Illinois slaughter plant re-opens pending legal action

4 06 2007

Update to last week’s post:

A federal judge ruled Friday to allow a horse slaughtering plant in northern Illinois to resume operations temporarily while challenging a state law that forced it to close last week.

Belgian-owned Cavel International Inc. filed a lawsuit May 25 claiming a new law banning the slaughter of horses intended for human consumption is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Kapala granted the temporary restraining order that prevents state and DeKalb County officials from enforcing the ban while the suit is considered.

The DeKalb plant operated legally for 20 years. It closed twice this year over the horse meat issue, first temporarily in March after a federal court said plant inspections were being improperly funded by the Agriculture Department, and then again last week after Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a law banning the import, export, possession and slaughter of horses intended for human consumption.

Cavel shipped horse meat to Europe and was the only horse-slaughtering facility still operating in the U.S.

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Last American slaughter plant closes in Illinois

30 05 2007

The state with the nation’s last operating horse slaughterhouse made it illegal to kill the animals for human consumption on Thursday.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he was proud to sign the law, calling it “past time to stop slaughtering horses in Illinois.” A slaughterhouse in DeKalb has been shipping horse meat overseas, where it is sold for people to eat. The practice has outraged people who feel horses are more like pets than livestock. A phone call to Cavel International’s plant went unanswered Thursday evening.

Two other horse slaughter plants in Texas were shut down this year.

Illinois lawmakers passed the ban after an appeal from actress Bo Derek. In a statement, she applauded the move. Link

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Four more organizations join The Unwanted Horse Coalition

17 05 2007

Four more equine organizations have joined the Unwanted Horse Coalition (UHC), bringing the total number of members to 16. The mission of the UHC is to educate the public on the issue of unwanted horses and to remind people to “Own Responsibly.”

“The UHC is pleased to welcome new group members the Maryland Horse Breeders Association, the Mustang Heritage Foundation, the Masters of Foxhounds Association of North America, and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association,” said UHC Chairman Dr. Tom Lenz.

The resources and support that UHC member organizations offer will be invaluable as the coalition works towards the ultimate goal of reducing the number of unwanted horses and improving the welfare of these horses.

The new organizations join current members of the coalition, which include the American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Paint Horse Association, American Quarter Horse Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, The Jockey Club, National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Professional Rodeo Stock Contractors, AHC State Horse Council Committee, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, United States Equestrian Federation, and U.S. Trotting Association.

“It is very encouraging to see so many organizations recognizing the plight of unwanted horses as an important issue and stepping up to the plate to help make a difference,” said Jay Hickey, president of the American Horse Council, under whose auspices the UHC operates.

To learn more about the UHC and this issue and your responsibilities, visit the UHC Web site at (Story link)

Related posts:

Buy one, get one free?!

Barbaro update, and a challenge to those who say they love horses

The Unwanted Horse Coalition

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Horse: it’s what’s for dinner?

7 05 2007

British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has said that consumers should consider eating horse meat, as a safe and nutritious alternative to beef and other meats. Link What never seems to occur to him or anyone else, ethical and moral questions aside, is that horses are not raised and fed to be part of the food chain in the west, meaning that there is no way of knowing what sort of drugs, pathologies, chemicals etc. are actually present in the meat at the time of slaughter: wormers, Bute, antibiotics, you name it. (Hat tip to raincoaster for the story, btw)

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House votes to prevent commercial slaughter of wild horses and burros

26 04 2007

Wild Burros of the Owens Valley, originally uploaded by Snap Man.

The House voted Thursday to prevent the government from selling off for slaughter any wild horses and burros that roam public lands in the West.

The 277-137 vote would restore a 1971 law preventing the Bureau of Land Management from selling the animals for commercial processing.

The protection was removed in 2004 when former Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., inserted a measure in a spending bill allowing their sale. Read more

I hope they’ll be looking into alternative ways of keeping the populations down, such as making it easier to adopt these critters, immunocontraception, etc. About a quarter of the mustangs and burros rounded up never find homes…

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The Unwanted Horse Coalition

29 03 2007

The Unwanted Horse Council (UHC) announced has launched a new website and announced the release of an awareness brochure.

“The Unwanted Horse Coalition includes equine organizations that are concerned with the number of unwanted horses in the United States,” said Dr. Tom Lenz, Coalition Chairman.

“The website and brochure are our first steps in educating current and future owners, breeders, traders, and others involved with horses about the issue of the unwanted horse. Our goal is to make the coalition unnecessary.”

Both the website and brochure explain the UHC and its mission, which is to reduce the number of unwanted horses and to improve their welfare. It will do that through educational outreach and the efforts of various organizations committed to the health, safety, and responsible care and disposition of unwanted horses.

The UHC was created following the Unwanted Horse Summit that was organized by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and held in conjunction with the American Horse Council’s annual meeting in April 2005. In June 2006, the group was folded into the American Horse Council and now operates under its auspices.

In addition to information about the UHC, the website provides resources and links for retiring and rescuing horses, methods for handling the loss of a horse, and suggestions to help people “Own Responsibly,” which is the motto of the UHC.

“We want people to learn how to own responsibly,” Jay Hickey, President of the American Horse Council, said. “If they buy, sell, and treat horses responsibly, there will be fewer unwanted horses.”

The website will be updated regularly with news releases and publications describing the progress of the UHC and the plight of the unwanted horse. Both the website and the brochure provide information on how to become a member of the UHC and how to contribute to the UHC. (Via HorseTalkNZ)

Related posts:

Buy one, get one free?!

Barbaro update, and a challenge to those who say they love horses

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Court ruling shuts down Illinois slaughter plant

29 03 2007

Horse Trailer Photo 2, originally uploaded by EquineGuardian.

A federal appeals court’s decision Wednesday to block the Agriculture Department from providing horse meat inspections for a fee has repercussions for an Illinois plant.

The decision in a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States also is another setback for the horse slaughter industry overall.

In January, a federal appeals court upheld a 1949 Texas ban on the slaughter of horses for the purpose of selling the meat for human consumption overseas. The ruling forced two plants in Texas to scale back operations.

Wayne Pacelle, president of the humane society, said Wednesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia effectively shuts down operations at Cavel International Inc. in DeKalb, Ill., the only plant still fully operating in the U.S.

Congress stripped funding for horse meat inspections in 2005, but the USDA devised a plan to provide the inspections for a fee for slaughter plants. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, found the USDA did not follow federal procedures for setting up the inspection fee program. Link

Related posts:

House votes to stop sale of wild horses for slaughter

Audio debate: The end of the trail for American horses

House votes and horse polls

Did you know…

U.S. House passes Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

A call for help

No more horse slaughter in Texas

Horse news in brief, 2007-01-27

We Eat Horses, Don’t We?

Horses on auction list lead to fears of sale for slaughter

Kentucky “swamped” with unwanted horses

Humane society refutes horse dumping claims

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Humane society refutes horse dumping claims

18 03 2007

Shadow of a Doubt, originally uploaded by Katford.

The Humane Society of the United States says that recent claims that thousands of horses have been abandoned in Kentucky are unfounded.

The society is calling it “a campaign of fear mongering by a foreign-owned horse slaughter industry which is on its last legs in the United States“.

“Proponents of slaughtering American horses so the French and Belgians can eat horse meat frequently alarm the public about wanton abandonment to raise false and baseless concerns about a proposed ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.”

At the annual meeting of the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Association last week, the organization’s president, Dan Evans, surveyed the membership about the situation. None reported an increase in abandoned horse reports or sightings.

“The notion that Kentucky is overrun with unwanted horses is absurd,” said Pam Rogers, Kentucky State Program Coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States, who was at the meeting.

“We are a state of horse lovers, and we want to protect our horses from being butchered and exported to foreign countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy. These claims made by the horse slaughter industry’s lobbyists have no basis. This is just plain rumor mongering.”

The reports surfaced after a federal appeals court decision closed down two horse slaughter plants in Texas. Equine welfare experts report that the horses bound for the Texas slaughter plants are now being shipped to a plant in Mexico to be killed. The only horse slaughter plant still operating in the United States – in DeKalb, Illinois – is importing horses from Canada for slaughter, underscoring the point that there is no surplus of horses available in the United States. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 92.3 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and in good shape – not starving or neglected animals.

An overwhelming majority of Americans and members of Congress oppose slaughtering horses for human consumption. A bill in Congress – led by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Rep. John Spratt (D- S.C.), and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) in the House, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D- La.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in the Senate – would protect American horses from the industry. The House voted five times in favour of stopping horse slaughter in the last Congress, and the Senate voted to do the same by a two-thirds majority, but time ran out before the final authorizing bill could be enacted.

Claims that a ban will lead to the starvation and abandonment of thousands, however, are inaccurate. Horse slaughter was banned in California in 1998, and no corresponding rise in starvation and abandonment cases has been seen. Starving or abandoning horses is animal cruelty and subject to criminal prosecution under state cruelty laws. After California banned horse slaughter, cases of horse theft in the state dropped by 34 percent because there was no longer an incentive to steal horses for the foreign meat trade.

Many horse owners facing difficult times reject selling their animals to slaughter. Instead, they may sell or adopt them, donate them to a rescue group, or have them humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. These are viable options currently available.

A recent trade article quotes a livestock auction operator: “I thought we’d see [horse] prices so bad that people would just turn their horses out on the highway because they couldn’t feed or sell them, but it looks like that may not happen.” Link

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Kentucky “swamped” with unwanted horses

15 03 2007

With new laws making it difficult to send horses off to the slaughterhouse when they are no longer suitable for racing or work, auction houses are glutted with horses they can barely sell, and rescue organizations have run out of room.

Some owners who cannot get rid of their horses are letting them starve; others are turning them loose in the countryside. Link

You already know what I’m going to say about this, don’t you?

Horses on auction list lead to fears of sale for slaughter

13 03 2007

From today’s Globe and Mail. While I think horse slaughter is despicable, I agree heartily about the overbreeding. People need to start thinking in terms of what their breed needs, and what their discipline demands, instead of just throwing horses together because they can. (And get your damn dogs and cats fixed while you’re at it) We also need tougher animal cruelty laws in Canada and elsewhere.

An Ontario animal-welfare agency was thrown on the defensive yesterday after an auction notice listed for sale four animals in its care. Horse lovers had feared the animals might be sold for slaughter.

On the weekend, word spread on a horse fanciers’ discussion board that the Claremont Horse Auction, which takes place in a town just north of Toronto, included four animals from the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in its website’s description of lots for a March 15 auction.

The OSPCA is empowered to seize neglected or maltreated animals, which are cared for until they can be adopted or found a place in one of dozens of operations that care for abandoned animals.

Representatives for the OSPCA, which acknowledged before a legislative committee last year that it is having difficulty matching donations to expenses, insisted yesterday that there was never any question of auctioned animals being sent to a slaughterhouse.

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We Eat Horses, Don’t We?

5 03 2007

Deep Blue, originally uploaded by twistedbydesign.

From today’s New York Times: an overview of the historical and cultural factors behind eating horsemeat–or not. Many thanks to timethief for the story!

RECENTLY, an official for American Horse Defense Fund, which is a fervent supporter of bills now in the United States Congress that would ban slaughtering horses for meat, declared that “the foreign-owned slaughter industry needs to understand that Americans will never view horses as dinner.”

It’s a ringing statement, but it’s not an entirely accurate one. As much public support as the anti-slaughter bills have and as highly as we regard this animal as a companion, co-worker and patriotic symbol, Americans have made periodic forays into horse country, hungry for an alternative red meat.

During World War II and the postwar years, when beef and pork were scarce or priced beyond most consumers’ means, horsemeat appeared in the butcher’s cold case. In 1951, Time magazine reported from Portland, Ore.: “Horsemeat, hitherto eaten as a stunt or only as a last resort, was becoming an important item on Portland tables. Now there were three times as many horse butchers, selling three times as much meat.” Noting that “people who used to pretend it was for the dog now came right out and said it was going on the table,” the article provided tips for cooking pot roast of horse and equine fillets.

A similar situation unfolded in 1973, when inflation sent the cost of traditional meats soaring. Time reported that “Carlson’s, a butcher shop in Westbrook, Conn., that recently converted to horsemeat exclusively, now sells about 6,000 pounds of the stuff a day.” The shop was evangelical in its promotion of horse as a main course, producing a 28-page guide called “Carlson’s Horsemeat Cook Book,” with recipes for chili con carne, German meatballs, beery horsemeat and more. While no longer in print, the book is catalogued on Amazon.

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Horse news in brief, 2007-01-27

27 01 2007

Bailando a los saltos, originally uploaded by Eduardo Amorim.

Researchers are studying antibiotic-resistant staph in horses and humans…

Texas slaughterhouses continue to process horse meat for zoos and pet food…

Horse statues in Chicago have been wrapped with Bears-logo blankets in honour of the team’s upcoming Superbowl game…

Among the bizarre insurance claims received by Norwich Union (UK) last year: horses tried to eat a parked car…

One of Scotland’s most famous police horses has died in retirement after clocking up the longest track record of any equestrian public servant…

Someone’s been shooting horses in eastern Kentucky…

The trial of a doctor charged with injecting race horses with vodka is set to resume March 29 in Nebraska…

Seven women have embarked on a tour of the United Arab Emirates on horseback to spread awareness of Arabian horse traditions and raise money for charities…

Love the pink bridle



No more horse slaughter in Texas

21 01 2007

This just in…

A federal appeals court has ruled that horse slaughter is illegal in Texas, home to two of the nation’s three processing plants.

The decision, issued late Friday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, overturns a lower federal district court’s ruling last year on a 1949 Texas law that banned horse slaughter for the purpose of selling the meat for food.

The lower court had said the Texas law was invalid because it had already been repealed by another statute and pre-empted by federal law.

But a panel of three judges on the 5th Circuit disagreed and said the law stood on its own merits and was still enforceable.

“The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon,” Judge Fortunato Benavides wrote in Friday’s ruling. “Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse.”

The ruling involves two of the nation’s three horse slaughtering plants – the Dallas Crown Inc. slaughter mill in Kaufman, and Beltex Corp. in Forth Worth. A third plant run by Cavel International Inc. in DeKalb, Ill. is not affected by the ruling. All three facilities are foreign-owned.

Mark Calabria, a lawyer for Dallas Crown, could not be reached for comment Saturday. Telephone messages left at the offices of Dallas Crown and Beltex were not immediately returned.

About 88,000 horses, mules and other equines were slaughtered in 2005, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Horse meat is not marketed as table fare in the United States, but the slaughter plants process hundreds of horses each week and ship the meat overseas, where horse flesh is considered a delicacy in Europe, Japan and other places.

While proponents such as the American Veterinary Medical Association say slaughter is a kind way to deal with old horses and a better alternative to abandonment, opponents including Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens and country music star Willie Nelson have argued that the killing of equines is un-American – and many young horses are killed as well.

A bill pending before Congress would shutter all three operations.

The Humane Society of the United States, which filed an amicus brief in the case, lauded the fact that those involved in the horse slaughter business in Texas can now face criminal prosecution.

“This is the most important court action ever on the issue of horse slaughter,” Wayne Pacelle, the society’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “When this ruling is enforced, a single plant in Illinois will stand alone in conducting this grisly business.”


Wow…I never thought I’d see the day. What are your thoughts?

A call for help

21 09 2006

George the Appy

Andrea at Mustang Saga is trying to help Columbia Basin Equine Rescue save some horses from slaughter, including George, pictured above. If you’d like to help out, please visit her blog.

U.S. House passes Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

7 09 2006

Stunned, not dead

Only “stunned”, not dead, this horse had been dropped from the stun chute onto a moving platform where a hind leg has now been secured & hoisted into the air by the man in white as the horse proceeds through the slaughter plant. Link

September 7, 2006 — The U.S. House on Thursday voted 263-146 in favor of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which bans the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Co-sponsored by Reps. John Sweeney (R-New York) and Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky), the bill seeks to amend the Horse Protection Act to ban the shipping, purchasing, selling, delivering or receiving of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. Two amendments to alter the bill failed to pass.

AQHA opposed the bill, which would if it becomes law shut down horse slaughter plants in Fort Worth and Kaufman, Texas; and DeKalb, Illinois.

An AQHA release stated, “AQHA and the Horse Welfare Council opposed the bill because of its shortcomings on a number of different fronts. The bill doesn’t offer any solutions to the 100,000 unwanted or unusable horses that are sent to slaughter facilities each year and infringes on the rights of all horse owners. Additionally, the bill does not have any oversight measures or guidelines for equine rescue operations that are expected to absorb these horses each year. AQHA supported humane transportation and treatment laws for horses bound for slaughter.

“In the end most members of Congress found it hard to vote against this bill, which was heavily lobbied for by animal rights groups and the Humane Society of the United States,” the release continued. “While AQHA does not favor slaughter over other end-of-life options, it does believe it should remain an option for owners. By passing this bill, AQHA and HWC officials believe bottom-end, unemployable and unwanted animals will suffer increased neglect and place an undue burden on state and local governments. The bill now moves on to the Senate.

A similar version of the bill, Senate Bill 1915, is currently before the Senate Commerice, Science, and Transportation Committee. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John Ensign (R-Nevada) and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana).


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