Recently a valued show horse (Phedras de Blonde) was stolen and slaughtered in Palmetto, Florida.
Most of the illegal slaughter houses are in Florida. Most of the horses slaughtered illegally are purchased legally at auction or collected from “Free on Craigslist” ads. There are only a small number of horses that are stolen from their pasture/stall and slaughtered. The news of a valued show horse being stolen and slaughter captures great attention. However, whoever is guilty of this crime in Florida is also slaughtering many other horses that are legally obtained. We just don’t hear about it.
Slaughter and the transportation of horses and meat is regulated state-by-state. Florida is one of the tougher states where they have strict laws against unlicensed slaughterhouses and prohibit the transportation and sale of horse meat that is not marked clearly as horsemeat. The fine print does not prohibit legal slaughter in Florida, instead the distinction is noted between “licensed and unlicensed.”
While it is perfectly legal for an owner to slaughter their horse for their own consumption in New Mexico, it is not legal to slaughter any horse for anyone to consume in Illinois. Texas, Oklahoma, California and Mississippi have skirted the issue by simply banning the sale of horsemeat for human consumption. Therefore it is illegal for horse jerky snacks to be sold online to customers in these states. Yet, Cowley Fine Foods appears to sell their horse jerky to all 50 states in the USA despite these legal restrictions.
Another example is New Jersey, where the state prohibits the transportation of horses to slaughter, yet Bravo Meat Company slaughters horses from their plant in Penn’s Grove NJ. Bravo slaughters horses for zoo meat. In New Jersey, the fine print includes the restrictive wording of “for human consumption” – therefore slaughtering horses for zoo animals is legal.
In 2006 the Humane Society shutdown the slaughterhouses in the USA by defunding the inspection of slaughter horses. They did not make slaughter illegal in the USA.
After the closing of the US slaughter facilities, the same number of horses were simply shipped to Canada and Mexico. On average between 100,000 – 150,000 American horses get shipped each year to Mexico, Canada and some even are shipped (live) by cargo to Japan.
At the forefront, are two issues: 1. TOO MANY HORSES, NOT ENOUGH HORSE PEOPLE and 2. THERE IS MONEY IN HORSES: showing, breeding, and slaughtering. In the USA (founded on capitalism) there are many people who will pursue any opportunity that may lead to financial gains regardless of the inhumane suffering of horses.
The individuals who slaughtered this valued show horse committed a crime. I have faith in our judicial system and am confident these criminals will be identified, captured and jailed for their crime. Yet, there are hundreds of people that legally purchase and profit from sending horses to slaughter across the borders. Do we continue to hope for the SAFE Act? Or do we hope for KARMA? I am hoping for both…