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Horse Slaughter

Wild Horses and Burros home

In Defense of Animals focuses its horse protection campaign on the area that will have the greatest impact on the greatest number of wild horses - horse slaughter. We are urging the passage of the SAFE Act and aggressively campaigning to expose and end the illegal trade in horses being shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.


Every year over 150,000 horses are shipped to slaughter plants across the border where they are killed in the most brutal, cruel and inhumane ways imaginable. The horses stand in line in a concrete snaking corridor where they know exactly what is about to happen to them, as they can hear the noises of other horses being killed in front of them. In some slaughter plants, the horses are stunned by being shot between the eyes with a bolt and are then are hung up, still alive, by their back legs - their throats are cut, they bleed out. Often they are skinned alive. In other slaughter plants they are hacked by a machete to the spine until it is severed. It is a brutally torturous and unimaginable way for these incredibly intelligent sentient beings to die.


These are not typically old or sick horses, but healthy young and beautiful horses that have been thrown away at auction by people who didn't care or didn't know what their fate would be. Often included are pregnant mares - even though it is illegal to ship them - as well as mares with young foals at their side, who are often killed by the kill buyers since they are worth nothing to them in meat value.


The meat from these horses is then served on dinner plates in Europe or Japan. Quite often, to save money the meat is minced and mixed with beef and sent back to America, labeled as "100 percent beef." One of the many issues regarding horse meat entering the food chain is that throughout a horse’s life, they are commonly given all sorts of drugs that are not fit for human consumption that remain in their meat after they are dead.


Although horse slaughterhouses are now banned in the US, the ban has saved few horses - it has just meant that today horses endure long and brutal three-day hauls to slaughterhouses across the northern and southern borders, during which time they are rarely given water. Old, sicker animals often collapse and end up being trampled to death by other panicked horses packed into overcrowded trailers.


At every stage of this process criminal acts are being carried out and authorities are turning a blind eye to illegal activity.


The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would bar any sale or transport of horses with the intent of consumption both in the U.S. and cross-country. This would protect domestic horses from slaughter and prevent any harmful effects from eating U.S. horses.


Although this is an “ever” horse issue, it affects hundreds of our mustangs - the very pioneers of the American spirit. Many mustangs are end up at auction and in kill pens, and hundreds are being shipped to slaughter every week.

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