with Horse and Hound

GAO Says U.S. Congress Harmed Horse Welfare

In a blunt report to the U.S. Congress, the General Accounting Office (GAO) says that horse welfare has been harmed by Congressional action.

Prompted by animal rights groups, Congress, in 2006, passed a law which eliminated funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the inspection of horses in transit to slaughter and at slaughter facilities. Since the law still required inspection, it was a back-door attempt at ending the slaughter of horses in the U.S. It worked. Within a few years the last domestic slaughter house closed.

At the time about 100,000 horses a year were being shipped to slaughter facilities. It was the dream that these horses would somehow be taken by equine retirement facilities to spend the remainder of their natural lives in green fields tended by loving caretakers. The dream became a nightmare for horses. With retirement facilities unable to absorb even a small fraction of unwanted horses, the GAO reported that in 2010, 138,000 horses were exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.

“The horses are traveling farther to meet the same end…in foreign slaughtering facilities where U.S. humane slaughtering protections do not apply,” said the GAO. The agency goes on to say that horses are sometimes shipped in too small containers—conditions that were not allowed when USDA inspections applied.

Read more in Stephen Dinan’s article in The Washington Times.

Posted June 24, 2011