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With all three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. now closed, and horses being trucked by the tens of thousands to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, passage of a permanent slaughter ban to prohibit horse slaughter – and the transport of horses for this purpose
is crucial. The two Texas horse slaughter facilities shut down after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit Court upheld a 1949 Texas law that prohibits the sale of horsemeat. A separate decision affirming Congress’ intent in the FY06 Agriculture Appropriations language to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from inspecting horsemeat from slaughtering facilities shut down the Illinois plant for a time. In May, the state of Illinois enacted a ban on horse slaughter, shutting down Cavel International, the last operating plant in the country. Cavel International sought to delay its inevitable closure by obtaining a temporary restraining order, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit upheld the State of Illinois’ decision to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

Horses are still being crowded into trucks, enduring hours without food, water, and rest, and driven to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Our undercover footage shows the extreme suffering endured by horses shipped across our borders to slaughter plants in Mexico. Crammed into crowded trailers with no respect for age, breed, physical condition or temperament, the horses are transported for hours and sometimes for days without water or food. It is not uncommon for these animals to arrive at the plants dead or seriously injured.

The passage of the Conyers-Burton Prevention on Equine Cruelty Act will prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as well as the trade and transport of horseflesh and live horses intended for human consumption. This legislation will terminate any legal option for sending American horses to slaughter within the United States and over the border as well.

How many horses are slaughtered each year?

Prior to the closure of all three foreign-owned plants in the U.S., over 100,000 horses were being slaughtered in the U.S. and processed for human consumption. Now, tens of thousands of live horses are being transported across the border to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. After these horses are killed, their flesh is shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Their owners do not care about the pain, fear, and suffering these horses endure before being slaughtered.

The Humane Society in the U.S. has worked to protect horses and other equines in our society from abuse, neglect, and slaughter for human consumption since our organization’s inception in 1954. We’ve conducted workshops for law enforcement, animal control officers, and humane society officials on equine neglect, and worked directly in pilot programs with the Bureau of Land Management for implementation of population control for wild mustangs. Our investigators have been undercover at equine auctions and horse slaughter facilities, documenting the inhumane treatment of these animals, in transport and during their slaughter.

The HSUS has worked at the state and federal level in advocating for the adoption of strong horse protection and anti-cruelty laws, and has sought funding and provided training for enforcement. The HSUS stands firmly in opposition to horse slaughter and is an advocate in support of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, as well as legislation at the state level to prohibit this gruesome and unnecessary practice.

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