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February 1, 2012:  HSUS letter to USDA
RE:  Notice of Domestic and International Legal Issues Concerning the Resumption of Horse Slaughter


November 21, 2011, as reported by TheHorse.com:
Bill Passes without Defunding Horsemeat Inspections 


June 22, 2011:  General Accountability Office (GAO) releases report of investigation ordered by Senate Ag Appropriations Committee entitled, Horse Welfare:  Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences  from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter



America stopped processing horses in 2007 after successful lobbing by animal rights groups including The Humane Society of the United States. Coupled with the closure of plants in Illinois and Texas, advocates also lobbied Congress to withhold funding under the 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act at facilities where horses were processed for zoo and
circus carnivores, and human consumption.  

 

This mare, photographed March 11, 2008, in Keno, Oregon, was found
frozen to the ground. She was still alive when this picture was taken. A vet
euthanized her where she lay. The rescuers posthumously named her Spirit.


In the year prior to the plant closures, 102,260 horses were processed in America, with horsemeat exports valued at $65 million. Besides the export market, the lean, high-quality horsemeat was consumed by carnivores within American zoos, circuses, and wildlife parks.

Since the closings, there has been an up-tick in the reports of neglected, starved, abandoned, and abused horses.  

Current economic conditions are compounding the problem for cash-strapped owners who find it nearly impossible to sell their infirmed, unneeded, or unwanted horses, regardless of age and condition. It is not unusual for lower classes of horse to sell for as little as $1, if they sell at all. Commission fees charged owners are frequently more than the selling price. Some sale barns no longer handle horses because of the slim profit margin and because owners sometimes leave unsold horses behind.

The average lifespan of a horse is 30 years.  For a healthy animal, it costs approximately $1,825 annually(2) to provide basic care for a horse, not including veterinary medical or farrier (hoof) care, or about $54,750 over the life of the animal.

A 2010 University of California-Davis report noted that 144 registered non-profit horse rescues responding (out of  326 contacted) spent an average $3,648/horse/year. The study suggests an average annual cost of $50 million for 13,700 animals in registered non-profit care facilities. And, more horses need rescue care every year.

The majority of rescues are at or above capacity. Some no longer accept horses. Most are strapped for funds. Some have closed for lack of funds.
 

Found along the road in Clackamas County, Oregon, in August 2008, this
young animal was one of 11 horses that were
malnourished, neglected and close
to death.
They were sold at auction by the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Most sold for $5 to $10. The top bid was $42.


Some owners opt to have their animals put down. The average fee
(4) for a veterinarian to chemically euthanize a horse by intravenous injection is $66, which does not include carcass disposal. According to the Unwanted Horse Coalition's 2009 survey, the average cost of euthanasia and carcass disposal (as reported by horse owners) is $385 per horse.

Chemically euthanized carcasses must be carefully disposed of through deep burial or incineration. If eaten by an unsuspecting dog, coyote, cougar, or eagle, the poisoned meat will kill the scavenger. Likewise, whole or composted carcasses can contaminate runoff, poisoning drinking or recreational water sources.
 

This mare, photographed June 25, 2009, in Fallon, Nevada, was found roaming
north of Tonopah. An identifying brand had been cut from her hide to
obscure ownership before she was abandoned in the desert to fend for herself.


Lacking a market for horses that otherwise would have been utilized through processing (102,260 head in 2006), some theorized that in 10 years' time America could be faced with caring for
a million horses. With record-high numbers of horses being sent to Canada and Mexico for processing, this projection appears to have been over stated. Instead, horses must travel farther to reach a processing plant.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the US Dept. of Agriculture, reports 130,900 horses were shipped outside the U.S. for immediate slaughter in 2011: 62,500 to Canada; 68,400 to Mexico. Additionally, 2,590 head went to Canada as feeders. (Caring for these horses in rescues would cost approximately $480 million annually.)

Thousands more are starving at the hands of animal hoarders and well-meaning but naive individuals. They are neglected and in need of food, water, veterinary, hoof and dental care. Their suffering knows no end. This segment of America's horse population is not being protected by the plant closures and will not be served by closing the borders to export.
 

 
The Mission of AMillionHorses.com and AbandonedHorses.com is to
Document the Neglect and Abandonment of America's Horses
Last updated: April 28, 2012
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