Congress Blocks Domestic Horse Slaughter



horse auction 4WASHINGTON (HSUS) — The spending bill passed this evening by the Senate, and that cleared the House yesterday, includes a provision that halts any efforts to resume slaughtering horses for human consumption on U.S. soil. The legislation, which President Obama will sign in the coming days, forbids spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants, reinstating a ban on domestic horse slaughter for the fiscal year and saving taxpayers an estimated expense of $5 million. The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund now call on Congress to pass a permanent ban on domestic horse slaughter with the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, which would also end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “We Americans care for horses, we ride horses, and we even put them to work.  But we don’t eat horses in the United States.  And we shouldn’t be gathering them up and slaughtering them for people to eat in far-off places.”

“We stopped slaughtering horses on U.S. soil in 2007, and it’s the right policy to continue that prohibition. We hope that all parties associated with this issue can agree to stop the inhumane export of live horses to Canada and Mexico, and protect all American horses from a disreputable, predatory industry.”

The HSUS also thanks the sponsors of the amendment addressing horse slaughter, Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and the late Bill Young, R-Fla., and Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.


  • A similar spending prohibition had been put in place in 2005, however it was not renewed in 2011, opening the door for horse slaughter plants to reopen on U.S. soil. Efforts underway in to open horse slaughterhouses in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa have been met with strong public opposition.
  • The Humane Society of the United States joined with several animal protection organizations and individuals to file suit against USDA to block those facilities from opening.
  • American horses are raised to be companions, athletes and work horses. They are often treated with drugs, both legal and illegal, that can endanger the food supply. There is currently no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses throughout their lives to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption.
  • The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated blows to render them unconscious and can remain conscious during the slaughtering process. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented severe injuries to horses, including broken bones and eyeballs hanging from a thread of skin.
  • The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is a bipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat.
  • Polling from 2012 shows that 80 percent of the American public opposes the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and this opposition spans across all partisan, regional, and gender lines.

Kudos and Thanks Coming in After Congressional Victory

CHATHAM, N.Y., (Equine Advocates) – Equine Advocates would like thank these key players in expediting the end of horse slaughter in the United States:


  • Victoria McCullough, horsewoman and head of Chesapeake Petroleum
  • Vice President Joseph Biden
  • Florida State Senator Joseph Abruzzo


It is because of their tireless and dedicated efforts that horse slaughterhouses will be prevented from opening in the U.S. once Congress passes the “Omnibus” bill by this weekend. The last time horses were slaughtered in the United States was in 2007 when Congress defunded the practice and three existing plants closed.


Victoria McCullough announced at our first American Equine Summit in 2012 that she would take on the challenge of ending horse slaughter in the U.S.,” said Equine Advocates President, Susan Wagner.  “She took the lead from the experts speaking at the Summit, each of whom had invaluable information and experience, and helped contribute to the resolution of this hard-fought issue. She used her own funding and dedicated countless hours to get this done.”


McCullough used the data and documentation presented by John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance; Paula Bacon, former Mayor of Kaufman, TX; renowned equine veterinarian Dr. Kraig Kulikowski; Caroline Betts, PhD, professor of economics at USC and others. Much of the necessary documentation was there, combined with Dr. Ann Marini’s brilliant study on the potentially dangerous effects the drug Phenylbutazone can have on people who eat horse meat, and subsequent studies including Holland’s scathing analysis of the misinformation in the 2011 GAO Report (#11-228).


Said Wagner, “That GAO Report was like a fixed race.”


While horse slaughter is opposed by more than 80% of Americans, the GAO Report claimed it was necessary for reasons which have been soundly refuted by Holland’s study and other experts.


“This is the first major hurdle that needed to happen so that a complete federal ban on horse slaughter can now be passed,” Wagner added. “We are grateful to Vice President Joe Biden, along with the support of congressional leaders, for adding the defunding language to the Omnibus bill. Robert Redford also needs to be thanked because he has been actively involved since he first signed the Voter Card for the passage of the California Initiative banning horse slaughter back in 1998. His support through the years has had a tremendous impact on this issue. I know I speak for most Americans when I say that horse slaughter is wrong and has no place in our culture.”


The focus now moves to passing a federal ban on the transport of equines across U.S. borders into Canada and Mexico for slaughter.


Founded in 1996, Equine Advocates ( is a non-profit equine protection organization based in Chatham, NY.  Its mission is to rescue, protect and prevent the abuse of equines through education, investigation, rescue operations, the dissemination of information to the public and the operation of a horse sanctuary for slaughter-bound, abused and neglected equines. Email or call 518-245-1599 for more information.