American-bred horses are not raised for food. They exist for other purposes―as work horses, show horses, pleasure horses, or racing horses―and are sucked into the slaughter pipeline by unscrupulous killer buyers, who then direct them to foreign-based slaughter plants elsewhere in North America. Horses in the racing industry, as reported recently in the New York Times, are often given drugs to enhance their performance―including painkillers, cocaine, and cobra venom. In addition, many responsible owners and veterinarians treat pleasure or show horses throughout their lives with a variety of substances and prescription drugs to provide for their comfort, health, and safety―drugs that usually carry the same warning: Not for use in horses intended for human consumption.
The point is, animals given these substances are supposed to be permanently excluded from the food supply. The law doesnt stipulate that its okay to give some animals used for food these substances and thats its not okay for others. The substances are supposed to be kept out of the human food chain.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Today, The HSUS and Front Range Equine Rescue filed a petition asking the USDA to certify all American horses and meat from those horses as Condemned and thus unfit for human consumption. We made similar arguments to the Food and Drug Administration less than two weeks ago. These submissions are more relevant than ever because in November 2011, Congress decided not to block government funding for inspections of slaughter plants in the United States, opening up the possibility, for the first time in five years, of a horse abattoir reopening here.
Those who want to make a buck by opening horse slaughter plants have been actively scouting out venues in small towns in Missouri, New Mexico, Washington, and other states.
A January 2012 poll confirms that 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Horses are not food animals, just like cats and dogs are not food animals. The vast majority of us reject the idea of killing horses for meat, just like we reject the idea of killing cats and dogs for human consumption. And while cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals are bred for the purpose of being killed for human consumption, horses are random-source animals.
There are serious animal welfare concerns, of course, regarding inhumane transport and slaughter practices, as well as unethical procurement of horses never originally intended for this ignominious demise.
To protect American horses and consumer health, we hope that USDA and also the Food and Drug Administration take American horsemeat off the global menu list for good.