six-month inquiry by the Equine Welfare Alliance and other animal investigation organisations.

Their findings raise the possibility that most or all of more than 5000 horses a year are being abandoned after being rejected for slaughter at the Mexican border.

It is the predominant source of abandoned horses in the southwestern US, the groups claim.

Their investigation explains the source and reason for abandonments, most of which have been reported in the vast stretches of isolated land north of the Mexican border since 2009.

Most of these horses could clearly be identified as domestic stock from such indications as nail holes in their hooves – where shoes had recently been removed – but no other clues to their source were found.

Until now, news reports about their discovery have speculated they were abandoned by individual owners because they could no longer afford to feed them.

The horse slaughter lobby has further suggested that this was made worse because individuals “no longer had a slaughter option”.

However, horse advocates noted there had been fall in slaughter since the US ban was put in place – the animals were trucked to Mexico and Canada instead – and the abandoned animals were in an area without significant domestic horse populations.

“It made no sense that someone who could not afford to euthanize and bury a horse would elect instead to pay for hauling it hundreds or thousands of miles only to turn it loose,” alliance representatives John Holland and Vicki Tobin noted.

“In fact, many horse advocates had good reason to suspect the reports were bogus.”

Following the closure of US horse slaughter plants in 2007, there were a large number of stories published claiming horses were being abandoned because of a lack of slaughter. These reports ranged from reclaimed strip mines in Kentucky to the Florida Everglades and Oregon ranches. For a year each of these was investigated and found to be false or hugely distorted.

But in the past two years there have been an increasing number of authenticated reports of abandoned horses, mostly in the remote stretches of the southwest border states. A few of these horses actually had hide removed, apparently to obscure a brand.

In August, the first piece of the puzzle fell into place when a group of horses was spotted from the air starving and dead in Texas.

The fact that living horses were found in different stages of starvation and the dead horses were in various stages of decomposition, indicated they had been dumped there at different times.

The group questioned why they had left the horses to perish only a few miles from the border crossing where they could have been sold to the slaughter plants in Mexico.

An answer came in the European Union’s report (DG(SANCO) 2010-8524 – MR), from the 2010 audit of their horse slaughter plants in Mexico.

In section 5.2.1.2, the report divulged that Mexico had rejected 5336 slaughter horses out of 62,560 presented at six border crossing offices during the audit period between January and October 2010.

The horses were rejected under a new system of controls implemented in December, 2009. Reasons for rejection included health problems, advanced pregnancy and injuries.

The alliance said its inquiries indicated that horses rejected at the Mexico border simply “fall out of the system”.

Normally, kill buyers who haul slaughter horses to Mexico try to fill their trailers with cattle and other animals on the return journey.

“So, clearly they need to dispose of the rejected horses, and the most economical way to do so is to simply abandon them on a deserted stretch of road or in an isolated lot,” Holland and Tobin said.

“Ironically, while the horse slaughter lobby has been claiming abandonment was a result of a lack of slaughter, it now appears it is in large part a result of the practice.”

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19 thoughts on “Abandoned horses are slaughter rejects, say advocates

  • November 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm
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    The EU ban is the reason why pro-slaughter are pushing to open up slaughter in the USA again. Even a blind man can see that it is only a matter of time before the border to Mexico and Canada slaughter houses is closed to American bred horses all together. Sue Wallis and those who need a trash can know that if slaughter houses are not allowed in the USA then a select few will lose money and the trash can for big breeders will be gone. After all the racing industry will have to take better care of the TB and QH,and nursing mares and foals along with EX-PMU farms, and rodeos broncs horse, and we can’t forget about the AQHA who loves pushing their breed baby breed program. It is not the average horse owner that needs or wants slaughter it is the money hungry horse industry that needs and wants it. They do not care if the horses are full of toxic drugs their families are not going to eat it. As long as they are making money and do not have to pay out of pocket to have the horse put down they think anything goes. Yes I have hear of and can see kill buyers dumping rejected horses in the middle of the night because they don’t want to feed the horses and are not losing that much when they buy horse by lots of 10 dollars a head. The bottle line is pro-slaughter know that 80% of the American people would not allow any type of tracking system to be set up on our horses for the purpose of slaughter and human consumption so they need another trash can. They also know that the American people will not pay our tax money to set up a system just like we will not allow our tax money to go for USDA inspection on horse meat which we do not eat just for them to make a buck and have a trash can to dump their unwanted horses.

    Reply
    • November 13, 2013 at 8:33 am
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      Do you own horses?

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      • November 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm
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        I own horses, Shay, and I agree with Terra.

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        • November 17, 2013 at 8:51 am
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          I own horses and I agree with Terra 100%. I also lived near a horse slaughter plant in the 1980’s and it was horrific. They finally closed it because of the steady increase of horse theft and the damage it was doing to the tourist industry. I lost a lot of sleep worrying over whether my horse was safe from theft or not. This was before people had deer cams and belkins like we do now. I spent a lot of late nights at the barn keeping watch over my mare. If anyone tried to steal her and sell her into slaughter, I would kill them dead in a heartbeat and gladly do my prison time. No. Horse slaughter needs to be banned and stay banned. In my state we have gelding clinics and animal abuse laws in place to discourage people from overbreeding and hoarding animals. Our department of agriculture works closely with rescues to rehab and re-home neglected or “abandoned horses.” Using slaughter as a disposal is wrong. Slaughter is not the answer. It will only make things worse.

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      • November 16, 2013 at 2:06 pm
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        I’ve owned horses for over 30 years, and 15 of those years were in Dallas, between the two horse slaughter plants that were in Texas at the time. Beltex in Ft. Worth and Dallas Crown in Kaufman. If you want to know what it was REALLY like for us, here it is: http://www.kaufmanzoning.net.

        Sue Wallis claims all this didn’t happen, and spread her lies via the lawyer for Chevideco, the Belgian company that just happened to own Dallas Crown.

        Well, I was THERE!

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      • November 29, 2013 at 8:14 am
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        I own horses and am as anti-slaughter as they come.

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  • November 10, 2013 at 6:09 am
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    the American people Will Not Support Horse Slaughter In Any Easy, Shape Or Form. Pushing To Get The SAF ACT Through. Damn The Predatory, Criminal Horse Slaughter Industry And All Who Support It.

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    • November 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm
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      I am part of the American people & I support horse slaughter. You people are only making it much worse for most of the unwantd & lame horses out there that people cant care for. Slaughter is needed in a humane fashion.

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      • November 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm
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        Kay, with all due respect, please educate yourself. Slaughter horses are not required to have health certificates to cross state lines, and therefore will end up infecting horses in those unlucky states that have horse slaughter. Also, horse owners in those unlucky states will have their horses stolen and sold to slaughter houses, which will be very unpleasant. And, there will be little to no way to trace the disease source. Additionally, no mare owner in their right mind would send a mare to the unlucky stallion owner living near a slaughter house due to theft and disease. I could go on and on, but really, Kay, educate yourself.

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      • November 16, 2013 at 2:12 pm
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        You have no clue. Lame horses are not even accepted by slaughter plants, and that’s just one thing you have been misled about.

        How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Welfare After Closing of US Slaughter Plants: http://youtu.be/BSxUPNgzgn4

        White Paper: How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Welfare After Domestic Horse Slaughter Plant Closings:
        http://equinewelfarealliance.org/uploads/How_the_GAO_Deceived_Congress-final.pdf

        GAO Accused Of Fraud As Horse Slaughter Plants Fight To Open: http://www.forbes.com/sites/vickeryeckhoff/2013/08/08/gao-accused-of-fraud-as-horse-slaughter-plants-fight-to-open/

        GAO on Horse Abuse: http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=4334

        The Fuzzy Math Being Used to Justify Horse Slaughter in the United States: http://www.psmag.com/environment/the-fuzzy-math-behind-horse-slaughter-64336/

        Evidence Shows GAO Horse Welfare Report Fraudulent: http://bit.ly/18oCAGO

        And this is just one example of pro-horse slaughter’s disinformation campaign.

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      • November 17, 2013 at 9:00 am
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        Lame horses are not supposed to be taken at slaughter houses. It is illegal to sell sick, lame or blind horses to slaughter. This is exactly why sick, lame and blind horses are abandoned by kill buyers at the boarder. It’s been happening for years and it needs to stop. When horse slaughter is banned once and for all, kill buyers will be out of a job and they won’t be able to dump lame, blind or sick horses at the boarder. They will be forced to make a living that doesn’t include buying up horses at auction for the weight of their flesh.

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      • November 18, 2013 at 4:56 am
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        Kay,
        The whole part of the above article is that the “unwanted & lame horses” are NOT wanted by the slaughter plants! Skinny, old, sick
        horses are not wanted by the slaughter plants. They want young, well-fed horses!
        Think about it – if you eat beef, do you want it to come from old, sick, medicated cows???? Or chickens or pigs, etc? Our horses – most of them – are full of bute, wormer, supplements & medications – that’s just the way it is!

        Reply
  • November 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm
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    I live in Arizona in the Phoenix area and several horses have been found in the desert abandoned and half starved this story is trying to redirect the focus from the truth. One horse was found in a stall at a boarding stable with a note on it. The haulers are not paid from the horse owners to take them across the border they are usally bought at auction. This story has lots of holes in it.

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    • November 16, 2013 at 2:20 pm
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      No, this story IS the truth – as corroborated by several investigations by different agencies. And also by the kill buyers themselves who have freely admitted to this practice.

      What in the world do you mean by this sentence? “The haulers are not paid from the horse owners to take them across the border they are usally bought at auction.” This makes no sense at all.

      Yes, most of the horses are bought at auction. The owners for the most part have already left the auction and don’t even know who purchased their horses. The haulers are the ones who plan to have the horses taken across the border by the Mexican slaughter plants. If the horses are rejected – as so many are with the tighter regulations – they are NOT permitted to cross the border by the Mexican veterinarians. So, the haulers abandon them. They admit this is what they do with rejected horses. There are no holes in this story.

      Abandoned Horses Final: http://www.box.com/s/sn881xn6m3ukb5t3ks4k

      Reply
    • November 17, 2013 at 9:02 am
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      Those horses found were probably dumped by kill buyers who are angry because the slaughter plant figured out the horse was too skinny, lame, sick or blind for slaughter. They take it out on the horses by dumping them. Nice guys, those kill buyers.

      Reply
    • November 29, 2013 at 7:56 am
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      Happy to have signed the MoveOn petition…

      Reply
  • November 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm
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    Please ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the Safeguard American Food Exports act, which will ban slaughter in the U.S. and the shipment for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. Safeguard American Food Exports act is S. 541 in the U.S. Senate and H.R. 1094 in the U.S. House of Representatives. This website makes it easy to contact your elected officials: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

    Reply

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