Op-Ed by Caitlin Alyse Baiduc, Humane Action Pennsylvania, Eastern PA Coordinator
I was deeply disturbed after reading a recent report (https://animalwellnessaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Horse-Slaughter-Report.pdf) about American horses sent to slaughter in Canada and Mexico for the purpose of human consumption. As detailed in the report, horse auctions represent the beginning of the horse slaughter pipeline.
The New Holland auction in Lancaster, PA is a well-known conduit to the segmented journey faced by so-called “slaughter horses.” Horses fated for slaughter are subjected to protracted journeys without sustenance, crowded in unsanitary conditions, and frequently face brutal treatment. The falsity of the horse slaughter pipeline as a necessary “safety valve” for unwanted horses is thus exposed as a perverse deception; it is hard to imagine a fate worse than that endured by slaughter-bound horses.
There is a kernel of good news. The number of American horses slaughtered each year has dropped – from nearly 350,0000 in the 1990s to 20,000 today. However, for those 20,000 horses, there can be no sadder fate than to enter the slaughter pipeline. As a prominent animal advocate, Wayne Pacelle aptly put it in a recent press release (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikGcCV-LeVg), once horses get into the hands of kill buyers, they are treated like “meat in waiting.” Inputs of the most basic care – food, water, shelter – are minimized to maximize kill buyers’ profit margins.
It is unacceptable that the United States is allowing the export of horses for slaughter when the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose this practice. It is time for Congress to address this urgent issue and ban the slaughter of US horses, including live exports.
Caitlin Alyse Baiduc, MS
Humane Action Pennsylvania, Eastern PA Coordinator