Animal activists have fought hard to eliminate horse slaughter in the U.S. (see “The Killing Floor,” feature, May/June 2006). Under H.R. 2744, funding was removed for U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) inspectors at slaughterhouses. The Bush USDA countered by allowing inspectors to be paid with private funds. But state laws were later passed banning remaining slaughterhouses in Texas and Illinois.
Now more horses are being shipped for slaughter to Canada (where there are two plants) and Mexico (where there are thought to be four). A report by the American Veterinary Medical Association concludes that U.S. horse slaughter exports to Mexico increased 312 percent in 2007, from 10,783 to 44,475 (another 35,000 are estimated to have been shipped to Canada last year). The Humane Society of the U.S. and others claim (with videotaped evidence) that the treatment of slaughter horses in Mexico is particularly brutal. The American Horse Slaughter Protection Act, pending in Congress, would ban both U.S. plants and export for that purpose.