Horse slaughterhouses could soon open back up in the United States. In 2006, Congress ended the funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses. It had the effect of shutting them down.
But recently, Congress reversed its decision. Advocates of the decision say the ban had unintended consequences that actually hurt horses, but some animal rights activists say lifting the ban is the worst thing that could have happened to horses.
Paula Bacon was mayor of Kaufman, Texas when the last of one of three slaughterhouses in the U.S. was operating there. “Their presence in this community was nothing but negative,” says Bacon, ”Completely negative." Bacon worries now that the ban has been lifted, the gates will be opened to cruelty to horses and that the conditions that prompted ban in the first place will return.
Says Bacon, “They don’t have the funds to provide the oversight that would even begin to make this work."
Opponents of the ban claim it left horse owners few options when faced with unwanted horses.
Says David Duquette of the group United Horseman, "Neglect and abuse in the United States since the closing of the plants has risen well over 1400%." A U.S. Government Accountability Office report attributes some of the abuse to the bad economy.
In fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the export of horses to Mexico for slaughter increased from about 40,000 to 52,406 in just the last year. “It's a craps-shoot,” says Duquette, “They just don't have the same rules and regulations or moral fortitude to deal with the horses in a humane way."
Much of the meat processed in horse slaughterhouses is sent to overseas markets. No word on when the first U.S. horse slaughterhouse might open. Several states including Texas have already banned the practice.