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Horse Slaughter – Facts & FAQs

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Overview of the facts.

  • The former U.S.-based, foreign-owned horse slaughter companies and a handful of trade associations that support horse slaughter have contributed to the continued export of tens of thousands of America’s horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada, either by physically shipping horses to slaughter or by actively opposing legislation banning horse slaughter.
  • The current patchwork of state laws on horse slaughter—including statutes prohibiting slaughter in Texas and Illinois, where, until very recently, the only domestic horse slaughter plants operated—is insufficient. A federal law prohibiting horse slaughter is imperative to ensure that slaughterhouses don’t simply relocate to states with weaker laws, and to prevent horses from being exported en masse for slaughter in Canada and Mexico or further abroad.
  • Passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act will reduce animal suffering, which explains its wide support throughout the equestrian and veterinary world, as well as the humane community.
  • According to numbers obtained from the California Livestock and Identification Bureau, since horse slaughter was banned in California, horse theft has dropped by over 34 percent.
  • Americans overwhelmingly support an end to horse slaughter for human consumption. Recent polls from Kentucky, Texas and Utah show that 82 percent (Kentucky), 72 percent (Texas) and 69 percent (Utah) of those questioned oppose the practice. A recent national poll found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support a federal ban. In California, a 1998 ballot initiative (Prop. 6) banning horse slaughter for human consumption passed, with 60 percent of the vote.

Slaughter is not euthanasia.

The suffering of equines is unimaginable, with the actual transportation sometimes lasting more than 24 hours. They are tightly packed, with no water, and they are exposed to extreme temperatures.  Downed animals are trapped and the use of excessive force for loading and unloading is common.

The animals are aware of their surroundings and desperate, while the workers herd them through the plant with beatings of a fiberglass rod. Across the borders, conditions are worse than at the now-defunct U.S. plants. Footage obtained by the San Antonio News-Express showed horses being repeatedly stabbed in the neck BEFORE slaughter. In many cases, horses were still fully conscious at the start of the slaughter process (the horse is hung by a single back leg, his or her throat is slit and the body is then butchered).

Live horse transportation to slaughter by double-deck trailers is dangerous and inhumane.

This is the preferred mode of transportation used by “killer buyers,” who transport equines to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada. One example of the horrors of a double-deck trailer accident was in October 2007, when a double-deck trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses ran a stop sign, hitting another vehicle. The horses spent over five hours trapped in the mangled truck, with nine dying at the scene and six dying later from injuries.

Although the Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009 (H.R. 305) was passed in late 2010, killer buyers continue to use these trucks while passing through the U.S. on their way to Mexico and Canada.


  • Do not sell your horse at an auction where killer buyers may operate. Consider donating your horse to a rescue organization or retirement farm; donating, selling or leasing your horse to a therapeutic riding program; or selling the horse privately to an individual with proper references and a legally binding agreement that the horse will never be sold to slaughter. Humane euthanasia by a licensed veterinarian is preferable to cruel transport and slaughter.
  • Stolen horses may frequently end up at the slaughterhouse. Please report any stolen horses to local and state authorities. Likewise, if you witness an abused or abandoned horse, please report the details to your local animal control authority for further investigation. Not only does such abuse and neglect require immediate attention for obvious welfare reasons, but these horses are also at risk of being sold into slaughter by uncaring owners.
  • Help raise awareness on the issue of horse slaughter by writing letters to the editors of your local newspapers and any equine publications you read.
  • Talk about the horrors of horse slaughter and the solution to this cruelty: passage of legislation banning horse slaughter.
  • You can also help our campaign by distributing Animal Welfare Institute’s Horse Slaughter brochure to others; extra copies are available from AWI upon request.
    This information is courtesy of the Animal Welfare Institute.

News and Updates:

  • Encourage your US Congressional Representative and your US Senator to vote on the SAFE ACT, which prohibits the transport of horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
  • The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 2966) was signed into law on November 30, 2011. — Click here for general information.
  • Read the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s response to petitions reacting to the passage of H.R. 2966, and sign the petition you wish to support!
  • FOR CANADIAN READERS: Bill C-322 has been introduced in Parliament, which would ban the importation or exportation of horses for slaughter or horsemeat for human consumption. Click here for more information and to find out how you can help!
  • Please do all that you can to encourage your US Congressional Representative and your US Senator to vote on the SAFE ACT, which prohibits the transport of horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

Further Resources

Animal Welfare Institute – an organization committed to alleviating animal suffering.
Habitat for Horses – an equine protection organization.
The Humane Society of the United States – a national resource
Horse Slaughter Prevention Bills & Issues PDF – publication by Tadlock Cowan (Analyst in Natural Resources & Rural Development) published September 16, 2010.
Full Text of H.R. 503 – The text of the Horse Slaughter Prohibition bill that was passed Sept 7, 2006.