Horses Get Lifesaving Reprieve from Slaughter in the United States

Plans to start slaughtering horses have been put on hold thanks to a federal judge who stopped companies in New Mexico and Iowa from opening up shop this week.

U.S. District Judge Christina Armijo issued a restraining order in a lawsuit brought by several organizations (The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue, Marin Humane Society, Horses for Life Foundation, Return to Freedom) and five individuals, alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) failed to complete the proper environmental studies before issuing permits that would allow slaughterhouses to operate.

“We’ve won a temporary but life-saving reprieve for horses, and it’s good news indeed that the kill boxes in New Mexico and Iowa will be empty of horses in the weeks ahead,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, in a statement. “We’ll continue to make arguments when our case resumes in a month that these plants cannot legally operate because of inadequate environmental review.”

The groups argued that slaughterhouses should have to undergo an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act and noted that horses are given a host of drugs that are not approved for animals raised for human consumption. These drugs are either known to be dangerous or haven’t been tested on humans and have been found not only in horse meat, but in waste water and sludge from previous plants.

While opponents argue that this is just a way to stall opening slaughter plants based on our love for horses, the negative impacts of slaughterhouses on communities and the environment are serious issues that have been well documented. Valley Meat, which is fighting to open in New Mexico, already has a record of failing to properly dispose of waste, along with a history of animal cruelty.

The two Texas plants, Beltex and Dallas Crown, along with Cavel International in Illinois, were all shut down in 2007 and all had a long history of causing environmental and economic woes for the communities they operated in.

Paula Bacon, Kaufman’s former Mayor, wrote an open letter to state legislators to share some of the hardships her community faced as a result of housing Dallas Crown, including references to reports the former City Manager, Police Chief and Public Works Director. Some of the problems included decaying meat that attracted vermin and carrion, blood flowing in ditches near the plant, moving offal through the city in uncovered containers that leaked, significant odors in the area and overloading the waste water treatment plant.

The facility repeatedly failed to meet the environmental standards that were required or pay fines levied against it, which ended up costing the city more than it made in the end.

These problems can’t be dismissed as emotional anti-slaughter propaganda. The negative impacts of slaughterhouses on horses, communities and the environment far outweigh any of the supposed benefits that opening these facilities could possibly bring.

Despite reality, proponents continue to claim that slaughter is humane and necessary to deal with the problem of old, unwanted, neglected and abandoned horses, but a recent study conducted by the Equine Welfare Alliance (explained in this Youtube video) shows that the GAO report that claimed the rise in abuse and abandonment was linked to plant closures is untrue, even though the data was used to instill the idea that there is some massive welfare crisis going on. The actual numbers show cases of abuse were declining after this industry was shut down in the United States.

A lack of slaughter facilities doesn’t cause horses to suffer. Irresponsible people do.

Speaking about slaughter and possible solutions, the founder of Horses For Life Foundation, Allondra Stevens, said in a statement:

The USDA’s decision to grant horse slaughter inspections is an outright insult and a betrayal to the overwhelming majority of Americans who are against horse slaughter, to the welfare of the animals themselves, and to consumer and environmental safety. With the environmental and food safety risks of horse slaughter operations, the FSIS is leading the USA down a reckless and dangerous path due to the toxic byproducts of horse slaughter. As a nation of horse lovers, our time and resources will be better spent thinking outside the slaughterbox, working to implement more programs and infrastructures that assist with horse rescue, retention and retirement solutions.


In this case, Armijo has agreed to schedule a hearing within 30 days on whether to grant the plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, but there’s still hope that this industry may never take hold. Last month the House and Senate Appropriations committees voted to block USDA funding for horse slaughter plants, without which slaughterhouses won’t be allowed to operate on U.S. soil.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which will prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and ban their export abroad for that purpose, is also still on the table.


Please sign and share the petition urging Congress to pass the SAFE Act to protect communities, consumers and horses from this cruel and predatory industry.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Anastasia Z.
Anastasia Z4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Has it been a whole month, Mark D., since you last came in here and spewed your hateful venom on others? If you truly had compassion for any living beings, you'd put what little energy you seem to have into more productive venues. Why do you feel justified coming into Care2 discussions about once a month to do nothing but hurl nasty comments, full of insults on others to make a point? I believe last time, it was about the 1st of September, judging from the comments still visible on this front page, as I know that it was you and one other misguided individual with nothing but anger and hatred for others and who directed his nasty remark to me, personally which resulted in responses from so many others, and they are dated Sept. 2nd. I feel sorry for you in a way, Mark. I think you should seek some help and solace for your hatred in other ways besides insulting your fellow human beings in a site such as Care2. I know you think you are doing the right thing for animals, but you truly are just leaving a blood trail in Care2 wherever you post.

Mark D.
Mark D.4 years ago

The real problem is the psychotic criminals and murderers of the human race who indulge in sadist practices, start slaughterhouses, run slaughterhouses, destroy the environment and trade in all kinds of hideous cruelty while hiding behind corporations. These subclass of sadist murdering human are the scum of the planet. This depraved group are the source of misery and suffering and their sole mission in their depraved lives is death. There has got to be some way to detect this subclass of human monster from birth and remove them permanently from society for the few decent humans and all life on earth to have any chance of surviving.

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y4 years ago

More good news, just read on Wild Horses Preservation website that the Navajo Nation has officially come out against horse slaughter in any form, as a violation of their spiritual traditions.

Important, because they control about 1/4 of the land of AZ and NM and are a political force in the Southwest. Formerly, their President was heard to say he was in favor of some removal to control overgrazing, but the Council of Elders just made a statement correcting this stance. They have stated they will only support relocation and sale to humane owners, sanctuaries, and rescue groups.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

Don't let the idiots get to you Diane, they don't know what the hell they are talking about.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown4 years ago

I am sorry but I have to intervene here, anyone who thinks that a dedicated animal lover, rescuer, and supporter like Diane L. is "in bed" with the slaughterhouse industry is a freakin' idiot and needs to watch their damn mouth.

It is easy to stand back and make judgements, but Diane L. puts her money where her mouth is and is actually out there rescuing horses and saving their damn lives and that is a hell of a lot more than any of you "I read the labels of dog food types" have EVER done.

So how about showing some damn respect, because Diane L. sure as hell deserves it !

Lynda H.
Lynda G4 years ago

Regula G’s comment at 4:10 am, August 10, expressed my thoughts exactly:

“So, now these horses will continue to suffer agonising long journeys to Mexico and god knows where without water and food. Well done!”

Well said, Regula.

Diane L, don’t let the raving loonies get you down. You know what you are talking about; they only “know” what has been implanted in their damaged brains by manipulative ARticles like this one. Interesting how animal rights attracts people who have a need to hate, hurt and destroy, isn’t it?

Dale O.

Satya B, cannibal warriors from Liberia have nothing to do with today’s reality, so giving a history lesson about cannibals in your rather descriptive manner is rather bizarre to say the least. Since people in the West are not in the habit of dining on the other human alternative that you provided in your comment that is hardly realistic or applicable to what Westerners including Americans eat. You say that ‘speciesism’ is comparable to racism, homophobia and sexism. Most people are not vegan and many have never heard of veganspeak words such as ‘speciesism’ or ‘carnism.’

Dale O.

If you want to say that you have more respect for others practicing cannibalism and dine on demised people rather than eating beef and chicken, it is hardly realistic as the average American does not consume their fellow Americans at the dinner table. Not for breakfast, lunch or snacks either. It is not exactly legal. It is perfectly legal to sell chicken and beef along with other domestically raised livestock in the U.S. and horse meat isn’t one of the meats in the American diet. Many do eat meat that isn’t factory farmed. Meat hardly spreads disease if one exercises. People who eat moderate amounts of chicken, beef and other legal meat along with plenty of non-Monsanto tainted veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs and healthy beverages are healthy.