Action Needed: Pro-Slaughter AVMA, AAEP, & AQHA
As most of you probably know, there
have been several news articles and investigative reports
recently released detailing the horrific treatment of horses both during
transport to, and slaughter in
Given the facts documented in these reports, one would think that even those entities that have always been considered "pro-horse slaughter", would agree that this reprehensible cruelty must be stopped. Amazingly enough this has not happened, and in fact, in response to the above mentioned reports, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued a press release reaffirming their opposition to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA)! The AVMA press release is every bit as astonishing as it is unacceptable.
It is high time that we take a stand against the pro-horse slaughter ranks and demand that they change their position on this issue.
Beginning Monday, October 8th, we will launch a call/fax campaign targeting the following pro-horse slaughter groups: AVMA, American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), and the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). I ask each of you to please draft a letter to these groups and to fax your letters to as many individuals on the contact list as you possibly can. Additionally, please call the individuals listed to let them know that you simply will no longer stand for their continued lobbying in support of the horse slaughter trade and the enormous suffering and abuse that they inflict upon our nations's horses. It is our goal to effectively keep this issue at the forefront of those at AVMA, AAEP, and AQHA for as long as it takes to get them to change their position and ultimately join us in working to end this dispicable cruelty, once and for all.
The contact information you will need is provided below, as is the recent San Antonio Express-News story and the AVMA's press release. I've also attatched the Animals' Angels Investigative Report. (For our Yahoo Group Humanity Against Horse Slaughter, the Animals' Angels report has been uploaded to the files section of the board).
It is vital that each and every one of us make an unprecedented effort to convince the leadership of these groups that American horse owners and lovers will no longer tolerate their continued support of the horse slaughter industry. AVMA, AAEP, and AQHA have turned a blind-eye to equine cruelty and suffering for far too long. It is high time that they open their eyes and work with us to protect our nation's horses from slaughter and abuse.
Please share this alert with family and friends and please remember to always remain factual and respectful in your letters and conversation. To be anything less does not help our position or our horses!
Additionally, if you are a member of any of these organizations, please be certain to mention that fact in your correspondence and insist that as a member, you demand that a vote by the membership on the issue of horse slaughter be afforded to each and every member.
Thanks to all!!
AVMA-AAEP-AQHA CONTACT INFORMATION DIRECTORY:
AVMA Contact Info Directory
E-mail: avmainfo@avma. org
- Governmental Relations Division:
E-mail: avmagrd@avma. org
Name Phone Fax Email
Gregory S. Hammer, DVM, President 847-925-8070 847-925-1329 ghammer@avma. org?
James O. Cook, DVM, President-Elect* 270-692-6787 847-925-1329 cookanhosp@alltel. net
Horse slaughters taking place on the border
Web Posted: 09/30/2007 12:36 AM CDT
CIUDAD JU├üREZ, Mexico ÔÇö The American mare swung her head frantically
when the door shut to the kill box, trapping her inside. A worker jabbed
her in the back with a small knife ÔÇö seven, eight, nine times.
Eyes wild, she lowered her head and raised it as the blade punctured her
body around the withers, again and again.
At the 10th jab, she fell to the floor of this Mexican slaughterhouse,
bloodied and paralyzed, but not yet dead.
She would lay there a good two minutes before being hoisted from a
chained rear leg so her throat could be slit and she could bleed to death.
The primitive procedure at the Ciudad Ju├írez plant now is the fate of
thousands of exported
slaughter operations in the
The roan mare was one of nearly 30,000 American horses shipped to
Mexican processing plants so far this year, a 369 percent increase from
the number recorded this time last year.
By the time she and her unlucky peers were led into this city-owned
plant, they typically had traveled in packed trucks 700 miles or more,
say the American traders who ship them there.
The lucky ones arrive dead. Many of the others come in "fractured,
battered and bruised," said Jos├ę Cuellar, the plant's veterinarian.
No one disputes that slaughter-bound horses have it far worse today than
before U.S. courts, upholding state bans, ended horse slaughter at two
plants in Texas earlier this year and at the nation's single remaining
one in Illinois on Sept. 21.
Animal welfare advocates who lobbied to end horse slaughter in the
barring horses from being exported for slaughter and prohibiting their
slaughter in states that don't already ban it.
But the fate of the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is uncertain.
"I think (the odds of the ban passing are) 50-50 this session," said
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., a leading opponent of horse slaughter who
sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. HR 503 passed the House
last year but a companion bill died in the Senate. The legislation has
been reintroduced this year.
John Holland, a horse slaughter opponent from
to warfare: attack the industry from all sides and deprive it of
profits, while pressing Congress for a federal law banning horse exports.
"The federal ban is the name of the game, and everybody in the
anti-slaughter community knows it," he said.
More than 100,000
dinner plates, according to government figures. There have been 15,000
fewer American horses slaughtered this year compared to the same period
last year, even counting the jump in the number being shipped to
"It made it better for (the) horses who are not being slaughtered, but
it made it worse for those who are. No doubt about it,"
"If you told me we'd never get the federal ban, would I have worked hard
to get the plants shut while horses are exported? No."
The issue of horse slaughter has emerged as one of the most contentious
Lower in fat than beef and sweeter, too, horsemeat is considered a
delicacy in places like
Laurent Mailhet, a third-generation butcher in
horsemeat is tastier than beef, and for good reason.
"The horse is an animal that selects its food," avoiding certain
grasses. Cattle, he said, are less discriminating.
In Mexico, horsemeat is perceived as inferior to beef, selling for about
30 percent less ÔÇö and it's sometimes sold as beef to unsuspecting customers.
It never gained much of a
Club reportedly offered horse steaks for decades but removed them from
its menu in the late 1970s.
Opponents argue that domestic horses shouldn't be used to satisfy
foreign palates. Horses played a special role in U.S. history, they say,
helping conquer the West, providing the sinews of early commerce and
serving as majestic friends ÔÇö but not food animals.
"Horses have helped us settle this country, they've been our primary
means of transportation, they've served us in battle and carried our
mail, entertained us and been our companions. They've been so much to
us, but the one thing they haven't been is dinner," said Michael
Markarian, executive vice president of the Humane Society of the
Though millions of cats and dogs wind up euthanized each year, Markarian
notes, "the answer has never been to send them for slaughter to
countries where they would be considered food animals."
Proponents of horse slaughter say they, too, have the horses' best
interests at heart. Banning it, they say, will result each year in the
abandonment of tens of thousands of unwanted horses.
The salvage market
To avoid a trip to the slaughterhouse, a horse needs to carry itself
well at auction. Paraded into the sale yard before a crowd, horses have
about a minute to demonstrate that they're broken in, tame, physically
fit and not too old.
Traders known as "killer buyers" flock to auction houses such as the
monthly horse sale in Stephenville, scooping up horses and ponies that
are crippled, blind, don't ride well or are just plain unwanted. They
stand inside the sale yard, surveying each animal, ready to bid as
little as $60 for a so-called "salvage market" horse.
Mike McBarron is one of about a dozen killer buyers in
Fifteen of the 21 horses he snapped up in Stephenville the first Friday
of September failed to convince him they had some quality more valuable
than the 20 to 30 cents a pound they would command at slaughter.
"Every one of them is either cripple or crazy or don't ride at all,"
McBarron said, surveying his herd.
McBarron, 36, has been trading horses since he dropped out of the ninth
grade and makes more money selling saddle horses not bound for
slaughter. He knows he has no celebrities rooting for him, no Bo Dereks
or Willie Nelsons writing to Congress on his behalf. (Both are in the
He knows many are contemptuous of traders who can flip a horse without
giving it much more than a glance, who assess sentient creatures in
dollars and cents.
But McBarron insists he's providing a kind of service, saving unwanted
horses from abandonment by saving owners the expense of euthanizing them.
"I promise you, if there was anybody in
packinghouses that wanted to buy 'em, I'd gladly sell 'em," he said.
The ban on horse slaughter in
who lives in Kaufman, site of one of the plants, said it costs him about
$100 to send a horse to
Animal welfare advocates reject the argument that owners would abandon
horses if they no longer could sell them for slaughter. They say killer
buyers often outbid others for horses that otherwise might end up on
"They create a market," said
Markarian said horse slaughter peaked in the 1980s, when as many as
350,000 horses were killed annually for their meat. The gradual closure
of plants didn't lead to thousands of horses running wild or dying in
their pastures, he said.
Steven Long can't fathom selling a horse for slaughter. Last year, his
ailing 20-year-old Dillon told him in subtle ways it was time, so he and
his wife paid $250 to put him down.
"The last thing he saw in life was my face looking into his eyes. I
stroked his face," he said.
A dignified death was the least they could do for a loyal riding buddy,
He's appalled others don't treat their animals with the same respect.
"That's darn sure pretty cold for someone to send their horse to
slaughter so they can profit or recover their costs," he said.
The killing floor
Under a metal roof in Stephenville, in the warm air long after midnight,
time was running out for McBarron's newly purchased herd.
At 10 a.m., they would be put in a cattle truck and shipped 565 miles to
border, they would then be put on a Mexican truck ÔÇö and become Mexican
horses subject to
Perhaps they'd stay in Ju├írez, or maybe they'd be shipped to one of the
two large plants in Zacatecas, 700 or so miles to the south.
About a quarter of the nearly 400 horses auctioned at Stephenville this
month were sold for slaughter. Some might have won a few ribbons and
been somebody's pet. Some may have spent their lives tied to a tree.
But when the trucks arrived, they would all share the same fate.
Not all horses screech while being stabbed in the back. But horses tend
to stir, making the task of killing them a challenge.
The Ju├írez plant has a couple of captive bolt guns, but they're
inoperable about half the time ÔÇö and when they work, poor training can
make their use almost as chaotic as the knives, said Cuellar, the
The knife wielders have to be nimble, with good aim, to paralyze a horse
with a single blow to the spinal cord. The man on duty one recent day
had atrocious aim, with horses enduring as many as 13 jabs to the back
The brutality left the plant's director, Luis Terrazas Mu├▒oz,
apologetic. But he can't shut the plant down just because the guns
aren't working, he said.
and has designed meat plant facilities that process about half all
cattle. She called the "puntilla" technique employed in Ju├írez and at
Repeated jabs to the spinal cord, she said, would not kill the horse, at
least not right away. A clean jab to the spinal cord, which is difficult
to do, dulls sensation in the body but not the head. "The horse would
likely experience being hoisted up and it's probably going to experience
being bled. It would likely experience 30 seconds to a minute of
absolute terror," Grandin said.
Horses were slaughtered at
from captive bolt guns. Grandin maintains that death came quickly and
painlessly. Some animal welfare advocates disagree, however, and say a
horses' quick movements and narrow forehead left some needing to be shot
multiple times before they went down.
The Ju├írez plant also processes cattle, but on different days per
Mexican law. The puntilla method is used on both animals in older
Not all exported horses endure such a grim death.
Newer plants are supposed to use captive bolt guns, but Terrazas said he
was uncertain whether the new regulations were being followed.
The plants in Zacatecas serve the European market, which bars the
importation of meat from animals that have not been stunned prior to
"The use of a pole-axe, hammer or puntilla is prohibited by the
Convention. Furthermore, large animals must neither be suspended nor
have their movements restricted before being stunned" the European
Convention's slaughter law states.
with a .22-caliber shot to the head, said the plants' owner, Claude Bouvry.
More than 18,000 horses were exported to
a 26 percent rise over the same period last year. Those numbers are
likely to rise, at least in the short term, given the ruling last week
by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ending horse
slaughter in Illinois.
For the time being, American horses will continue to be shipped by
American traders to foreign-owned plants and butchered. Their meat will
continue to make their way into small shops like Dennise Reta's El
Lucero in downtown Ju├írez, where customers can buy anything from cutlets
to steaks to ground meat.
bin/stories. pl?ACCT=104& STORY=/www/ story/10- 04-2007/00046763
Cruel Deaths in Mexico a Result of Closing U.S. Horse Processing Plants:
SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Efforts to shut down horse
processing plants in the United States have led to increased abandonment
and neglect of horses in this country and the inhumane death of horses in
Mexico, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations
Division, says that the AVMA, far from being pro-horse slaughter, opposes
bills banning slaughter because there are no provisions to take care of the
more than 100,000 horses that go unwanted annually in the
"If they think that by passing one of these bills they'll get rid of
the problem of unwanted horses, they're simply fooling themselves," Dr.
Efforts by groups calling for an end to horse slaughter, such as the
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have led to the closure of the
three remaining processing plants in the United States. Now, as the AVMA
has repeatedly warned, horses are being abandoned in the
supervision, they are slaughtered inhumanely.
"The reality is, the HSUS has done nothing to address the real issue
here, and, in fact, by seeking to ban horse slaughter, they have made
things significantly worse," said Dr. Lutschaunig. "If they really wanted
to do something productive to improve the welfare of horses, they would
address the issue of unwanted horses in the
Even if a bill passes banning the transport of horses for slaughter, it
would be nearly impossible to enforce. Such a law could easily be
circumvented by transporting and selling horses as "working" or "pleasure"
horses, only to have them end up in an unregulated foreign slaughter
"The AVMA does not support horse slaughter," Dr. Lutschaunig said.
"Ideally, we would have the infrastructure in this country to adequately
feed and care for all horses. But the sad reality is that we have a number
of horses that, for whatever reason, are unwanted. Transporting them under
USDA supervision to USDA-regulated facilities where they are humanely
euthanized is a much better option than neglect, starvation, or an inhumane
For more information, or to set up interviews with veterinary experts,
contact Michael San Filippo, media relations assistant, at 847-285-6687
(office), 847-732-6194 (cell), or msanfilippo@ avma.org.
The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary
medical organizations in the world, with more than 75,000 member
veterinarians engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. AVMA
members are dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary
medicine, including its relationship to public health and agriculture.
Visit the AVMA Web site at http://www.avma. org to learn more about
veterinary medicine and animal care and to access up-to-date information on
the association' s issues, policies and activities.