I just finished...


The truth is out there...
12 Years
Mar 5, 2007
Phoenix, AZ
...writing an 8 page paper about the legal battle over horse slaughter. Ugh, I researched so much my eyes hurt! As does my brain. The last thing I want to think about for a long time is the topic of horse slaughter! The good news is I think I wrote a fairly decent paper. The even better news is I finished it tonight...and its not due until Thursday! That's amazing for me. The pretty much never happens as I am queen of procrastination.

So now I have some much needed time to relax, at least until I start writing my formal drosophila lab report due next thursday. Oh boy, that sounds like fun.

If anyone is interested in reading my paper, let me know. I'll be more than happy to send it! It has lots of pretty citations and I tried to be as unbiased as possible, although my opinion probably shows through in several places. It was difficult finding info to support the banning of horse slaughter, believe it or not!
I'll try to post it here too. It got a little messed up copying from word and posting here. The underlined words did not transfer so that makes reading a little difficult. Also, the works cited becomes a jumbled mess, but if anyone is interested in any articles, I can send a better copy.

"Prohibition of Horse Slaughter in the United States"

Before prehistoric man hunted with horses, he hunted for horses. In fact, the first relationship humans experienced with most creatures was of a predator and prey nature. The consumption of horse meat has been a tradition in just about every country for many centuries. Even in present times, the horse is still considered a delicacy among many cultures. However, in the United States of America, domestication has tainted the image of the horse as a meat animal and legislation has recently been introduced which outlaws the slaughtering of horse within the country. In early central European hunting and gathering communities, the horse was regarded as an abundant source of lean and protein rich meat.
In an article written by Ray Cunningham entitled The History of the Modern Horse, he describes the horse as “the most useful and intelligent of domestic animals, belong¬ing to the same class as the ass and zebra” (Cunningham). Equine is a Latin word taken from the English Equus (Equine) and refers to a one-toed, hoofed animal that typically lives in open grassy plains. Horses are herd bound animals, which means they live in large groups and follow the lead of a single individual. Due to this behavior, the hunting and domestication of horses was not difficult. When humans reproduced the actions of the alpha stallion, the other horses followed in their lead. These wild horses were then selectively bred for traits such as height, overall size, muscle mass, color, shape, and specific jobs like draft work, hunting, and racing.
Originally, wild species of equine roamed much of the prehistoric world. Smaller three-toed equines gradually evolved into larger one-toed animals. These animals were found all over the world, including north and south America. In the article Horse Evolution, Kathleen Hunt describes the range of the original horse, Equus. “Until about 1 million years ago, there were Equus species all over Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, in enormous migrating herds that must easily have equaled the great North American bison herds, or the huge wildebeest migrations in Africa” (Hunt) She also states that the extinction of the North American horse is believed to have been caused by a combination of climatic events and over hunting by humans who had recently migrated to the New World (Hunt).
Horses were utilized in many wars until the invention of the vehicle. Cavalry was extremely effective, especially against foot soldiers. Large boned horses were fitted with armor and heavy metal shoes and trained to trample, kick, and rear, along with other extremely agile manuevers meant to protect the rider. They also provided a means of transportation and were used to haul heavy loads on long treks with soldiers. However, their presence provided another important role throughout these tough ages. During the civil war in America, the horse was used as a work tool right up until it was butchered for human consumption. This enhanced the usefulness of the horse. Unlike the cow, chicken, or pig, the horse could be put to work in a variety of areas before it was killed for meat. Up until the mid 1900’s, the number of people in the United States who kept horses as pets were a minority. The rest viewed the horse as livestock, albeit quite valuable livestock. The United States is unique in that the majority currently considers the horse more than just livestock. Recently, laws have been put in place to outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States. This has caused a tremendous debate among many horse related organizations, some who believe horse slaughter is necessary and others who believe it to be an inhumane practice.
Neil Murro, author of the article, A Horse is a Course, states that “the U.S. horse industry annually produces 90,000 more animals than Americans can ride” (Murro). In the past, the excess of horses bred annually was not typically an issue. Old, lame, injured, and other unwanted horses were often sold to horse brokers at auctions, who would then sell to horse slaughterhouses within the United States. This system allowed an outlet to control the overpopulation of unwanted horses. However, politicians in the United States recently deemed horse slaughter an inhumane practice. James M. Lewis writes:
“The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 (H.R. 503) charged out of the Congressional gate in January, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.). Referred to committee, it would prohibit horse slaughter in the United States for the purpose of human consumption and impose tough criminal penalties for transporting horses inside and outside US. borders for that purpose” (Lewis 1)
Lewis states that the prohibition of horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States has lead to “rapidly swelling numbers of abandoned and neglected horses nationwide” (Lewis 1).
The bill H.R. 503 has been backed largely by animal rights activist groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. In an interview, the CEO of the organization explains “Every day that passes means there is more torment and more suffering for America's horses” and seeing the bill pass is a top priority for his organization (Lewis 69). However, the other side of the argument disagrees. Lewis states “The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners both have taken positions against H.B. 503 as written. Both say it fails to address adequately the long-term welfare of the horses not slaughtered” (Lewis 69)
Even though the last three remaining horse slaughterhouses in the United States were shut in 2007, horses are still shipped to other countries, such as Canada and Mexico for use as meat. Many argue that this practice is no more humane, if not less humane than slaughtering horses in our own country for human consumption. Christina Macejko, author an article which describes the current neglect faced by unwanted horses around the country explains that “after the last three slaughterhouses in the nation were shut down in 2007, there was more than a 300 percent increase in the number of horses shipped to Canada, Mexico and other countries for slaughter” (Macejko 22). She also mentions that “opponents say the bill would leave thousands of unwanted horses to slowly languish, with many starving to death, if passed” (Mecejko 22). A separate bill known as H.R. 6598 – the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008 was a stepping stone in the outlaw of horse slaughter. Macejko writes that “H.R. 6598 eliminates what is currently a necessary end-of-life option for unwanted horses” (Macejko 22).
Additionally, it has been argued that the prohibition of horse slaughter is magnified by the difficult financial difficulties faced by many Americans. Dr. Douglas G. Corey, past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) states that “the unwanted horse issue presents a crisis in a time of weak economy, high hay and grain prices, increasing gasoline prices and the closure of the three U.S. slaughterhouses” (Macejko 22). Additionally, Corey tells Macejko in an interview that “besides the issue of creating more neglected horses, the legislation doesn't address the funds needed for their long-term care if they cannot be slaughtered” (Macejko 22). The annual cost of owning a single horse averages approximately $1,800. This price only includes the cost of hay, grain, and basic maintenance. It does not include the cost of veterinary care, farrier services, or equine dentistry, all necessary components of owning a well maintained horse. The AAEP argues that millions of dollars are needed to care for the excess of unwanted horses and no legislation has been created that addresses this issue. Shelters and foster facilities specializing in large animal rescue are currently filled with unwanted equines that have been turned in by their owners for lack of a better solution. Many of these horses are either old, lame, untrained, or too young to ride. While these horses may be healthy, there is little use for them other than a backyard pet. With the poor economy, few people can afford the expense of keeping a horse they cannot use or ride.
On the other hand, many argue that horse slaughter “is not a necessary evil” (Markarian). Michael Markarian, the Executive Vice President of the United States Humane Society wrote in an letter for the magazine USA Today that “the availability of horse slaughter and the export of our horses for this purpose have allowed over breeding and other irresponsible practices to proliferate unchecked for far too long” (Markarian). He argues that slaughterhouses provide an easy outlet for irresponsible horse breeders to get rid of extra animals. Markarian also explains that “in 2006, the last full year when horses were slaughtered in the U.S., approximately 100,000 horses -- or about 1% of the population -- were sent to slaughter”. He claims that “the existing horse community can absorb such a relatively small number” (Markarian). Markarian mentions other alternatives for owners that can no longer care for a horse such as “selling the horse to another owner, relinquishing the horse to a rescue or sanctuary, or humanely euthanizing the horse” (Markarian).
An article written for the People magazine argues that horses destined for slaughter “are crammed into trucks built for cows and sheep while on their way to the butcher's block and sometimes, against regulations, remain conscious as they're killed” (Lang). Although reports written about the actual conditions of horse slaughterhouses are difficult to find, inhumane conditions are a common theme used by those who support the banning of horse slaughter.
In 2007, a case was brought to the United States Court of Appeals by Cavel International, INC. The Illinois Horse Meat Act had been “amended to make it unlawful for any person in the state either to slaughter a horse for human consumption, or to import into or export from Illinois horse meat to be used for human consumption” (Cavel v. Madigan). When this act was amended, Cavel International, INC. was the only operating horse slaughterhouse in the United States. “Until recently it was one of three such facilities, but the other two, both in Texas, stopped slaughtering horses after the Fifth Circuit upheld a Texas law similar to the Illinois law challenged in this case” (Cavel v. Madigan). In the case review, the following description about Cavel International, INC. was given:
Cavel's slaughterhouse, located in DeKalb, Illinois, near Chicago, has some sixty employees and slaughters some 40,000 to 60,000 horses a year, out of a total of about 700,000 horses that either are killed or die of natural causes in the United States annually. Cavel buys its horses for about $300 apiece from brokers who obtain them at auctions. The company has been in operation for 20 years and has some $ 20 million in annual revenues (Cavel v. Madigan).
Cavel mostly shipped horse meat internationally, as the demand in the United States is very little.
While the Illinois Horse Meat Act was originally passed to protect the rights and humane treatment of horses, Cavel argued that the Illinois Act “violated both the federal Meat Inspection Act and the commerce clause” (Cavel v. Madigan). The commerce clause was “interpreted to prohibit state regulations that unduly interfered with the foreign commerce of the United States” (Cavel v. Madigan). Since Cavel exported their horse meat to countries outside of the United States, this seemed a valid argument. Initially, “Cavel moved for a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the amendment. The district court declined to issue it, on the ground that Cavel had failed to make a strong showing that it was likely to prevail on the merits” (Cavel v. Madigan). Cavel appealed the ruling, but the slaughterhouse’s suit was ultimately dismissed. “The court held that the curtailment of foreign commerce by the amendment was slight and the court was reluctant to condemn a state law, supported by a legitimate state interest--that being the treatment of animals in Illinois” (Cavel v. Madigan). The court ruled that Cavel’s foreign meat commerce was not significant enough to fall under the commerce clause. In this case, the state law was deemed a worthy interest and it was believed that the law adequately ensured the humane treatment of horses by eliminating equine slaughter houses.
This United States Court of Appeals ruling forced the closing of Cavel International, INC. The similar laws created to ban horse slaughter in Texas also shut down the two slaughterhouses there, but only temporarily. One slaughterhouse later reopened by adding cattle to the list of butchered animals, along with more exotic meats, such as ostriches and bison. However, Cavel never reopened as they claimed to be suited only for butchering horses.
Cavel International, Inc was not without its supporters. Shortly after this case, other states unhappy with the federal bills banning the slaughter of horses created their own legislature legalizing the slaughter of horse for human consumptions within those states. Some believe that the main restriction mentioned in the state bills is horse “for human consumption”. Lewis mentions that “the question for those states considering new plants might be whether those plants could make money processing animals for purposes other than for human consumption” (Lewis 69). States that oppose the Federal laws include North and South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Arkansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, and Kansas. Each of these states are handling the opposition of the federal law in different ways. One is funding research to see how well a privately owned horse slaughterhouse would operate and another proposes to prohibit states courts from delaying the building of a private slaughterhouse within the state once the proper permits are obtained. However, there are a few states who have sided with the Federal courts. Those states include New York and New Jersey, “which passed legislation which would specifically prohibit horse slaughter and the sale of horse meat for human consumption in those states” (Lewis 69).
The fight for the legalization of horse slaughter in the United States is far from over. While H.R. 503 has already been passed, the demand for horse slaughter is extremely high. While Americans are not typically dining on horses themselves, many see horse slaughter as an outlet for thousands of unwanted horses. Supporters of H.R. 503 believe horse slaughter is an inhumane practice and that there are many alternatives such as veterinary euthanasia and placement of unwanted animals by rescue, but the funds for both of these alternatives is non-existent. Whether H.R. 503 will be amended to provide funds for the placement and care of unwanted horses or to allow slaughterhouses to butcher for purposes other than human consumption is yet to be determined. Regardless of the outcome, the H.R. 503 bill is still a work in progress and both supporting and opposing states continue to actively defend their positions.

"Works Cited"

Cavel International, INC., v. Lisa Madigan. 500 F.3d 551; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 22510
(Illinois 21 September 2007)
Cunningham, Ray. "The History of the Modern Horse." The History of The Modern Horse. 14
Oct. 2006. EzineArticles.com. 4 Oct 2009 <http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-The-Modern-Horse&id=328357>.
"equine." The American Heritage
Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 4 October 2009. <Dictionary.com
Hunt, Kathleen. Horse Evolution. 4 January 1995. The TalkOrigins Archive. 4 October 2009
< http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/horses/horse_evol.html#part9>
, Anne. Meadows, Bob. Zawel, Marc. “Whoah!”. People. 25 September 2006, Vol. 66 Issue
13, p 229-230. 5 October 2009 < http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true
, James M. “Big Battle Shaping Over Horse Slaughter”. DVM: The Newsmagazine of
Veterinary Medicine; Apr 2009, Vol. 40 Issue 4, p 1-69. 4 October 2009
< http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=37553147&site=
, Christina. “AAEP Says Horse Slaughter Bill Would Add to Neglect, Starvation”.
DMV: The Newsmagazine of Veterinary Medicine. September 2008, Vol. 38 Issue 9 p 22 5 October 2009 < http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=
, Michael. “Horses Deserve Better End Than Slaughterhouse”. USA Today. 20 August
2008 Section: News p 10. 5 October 2009 < http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direc
, Neil. “A Horse is a Course.” National Journal. 29 July 2006. Vol. 38 Issue 30, p 3.
4 October 2009 <http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=
I'd love to read it ! I'm a horse lover through and through....but also understand that some have to be put down . Would love to see what research you've compiled ! As I understand in our state , they're trying , or have banned it , so any horses that can't be used have to find a home to "retire" . It would be great if they could....but it seems as if most people in this state just can't afford that option . I'd rather see the older / "untrainable" ones put to slaughter , than have them tied to a tree to die . We've had that happen quite a few times here in my area because the owners couldn't afford their house or feed anymore . As I said....would love to read your info....maybe there's something we can do about it up here !
I hope you enjoy reading it! I found the research very interesting and I found a lot of very good articles. The problem with researching any debatable topic is a lot of the articles are biased one way or another, so that makes writing about it a little more difficult.

Interestingly when researching I read that Montana is one of the states who opposed the federal bill outlawing horse slaughter. I'm not sure that they have been able to pass legislature to allow it in your state yet, but I know they are certainly trying. A lot of people are working to reverse the federal ban and a lot of states have alredy found ways around the law.
Thank you!

I already found a few mistakes and inconsistencies, so ignore those! LOL I'm such a dope sometimes and I often completely leave out words or punctuation.
Last edited:

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom