Many folks have thought that a USDA overseen slaughter plant on US soil would solve any humane issues.  Many Veterinarians were given tours of the US slaughter plants when operating to be shown how humane and conscientiously caring they were for the animals welfare and left feeling satisfied and impressed.  Meanwhile the USDA was compiling huge amounts of data on literal atrocities at such plants - and doing nothing. These documents are now recently available to the public. Information was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request submitted 3 years ago by equine cruelty investigator Julie Caramante. A group called Animals Angels assisted Caramante in obtaining the documents - their efforts being obstructed for a full 3 years by the USDA. This is a 900 page document with over 500 photographs chronicling mostly one year 2005 of the Beltex operations - a foreign company that ended up with HUGE environmental fines and liabilities and paid $5 in taxes to the IRS.  Here is a summary of the report:

Report Photos:  

       Whatever purpose and however accomplished in the "good old days", this is no longer your father's slaughter industry. The price paid overseas for horse meat for HIGH END human consumption has spawned an industry that is solely focused on greed and profit with no sensibility for the animals suffering. This kind of institutionalized behavior affects us culturally.

      Horse slaughter FUELS an irresponsible breeding of horses;  such breeding will stop when that outlet is not available.  Not the other way around. When you can "range-breed" huge numbers of horses with no maternal care; sell the best of the results that do sell - and then sell the rest for meat;  what you have is a meat operation; not a riding horse operation. When you breed 40,000 Thoroughbreds and MOST that SURVIVE training and racing end up as horse meat eventually- you really have a meat industry with a little wagering practice in the interim. An end to slaughter will reconfigure these practices. Naturally, there are many complaints and protests from those who do not want their practices and profit margins reconfigured -even here in Sonoma.

     Horses have fallen between the strict regulations that control meat animal handling, and the laws that pertain to household pets. An abused animal can simply be killed to avoid charges of cruelty. Recent legislation governing farm animals does NOT pertain to equines. There is little or no protection for the horses.


     Horses ARE NOT MEAT ANIMALS. They live their lives in service to the human and are most often taught to bond with the human from birth. They provide loving, patient therapy to human children and adults in many venues. They fuel a huge sport and entertainment industry.  Products to lovingly care for these animals are big business. They are HIGHLY intelligent and as a prey animal must be - extremely sensitive. Their ability to suffer is huge. They are loyal to their friends and herd and fiercely maternal in their care of the young - often including human ones! We TEACH them to be our companions and co-workers. This is why we do not eat horse meat here in the United States; or dog or cat meat.  When a horse can no longer be cared for we owe it to that animal to humanely end its life. Not make an extra few bucks from its carcass at a terrible cost to the animal. What messages are we giving our own young when we teach them to have a loving relationship with an animal and then brutally dispose of it when its care is no longer convenient.  How can we complain when juvenile humans then transpose such values onto other humans they also happen to find inconvenient?

    Please consider attending the Petaluma auction on Mondays from 11-12. There are horses there that are selling for very little - and some are really quite nice. Let us give them a second chance or at the very least- a humane end.

    You might also consider donating to SAFER - with cash, goods and services, or fostering facilities. Please help us try to see that our local horses are not boarding the  5- 9 trucks that leave Northern California every month for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.