Europe's Kill Buyers

I am a keen devotee of America's Fugly Horses blog, which aims to expose duff horse ownership and breeding practices. Through that blog, I have learned quite a lot about American slaughter practices. It is no longer legal to slaughter horses for human consumption in America; but there is still a market, and slaughter for human consumption is still legal in Canada and Mexico, so horses are bought in bulk by the kill buyers and have to endure long trips across the border to slaughter.

Unfortunately we here in Europe are really no better. Around 100,000 horses across Europe are sold for meat. As around 84% are slaughtered in Italy, they can face journeys of up to 5 days before death. There have been, since January 2007, extensive regulations governing how horses should be transported. They are supposed to have 24 hours' rest for every 24 hours of travel. They are supposed to be watered every 8 hours, and if necessary fed. They should have enough room, and should be fit to travel: there are several staging posts in Europe, at which drivers are supposed to stop and tend to the horses. However, the abolition of border controls in the EU means it is only too easy for huge transporters full of horses to drive, drive, drive, and ignore the staging posts and the needs of the horses.

Horse and Hound's Abi Butcher travelled with Jo White from World Horse Welfare (which used to be the ILPH) from Poland to Italy, to track what happens to horses sent for slaughter. You can see some of her video diary here:

and read her diary here, and here, and here, with day 4 here, and day 5 here.

World Horse Welfare has a petition: the aim is not to stop the slaughter of horses, but to stop the suffering caused by the widespread flouting of the rules. They want to:

  • see rigorous enforcement of the existing rules
  • introduce finite journey time for horses travelling to slaughter
  • end the long distance transportation of horses to slaughter in Europe

Please sign the petition. I think it is terrible that much loved horses end up on horse transporters, and some of that is the fault of horse owners. If a horse is elderly, or unlikely to find a decent home it is no use hoping against hope someone will offer it a "good home": make the difficult decision and have the horse put down yourself in its own surroundings where it is comfortable. I don't have a particular problem either with horses being sold for meat, as long as they are slaughtered at source. After all, you can drive as long as you like with meat. It no longer has feelings. Transporting living, breathing animals, and making them suffer, must be stopped.


Anonymous said…
Jane, I'm afraid I must correct you here, and do so humbly, with great appreciation for your concern about horses and horse slaughter: Know that horse slaughter is indeed LEGAL in the United States. There are simply no slaughterhouses butchering horses for human consumption at present, due to public outcry. There are 2 relevant bills in US Congress at present: 1) The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S311/HR 513. This bill would prohibit the transport of American horses anywhere, for purposes of slaughter. The Second bill, The Equine Cruelty Prevention Act, HR 6598, makes horse slaughter illegal in the United States. The latter is due to be voted upon by the House Judiciary Committee in September, when Congress resumes.

In the meantime, we work hard in the U.S. to end horse slaughter. I read Ms. Butcher's diary on her journey with the horses, and it is very very tragic. I will say this: The European standards for equine transport are far higher than those here. Our system is simply horrible for the horses. After years of working on this, I finally now undertand that as long as horsemeat is considered a delicacy and there is a market for it, horse slaughter will not end. American horses are exported for slaughter to Canada and Mexico, and then the meat is shipped to Europe and Asia as high end delicacy meat. For Europeans, I would call for an EU boycott of horsemeat, and a round condemnation of all restuarants and butcher shops that carry the meat. People should be ashamed of eating what was once a loyal and elegant animal, prized for beauty, spirit and speed. The way to change horror is to make it politically incorrect to eat this meat, the same what it is politically incorrect to wear fur, at least here in the U.S. This sort of boycott will stop the demand, and if the demand is stopped, the market will dry up. It is an economic equation that needs addressing, in the end. If only Anna Sewell could tell their stories now, it would not be the bearing rein she would write of, it would be the slaughter of Black Beauty himself.
Thank you. Carole-Terese Naser of Six Horses Saved, a retirement home for horses rescued from slaughter.
Jane Badger said…
Ah. Thank you very much indeed Carole-Terese - I will go and alter what I said now.
Jane Badger said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

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