This footage was taken at a so-called humane slaughter plant in Canada. Of course the term humane slaughter is an oxymoron. There is Humane Euthanasia or there is Horse Slaughter. The two do not go together. None of the horses in the video were bred to be eaten. These unfortunate creatures fell into the hands of killer buyers who sold them to slaughter. Some horses were bought while others may have been given away by former owners who thought they were doing the right thing. Some of the horses may have been stolen. It happens all the time, especially in areas where there is an auction or a slaughter plant in the area. Easy money for the thieves and the evidence of their crime is quickly eliminated.
When a horse is humanely euthanized, the animal receives two injections. The first puts them to sleep. The second stops their heart. The horse is unconscious and receives the most peaceful death possible. No one in their right mind would eat the carcass of such a horse because the chemicals used during euthanasia are lethal. That creates a problem for the horse slaughter plants. They cannot humanely euthanize the horses before they are slaughtered. There are three methods currently used and none of them is humane. The most effective method would be a gunshot to the horse’s forehead. However, getting a clean shot while the terrified horse struggles to escape the kill box is not easy. The Captive Bolt method is similar but less effective. A bolt is used on the horse’s forehead and intended to stun the horse into unconsciousness. It is problematic for the exact same reason. Most horses are not effectively stunned and even those who are stunned regain consciousness in about 30 seconds. The third and most barbaric method is commonly used in Mexico. Several slaughterhouse workers use sharp knives to stab at the horse’s spinal column until the animal is paralyzed. In most cases, the result is the same. The horses are fully conscious while they are being bled out and dismembered by the humans they were raised to trust.
The horse slaughter plants themselves are a disaster for any town foolish enough to have one. They are owned by foreign companies who frequently ignore local ordinances and create environmental hazards. Thousands of gallons of blood and the left over parts of the horse carcasses must be disposed of somehow. In a New York Times article dated October 23, 2011, the former mayor of Kaufman, Texas described the impact that the Dallas Crown plant had on her community. Paula Bacon said;
“My city was a doormat for horse slaughter with one of the last 3 horse slaughter plants operating in the US. They barraged us with 3 big problems– big environmental problems, stigmatizing the community and economic development–And the plant was a fiscal black hole, locally and beyond. As the mayor in 1986 said, “Quite frankly, we don’t want you here…. You’ve never made a dime for this city and you never will.” But thanks to their ability to outspend the city in order to continue operating no matter what, it took over 20 years to finally see them gone.
Fiscally, the plant never made the city a dime–WE paid. No sales tax, tiny property tax, Poor paying dangerous jobs, straining our hospital, housing stock and schools. And when their tax records were brought to light, they had paid a mere $5 in federal taxes on sales of $12,000,000. Tax returns for the previous five years showed their tax rate was 3/10 of 1%, which is like you or I paying $300 tax on an income of $100,000. The forensic accountant hired by the city said they sell to themselves overseas at a loss so that their profits only surface overseas.”
Things like this are what lead many states to ban horse slaughter. Illinois and Texas banned it, forcing the last three plants to close in 2007. However, a federal ban on horse slaughter was never in passed in the United States. A measure to cut the funding for USDA Meat Inspections of the horse meat was passed. With no way to get the meat approved for human consumption, the horse slaughter stopped in the U.S. The killer buyers simply began sending the horses to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered across the borders. As anyone who has shipped horses knows, transporting them is not cheap. If the killer buyers can afford to haul them out of the country, they must be making quite a profit. However, crossing the border and selling a horse to slaughter does require some paperwork and the KBs do not possess all the information required to complete the forms—so many of them lie.
If the horses were purchased at auction, the killer buyer will only keep them until there are enough to fill his load. Certainly not for the 6 months required for detoxification from some of the drugs commonly used on horses. Other drugs, like Phenylbutazone, carry a lifetime ban. If the horse was ever dosed with ‘Bute’, the animal cannot be allowed to enter the food chain. When consumed by humans, Phenylbutazone and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone, are known to cause serious illnesses including; aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, pancytopenia, and hemolytic anemia. This drug was banned for human use for good reason but it is still widely used on horses in the United States. That doesn’t pose a problem for most Americans since the majority of them do not eat horse meat. However, it poses a great risk to foreign consumers who eat the meat. There is no system in place to track the drugs given to a horse and thus no way to know if the animal received ‘Bute’ during its lifetime. For horses bought at auction, there may be nothing but a hip number and the seller’s address. No name, registration papers, or veterinary history. Even if the killer buyers wanted to fill out the paperwork correctly, there is no way for them to obtain the necessary background information on the horses. Instead, they just fill in the blanks with the information that the horse slaughter plant wants in order to accept the animal for slaughter. The meat isn’t being regularly tested so the chances of them being caught are slim. Even when random samples are done, they are often taken from the animal’s muscle or fat tissue even though the kidney would show the highest concentration of ‘Bute’.
Phenylbutazone is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to drugs and other dangerous substances used for horses. The vaccines and de-worming products aren’t exactly safe either. There is a list of drugs commonly used at many thoroughbred racetracks that should not be used on animals intended for food. Other drugs and hormones include; Clenbuterol, Equi-Poise, Regu-Mate, etc. The list of substances applied topically to horses at racetracks is too long to list completely but here are a few highlights; Nitrofurazone ointments, DMSO, Glycerine, Chlorine Bleach, Copper Sulfate powder, Iodine, Turpentine, and various ‘leg paints’ concocted by individual trainers who ingredients are known only to the person who makes the ‘paint’… Do any of those sound like a condiment you would want with your horse meat?
In a recent press release from the Italian Horse Protection Association, Antonio Nardi-Dei da Filicaja, President of IHP adds, “The European health authorities make big news of the checks on meat and how they track and trace it all from source, but then they sweep under the carpet the results of their own inquiries which reveal that not only does a significant percentage of the horse meat on the market NOT have any credible certification regarding the use of drugs prior to slaughter, but moreover comes from countries where pretty well any drug is legally permitted and used, only at the discretion of the owner of the animal. Thus while fully cognisant of the risks that eating horse meat holds for consumers, the authorities have turned a blind eye and tried to conceal the incriminating evidence. According to the FAO, in 2009 approximately 16,000 tonnes of horse meat entered the EU from Canada and Mexico. In general, around 50% of horse meat consumed in Italy comes from abroad.”
At a time when both Canadian authorities and European consumers are becoming more aware of the dangers associated with horse meat, the United States has done the unthinkable. Our government has decided to bring back the horse slaughter plants! During the Thanksgiving holiday, HR 2112 Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, and the Food and Drug Administration was passed by our Congress and later signed into law by our president. Tucked away inside the bill was a provision to restore the funding for the USDA Inspections of horse meat. Two turkeys were pardoned on the White House lawn while hundreds of thousands of horses were sentenced to death. When a public outcry ensued, some members of Congress claimed they hadn’t read the bill they voted for while others claimed it would be more humane to slaughter the horses on U.S. soil. After a campaign to virtually occupy the White House via phone calls, faxes, and e-mails, a poorly informed under-secretary of some department issued a response letter which failed to respond to any of the facts presented by the concerned citizens. It did succeed in insulting the intelligence of every person who read it. Considering President Obama’s campaign promise to permanently ban all horse slaughter, a more appropriate response would have been signing an executive order to ban the horse slaughter. The actions of all the politicians involved in this will not be forgotten when the elections arrive…
The USDA has said that the horse slaughter plants will not be opened any time soon. Translation: They will wait until the public outcry has died down and then proceed to start inspecting horse meat in whatever cities are unfortunate enough to allow horse slaughter plants in their communities. Millions of U.S. tax dollars will be wasted on a food that is shipped overseas. When those who eat the horse meat finally realize that it is causing serious health problems, massive lawsuits could follow. The horses will be slaughtered and those who consume the meat may become ill. Sooner or later, there will be blood.