NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: You occasionally write good advice for horse owners such as myself. Will you please write something about the cruelty involved in horse slaughter? Thousands of horses are being exported to killing centers, and some people want slaughtering to start up again in the U.S.
— S.J., Parker, Colo.
Dear S.J.: The year of 2014 is China’s Year of the Horse, where the price of horse meat is listed on the nation’s consumer price index.
In 2013, consumers in Europe were outraged at the discovery of horse meat in their beef hamburgers, some of which probably originated from the United States. The last two government-inspected horse slaughtering and processing facilities were closed in 2007.
Still, America’s racing, working and pleasure horses are being denied a peaceful end to their lives.
In 2006, a reported 104,899 horses were killed in the U.S. before the slaughter ban. Since the ban, horses have been transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, where humane practices are not monitored.
In 2010, almost 138,000 horses were transported out of the U.S. to be slaughtered, enduring untold suffering while being collected, corralled and transported vast distances to be killed and processed, and even being held in beef cattlelike feedlot fattening facilities prior to slaughter.
In a recent public address in the United Kingdom, Princess Anne, a former Olympic equestrian, caused a stir when she said that attitudes to the U.K.’s horse meat trade may have to change in light of the current numbers of horses being abandoned and mistreated.
“Should we be considering a real market for horse meat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases, if there was a real value in the horse meat sector?” she said.
My response, having used a stun gun approved for cattle slaughter on horses in an emergency, is that this standard slaughter method used for livestock is not humane, reliable or safe. Mass killing of horses for human consumption can never be humane.