An investigation by a French animal rights group has exposed the horrors horses in the slaughter pipeline are left to face and has raised additional concerns about the safety of horse meat.
The group, L214, joined Switzerland’s Tierschutzbund-Zurich, Animals Angels’ USA, Belgium’s GAIA and Eyes on Animals in the Netherlands to conduct an investigation into the major countries exporting horse meat to France, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina over the past three years.
With hidden cameras, investigators visited feedlots, auctions, veterinary checkpoints and slaughterhouses and found problems with transport, sick, starving, injured and dead horses in varying states of decomposition. Additionally they found animals intended for human consumption who had been given unsafe drugs, such as phenylbutazone (bute), which is banned for cattle in the U.S. and in the European Union, according to the AFP.
Proponents of this industry want people to believe that slaughter is the only solution to dealing with unwanted horses, and a humane one at that, which clearly isn’t true. Horse slaughter is not about doing unwanted, abused or neglected horses a favor or about supporting equine welfare, it’s about making money and meeting the demand for horse meat.
As for stories about abandoned horses being a crisis, an investigation conducted by the Equine Welfare Alliance found that media reports were not true and that cases of abandonment being reported were due to kill buyers dumping horses who had been rejected for slaughter.
Hopefully, growing public awareness about the health risks associated with horse meat and about the deception on the industry’s part and troubled past involving brutally inhumane treatment of horses, illegal activities, scandals, environmental problems and legal battles will help shut it down.
According to the groups, 82,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada in 2012 for human consumption, while about 70 percent of them were imported from the United States after slaughterhouses were shut down here. That same year France imported 16,900 tons of horse meat from the countries that were included in the investigation. The groups are now urging French grocery stores to help protect horses and the public by not selling horse meat.
As for the U.S.’s role in these troubles, in January the new Agriculture Appropriations bill forbid the USDA from using federal funds to inspect horse meat under the Meat Inspection Act. The bill also includes language that prevents companies from paying for their own inspections, which means there’s no hope for the companies that have been fighting to start butchering America’s horses in the U.S. again.
The good news is only hindered by the fact that the ban on funding will only be good for the duration of the bill and that America’s horses will still be headed across the border for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
Now, equine advocates are pushing to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which will permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and ensure that horses are not shipped across the border for that purpose.
Please sign and share the petition asking Congress to pass the SAFE Act.
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