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Date:4/18/2014 5:33:06 AM
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The suffering begins long before our horses even reach the slaughterhouse. Conditions of transport are appalling, with horses regularly hauled to our domestic borders on journeys lasting more than 24 hours. Deprived of food, water or rest, the horses are forced onto double-decked cattle trailers with ceilings so low that they injure their heads. Not only are these double-deckers inhumane, but they are also dangerous and have been involved in a number of tragic accidents.

The notorious “Wadsworth Crash” occurred in 2007 when a double-decker carrying 59 Belgian draft horses “blew through a stop light” and overturned in Illinois. For five hours, police officers, firefighters, local horse owners and other members of the community fought to free the horses from the mangled truck. By the time all the horses had been removed, nine had died, and another six later died because of the injuries they sustained.

In fact, federal regulations governing the transport of horses to slaughter are so deficient that they allow the movement of blind horses, horses with broken legs and heavily pregnant mares.

Upon arrival at the slaughterhouse, the suffering continues unabated. Horses can be left for long periods in tightly packed trailers, subjected to further extremes of heat and cold. In hot weather, their thirst is acute. Downed animals are unable to rise, and horses are offloaded using excessive force.

When the horses are herded through the plant to slaughter, callous workers use fiberglass rods to poke and beat their faces, necks, backs and legs as the animals are shoved through the facility and into the kill box. Subjected to overcrowding, deafening sounds and the smell of blood, the horses become more and more desperate, exhibiting fear typical of “flight” behavior—pacing in prance-like movements with their ears pinned back against their heads and eyes wide open.

Conditions over the border are even worse than those at the previously operational US plants. A 2007 investigation by The San Antonio News-Express revealed that the use of the puntilla knife on horses prior to slaughter is common practice in Mexican slaughter plants, such as a facility currently owned by Beltex, formerly operating in Texas.

Footage obtained by the paper shows horses being stabbed repeatedly in the neck with these knives prior to slaughter. Such a barbaric practice simply paralyzes the animal. The horse is still fully conscious at the start of the slaughter process, during which he or she is hung by a hind leg, his or her throat slit and body butchered. Death, the final betrayal of these noble animals, is protracted and excruciating.


In recent years, pro-horse slaughter organizations and individuals have consistently fought adoption of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, claiming that there is a huge “unwanted horse” population in the United States. Proponents of this unsubstantiated claim, including the American Assoc
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