What Is Horse Slaughter?

Often a controversial topic, the slaughter and selling of horses for meat is a complex subject. Society is currently faced with questions regarding the purpose of such an industry in Canada. The horse slaughter industry is often criticized for having relaxed views towards animal welfare. Presently, animal rights groups are pushing to ban the slaughter of horses for meat consumption however many believe that horse slaughter plays a vital role in the horse industry.
Why is the horse slaughter industry currently an issue?
– Currently, the United States has introduced The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. This leads to the export of horses into Canada from the United States for slaughter.
– The Bureau of Land Management on the US has been finding solutions to decrease the herd size of wild horse populations and their slaughter has become an issue.
– There is an ongoing debate whether horses are considered pets or if they are livestock.
– The slaughter industry had been targeted by Animal Rights groups as a major welfare issue.
What are the welfare concerns surrounding the horse slaughter industry?
– Non-usable horses that are not sent to be slaughtered may experience starvation, exposure, neglect or inhumane euthanasia
– Non-usable horses may be sent somewhere other than to slaughter and may experience lower welfare conditions than previous.
– Slaughter horses are subject to long distance hauling because there are fewer slaughter plants than before.
– Slaughter plant regulations may be ineffective because of lack of scientific data to support the regulations therefore conditions may not be optimal.
Why does the horse slaughter industry exist?
– The industry began after WWII when people in Europe were experiencing low incomes and there was a beef shortage. People began slaughtering their draught animals, including horses.
– Horse meat has become a delicacy and is often very expensive. It is high in iron and is very lean.
– The industry provides an answer for horses that are not sound enough to be ridden, elderly, injured, or have behavior problems.
What is the current status of the horse slaughter industry?
– In 1997 there were 3 horse slaughter plants in the U. S., and 3 in Canada.
– Horse meat is sold to Japan, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Belgium.
– Canada has set up voluntary transportation codes for the horse slaughter industry.
– On October 28th, 2005 the House approved the ban on horse slaughter in the United States. (Has not passed through the U. S. Senate).
The horse slaughtered industry in Canada has continued to be profitable because, unlike the United States, pressures from animal rights groups have not been enough to overcome the current status of the industry. Before any changes in the horse slaughter industry in Canada can occur a thorough assessment of all the issues must be made.

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