EQUUS Foundation
Slaughter is not Humane Euthanasia

Harsh Realities

Viewed as commodities, too many horses are regarded as disposable for profit when they no longer serve their owners’ purpose - when their owners cannot, or no longer wish to, care for them. Many are young, healthy and have untapped potential.

EQUUS Foundation

Horse Slaughter is Not Humane Euthanasia

"Horse slaughter" is defined as the killing and processing of horses for human or animal consumption vs. "Euthanasia" which is defined as the practice of ending the horse's life painlessly to relieve suffering.

As the only national charity in the United States 100% dedicated to protecting America’s horses and strengthening the bond between horses and people, the EQUUS Foundation believes that all horses, donkeys and mules (collectively referred to as horses) involved in any role and in any capacity - as athletes, companions, teachers and healers - deserve to be safe, healthy, and treated with dignity as partners.

The EQUUS Foundation is against the slaughter of America's horses and against the sale or transport of America's horses in interstate or foreign commerce for the purposes of human or animal consumption.

At the present time:
•  There is no assurance that the methods of slaughter of equines transported from the United States to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico are humane and adequately protect equines from suffering and equines transported from the United States to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico can suffer long journeys without adequate food, water or rest; and
•  Horses in the United States are bred and raised as livestock but not as a food product. Horses in the United States are fed and medicated in a manner inconsistent with food safety standards, and there is no assurance that the horse meat has been tested to be safe for human or animal consumption. Read more -> Toxicity of Horse Meat

How do slaughterhouses kill horses?

Some believe that horse slaughter is a "necessary evil" -- that without it, horses could face a lifetime of abuse or neglect - that slaughter is a humane solution to dispose of unwanted or dangerous horses.

When horse slaughter plants operated in the U.S., typically, a penetrating captive bolt gun was used to render the animal unconscious. The captive bolt was not designed for horse's anatomy or to compensate for the horse's instinctual flight response making accurate stunning very difficult resulting in the animal sustaining repeated blows or remaining conscious during the kill process. This method and other even less humane methods are used to slaughter horses across our borders.

Clarifying the Issues

The slaughter of horses commercially for the human consumption of horse meat and the transportation of horses across our borders to be slaughtered is LEGAL in the United States. The reason why America's horses are shipped across our borders and are not currently slaughtered in the United States is that there is no longer funding - at this time - for the federal inspection of US-based slaughterhouses that slaughter horses for the human consumption of horse meat. Without inspectors present, horse slaughterhouses cannot legally operate in the United States. Therefore, slaughter-bound American horses are shipped across US borders to be slaughtered to meet the demand for horse meat in other countries.

The last horses slaughtered for the human consumption of horse meat in the United States was in 2007, but the transportation of America's horses across our borders began in 2001. Since that time, over 2 million horses have been sent across our borders to be slaughtered. The most horses sent to slaughter in a given year was in 2012 when 166,572 were shipped across our borders. Since 2018, the number of horses transported across our borders annually has been declining.

The largest number of horses shipped across the border to be slaughtered was in 2012!


Horses shipped across the border to be slaughtered in 2018


Horses shipped across the border to be slaughtered in 2019


Horses shipped across the border to be slaughtered in 2020


Horses shipped across the border to be slaughtered last year

If we are to achieve a humane and sustainable environment for horses now and in the future, the slaughter of America's horse must end. While the numbers of horses being transported is declining, to offset the reduced demand for American horse meat by Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses, "meat brokers" purchase horses sent to auctions at per pound prices and then resell them at considerably higher prices by employing a threat tactic that these horses will be sent to slaughter if not saved by a sympathetic public. Some believe that bailing out these horses only perpetuates the problem by incentivizing the "meat brokers".

It is imperative right now to focus efforts on:
   • Increasing opportunities for horses to naturally transition from one career to the next; and
   • Retraining horses in transition to prepare them for these opportunities.

It is equally imperative that there are mechanisms in place right now to:
   • Provide owners of horses who are unable to retain ownership of their horses with viable options other than sending horses to auction that are likely to be purchased by "meat brokers", and
   • Ensure, when the time comes, that all horses experience a humane and peaceful end of life.

Position Statement on Lobbying

The EQUUS Foundation does not engage in any activities that may be construed by the Internal Revenue Service as "attempting to influence legislation". According to the IRS, an organization is regarded as "attempting to influence legislation, i.e. lobbying" if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation. Organizations classified as 501(c)(3) organizations run the risk of losing their tax-exempt status if the organization actively or regularly engages in these activities.

The EQUUS Foundation devotes its efforts to ensuring a humane environment for America's horses now and in the future by raising awareness of the impact of horses in our lives and investing in effective programs that are finding homes for at-risk horses and horses in transition, providing a safe haven for aged horses, and increasing opportunities for horses to engage and empower people.

© Copyright 2018 EQUUS Foundation Tele: 203-259-1550 Email: mail@equusfoundation.org