On Friday, Oklahoma’s Governor Mary Fallin lifted a 50 year-old ban; once again allowing horse slaughter plants to be legal in the state. Although the bill has now been signed which will legally permit the slaughter of horses and their meat prepared for exportation on Nov.1 in the state, any facility must first obtain authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Horse meat cannot be sold for human consumption in the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there were 166,000 horses shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. According to the N.Y. Daily News, Gov. Fallin stated horses are treated inhumanely during the slaughter process in Mexico and claimed the slaughter process in Oklahoma would be more humane in the United States.
According to the Humane Society of the United States however, when horse slaughter was legal in the United States, government photos of egregious cruelty were released by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):
” The plants in the U.S. have been prohibited from slaughtering horses for good reason. Undercover footage from inside these facilities demonstrated how horrific these plants were: Many horses were conscious when they were shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut.
There is a history of abuse and cruelty at the U.S. plants, including employees whipping horses in the face and horses giving birth on the killing floors. The USDA recently released photos of horses with protruding broken bones, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds—all taken at U.S. horse slaughterhouses.”
In 2007, the last horse slaughterhouse shuttered their doors in Illinois as the Cavel Horse Slaughter plant closed when Congress defunded USDA inspectors. In 2011 however, a few politicians quietly inserted the language into the omnibus spending act thus enabling horse slaughter plants in the United States to operate again. Cavel’s existence was referred to as a blight against the community with constant complaints and violations of overflowing sewage. Even though the plant was completely rebuilt after the original facility burned down, it was never in compliance on sewage discharge.
The Oklahoma bill, backed by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and other agricultural producers are vehemently against any animal rights group telling them what to do with their livestock – including horses.
Meanwhile, just a few weeks ago, U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu, (Louisiana) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports Act which will prohibit horse slaughter in the U.S. and ban the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption. Accompanying bills in the House of Representatives were sponsored by Representatives Patrick Meeham (R-Pennsylvania) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois).
According to eatocracy.cnn.com:
“Horses have been raised for sport, transport, security and companionship, but never for slaughter and consumption,” Landrieu said. “There are very few regulations on the drugs given to horses, and we cannot risk introducing dangerously toxic meat into our food supply here at home or abroad. We must stop the slaughter of these beloved animals and protect the public’s health. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this important legislation.”
The new legislation addresses the serious issues of human health and safety, since horses are routinely treated with drugs and medications specifically prohibited by the USDA for the use in any animals intended to one day be slaughtered for their meat for human consumption.
Serious ramifications emerged in Ireland earlier this year when alleged beef products were found to contain horse meat. Supermarket shelves in the U.K., France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Romania were cleared of their beef products.
Now Americans worry if horse slaughter is brought back to the United States, will horse meat contamination start showing up in their beef or other meat products? A published study in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology traced 18 Thoroughbred race horses through the slaughter process and found that all of them had been treated with Phenylbutazone, a proven carcinogenic drug expressly banned in animals to be used for human consumption.
“Americans don’t eat their horses,” stated Brigette Compton, an avid rider since the age of three-years-old. “I’ve lived with horses all my life and not once have any of my horses ever been sent to slaughter nor would I ever think about it. When it’s time for their lives to end because their quality of life and the pain of disease can no longer be controlled, we call the vet to humanely euthanize them. We’re talking about companion animals, and these beautiful creatures who give us their hearts. And I’m not rich, but the money I spend to give one of my horses a peaceful death is worth working overtime.”
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