On Thursday, December 8, Animal Equality, a leading global animal protection group, held a protest on the front lawn of the US Capitol to call for an end to horse slaughter. Around a dozen activists gathered on Capitol Hill holding banners and posters to ask Congress to permanently ban the exportation and slaughter of American horses.
Why did we protest?
This protest is a part of Animal Equality’s pressure to end horse slaughter globally, including the US. The organization recently launched an international campaign against the killing of horses for meat. Over 116,000 supporters have already signed the petition.
In the United States, horse slaughter was essentially banned when the US Government took funding away from the USDA to inspect horse slaughterhouses. Only USDA-approved meat is legal to sell. Those that once profited off of selling their horses for slaughter began to auction them off to facilities in Mexico and Canada.
In 2021, nearly 24,000 horses were sent across US borders to be killed for their meat, and over 1.6 million total from 2001 to 2020. During transport, horses rarely have access to food or water for more than 24 hours. The trucks they are transported in are typically designed for smaller animals. This small space increases the risk of injury as horses are naturally fight-or-flight animals. Weaker animals cannot escape bites, kicks, and other injuries as they try to avoid the more dominant animals inside the cramped truck.
Many horses arrive at the slaughterhouse suffering injuries, weight loss, fatigue, dehydration and shipping fever–a respiratory disease associated with long-distance transports.
Animal Equality’s Horse Slaughter Investigation
On November 23, Animal Equality released undercover investigation images showing American horses awaiting slaughter at the Cárnicas de Jerez slaughterhouse facility in Zacatecas, Mexico. An on-site veterinarian was filmed by Animal Equality’s investigator confirming the origin of a horse, identified as 5036 by his USDA tag: “5036, which you can read there. He is from the USA.” The other horses in the corral were tagged with the same yellow USDA tag.
Horse 5036 was slaughtered the day after Animal Equality investigators filmed him.
Today, Animal Equality stands together with fellow advocates to denounce the death of American horses, like 5036, for their meat. US citizens agree the slaughter of these intelligent and sensitive animals is wrong—now it’s time for the US Government to listen and permanently ban this unnecessary practice.
-Dane Chabeneau, Campaigns Manager for Animals Equality
As shown by documents obtained by Animal Equality, the Cárnicas de Jerez slaughterhouse receives some of its horses from an auction in Bowie, Texas. These animals are purchased at auction when they become too old or injured after a life of breeding, ranching and horse riding, among other purposes.
Horses from this particular auction are transported across Texas for nearly eight hours. They then cross the border into Mexico in Eagle Pass and travel for more than 9 hours until they arrive at the Cárnicas de Jerez slaughterhouse in Zacatecas—a total of 17 hours of travel.
Once the animals are slaughtered, Cárnicas de Jerez ships the meat products to Russia, China, Vietnam and Japan—contributing to the $397 million global horse meat trade. The US continues to partake in this trade despite 83% of Americans opposing the slaughter and consumption of horses, as a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners and the ASPCA found.
What are we asking?
There is currently no permanent federal ban on the exportation or slaughter of American horses in the US. Congress may be presented with an end-of-year package that includes language to end this ongoing practice permanently. Animal Equality and fellow animal advocates are demanding an end to the slaughter of American horses inside and outside our borders.
I came to DC to speak for the horses with Animal Equality. Everyone should know that 80 percent of Americans are against horse slaughter. Next year, we are all hoping to tell Congress to listen to special interest and get legislation passed to stop transporting horses across our borders for slaughter.
-Gail Bumsted, Animal Activist & Protest Attendee
You, too, can help call for an end to this suffering by signing our petition!