When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Environmental Impact


Thin Gray Line

by JANE ALLIN | March 2010

Thin Gray Line

Historically, the negative environmental impact of horse slaughtering plants has been well documented. In 2007, the last three horse slaughter plants in the US, all Belgium-owned, closed their doors due to state laws — Dallas Crown, Kaufman TX; Beltex Corporation, Fort Worth TX; and Cavel International in DeKalb IL.

Moreover, it was the administrators and residents of the localities who actively petitioned to have them shuttered, citing the extreme disregard for the welfare of the people and communities in which they existed as well as the merciless suffering of the horses sent there. All three plants amassed numerous environmental violations and overwhelmed the wastewater infrastructures due to dumping of blood, entrails, urine, feces, heads and hooves.

The Dallas Crown horse slaughtering facility had been in operation in Kaufman since the late 70’s and from the beginning had caused problems both economically and environmentally.

The slaughterhouse constantly flooded the town’s drinking water with blood and tissue – literally coming out of the taps – and had never complied with city water standards, or paid fines.”

Furthermore, in May 2002, the City noted that another public health hazard “was the vector attraction due to bones and horseflesh falling off your bone trailer” and that “dogs were carrying the bones into the community.”

In fact, in an open letter to state legislators considering pro horse slaughter resolutions, the town’s mayor at that time, Paula Bacon, referenced Public Works reports regarding effluent and wastewater violations “decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion,” containers conveyed “uncovered and leaking liquids,” there are “significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area,” and “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them.”

Beltex was a Texas Corporation with European shareholders that had been slaughtering horses for human consumption for 27 years. As with Dallas Crown, Beltex had a non-unionized workforce. OSHA records revealed that since the plants inception in 1977 until its last inspection in 1997, Beltex had committed 29 violations of which 28 were deemed serious. OSHA records show that an ammonia leak occurred in 1996, but no one (fortunately) died or was permanently disabled; in 2000 the facility “accidentally pumped blood into the creek” and “in 2001, they were notified that wastewater was flowing into adjacent properties and into the creek.”

Of particular note, the Sanitation Group of DeKalb IL where Cavel International was located identified the incomparable hazard associated with the discharge from horse slaughtering facilities.

This hazard is uniquely acute for horse slaughter because of the wide range of drugs given to horses that are clearly labeled ‘NOT FOR USE IN HORSES INTENDED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.'”

These noxious drugs are not only present in the meat intended for human consumption overseas but also in the wastewater and sludge produced during processing. This runoff has the potential to contaminate down-stream water intakes, including groundwater used for human consumption, and can enter the food chain via sludge distribution on crops.

Unlike the aforementioned decades old horse slaughter plants in Texas, Cavel International in Illionis was a sparkling new, purpose built facility that re-opened in June, 2004 with a state-of-the-art pre-treatment system.

Cavel International even had special Industrial Waste Permits that allowed much higher (8 times higher) contamination levels for wastewater leaving the slaughter house. But Cavel was still out of compliance. And not just a few times. This facility was in significant non-compliance hundreds of times. In one report, a Cavel employee acknowledges “chunks” from slaughtered horses were oozing out of tanks. This does not include the numerous safety violations documented by the FSIS.

As a final point, these practices and findings are not limited to the U.S. In Canada, Natural Valley Farms in Neudorf, Saskatchewan, was shut down by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in 2009 for food safety concerns. NVF went into receivership on September 22, 2008, yet horses continued to be slaughtered at the facility by Velda Group, an international Belgian-based company. Velda was infamous in Illinois for numerous environmental charges and convictions at their Cavel International horse slaughter plant that closed business in September 2007.

Blood disposal appears to have been equally problematic for NVF as with other horse slaughter plants. Not only do horses have twice the quantity of blood as cows, but the blood is notoriously difficult to treat. The bacterial agents used in standard cattle digesters fail to provide acceptable discharge levels because of antibiotics often found in horse blood. As a result, pollution follows the horse slaughter industry where ever it goes.”

And former mayor of Kaufman, Paula Bacon, comments:

In Canada they have apparently become even more blatant, dumping huge untreated piles of entrails onto open ground and even using a tanker truck to discharge blood and refuse into a local river.”

In any case, the negative environmental impacts and the chronic inability of the facilities to comply with local laws pertaining to waste management and air and water quality far outweigh any benefits. A quote by Henry Skjerven an investor and former director of NVF sums it up:

Natural Valley Farms died the day the decision makers chose to kill horses . . . .”

Thin Gray Line

Sources and Notes:– “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town” is a 24-page, fully-referenced document for use in lobbying against horse slaughter. We are serializing the document in five parts on Tuesday’s Horse to educate the public about the significant negative impacts should horse slaughter come to their community.

Access “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town” in its entirety for lobbying purposes here. pdf

© Int’l Fund for Horses

11 thoughts on “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Environmental Impact”

  1. Very little $ from slaughter stay in the locals pockets, these are foreign owned businesses. These states trying to resurrect this foul business need to ask themselves where they are going to sell their ill-gotten game because of EU standards that go into effect in July 2010. No American horses will pass these drug- free regulations. Also, many countries in Europe now are trying to ban horsemeat altogether. From what I’ve read about the recent undercover investigations in Canada, they’re on their way out also.
    I believe HR503 has already passed in the House and S 727 is sitting in the Senate (for over a year). Our Senators need to quit lollygagging and pass this bill and put an end to states repetitive attempts to resurrect something that has no place in American culture.


  2. @Christy Lee, I also am extremely concerned with all these states suddenly having a resurrected interest in horse slaughter. I do believe this is an orchestrated effort behind the scenes. It cannot be coincidence all these states are bringing this rather obscure issue up at the same time. I would like to know the BIg business/big $$ that is fronting this campaign. They must be defeated.


    1. I totally agree…it is suddenly like something has been added to their drinking water….probably because of the economy they sell it as producing jobs. That is what I saw yesterday in MO. These communities have no idea of the envirnmental and health impact it could have.


    HR 305 & S727



  4. The Warm Springs Indian Tribe here in Oregon is seriously thinking of putting in a slaughter plant on their reservation – of course it is for human consumption – and I am not sure how they will stop it as they are not bound to our laws and rules – I hope to hell they don’t.

    I have donated over 1,000. to save animals on different kill lots here lately and will continue to do so when I can afford it along with lobbying to have our borders closed to hauling animals to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and ensuring they do not open any plants here in the US.


  5. I am stunned by the number of states pushing to establish horse slaughter now. There should be a major advertising and educational campaign directed at the residents of these states… because if they understand the health and environmental impact and allow it–that is truly frightening.
    The Missouri House has just endorsed legislation designed to allow the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The legislation is intended to get around a federal ban on meat inspectors working in horse slaughtering plants. So where is the oversight! And if you don’t care about the cruelty involved, how about the fact that “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_effects_of_meat_production


  6. I am appalled constantly at the lack of concern these people show for the animals they slaughter and for the places they work in and the communities around them. I would like to try to get canadas slaughterhouses closed down…but honestly i do not know enough about where they are and who controls them…can anyone help me find the info ? i will be downloading the report and reading it carefully..maybe what i am looking for is there…thank you for all you do to educate and inform….


    1. Nancy, if you do not find what you are looking for in this report, please contact us with your questions and we will do your best to answer them. You can email us at tuesdayshorse at yahoo.com.


    2. There are 2 plants in Canada. One is located in the province of Quebec. Not sure of where but if you google it I am sure you will find it. The other is Bouvry Exports located in Fort Mcleod Alberta. I have lived not far from this plant for a very longtime. They d not advertise or have any signage that they are a slaughter house for horses. In fact if you drove by without knowing what it was, you would think it was a big happy farm. They keep some horses out in the open field. The feedlot pens are behind a privacy barrier and are not easily seen. It is almost impossible to get into the area without being an employee. I hope this helps.


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