The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (S.A.F.E.Act) (H.R.1094 S.541)
To prohibit the sale or transport
of equines and equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption.
The S.A.F.E. Act was introduced earlier this month. H.B. 1094 has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce in addition to the Committee on Agriculture. S. 541 has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
It's time to start making phone calls again. Contact your Senators and Representative and ask them not only to cosponsor the S.A.F.E. Act but to also put pressure on committee members to actually do something. If your Senators and/or Rep refuse to cosponsor, find out why and provide them with the appropriate information. Schedule an appointment and personally deliver the facts to them. Those with an I.Q. above 3 understand that there is no need to slaughter horses and that eating horse flesh is a serious health hazard.
Expect to hear one or more of the following:
"Horses are starving. We have to slaughter them. It's for their own good."
Idiot owners will continue to starve horses regardless of the availability of slaughter. It's currently not illegal to give or sell a horse to a kill buyer yet horses are still being starved. If the pro-slaughter group actually gave a damn about all those starving horses they would fight for stronger animal welfare laws.
"Horse owners are turning their horses loose."
No, we're not. The only validated report of horses being turned loose occurred just north of the US/Mexico border in Presidio, Texas. The C4 Cattle Company and Intermeat Inc./Dallas Crown operate a feedlot which holds horses for shipment to Mexican slaughter plants. Some 5,000 horses were rejected for shipment across the border and were turned loose by the feedlot. Animal abandonment is illegal. Again, why isn't the pro-slaughter group fighting for harsh penalties for those who abandon horses. Oh, that's right, it's their very own people who are doing this.
"Breeders need a set floor price."
No, they don't. Breeders need to stop (over) producing horses, especially crappy horses. This happens all too often with those that breed for color. They tend to breed for a color pattern with no regard for what matters - conformation, ability and brains. That super spechul spotted horse that's accomplished absolutely nothing should not be bred, especially as a three year old. Most of us don't even start working our horses under saddle before their third birthday. But golly gee, if it was born with spots (or curls, or.....) that's all the reason they need to take it to the breeding shed. No matter that it's legs point in four different directions or that it's back is so long it looks likes a dachshund. Born without spots, curls, chrome, etc.? Off to the kill box.
"We need an outlet for old, crippled and dangerous horses."
We already have an outlet. It's called H U M A N E E U T H A N A S I A. This is when a vet comes out and performs the last act of kindness. Old horses have spent their lives in service to humans. They deserve better than a terrifying trailer ride to a horrific death in the kill box. It was illegal to ship crippled (those that can't bear weight on all four legs) or blind horses to slaughter. They went (and still go) to slaughter. Those that are crippled are given drugs to make them appear sound. Anyone who's bought a horse at auction only to have it suddenly go lame 24 hours later knows exactly what I'm talking about. Many blind horses have been pulled from kill pens. Some horses with perfect vision are effectively made blind by the kill buyers. Nothing like a couple strokes of a knife above the eyes to quickly 'calm' a horse that doesn't want to load or stand quietly in the death mobile. Dangerous horses? In 40 years I've come across exactly one horse that I deemed too dangerous to deal with. Were the horse's issues due to poor breeding? Possibly. Were they due to a history of stupid humans doing stupid things? Probably. Regardless, this horse was a danger to humans. Total number of humans exposed to danger when a horse is euthanized? Two. The vet and a handler. Total number of humans exposed to danger when the horse is taken to an auction? Dozens to hundreds.
"I don't like horse slaughter, but it's better if it's done in the good ole US of A where we can monitor it."
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Slaughtering horses is brutal regardless of where it's being done. I dare say that no horse ever thought, 'gee, this US kill box is much less terrifying than those in Canada or Mexico'. The flight instinct is the same. The struggle to live is the same. The brutality of the stun gunners is the same. The pain of being hit with a bolt gun several times is likely the same as a knife to the spine. There are multiple government reports proving that US slaughter plants were every bit as horrible as those in Mexico and Canada. Horses were not stunned properly. Horses were conscious and aware while being vivisected. Every US plant was fined for inhumane animal handling violations. There is no humane way to slaughter horses. Period. Being anti-slaughter isn't about being against a process. We are against the slaughter of animals that are not raised for food. Horses are classified as livestock but are owned as companion and working animals as are dogs and cats.
"What are we going to do with all the toxic bodies of euthanized horses?"
This really is a stupid question. Horses can be buried, cremated or rendered. It's odd that the pro slaughter fanatics always claim that horses are too toxic to bury but are perfectly safe to eat. They claim that the drugs used for euthanasia will poison water supplies. Pound for pound more small animals are euthanized in the US each year than horses, yet not one single negative environmental impact has been recorded. Approximately one million horses are humanely euthanized in the US each year and again, no negative environmental impacts have been reported. However, every US horse slaughtering plant was repeatedly fined for violating environmental regulations. The same has occured in Canada where trucks full of blood and offal were emptied into rivers.
"Horse owners can't afford to pay for euthanasia".
Sure we can. The final vet bill is just another expense to be incurred when taking on the responsibility of owning an animal. It's going to cost me around $500 to euthanize and dispose of my old horse. It's currently costing me $425 each month just for board. When I add in the cost of my farrier, deworming, vaccines, medications and fuel expenses it actually will cost less to euthanize than it does to support him for 30 days. If someone 'can't afford' to euthanize then they certainly can't afford to keep any horses. Sell your saddles, trailer, stall mats, left over feed, etc. The money is there but this isn't about affordability. It's only about greed. Owners who ship to slaughter would rather make $50 - $100 to sell to a kill buyer than to spend the money to humanely euthanize.
Good luck with your calls! Let me know if you get an especially stupid response from your Senators or Representative.
Just when I thought I had seen it all, I viewed a video of the sole current employee of the Valley Meat horse slaughter plant in Roswell, NM. He is said to be Tim Sappington and I hope he spends a lot of time in jail before he spends eternity in hell.This video is beyond disturbing, it's pure evil. Not only does this son of a bitch shoot a seemingly young, sound horse he doesn't even kill it. He lets it lay there in agony and walks away.
Here's a link to the video - it's horrific, the stuff of nightmares.
The Idiocy of the US Government
Caving in as usual, Tom Silvack and the USDA are in the process of approving a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico. This plant will be owned by Valley Meat. This is the same company that was recently shuttered due to numerous violations of animal handling laws when it was slaughtering cattle. Yet, the USDA has seemingly decided that Valley Meats will be better at slaughtering horses than they were at slaughtering cattle even though it's much more difficult to properly stun a horse.
What the hell is wrong with the USDA and our government?
Based on the USDA's own investigative reports, none of the former US horse slaughtering plants were abiding by the laws regulating slaughter. Each of the plants were fined numerous times for violating environmental and animal welfare laws including transportation violations and failure to properly stun horses before beginning the slaughter process. These violations occurred even though a veterinarian was supposedly present during the slaughter process.
Only 1% of the processed carcasses were tested for Bute, a known carcinogen, even though nearly all US horses receive this drug at some point in their lives. NONE of the carcasses were tested for frog juice, dermorphin, or any of the other illegal performance enhancing substances commonly used in racehorses as well as performance and backyard horses.
If bute, its metabolites or any other banned substance was found in beef sold to US consumers, there would be a huge outcry and hopefully criminal charges. But, since the US is exporting a toxic product, all is well.
I hope that Vilsack, those who comprise the USDA, Congress (especially Wallis and Duquette) and their families are the first to consume toxic horse meat. Actually, they should be required to consume it. Since they claim that bute is safe, they should have no problem with this. Why not allow bute in cattle as well?
In case the New York Times refuses to allow my comment on their article about the USDA and the proposed opening of the New Mexico plant, here it is...
The simple facts are as follows.
There is no glut of 'unwanted' horses in the US. Out of an equine population of 10Million, only about 1.5% of the equines that die each year have their lives ended in a kill box. The owners of the remaining nearly 99% of equines have found alternatives to slaughter. And no, we don't have have hundreds of thousands of starving horses in the US.
Nearly every horse in the US has been given drugs that are forbidden from use in food producing animals. Only 1% of carcassses were tested for SOME banned drugs when the US plants were open. Since the pro slaughter fanatics claim that bute is safe for human consumption then its use should be allowed in beef and every other food producing animal
Every US horse slaughtering plant was cited for animal handling and environmental violations.
The exportation of a US product known to be toxic/carcinogenic should result in criminal charges. Instead, the US government will again turn a blind eye to this in favor of padding their pockets with campaign donations and gifts from lobbyists. Exactly how much does it cost to purchase a member of our do nothing, blame someone else, Congress?
Our web site host gives us a variety of statistics regarding how many visitors we get each day and how they found our site. Following are some of the more ridiculous search phrases that have been recorded.
"Where to slaughter a horse in Michigan"
There are NO equine slaughter plants in the United States at this time. With a lot of luck maybe someday we'll have a Congress that is willing to act on this issue and finally pass federal legislation that would prohibit the slaughter of horses on American soil and further prohibit allowing horses to be shipped out of the country for the purpose of slaughter. Unfortunately, it seems that most politicians only exist to increase their personal wealth.
Doing the right things is not part of our political process. Case in point, WY Rep. Sue Wallis. Wallis has set up several 'non-profit' entities to further her goal of becoming the queen of horse slaughter. Her non-profits should be deemed illegal and should be shut down with appropriate penalties handed out. These organizations do not perform any charitable work and do not serve the public in any way. Wallis, who does not own horses, is apparently owned by the cattle industry and will seemingly do whatever she can to eliminate as many horses as possible.
One of her latest scams is that she wants to open a slaughter plant which would also act as a rescue. The words 'rescue' and 'slaughter' are polar opposites. While Wallis claims that the 'rescue' would be operated with the goal of finding homes for horses, the more probable truth is that the 'rescue' would serve as a feed lot where horses would be held until drug withdrawal times are met. How very convenient. The expenses of the 'rescue' side of the organization would be funded by the public through donations (offering incentives to her and her cattle and oil industry friends) and the revenue generated would be tax exempt. In other words, Wallis would be able to generate tax free revenue from the horses right up until they are put into the kill box. With foreign ownership, the profits made from the slaughter side of the business would likely also not be taxed and the profits will go overseas. So, here we have a representative of our government possibly, if not probably, doing everything she can to play the system and avoid taxation. If anyone needs a poster child of what's wrong in Washington, Wallis is it.
There is a glimmer of hope though. In 2013 the EU will require a passport system for slaughter bound equines. This system will document all medications given to an equine in an effort to finally stop the practice of having the unsuspecting public dine on toxic horse meat. Currently, virtually no equine in the United States over the age of six months will be accepted by the EU based on the coming regulations. In the forty or so years I've been involved in the equine industry I have yet to meet a single horse which hasn't been given a medication that is banned from use in food producing animals. Now, regardless of Sue Wallis' claim that bute is perfectly safe, the entire world knows otherwise. It is so toxic to humans that there are NO withdrawal times for this drug. Even one dose of bute disqualifies a horse from ever entering the food supply. If Wallis is successful in opening her slaughter plant/rescue you can bet that the rescue side will only accept equines up to the age of six months.
"What are the benefits of horse slaughter?"
There are no benefits to slaughtering horses. There are many ill effects of this industry though. Included are contaminated water supplies, severe reduction of property values, increases in abuse and neglect and increases in the number of horses stolen.
"Horse slaughter increases prices and profits in breeding"
This is one of the dumbest statements ever made. A live, well cared for equine will put thousands of dollars into the economy each year. A horse sold for slaughter puts about $50 in the pocket of the irresponsible owner. The foreign owned plants that used to operate in the US sent their profits back to their home countries. With millions in revenue, one of the plants in Texas paid a mere $5 in US taxes. The plant workers? Most were illegals who didn't pay a dime in taxes and who quickly disappeared once the plants were closed.
If a company was producing a product which cost US taxpayers $5,000,000 per year to inspect and the only market for the product was the scrap heap, could anyone with working brain cells not conclude that the product isn't needed? This exactly describes breeders who continue to produce horses in which there is no market for.
Only 1% of equines in the US end up in a kill box each year regardless of whether the plant is located in the US or Canada or Mexico. I do not want $5,000,000 of taxes used to support an unneeded, abusive industry comprised of irresponsible owners and breeders.
Horses are not big dogs. We expect horses to perform a job. To perform a job the horse must be correctly built, correctly trained, and correctly marketed. If a breeder is producing horses who's only market is slaughter, their breeding operation needs to immediately cease. We need to stop rewarding irresponsible owners and breeders by allowing them to generate funds by brutally slaughtering horses. And NO, there is no way to humanely slaughter a horse.
How to Save $90,000,000 Per Year
Between the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) program to eliminate wild horses and the inclusion of language in the 2012 Agriculture Bill that will allow funding of USDA inspectors in currently non-existent horse slaughtering plants, US taxpayers are on the hook for $90,000,000 per year. Approximately $85M will be spent by the BLM in 2012 and every succeeding year in an effort to eliminate wild horses. Another $5M has been allocated to fund USDA inspections in proposed horse slaughtering facilities. Who benefits from this taxpayer subsidy? Foreign owned corporations that have and will pay little to no income tax; ranchers who don't want to purchase feed for the livestock they raise; irresponsible horse owners; and politicians who represent the interests of ranchers.
In the mid 1980's approximately 350,000 wild and domesticated U.S. horses were slaughtered. In recent years the demand for horse meat has significantly decreased. Currently, slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada only have contracts to take in approximately 140,000 of the estimated population of 9.2 million U.S. equines. This is the same number of horses that were slaughtered each year when the last horse slaughtering facilities operated on U.S. soil.
The last three horse slaughtering facilities were foreign owned and only provided less than 200 low-paying jobs for undocumented workers. The profits made by these corporations were primarily generated from tax benefits allowed to foreign-owned businesses. While revenues were in the millions, only $5 of corporate income tax was paid by one of the plants. The cost to the communities in which these plants resided was astronomical. Regardless of the EPA bringing charges for violations, regulations continued to be ignored. The slaughter plants illegally dumped blood and other offal into rivers which fed local water supplies. In some areas this illegal activity caused blood products to seep into homes. Property values plummeted and equine abuse, neglect and theft cases rose.
The pro-slaughter proponents claim that all horse owners need the slaughter option. Using the accepted livestock mortality rate of 15%, nearly 1.4 million equines die each year in the US. The owners of 99% of those horses chose not to ship to slaughter. The remaining one percent will use a variety of excuses to justify their decision to not use humane euthanasia. From cost of euthanasia to needing to set a minimum value, the arguments of the pro slaughter fringe group have consistently been proven false.
The humane euthanasia and disposal of a horse costs approximately $350. This amount is typically less than the cost of providing 30 days of appropriate care. Let's put this into more prospective for those who do not own horses. The cost to breed a mare and raise a foal can easily exceed $7,000 before the offspring is old enough to be introduced to saddle training. Training costs upwards of $400 per month. The cost of a bare basic every day saddle starts at $500. A high quality or custom show saddle can easily exceed $5,000. One year of boarding, veterinary and farrier care will cost about $6,000. The cost to provide humane euthanasia pales in comparison.
With regard to the minimum value argument I challenge readers to name a single industry (other than farming/ranching) in which the producer is guaranteed a minimum financial return for an unwanted or unmarketable product. This is exactly what the pro slaughter fringe group wants - a guaranteed per pound return for the masses of horses they continue to produce regardless of a dwindling market. Their ‘logic' is that the more horses they produce the greater the chance they will eventually produce one worth keeping. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) firmly supports this illogical approach as do many other breed registries. To them breeding isn't about improving breed characteristics, it's only about the income received from registrations. AQHA registrations alone generate well over $5 million dollars in revenue each and every year. Instead of using any profits to fund gelding clinics or to provide financial aid to members needing to euthanize horses they chose to buy a politician to lobby on their behalf.
One of the most fanatical of the fringe group is Wyoming Representative Sue Wallis, not so affectionately known as Slaughterhouse Sue. Although Sue does not own a single horse, she proclaims to be all knowing messiah of the equine industry. While her illogical rants can sometimes be amusing, they're mostly rather frightening. She's not just another misinformed, ignorant, nut job. She's a member of our federal government who has created non-profit corporations to further her desire to slaughter horses. Here's a glimpse into her psychological makeup. While the vast majority of people were disgusted and nauseated by the nude couple who butchered and then crawled inside of their dead horse's body, Sue saw nothing wrong with this deplorable act. Even more frightening is Sue's claim that there's nothing wrong with consuming horse flesh. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Granted, 80 - 90 years ago some Americans turned to horse flesh as a source of protein during the worst of times. This was well before the now common administration of a multitude of medications. Horses in the U.S. are not raised as food producing animals. We consider our horses to be companions and working animals. As such, we give our horses antibiotics when they are ill, dewormers to control parasite loads, bute or banamine to relieve discomfort, and use topicals such as furazone to treat wounds. The majority of these substances are completely banned from use in food producing animals. Bute, which is as common to horses as aspirin is to humans, is a known carcinogen as is furazone. Even pet food manufacturers won't use horse meat, but Sue wants us to feed toxic horse flesh to our children and risk having them become afflicted with aplastic anemia. This is not the type of person I want participating in our government and deciding what's best for me, my family or my horses. Her reality is based on fiction and hatred, not fact.
It's time to stop the insanity of wasteful spending. Tell your Representative and Senators to eliminate funding for the BLM's war on wild horses and to pass S.541 and H.R.1094, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act which would make it illegal to sell or transport horses for slaughter purposes. If other countries want to consume toxic products, it's their right to do so. They can raise and consume their own horses instead of profiting from America's equines.
Animal Advocates of Michigan
a 501(c)(3) public charity doing the rights things for the right reasons