Frequently Asked Questions

What is the issue?
The American horse is a "recreational/pleasure" animal, NOT a "food" animal, and should not be cruelly slaughtered and exported for the foreign markets.

Yet every year, a hundred thousand horses bred in the United States are purchased and slaughtered in the United States for human consumption in foreign countries. Although we do not eat OUR horses in this country and most American people find the practice offensive, 3 million American horses have been slaughtered here and sent to the countries of Japan, France, Italy and Belgium since 1986.

"We just don't eat pets. Eating an animal you can love seems to bother people. If you tried to market horse meat in the U.S.,you wouldn't have much luck." ...Bonns of Central Nebraska Meat Packing, Inc.
*(Note: the horse-meat industry reference to horses as pets.)
Are horses "livestock"?
Yes. Horses are animals raised for "use or profit".

Are horses a part of "agriculture"?
Yes. Horses are herbivores that graze.

Are horses "companion/pleasure animals"?
Yes. Horses have been domesticated, accompany man and are generally given a name.

Are horses "food animals"?
No. Food animals are raised for the edible consumption of humans.

"People in the U.S. have a love affair with their horses. Horses are pets, and nobody wants to think of a pet being useful for anything but pleasure." ...Ron Corn, President, M & R Meat Packing Co.
*(Note: the horse-meat industry reference to horses as pets.)
What animals are considered "recreational, non-food animals"?
Every existing culture creates a hierarchy of animals. In our country and culture it is our dogs, our cats and our horses. We do not eat our dogs or our cats. And there are laws protecting our dogs and cats from being slaughtered and shipped to other countries in which their meat is eaten. Our horses deserve the same protection.

"As a practicing veterinarian, the bonding and companionship role between horses and their owners has been very evident to me, and is unquestionably as strong as that which occurs between humans and their pet dogs and cats." ...Robert M. Miller, D.V.M.
Can the horse be both "recreational" and "food" animal?
THEY SHOULD NOT BE. Dogs, cats, wildlife, exotics, endangered species are all very specific regarding their status. And there is no doubt as to the fate of cattle, hogs, sheep or poultry when placed into the marketplace. The horse, however, is sitting on an ambiguous fence: bred and raised for pleasure and sporting purposes, revered as a part of American heritage, taxed as a "luxury" animal but callously and secretly slaughtered as a food animal for the foreign markets.

"Horses are a vital part of our nation's culture and history. Their strength and stamina enabled our forefathers to explore and settle America, and they have become our faithful companions in work, sport and leisure." ....President Bill Clinton
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Why does the horse deserve our protection against slaughter?
Man conquered the world from the back of the horse. No animal has served man longer or harder. Our "beast of burden" carried us into war, pulled our wagons, pulled our plows, worked our ranches and delivered our mail. This nation was developed in partnership with the horse. Accordingly the horse has become part of our American heritage.

But after the industrial revolution, when the number of working horses declined and their jobs disappeared, the overall population of horses surprisingly increased due to recreational use. The horse became a pleasure animal, a "companion animal."

Do our horses feed starving people in other countries?
No. Quite the opposite. Rather a $15 a pound delicacy for Japanese, French and Belgian gourmands.

Is the method by which horses are slaughtered humane?
No. The entire process including the slaughter auction, the method of transportation, the feedlots, the slaughter plants...everything up to and including their death is inhumane. The horses stand in line smelling the blood, sensing the terror. They are electrocuted or speared into the "kill box" where they shake violently, falling, unable to stand from fear. They are repeatedly bludgeoned with the "captive dead-bolt" gun which drives a four-inch spike into their skull, rendering the horse not dead but unconscious. Alive and many times still conscious, the horse is then shackled, hoisted, throats slit, bled and dismembered. It is man's ultimate betrayal to the horse.

Why is the process of slaughter so stressful and terrifying for a horse?
Horses have not been bred to be docile. They have been bred to be intelligent, sensitive responsive animals with an acute "fight or flight" mechanism. An animal sensitive enough to respond to the subtle lift of a rein, the slight pressure of a leg, a softy-spoken word. An animal which doesn't understand our language yet can execute complicated and diverse tasks upon command. An animal acutely aware of their surroundings. Such an animal suffers greatly enduring the rigors of slaughter.

Why is slaughter a betrayal?
You have to see the unmistakable look of confusion and fright of horses stockpiled in killer pens: young foals still nursing at their mother's side, race horses too slow or with legs shattered, mares heavy with foal, navicular quarterhorses, foundered ponies, ringboned jumpers, mustangs, people's pets beautifully groomed, these animals were all given names, and trusted man. The horse will give everything, the least we can give the horse is the guarantee of a humane death.

What will happen to all these horses if they aren't slaughtered?
Many horses going to slaughter are not old, crippled or useless. Given time, some will recycle into new homes where they will provide companionship as well as enhance our state's equine economy, and many, just like our dogs and cats, will be "humanely euthanized". When a horse becomes too old, sick or injured to justify prolonging life, the only humane option is "putting them down". We owe our horses a swift death free from stress, pain and fear.

But that costs money?
As horse owners, we feed, trim, inoculate, worm, float and call the vet to tube during a colic,...our obligation doesn't end with our horse's usefulness. As our last responsibility, we are obligated to humanely "put them down" goes with the territory.

If we can afford to breed horses, we can afford to humanely euthanize them. If we can afford to race horses, we can afford to humanely euthanize them. If we can afford to show horses, we can afford to humanely euthanize them. In fact, if we can afford to own horses, we can afford to humanely euthanize them.

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After the horse is humanely put down, what happens to the carcass?
Dead haulers will take the carcass to either a rendering plant or a landfill that legally accepts large animal carcasses.

Can horses be humanely euthanized and their carcasses used for meat?
No. Animals that have been euthanized by lethal injection cannot be used for human consumption.

Who is buying our horses for slaughter?
Killer buyers are either contracted or independent agents for the slaughter plants who attend local auctions and respond to "for sale" ads. Killer buyers are men and women who are usually extremely knowledgeable, life-long horsemen, but are desensitized to cruelty or simple compassion.

"It's an industry that involves killing pets. Of course, horse-meat companies are publicity shy. Our buyers go out at these auctions to bid against people who are interested in buying a pony for their child." ...Jim Weems, Vice President, Great Western Meat Co.
*(Note: the horse-meat industry reference to horses as pets.)
Is there any disclosure or protection when you sell your horse?
No. There is no disclosure required on the part of killer buyers as to who they are or that they are buying your horse for slaughter. If you sell your horse at or below the current slaughter price, your horse is in jeopardy. Horses are acquired through theft, fraud and misrepresentation. Horse owners are unaware and many are mislead about where their horse is going after they sell them. Others that knowingly sell their horses to slaughter do so out of greed, and insensitivity. Denial and lapses in responsibility when selling a horse play a big part. Except thru theft, no responsible horse owner's horse ever went to slaughter.

"Today in California, stolen horses can be traded or sold for cash with virtually no questions asked. In a matter of hours, these horses can be loaded onto trailers bound for slaughter- houses in other states or in Canada, often even before an owner knows the animal is missing." ...Jack O'Connell, California Assemblyman
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Who benefits from the slaughter of our horses?
A handful of killer buyers, four foreign-owned slaughter plants and the foreign horse-meat industry. Horse meat constitutes only .001% of the total red meat, pork and poultry business nationally. Our horses could be protected tomorrow with absolutely "no chilling impact on agriculture or commerce."

Who will oppose the measure to stop the slaughter of our horses?
Other than the foreign horse-meat industry, the "old school" industry people who consider the horse a disposable "commodity." They place more value on several hundred dollars than the betrayal, pain and suffering of their horse. They represent about 15-18% of the horse community and label their relationship with horses as "commerce."

Who will support the measure to stop the slaughter of our horses?
The vast majority of the horse-owning community is comprised of pleasure and recreational owners who already consider the horse a "companion animal." We represent approximately 85% of the horse community. Far from "for profit", the truth be known, we work very hard to be able to own and maintain our horses. Together with the rest of right-minded Americans, we will save our horses from the carnage of a foreign meat market.

What is the biggest misconception about this measure?
That supporters advocate there are homes or pastures for all the horses slaughtered each year. Or that horse rescue will make any significant dent in the numbers. Sadly that is not a reality. This issue is about humane euthanasia versus slaughter. At issue is "how" will these horses be disposed of. As responsible horse owners we can, at the very least, guarantee our horses a humane death.

Is this an animal rights issue?
No. Although the opposition will try to present it as one. Long before there was an animal rights movement, our forefathers designated horses as 'favored animals' which means we do not eat them. Several times throughout the history of our country, horse meat eating has been introduced and every time the American people have turned away deeming it offensive.

Has any professional polling been done on this issue?
Yes. An extensive poll among California registered voters was recently conducted by Decision Research. The results came back 3 to 1 with the vast majority of "the people" voting to protect our horses against slaughter.

Why involve government?
Government has a right and a responsibility to outlaw activities which are abhorrent to the majority of people. Thus the need for government intervention.

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What else is bad about horse slaughter?
Most horse abuse, i.e., theft, irresponsible overbreeding, PMU foal production and the unlawful extermination of our wild mustangs is economically subsidized by horse slaughter. Compounded by the fact that all revenues from state sales tax and many professional equine livelihoods are lost by the export of our equines for slaughter.

What won't this measure do?
It will not stop horse abuse nor will it guarantee individual responsibility on the part of horse owners.

What will this measure do?
It will prohibit the slaughter of horses or any transaction that would lead to the slaughter of American horses. The rest is up to us! This is a very simple issue. "The people" must decide ...should our horses be slaughtered to feed a foreign meat market or protected against slaughter and humanely put down? Nothing more, nothing less?

Horse slaughter will end in the United States when the American people are made fully aware of its existence and are given a vehicle by which to stop it!

Let's put the American Horse back in the stable ...and off the table!

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