When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Legal Implications


Thin Gray Line

by JANE ALLIN | March 2010

Thin Gray Line

On April 25, 2007, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee of the United States Senate held a mark-up for S. 311, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), voting 15 to 7 in favor of sending the bill to be considered before the full US Senate. Despite the fact that the majority of the Senators supported the bill, it never became law.

Nonetheless commercial horse slaughter for human consumption is illegal in the U.S. as a result of:

(a) the denial of funding in appropriations acts for USDA federally-mandated inspections of horse slaughter operations intended for human consumption; and; (b) the enactment and enforcement of state statutes banning horse slaughter for human consumption.”

Moreover, Congress continued the de-funding in the 2010 Appropriations Act, Sec. 744.

If the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act legislation, H.R. 503, currently pending at the federal level is enacted into law, it will prohibit the trade and transport of horseflesh and live horses intended for human consumption.

Depending, as usual, on meaningful regulations and enforcement by the USDA, H.R. 503/S. 311 would transcend the ameliorative and limited measures of current federal law. There would be no issue of enforcement of the Commercial Transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act, because the very acquisition of these animals for slaughter for human consumption would be illegal . . . . no issue of the proper design of the trucks, or adequate rest stops, or of guarding against injury during transportation, because any form of transportation for this purpose would be illegal . . . . no issue of compliance with the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act since any method of slaughter would be illegal.

“The nation-wide scope of H.R. 503/S. 311 would assure that no plants could open up in any location in this country. These considerations make H.R. 503/S. 311 simpler and more direct and effective. But the bill is more than an improvement over present legal measures. It is indispensable because it alone reaches all activities connected to slaughtering operations, such as sales and transportation, and the bill would thus bar shipments to Mexico and Canada.”

Apart from the obvious legal ramifications in North America, there is yet another reason to avoid re-opening horse slaughtering facilities. A year ago the Int’l Fund for Horses began alerting the European Parliament of the fact that “horse meat exported from North America to EU member countries where it is eaten, is adulterated because of the presence of Bute and other prohibited medications routinely given to horses in the United States and Canada.

The EU responded with the new directive that equines from North America must be quarantined for a period of six months prior to slaughter for human consumption. Starting January 31, 2010 equine owners will therefore be required to begin tracking medical conditions and treatment history if they intend to present their horses for slaughter for human consumption.

The required records will take the form of an Equine Information Document (EID) that must be presented for each equine processed for edible purposes in a CFIA inspected processing facility from July 31, 2010 forward. This rigorous enforcement of food safety regulations closely follows the current regime in Europe wherein EU countries use a “passport system” for slaughter animals that serves to document what substances the animal has received over its lifetime with the purpose of banning meat tainted by drugs commonly given to horses, including antibiotics, wormers and Bute. Any country that intends to export food animals to the EU must have proper documentation and procedures in place that parallel those in the EU.

Since this announcement the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) has devised a system of merely reporting horse health histories, instead of quarantining them, as ordered by the European Union’s recent directive regarding slaughter horses in North America.” Moreover, in 2007, “a Wisconsin woman was fined for selling horses without testing them for disease and forging documents claiming the tests had been done, an obvious warning that CFIA cannot rely on the integrity of its Equine Information Document.”

The Int’l Fund for Horses have advised the European Parliament of this incident which clearly indicates the CFIA Equine Information Document is unworkable, requesting that they place an immediate ban on the import of horse meat from North America and Australia, and calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to order an immediate halt on the slaughter of equines in Canada. iFH are also putting horse slaughter facilities in Mexico and Australia on notice.”

What then are the implications of this initiative on horse slaughtering operations?

An article “New EU rules may end slaughter of American Horses,” written by Carrie Gobernatz of Examiner.com states:

The new rules will mean that horses coming from auctions and other sources in the US will have to be kept drug free on a feedlot for half a year. Producers estimate that feeding horses that long will more than double their cost, making them less competitive with horses from other sources. And that is likely to be only half their problem.”

EWA member Christy Sheidy of Another Chance for Horses warns, “Outbreaks of diseases like strangles and shipping fever will be inevitable in these quarantine feedlots. Left untreated, many horses may die before they can be slaughtered. Treating the horses would restart their quarantine time.” [20]

In an interview with Henry Skjerven, a former director of the Natural Valley Farms slaughter operation in Saskatchewan, Canada, the truth behind horse slaughtering becomes apparent:

Unfortunately, North America, US and Canada, were never geared for raising horses for food consumption. The system as it stood when we were killing horses was in no way, shape or form, safe, in my opinion.” [20] Skjerven went on to say, “We did not know where those horses were coming from, what might be in them or what they were treated with. I was always in fear – I think that it was very valid – that we were going to send something across there [to the EU] and we were simply going to get our doors locked after we had some kind of issue with the product.”

Even more recently, the Int’l Fund for Horses reports that horse meat faces a ban in Italy:

When this proposal is successful and horse meat is banned, it will take a huge bite out of demand and save more than 200,000 innocent lives in Italy alone, not counting the horses who are slaughtered for human consumption in other countries for export to European countries.”

With tough new laws and the vast majority of Americans (and Canadians) opposed to horse slaughter there seems to be little room in North America for the rampant economic and environmental consequences of horse slaughter. Nor do we need outspoken individuals who are sadly misinformed such as the embarrassment of Wyoming – Rep. “Slaughterhouse” Sue Wallis . . . . a long-time member of the horse slaughter hall of shame.

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

1 thought on “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Legal Implications”

  1. PROTECT OUR HORSES FROM ALL HORSE SLAUGHTER -WE WANT ALL HORSE SLAUGHTER BANNED NOW & ALL TRANSPORT OF OUR HORSES OUT OF THE COUNTRY TO SLAUGHTER STOPPED -PASS HR-503, HR 305, and S727 -that will ban all horse slaughter AND WILL PROTECT HORSES from these cruel predators and brutal abuse.The Human Society of the United States, In Defense of Animals, Madeleine Pickens, and many other animal protectors are working to PASS HR503, HR 305, and S727 -that will ban all horse slaughter in the United States and BAN all transport of our horses tout of the country to slaughter and WILL PROTECT HORSES from these devious cruel predators and brutal abuse.


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