It is one of the most prevalent and disturbing issues facing horses today. With horse meat in demand for human consumption in other countries, slaughter plants are eager to buy up cheap horses wherever they can find them. Thousands of horses face the risk of dying in a slaughter house every year due to soaring hay prices, a sluggish-at best economy and horse auctions as a quick and easy way to unload an unwanted, outgrown or unprofitable horse.
Animal welfare advocates have battled legal U.S. slaughter houses for decades with some success, though when American plants are closed, horses have been shipped to Canada or Mexico to meet the same fate. It is a horrendous end--horses are packed into cattle trailers, which are not designed for horses. They are then held in pens until herded through chutes with electric prods where they are shot in the head, strung up, bled and butchered. Countless reports of horrific conditions are readily available, including horses being butchered while still conscious, slipping and falling in transport trailers and chutes, enduring gruesome, untreated injuries while waiting for their end.
Young, healthy, beautiful horses die in slaughter plants every year, typically without their previous owners' knowledge. Some meat buyers even pretend to be looking for a horse for themselves or their children. Any time a horse changes hands from one owner to the next, there is a real risk that he's one step closer to slaughter.
The best solution is for every horse owner to use extreme care whenever transferring a horse to a new owner, and ideally, to make a lifetime commitment to their horses. The safest bet is to have a plan for when the horse is no longer rideable and just needs a safe, comfortable place to retire.
To learn more, visit these pages for more in-depth information about horse slaughter. WARNING: graphic images.
CBC News Canada