A Roswell, New Mexico, slaughterhouse won’t be bringing any more horses down the pipeline in 2016, thanks to the tireless efforts of Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER). According to World Animal News, FRER spent three years in collaboration with local residents and the state of New Mexico in order to put an end to the slaughter. A court order was issued on February 4 by Judge Francis J. Mathew in Santa Fe.
The Roswell slaughterhouse, called Valley Meat, was originally sued in 2013 by the Attorney General’s office, FRER, and four Roswell residents whose health and quality of life were jeopardized by the business.
Over two decades, Valley Meat has accumulated more than 5,000 violations of state laws protecting the environment, groundwater, rivers, and other waterways. For years, Valley Meat illegally dumped cow carcasses despite repeated requests by state officials to cease and desist and clean up its mess.
Hilary Wood, the president of FRER, said it was a step in the right direction.
“We have been working for years through the courts to stop the illegal, inhumane, and toxic practice of horse slaughter. This is a critical precedent in that effort because prospective horse slaughter operations will not be accepted by this state, and, with the support of other like-minded people, we will fight to ensure that no other American state allows the slaughter of horses for human consumption.”
More than 135,000 American horses are exported for slaughter each year.
The USDA has documented the abuse that horses suffer during the transport and the slaughter process. Horses who go to slaughter are not raised for meat; they were riding horses, work horses, or pets and therefore subjected to a barrage of medications and vaccinations, rendering the meat toxic.
Wood told the Inquisitr that FRER has stopped the expansion of horse slaughter plants in the United States.
“What most people don’t realize is that thousands of U.S. horses shipped to Canada, Mexico (and Japan) when U.S. plants used to operate and that they would still ship across the borders if U.S. plants opened. The plants in Mexico and Canada which are regulated by the European Union (EU) set specific guidelines for horses going to slaughter. USDA would fashion any regulations after those of the EU so it’s also a myth that regulations are somehow more humane in the U.S. Unregulated plants are, of course, a horrible nightmare down in Mexico.”
Wood said that many “kill buyers” are horse traders as well. They are not always purchasing for slaughter and what they do purchase for slaughter is just to fill a quota.
“Many of the horses purchased by the killers had someone else bidding on them; that person did not have the winning bid. A lot of horses at the low-end auctions had somewhere else to go other than slaughter if the kill buyer was taken out of the bidding process. I mention this because it is one other component to cutting numbers of horses going to slaughter.”
FRER points out that 92 percent of horses going to slaughter are in good condition.
The group asserts that for every horse sent to slaughter, the horse industry loses tens of thousands of dollars, considering amounts spent during the average horse’s lifetime.
There is a multitude of ways to cut down on the numbers of unwanted horses, Wood says. These include the following.
- Impose breeding regulations and fees on horses used for breeding.
- Handle and train all broodmares and foals.
- Veterinary offices and veterinary schools should offer discounted gelding services.
- Prosecute the abandonment, abuse and neglect of horses.
- Ban unsafe horse transport.
- Promote retraining programs within the equestrian competition industry.
- Develop prison and community service programs, such as Detroit Horse Power, that involve the training of horses.
- Develop more equine study programs that bring more people into the horse industry.
- Develop programs that provide discounts for humane euthanasia.
Wood said that it’s hard to condense the answers for such a large topic as horse slaughter. The Roswell slaughterhouse is one example of how persistence creates change.
“We’re talking about approximately one percent of the entire horse population, many of them not even intended for slaughter at all. After all, we could put a man on the moon back in 1969 when we didn’t even have answering machines or remote controls. But decades later with all of the advances in technology and other areas, we are incapable of doing better for horses. Makes no sense to me.”
Incorporated in 1997, FRER is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to stopping the abuse and neglect of horses. Over the years, Front Range Equine Rescue has expanded its programs to a national level. Since 2015, Front Range’s horses are kept in Colorado, Virginia, and Florida.
[Image via Front Range Equine Rescue. Used with permission.]