Talking points about horse slaughter

Beauty was a ‘throwaway’, a horse nobody seemed to want, slaughter bound in a feedlot. 'Well, I wanted her!' says the lady who rescued her.
Beauty was a ‘throwaway’, a horse nobody seemed to want, slaughter bound in a feedlot. ‘Well, I wanted her!’ says the lady who rescued her. A federal bill protecting U.S. horses from slaughter called the SAFE Act is currently pending. Please contact Washington today to support it.

It isn’t right to assume that everyone has heard about horse slaughter and why it exists. We have been working against it for so many years, we sometimes forget that.

So let’s look at some talking points about the slaughter of horses for human consumption, with particular ones relevant to H.R.961/S.2006 (the “SAFE Act of 2019”). There’s also a Take Action section at the end.



Polls taken in 2006 and 2012 confirm that 8 out of 10 Americans are opposed to horse slaughter, regardless of gender, political affiliation, their geographic location or whether they live in urban or rural areas.

Horse slaughter is driven by a demand for horse meat by overseas consumers who consider it a delicacy. It is not a service for “unwanted” horses.

Horse slaughter creates a salvage or secondary market which encourages indiscriminate breeding and neglect by providing a “dumping ground” for unscrupulous individuals.

Horses purchased for slaughter are not old, unhealthy or “unwanted” and could continue to be productive.

Predictably “kill buyers” who make a living supplying horses to slaughter plants are interested in buying the healthiest horses for the production of horse meat.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Guidelines for Handling and Transporting Equines to Slaughter 92.3% of horses arriving at slaughter plants in the U.S. were deemed to be in “good” condition.

Another byproduct of horse slaughter is horse theft. Horse slaughter plants are aware that horses are stolen to be brought to their facilities but they simply do not care.

When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, horse theft fell by 39.5%. In the years that followed, the State saw the decrease in horse theft rise to 88%.

H.R.961 and S.2006

Although horses are not currently slaughtered on U.S. soil due to a recurring federal ban in the annual spending bill for inspections required by law to export their meat, horses are bought and transported across U.S. borders to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Horse slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada see horses as “meat on the hoof” and could care less about their history, medical or otherwise, or how they got there.

Horses receive multiple medications such as steroids, dewormers and ointments throughout their lives barring their meat from entering the human food chain.

Phenylbutazone (“Bute”) — commonly known as the horse “aspirin” and is as common to horses as human aspirin is to humans — is a known carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia in humans.

Horses treated with Phenylbutazone bars them from entering the human food chain.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, in a paper entitled “Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: a public health risk”, states:

The permissive allowance of such horsemeat used for human consumption poses a serious public health risk.

See also Do Not Use in Horses Intended for Human Consumption: Horse Meat and Its Public Health Danger, by Jessica Rose Sutcliffe.

Kill buyers for the horse meat industry ignore a slaughter horse’s medication history and so do the slaughterhouses — especially concerning Bute — or 8 out of 10 horses who arrive there from the U.S. would be turned away.


H.R.961 / S.2006 (the “SAFE Act of 2019”) is a bipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S. and end the current export of American horses for slaughter.

Contact your U.S. Representative (H.R.961) and both U.S. Senators (S.2006) in Washington and ask them to cosponsor the SAFE Act of 2019.

If you can’t do it right now, please make a note to yourself, or put it on your “to do” list. It is critical for the safety and welfare of our horses that we all take part. Thank you!

Go here to take action »

13 thoughts on “Talking points about horse slaughter”

  1. You should include the other side to this story. I’m an equine science student at NCTC in Texas and we have to write a paper on what to do with the unwanted horse now that slaughter isn’t a viable option. Because owners are forced to keep lame or terminal horses that do nothing but stand in a pasture and cost money. Not all horses in America are companion animals. Some are working animals, so what does one do when they can no longer do their job? Or any job for that matter? This blog has great points but there’s another side to this issue.


    1. As an equine science student then I’m sure your know who Temple Grandin is… her study showed that 92% of US horses going to slaughter are between the ages of 4-7 and healthy. No one wants to eat sick, terminal , diseases animals. You’re also mistaken in that US horses are still going to slaughter, a few to Canada and then also to Mexico. The key is the demand for US horses for slaughter is down.

      Perhaps an economics class would be a good idea for you and then you could learn about the concepts of demand and supply. Horse slaughter is not about an end of life option for irresponsible horse owners, it’s about a business which buys what it needs to supply the demand for that product. The demand has been steadily decreasing over the years. Just this year the number of horses going to Mexico is down by over 12,000 horses.

      Bottom line is, we don’t raise horses for food in this country, therefore we medicate them differently than food animals, rendering the meat unsafe for human consumption.


  2. One clarification. Horse slaughter is not banned in this country, only defunded and we fight every year to keep that one sentence included in the appropriations budget. The SAFE Act will ban horse slaughter on US soil and transportation to other countries for slaughter for human consumption. Many people think it is banned and of course, it isn’t.


    1. We didn’t say it was banned, we said it was no longer taking place. I think most readers know why it is no longer taking place since the defunding has been going on for 10 years (minus 1). But we updated it for those new to the issue. Thanks!


      1. I disagree, repeatedly we see in publications in both local and national levels, the erroneous use of the word banned when discussing this issue. The vast majority of the public do not know the facts.


  3. Talking points should include the issue of environmental impact. Jane Allin’s 2010 “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town: Environmental Impact” states in part, “All three plants [slaughter plants in Texas and Illinois] amassed numerous environmental violations and overwhelmed the wastewater infrastructures due to dumping of blood, entrails, urine, feces, heads and hooves.” This is a significant issue that cannot be overlooked and should be included in the Talking Points above. Our Senators and Representatives need this vital information.


  4. Horses in the USA are not for human consumption! Horses in the USA are companion animals. They are icons. It truly breaks Americans hearts to see them standing out in slaughter lots. I was born with horses and horses donot deserve this inhumane treatment. The hole slaughter is so inhumane 48 hours hauled in a trailer cram packed full of horses no water no food. Being slaughtered in a slaughter house meant for cattle. Horses beat over the head with a lead pipe. Throat slit. Still alive bubbles in the blood still breathing being dis members while still alive! And for their meat that is not fit for humans to eat or for dog food! In 1970 it became law. No horsemeat in dog food cause dogs were dieing from it! Putting healthy horses mares and foals. Foals whose lives have just begun. Please everyone you hear my cries for all this brutal slaughter to stop now! Thousands of horses are being slaughtered every day! We need to put a stop to this ASAP! I am these horses voice! Please call you Representatives and your Senaters and follow up with a letter. Thank you.


  5. Do you think that the US Dept of Interior should be accountable for repatriation of all wild horses/Burro found in the slaughterhouse pipeline accourding to US v Hughes? UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. DONALD WAYNE HUGHES, Defendant-Appellant
    • Primary Citation: 626 F.2d 619 (9th Cir. 1980)
    • Date of Decision: Thursday, May 22, 1980
    • Judge Name: Wallace
    • Jurisdiction Level: Federal
    more +
    The defendant had adopted 109 wild horses through the federal Adopt-a-Horse program, whereby excess wild horses were adopted out to private individuals under the stipulation that the horses would be treated humanely and not used for commercial purposes. The defendant was charged under the criminal provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act and with CONVERSION of government property after he sold a number of the adopted horses to slaughter. At trial, the defendant argued that he could not be found guilty of conversion because the federal government did not have a property interest in the horses, as the power to regulate wild horses on public lands does not equate to an ownership interest in the horses by the federal government. The court held that, regardless of whether the WFRHBA intended to create an ownership interest in wild horses, the government has a property interest in wild horses that it has captured, corralled, and loaned out.


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