The Pet Gazette

The Pet Gazette

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Efforts to end horse slaughter: New billboards support Mass. to end horse slaughter trade

The Massachusetts chapter of Americans Against Horse Slaughter wholly endorses two new billboards opposing horse slaughter, which claims the lives of an estimated 3,000 horses from the Commonwealth each year. The two billboards, located at Route 291 at I-90 near Chicopee, MA and on I-93 in Boston near the MBTA JFK/ UMass T-stop are part of a national awareness campaign being run by Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue.


Concerned citizens in Massachusetts are pleased to have billboards in their home state raising awareness about the inhumane horse slaughter industry. “Like puppy mills, factory farms, and other industries that inflict suffering to animals, Commonwealth residents are strongly opposed to the business of slaughtering horses for human consumption,” says Alexis Fox, Massachusetts Director of the Humane Society of the United States. Ongoing congressional polls by PopVox show over 90 percent1 of Massachusetts respondents supporting federal bills to ban slaughter and ban export of equines for slaughter, and every member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation signed on as co-sponsors of those bills.

However, according to Kathryn Webers, State Coordinator of the Massachusetts Chapter of the national advocacy group Americans Against Horse Slaughter, “Despite strong national support for a ban on horse slaughter, well-funded special interests have obstructed the federal legislation the last several sessions.” Outraged equine advocates from across the state are now pushing for a ban in Massachusetts, to protect the 3,000 horses in the Commonwealth from ending up on overseas dinner plates each year. The state bill to ban horse slaughter, MA S.655, was introduced by Senator Stephen Brewer (Barre) earlier this legislative session,and is well-supported there, and also by national and state humane and equine welfare groups, as well as the Massachusetts racetrack, Suffolk Downs. Suffolk was the first track in the nation to set a “Zero Tolerance” policy for trainers who sell their racehorses to slaughter, thereby denying those trainers access to Suffolk.
Ms. Webers notes that “Americans define, legislate, and regulate on local, state and federal levels in regard acceptable and unacceptable practices as related to animals. The current pursuit of a state ban on horse slaughter for human consumption is a continuation of this long-standing American practice.”

A ban on horse slaughter for human consumption has become more urgent following the reinstatement of USDA funding for horse meat inspectors in last November’s FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which enables horse slaughter to resume in the US, though no budget figure has been applied to such expenditures. Texas, California and Illinois, home to former US plants, have since banned slaughter, and other states such as Rhode Island have resolutions opposing horse slaughter.

Documented evidence has shown that whether American horses are slaughtered in the US or elsewhere, extreme cruelty is routine throughout the slaughter industry’s system. It starts at American livestock auctions such as Crowley’s in western Massachusetts, where horses are bought by slaughter dealers, and evidence shows that horses are beaten with pipes, sticks, whips and electric prods, and that USDA regulations fail to provide humane treatment within industry sectors.

Another area of concern is the bulk transport of slaughter horses. When the US horse slaughter plants were operating, a 2005 USDA report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed appalling humane violations of horses arriving at the plant with eyes gouged, limbs torn off, necks broken, and dead3.

USDA is the federal entity tasked with oversight of US horse slaughter for human consumption4 and a gross lack of confidence prompts Americans to advocate for federal and state slaughter ban bills.
US-based horse slaughter plants themselves have always raised concerns about the inability to process horses humanely. In the Fall of 2011, undercover footage from a new, state-of-the-art Temple Grandindesigned Canadian facility showed unacceptable failure rates of up to 40% for humane stunning, resulting in animals being hoisted by one leg and having their throats slit while conscious. The footage was reviewed by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, DVM, a Professor at Tufts Cummings School of Medicine and one of the nation’s top animal behaviorists, “My final conclusion, after reviewing 150-plus horse slaughters in this series of videos, is that the process was terrifying for most of the horses and, in many cases, horribly inhumane.”

“The horse’s physical and temperamental characteristics make humane slaughter virtually impossible,” determines Dr Linda Breitman, DVM. Further, significant concerns by Breitman include that horses are routinely given medications specifically banned in animals raised for human consumption. “We know, or at least should know, that eating horses not raised for slaughter is unsafe. Anyone who facilitates horse slaughter for human consumption by turning a blind eye is complicit in the poisoning of fellow human beings,” Dr Breitman notes with concern.

Horse owners are correct to make preparations in advance of need. “The cost to humanely euthanize and dispose of a horse is less than the cost of caring for it for one month,” informs Dr. Breitman.

The Massachusetts equine rescue community supports efforts to end horse slaughter. “We’re on the front lines of abuse and neglect,” says Mary Martin of New England Equine Rescues, “which are not reduced by having slaughter available. Slaughter only ensures some unlucky horses will endure unspeakable suffering in the slaughter pipeline.”

The Massachusetts Chapter of Americans Against Horse Slaughter urges Massachusetts residents to ask their state legislators to actively support Massachusetts Senate bill 655 by requesting the bill’s favorable release from the legislature’s Joint Committee on the Judiciary by March 21, 2012.
Current federal legislation banning horse slaughter has the support of the entire Massachusetts delegation.

Americans Against Horse Slaughter is a non-funded, grassroots movement comprised of supporters for a federal ban on the slaughter of American horses for human consumption via current federal bills S1176/HR2966, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2012. AAHS has state chapters in most states. For further information, please see

For more information, please contact Kathryn Webers, Massachusetts Coordinator, Americans Against Horse Slaughter at 781-834-0527, or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .