Sunday, March 08, 2009

Please, Please Stop Horse Slaughter in Montana Before it Starts!

This is a call to action for everyone (It doesn't matter what state or county you live in - make your voice heard) who wants humane treatment for animals. Please email or call the Montana Legislature and tell them that you don't want Montana as the Horse Slaughter Capitol of America.

What you can do to stop Horse Slaughter in Montana

Call the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation committee: You may leave a message for the entire committee at 444-4800. Tell them you oppose HB 418 and horse slaughter in Montana or anywhere in the U.S.

Call the Governor Schweitzer’s office: Call 444-3111 and let the governor’s office know you oppose horse slaughter in Montana.
The governor has the power to veto legislation so he also needs to hear from you.

These are easy calls to make. Please take a moment and pick up the phone.

The phone is the most powerful way of being heard, but if you'd rather email, You can stop right now and go to the url below and send an email to the Montana Legislature:

Click here to email your opposition to a Horse Slaughter Plant in Montana

More Information
Right now the Horse Slaughter Bill has passed the Montana House of Representatives and the Senate will vote this week. Please let every Montana Senator know what you think. Be respectful but send emails and let them know that this will hurt tourism. If you are not from Montana, let the Senators know that it is unacceptable to go blue ribbon trout fishing in a river polluted by a horse slaughter plant, that is unacceptable to go to Yellowstone or Glacier Park and be in the state that has allowed a Belgian company to build a plant that will slaughter horses for meat.

Horse Slaughter plants have been economic and fiscal Drains to other states. This is not clean/green technology. Both Texas and Illinois have had horrible times with the pollutions and environmental violations from this the Belgian Horse Slaughter Plant. It took them years to shut down the plant, and now this Belgian company has convinced Montana legislators that the will bring clean jobs to Montana in their Horse Slaughter plant.

Texas and Illinois has shown us that there are highway safety, solid waste, disease control, feral animal and wildlife problems with these plants that we do not want in Montana.

There are alternative ( to slaughter) green employment options like growth in Mobile DVM's, Gelding clinics, Horse contraception with PZP ( made in Montana), Geriatric equine diet, hoof, dental care; more horse transports to non lethal destinations, equine cemeteries , horse trainers, horse massage, more sanctuaries, and all the suppliers to support these new industries. In summary with support there can be MORE and Better MT jobs if this bill is killed!!!

Just as in community animal control.... total lethal programs ( euthanasia) does not address the population problem, we need public education via NGO's, DVM's and the extension service, and a total comprehensive program.. horse slaughter just prolongs and enables the casual and backyard breeding issue.

Horse slaughter in NOT Euthanasia. It is not a humane transport, humane handling nor humane euthanasia "good death" practice.

Citizens taking their horse for rehoming at a horse sale do NOT HAVE THE OPTION to withhold their horse from going to slaughter. Many people who dearly loved their horses were stunned to find out that when they sold them at auction their beloved pets were brutally slaughtered and fed to Belgian. If you've seen a horse slaughter plant you will agree with me about the brutality of how it is handled. Nearly all the proponents suggest they do not want THIER horses to go to slaughter, but with a horse slaughter plant getting top dollar for Belgian steaks, is a most probable destination for many horses sold in Montana.

Texas and Illinois had long legal battles with foreign slaughter plants to finally shutter them... we should learn from those states and not bring an economic and environmental burden to our state.

The foreign horse plants do not pay federal taxes but consume local and state taxes!!!

Please, everyone call 406-444-4800 and oppose the Horse Slaughter Bill HB 418.

Humane Alternatives for unwanted and in-crisis horses in Montana

There are many humane options for helping unwanted and in-crisis horses in Montana. Horse slaughter is unacceptable and inhumane for many reasons. Unwanted horses are a serious issue and we must continue to expand our thinking outside of the “slaughter” box.
The unwanted horse issue is exacerbated by the current economic crisis but there have always been unwanted horses in Montana and owners who cannot afford the horses they have, thus putting these horses into the category of “in-crisis.” Horse owners who no longer want their horses face the problem of finding a new home for their animal. Horse owners who decide to euthanize a horse must pay for this service and dispose of the body. Financially strapped horse owners may face an inability to pay for feed or need to quickly find a new home for their horse.

Issue: Humane euthanasia and carcass disposal
Humane Alternatives: Euthanasia by a vet, either via injection or by gunshot. The fee in Montana for euthanasia averages from $150 – $225. Burial and removal costs vary from $25 in a county landfill to $300 in a pet cemetery. Additionally, there are backhoe operators who will bury dead horses – their fees vary. Proper disposal of a horse body is required by law and varies by county and city. For the horse owner who must euthanize their horse but cannot afford the fee, financial help is available from Montana Horse Sanctuary of Helena and Willing Servants of Hamilton.

Issue: Owner does not want to euthanize horse but rather find a new home for horse due to loss of interest in horse or financial inability to continue caring for horse
Humane Alternatives: Qualified horse sanctuary, rescue organization, veterinary clinics and individual rescuers. A wide variety of well-qualified and properly funded horse rescue operations exist in Montana. A quick search of the web or a call to a veterinarian will provide a horse owner with contacts and information. Horse rescue is a fast-growing segment of horse culture and in Montana provides humane alternatives for hundreds, if not thousands, of horses every year. Additionally, equine therapeutic programs accept horses and train them to provide therapy to people with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. Horses find homes with 4-H clubs, pony clubs and university programs. And, many horse owners sell their horses through private sale.

Long-term Solutions to the Unwanted and In-Crisis horse issue:
Education of horse owners: In many cases horses become unwanted or in-crisis because their owners are uninformed about proper care, over breeding and training. Many opportunities for on-going education about horses are available through horse sanctuaries, rescue organizations, horse clubs, the extension service, and veterinarians. For owners who want to reduce their herds to manageable levels, gelding of stallions is an affordable option. The Small Business Administration offers assistance to small business owners, including breeders, who want to investigate the profitability of their operation. Humane Society of the United States offers assistance to some horse owners who want to curtail breeding via a short-term birth control program for mares. Responsible breeders limit the number of foals they produce according to the market and build a buffer into their business budget to care for or humanely euthanize horses with disabilities or serious defects. Some large breeding ranches are now allowing outsiders to lease a mare (though she stays at the owner’s ranch the entire time), choose the stallion to breed to, then get the foal at weaning. It is this type of creativity that will change the industry in a positive and more responsible direction.

Helping horse owners in temporary financial crisis: No matter how good or bad the economy, some horse owners will at one time or another find themselves in temporary financial difficulty. These owners are encouraged to apply for hay and euthanasia grants from organizations including Montana Horse Sanctuary, Willing Servants and HSUS.

About Horse Slaughter – Fact vs. fiction

Is horse slaughter a humane death for horses?

No. A comprehensive report compiled from information received from the USDA regarding the inhumane treatment of horses slaughtered in U.S. facilities proves this is an inhumane practice and causes much suffering to the horses. This report can be viewed at

For additional information about horses in transport to slaughter, in slaughter feedlots, and at slaughter the following sites are a wealth of information:;;;; These websites contain great information as well as some disturbing images which are clearly marked with a warning before you access those images.

Horse slaughter is inherently cruel. The inhumane transport and the grisly slaughter processes are well-documented. Former race horses, work horses, riding ponies, and carriage horses are purchased at regular horse auctions and crammed on double-decker trucks designed for cattle. Trucked long distances, they are subject to injuries and being trampled. Once at the plant, they throw their heads and are hard to accurately stun. In the U.S., horses were frequently improperly stunned and then hoisted and shackled, and bled out while still conscious and kicking.

Who would benefit from having a horse slaughter facility in Montana?

The Belgian-owned company which requested this legislation (House Bill 418), the “canner buyers” who purchase horses for slaughter, the livestock auction yards and the people who steal horses then sell them directly to the slaughter facility.

There is a lot of hype about a horse slaughter plant bringing tax money and jobs to Montana. Facts about the economic impact of slaughter facilities are available at What happened in Kaufman, Texas, is a cautionary tale and we can learn from what happened there.

Have horse slaughterhouse closures in the U.S. caused horse abandonment or neglect?

No. Statistics demonstrate that horse slaughter does not alleviate neglect or cruelty. When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, it saw no rise in horse cruelty cases, but did document a 34% drop in horse theft. When the Illinois plant was non-operational for two years (March 2002 – June 2004), the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture documented a drop in horse cruelty in the state. When it reopened, the horse abuse cases went back up. A recent study released by the Animal Law Coalition (June 17, 2008) shows a decrease of abuse and neglect nationwide since the closure of U.S. slaughter facilities.

Horse slaughter has been decreasing for decades without causing abandonment. There used to be eight horse slaughter plants in the United States, processing 350,000 horses annually for human consumption abroad. In 2006, the numbers declined to three remaining plants killing 100,000 horses a year, meaning 250,000 fewer American horses were turned into dinners for Europeans. They did not end up abused or neglected either.

Are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter?

No. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Call the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation committee: You may leave a message for the entire committee at 444-4800. Tell them you oppose HB 418 and horse slaughter in Montana or anywhere in the U.S.

Call the Governor Schweitzer’s office: Call 444-3111 and let the governor’s office know you oppose horse slaughter in Montana. The governor has the power to veto legislation so he also needs to hear from you.

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