by Ali Berman
Categories: Animals, Causes.
Photo: Flickr/Moyan_Brenn

In what many will surely feel is a contradictory message, PETA is not coming down on politicians for allowing horse slaughter to recommence. In fact, they are thinking of it as an opportunity.

As many animal advocates know, and have noted in the comments of our prior piece on the issue, horses have had it rough in this country even when companies weren’t able to kill them for their meat. The problem was, while they weren’t being slaughtered here, they were still being slaughtered. They were being trucked long distances to Canada and Mexico. Transportation to slaughter is often one of the most difficult parts of being a farmed animal. They are forced to stand for hours on end in crowded conditions with no food or water. Some are even trampled. It can be quite horrific.

PETA had this to say about the issue, “No one wants to see any horse killed for meat or to turn a fast buck, and PETA has always had concerns about the suspension of US slaughter, since it meant more suffering for these sensitive animals, not less. What we feared would happen did: Rather than have a change of heart and stop killing horses, greedy ranchers who deal in horse flesh simply jammed their “commodities” into tractor trailers and hauled the frightened animals hundreds of miles to Canada and Mexico – a journey most did not have to face before – to terrifying deaths in slaughterhouses there.”

Of course PETA isn’t supporting horse slaughter forever. They are just glad that the animals no longer have to endure long truck rides where they are at risk for injury. What they really want is this, “That export loophole still needs to be slammed shut. To reduce horses’ suffering, there must be a ban on exports of live horses together with a ban on slaughter in the U.S., or it doesn’t work, never did, never will.”

So, if you’re outraged about the ban on horse slaughter being lifted, as many of us are, perhaps think of it this way. We can use this bad news to make life even better for horses. Create a law that says no slaughter and no export. Then, we’d really be doing horses a favor.

About Ali Berman

Ali Berman is the author of Choosing a Good Life: Lessons from People Who Have Found Their Place in the World (Hazelden) and Misdirected (Seven Stories Press). She works as a humane educator for HEART teaching kids about issues affecting people, animals and the environment. Her published work can be found on her website at In early 2012 Ali co-founded flipmeover, a production company with the mission to use media to raise awareness of social issues.

View all posts by Ali Berman →
  • Robert

    Once slaughtering starts in the US it will never end. The industry will only grow stronger and stronger as long as it is allowed to exist. Very few politicians would ever tackle this issue once it is allowed.

    Obama has failed us. There should be a permanent ban on export and slaughter.

    • Benjamin

      I train horses for a living. I spend every day working with horses. I love horses more then anything else. I am in favor of it being legal to slaughter horses.

      One of the biggest problems in the equine world is the overpopulation. For most people who own horses spend thousands and thousands each year on taking care of horses. Horses are not cheap to keep around like a gold fish is.

      Horses are not like us where we can lay down or sit if our knees, ankles, or feet hurt. The way the horse is built they can’t lay down for eight hours each night like we do. If they did they would die. This means if a horse has bad legs, they will have problems for a very long time. These problems can be fixed at a very young age but by they time they are six months old there legs structure can no longer be changed.

      The horses that are being used for food are the horses who have these poorly conformed feet and legs. There are also horses who are just so old they no longer have teeth. Horses teeth grow through out their whole life. When they reach the age of about 30 is when most of the time there teeth are nearly gone.

      horses have a very large mouth and there is no good way to go create new teeth for theses horses. It is possible for these horse to live in captivity but without human care these animals would die very quickly. Due to they would not be able to chew there food properly. when a horses teeth do not work correctly they have many more medical problems with there jaw, there stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

      I am not in favor of the horse slaughter because of economic benefit i am in favor of it because of what happens to many horses who are unwanted and not taken care of.

      If you really want to end the slaughter market, then education is the way to do it. If no bad legged horses are bread then they can’t be put into these kinds of situations. Then after people know not to breed there poorly conformed horses they need to know how to feed there horses. each horse has its own special nutritional needs. Horses who are working on ranches have different needs then the horse who is ridden every other sunday.

      • herwin

        thats silly, to say it politely. if horses are terminally ill or in constant pain because of old age, you let a vet euthanize the poor animal in a safe environment, not send it to the slaughterhouse to save the vets bill and cash in a few bucks.

        Anyway, thanks for a look into the mind of a horse trainer, who *loves* horses more than anything else.

      • Diane

        I have to completely agree with Benjamin, I am also a horse lover, I show and train horses and make my living in the industry as a professional, I have taken care of many horses and Herwin I have also paid those vet bills to euthanize a horse, but not every horse owner including myself always has $1,000 laying around to put into putting down your horse. One of the hoardest things I have had to do was put down my mare that was my forst show horse she was 32 and lost most of her teeth and went blind, she was not digesting food anymore, I was 21 and fresh out of college making my entry into opening my own farm, I didnt have the extra money to have a vet come to my barn to put her down in my back yard and bury her under the pine tree like you think I should have. I had to send her to a dealer that dealt with disposing of horses, yes I cryed for weeks like any caring owner would but she was no longer happy and no longer had a fullfillment of life, I had to lead herr onto a stock trailer where she was euthanized and then disposed of. The man who did this for me happened to be a family friend who himself owns and cares for and loves his horses, but he makes a living dealing with down animals and animals that are no longer able to life a full life. That man has 48 horses that he loves dearly and I loved that mare dearly also, It is people like Herwin who dont know the true aspects of the horse industry and run their mouths, for every horseman who works in the equine industry be it breeding, training, sales, or even educated hobby owner, will say that the stop of slaughter did nothing but hurt more horses and kill the industry…./……

        and just to make it clear there was never a ban on slaughter, congress in 1996 handed reins over to the ag department, in 2006 the ag department stop funding for insepection of the plants which in turn shut them down, you like it or not it still has been going, but probably not as regulated and humanely as if there were regulated slaughter houses open……you eat beef you eat and animal that was raised by a person, and animal that was slaughtered, same with a pig, same with a chicken, people butcher deer all the time too…why are horses so different to people who dont own them or have great knowledge of the industry.

      • herwin

        you make your living off horses in the “industry” yet you deny them a respectful death instead sending them to a slaughterhouse when they are no longer of financial use for you ?
        cashing in on them but not saving money for their “pension” or respectful death ?
        The mentality of animal trainers, wether its the horse trainer, the elephant trainer or the dolphin trainer. all people who *love* their animals … with spurs, a whip and a bullhook !!!

      • Ken

        I have owned horses for years. I work part-time at a local weekly horse auction. Since horse slaughter was banned the “condition” of horses coming to the sale barn has gone steadily downhill. With the high price of hay many people just stopped feeding their horses properly. Many people have fallen on hard times and the horses do not come first. The “rescues” are full and many horses are just “turned loose” to die in the desert. Personally I would never sell a horse to go for slaughter. In saying that even if horse slaughter is banned in the US and if it is made illegal to transport horses to Canada & Mexico people will find a way to get horses across the borders. Many horses are injured being transported to slaughter plants. Horses are not “built” to be hauled in cattle trucks, especially pot belly trucks. BY regulating the transportation many horses would not suffer. I let my old horses live their lives out here, many people do not think that way. Slaughter plants will be with us. I see the problem with people who should not own horses. If you buy one be prepared to care for it even after it has served it’s purposes for you.

      • Maegan

        I agree with herwin. Just euthanize your horse if it has a couple of problems. Don’t sell him/her to a slaughter house because they have promblems. And yeah, horses weren’t made to sit or lay, but thats because they weren’t soppost to. They were made for human loyalty, not for a slaughterhouse. And sheesh, I hope your horse doesnt chip a hoof.

    • Marissa Madis

      I agree with you 110% this needs to be stopped now Peta you should be ashamed of yourselves. We all need to get our asses in gear and do whatever it takes to ban all exports and slaughters if people want to eat horses they won’t get them from us. I will never support horse slaughter or eatting it is wrong and disgusting no one should support it.

      • Ken

        Buy a few horses and care for them, or send a few thousand to a local horse rescue. Thet will help.

  • herwin

    As long as it is controversial, you will see PETA. No matter they have to twist the facts.
    It was President Bush who banned horse slaughter.
    After that horse transports to mexico and canade boomed.
    What PETA forgets to mention is that after that people with a heart for horses have fought for a bill TO STOP TRANSPORTING HORSES to mexico and canada. I am not familiar with the results, probably didnt make it. But thats what shold be the next logical step, to fight for a ban on exporting horses.
    What PETA suggests, that opening slaughterhouses here is better than to transport them to Mexico, is just twisted.
    We might as well accept slaughtering and eating dogs in shelters with the same twisted logic.
    If PETA is serious about this topic, they should have lobbied and fought for a ban on transporting horses to mexico and canade, instead we get this wacky cheap comment-of-the-day.


    Peta is stupid. Peta is weak, and compromising to corporate America.

    Peta should’ve promoted the following.

    Ban horse slaughtering, and ban horse transportation outside of America.

    • Marissa Madis

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Shannon

    I do not buy any meat from stores. I am a hunter and I hunt for all my meat. I do not support slaughter houses at all, it’s a terrible, terrible business. This horse slaughter is purely disgusting. There needs to just be a ban on both horse slaughter and transportation out of the US. The industry is only going to get bigger and soon there will be huge slaughter houses full of horses that have to stand in compact concrete rooms their whole life, only being fed minimally and given growth hormones. These horses will never be able to stretch their legs and run around. And for the horses that are injured or old, why not do what we always have done in the past and put the animal down? Why do we have to eat them? Why do we have to make an industry out of these animals?

    • Marissa Madis

      While I don’t agree with hunting being an avid animal lover, at least it is humane. Slaughter houses not so much. I do agree that we need to stop this we have to draw a line somewhere. I mean 1st horses which is sick and disgusting who eats pets. Seriously what is next dogs and cats? If this ban is lifted and all these plans are allowed to go through we will be in very dark times.

    • herwin

      if you hunt for your meat and truly dont buy any (cruel) meat from the supermarket, i have much respect for you, at least you are ethical person with a healthy disgust for the current meat industry.

    • lori

      Yes bless u i agree thats so so true lori from alabama thanks

  • shawn

    I just wanted to say i have owned trained raced and competed on horses my entire life over 40 years.
    The price of a horse since the slaughter houses in this country were banned is less than the price of a goat. A goat! A direct result of the ban. There are thousands upon thousands of broke/old/injured/unwanted horses in every state in the us that cannot be sold or even given away. These horse get sent to horrable places im sure So if not slaughter houses then can you guys open your personal back yards for everyone to bring these animals to live out their lives please.
    Oh and by the way. Hay is at an all time high over 250$ a ton in most states. an just to have one put down can cost anyware from 200-700 dollars.
    Im just saying if you want horse owner support then work with us not just say Stop killing horses at slaughter when the slaughter houses were open people could pick who they wanted to sell a horse to and know that it was going to a good home because they paid good money for it, Now! we give them to who ever can haul them away for little to no cash. Now our horses are worth peanuts so you cant sell one to pay for feed for the rest now you have to sell the whole herd to anyone who will buy.

    Sure you can say if you cant aford them dont buy them but you anti slaughter people have made every horse in america so cheap to buy that every little kid that has a back yard and wants one for christmas gets one and then we have to deal with it when its discarded, I see this allot at the weekly sale we call it the after chrismas sale hundreds of horses selling for a hundred bucks a piece to be trucked to mexico most likely.

  • gina

    All you horse “lovers” that are for the slaughter should be fucking ashamed of your self. If you love your horses so much like they are a part of your family then treat them like one. If you were low on funds and grandma was sick im positive you wouldnt consider slaughtering her for cash. Idiots I swear this earth is going down the shitter so fast because of people like you. Instead why not petition for no slaughter no export and breeding regulations to control the population and education so people who can’t care for them don’t get them in the first place. No one uses god damn common sense any more. Go Vegan save the earth!

    • Marissa Madis

      I agree with you 100% I have no idea how someone who loves or even owns a horse could support this horrendous act. Some people really make me sick and mad. Go for you I have wanted to try to go vegan but I like chicken too much lol

  • Steve Harris

    Follow the money! Bringing Horse Slaughter back to America is simply a “demand & supply” activity. Horse meat lovers want their horse meat and the well paid lobbyists and the politicians they lobby want a piece of the profit pie. I’ve noticed many in the bible belt seem to only be motivated by the love of money! Where is Texas Governor, “Profit Perry” on this one? Or his friend, The Aga Khan? Both are Horse men.

  • Alpha Mare

    This undercover investigation of a state of the art, Temple Grandin-designed Canadian slaughter plant was released yesterday:

    I’d like to add that where the video ends, is just the beginning of the agony. That is a noninvasive captive bolt, which stuns horses for usually only 30 seconds. It is the same instrument the US was using. Most horses are butchered while conscious. Also, this is a state of the art, $2 million upgrade to a Temple Grandin-designed kill chute and method. This is supposed to be the ultimate in “humane” stunning and slaughter. Again, these horses are not nearly dead, just briefly unconscious. They will wake up with excruciating headaches while having their legs amputated and bellies slit.

    • Marissa Madis

      Omg this makes me unbelieveably sick to my stomach and heart. Horses have done so much for humans throughout history. Something needs to be done Asap!!!! Is there anyway to get news and updates on this horrendous acts evolution and all that is going on with it?

    • SusanKayne

      Can PETA explain how this gruesome act fits into “the ethical treatment of animals”

  • Texas Horse Lover

    Way to go, PETA. Hope you did not accept your pay off from the French firm that
    profits from horse slaughter. The French paper money is too coarse for toilet paper.

  • guest

    PETA is a terrible representation of the animal rights movement. They go for shock value over animal rights time and time again. Look at how they represent women to push their agenda – utterly humiliating and sexist. I will boycott horse slaughter and PETA as well. Go vegan.

  • Billy

    This is terrible. So instead of just trying to get officials to crack down on people cheating the system by hopping boarders, they just jump on the bandwagon. PETAs actions towards complacency are nothing more than insulting.

  • guest

    goes to show doesn't it, like most they only seek fame for them self and will use any means to get it. PETA have finally proved there worth

  • Amy

    Well, I am glad to see some support for horse slaughter, however I just read an article that quotes PETA as saying they will protest any horse slaughter plants. What's next boycott cow and pig slaughter and hunting. They are killed with the captive bolt gun too. You people have forgotten that the death they face in Mexico can be much worse, being stabbed in the jugular until they bleed to death is a much more horrible fate than a captive bolt gun. At least the brain dies instantly that way. People are not the only ones that use the horse meat. Zoos used to be able to purchase the meat for their cats and bears and such. Now they must use something that may not be as close to their diet in the wild. The AVMA (not a supporter of horse slaughter) even acknowledges that closing the slaughter plants is not the solution to the unwanted horse problem. Come on people, grow up and face the fact that horses are LIVESTOCK, not pets and slaughter happens to livestock at some point in time. You may see them as a pet but they are federally classified as livestock.

    • Honesti

      Amy, you are certainly are judging those who have a deep compassion for animals. You're LIVE, and you are a human form of an 'animal' hence, you could easily be considered 'livestock' to someone, somewhere. I suppose you would support cannibalism, too, and tell those that oppose it to 'grow up'. I suppose you'd rather be slaughtered for someone's meal as opposed to be someone's well-cared-for pet if the situation was reversed. Slaughter plants are not the solution. Education and regulation of how many animals are purposely bred is the solution. It's humans that are out of control, NOT the non-human animals. It is humans that have off-balanced the population, NOT the non-human animals. But humans, arrogant beings that they are don't want to be 'told' what to do with their 'freedom'. Seems the majority of humans think it's their 'right' to breed other animals for their own purpose. Zoos should not exist – again, they are a human-created form of prison for other living beings – for the purpose of human entertainment. Animals in zoos should be in the wild. Protected on protected land from ill-thinking humans who feel it's their right to poach and hunt for 'fun'. If animals were in the wild, then horse meat wouldn't be needed for zoo animals, which is a point you have used as pro-horse slaughter.

    • Ken1978

      “What's next boycott cow and pig slaughter and hunting. [sic]”

      Yes Amy, liberation across the board is the general idea.

  • Thomas Durfee

    No donations to PETA traitors.

  • trevor

    i mean like who would do this kind of thing….. killing poor horses. i love horses and i think it should be illegal everywhere.