The horse slaughter trade has been branded predatory, disreputable and inhumane by the head of the United States Humane Society (HSUS), Wayne Pacelle.
Pacelle also rounded on high-profile slaughter advocate Sue Wallis and other proponents of the industry, saying they must face the fact that Americans don’t reduce all decisions to sheer profit-making alone.
“Our values about horses and their welfare matter to the people of the United States,” he wrote in his blog, A Humane Nation.
“Nobody raises horses for food in the US, and no consumers want the product.
“We Americans shouldn’t be catering to foreign gourmands by killing perfectly healthy horses, especially in light of the historic place these animals have occupied in our country.
“America was settled on the back of a horse ― these animals have been helping us and serving us ever since, and what a betrayal it is to exploit them in this way.”
Pacelle said Wallis, a Wyoming state legislator, had been talking about opening a horse slaughter plant on US soil for years, and began her crusade not long after the last plants were shuttered in 2007.
“Wallis has been aggressively venue-shopping in recent months.
“She found her opening when a group of federal lawmakers allied with the agribusiness lobby succeeded in blocking HSUS-backed language in the annual agriculture spending bill to bar USDA inspections of horse meat.
“The omission of that anti-slaughter language, Wallis thought, paved the way for a new plant to kill horses for human consumption.”
Wallis has claimed she has plans on the drawing board for slaughter plants in Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Washington, and claims to be on the cusp of starting one up in a couple of states.
But this week, Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, New Mexico, said it was suspending its effort to seek approval from the US Department of Agriculture for a plant in the state, where there was fierce opposition from Governor Susana Martinez and Attorney General Gary King.
Wallis has also found resistance elsewhere to her plant plans.
“These are good outcomes, because this is a predatory, disreputable, inhumane industry,” Pacelle said.
“But just stopping horse slaughter plants from ramping up does not stop the slaughter of American horses.
“They are now being exported live to Canada and Mexico, and more than 100,000 horses a year are suffering in this trade and meeting an ignominious demise.”
Pacelle said, ultimately, the answer was for the European Union to shut down the import of American horse meat, given that it is “adulterated with all sorts of substances not fit for human consumption”.
The society, along with Front Range Equine Rescue, had filed petitions with the agriculture department and the Food and Drug Administration to have US horse meat declared “condemned” and unqualified for human consumption for that reason.
The US Congress, he said, should pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to stop the export of live horses for slaughter.