Bill backs horse slaughterhouses in Missouri

Sunday, January 17, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 5:36 p.m. CST, Sunday, January 17, 2010
Veterinarian Jim Joyce of Springfield says a lack of facilities to take horses to slaughter is bad for horses and the horse industry. "The situation that is set up right now was not thought through, and the people who designed this don't know what they're talking about," Joyce said.

SPRINGFIELD — A Greene County lawmaker wants to make the slaughtering of horses for human consumption legal in Missouri.

But state Rep. Jim Viebrock has a lot of hurdles to clear.

Viebrock, R-Republic, is sponsoring legislation aimed at bypassing a federal ban on meat inspectors working in horse slaughtering plants by getting processors to pay for the inspections.

In September 2006, Congress barred any federal funds from being spent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on inspecting the nation's three remaining horse slaughtering plants in Illinois and Texas — effectively putting them out of business.

But Congress did not out-right ban the slaughter of horses and shipping the meat overseas to markets in Europe and Asia, where the meat is a delicacy.

Viebrock said the proposed legislation would create state-level USDA inspectors by allowing the Missouri Department of Agriculture to levy inspection fees on slaughterhouses. The state's Department of Agriculture would pass those fees onto USDA, requiring no federal funds, he said.

In addition to getting such a controversial bill through the Missouri legislature, there is the question about whether USDA will honor such an attempt to circumvent the legislative intent of Congress, Viebrock said.

"That is the big hurdle," he said. "We'll find out how powerful the animal rights lobby really is if (USDA allows) it."

The proposal has the support of state Agriculture Department Director Jon Hagler, a St. James native and horse trainer who said the federal ban on horse slaughtering inspections has hurt the entire equine industry.

Hagler said the inspections ban in the U.S. has prompted exporting more horses across the border into Canada and Mexico.

"It was certainly less horrible here in the United States where we have standards, safety and inspections than it is if they're shipped to Mexico," Hagler told the News-Leader. "I think a safe, responsible, humane processing facility is a much more responsible way to go."

Prior to 2007, the U.S. was slaughtering roughly 100,000 horses each year and shipping the meat to overseas markets — making up about 2 percent of the world horse meat market, according to USDA and horse slaughtering advocates.

But even if Viebrock's proposal changes the law and creates a new market for horse meat, the USDA could block horse meat from leaving Missouri, making the proposed law ineffective since there's no market in Missouri for horse meat.

"It is questionable whether a state-inspected horse slaughter establishment could operate, even if the establishment were in a state with a state meat inspection program," the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement to the News-Leader.

Missouri is one of 27 states with a state meat and poultry inspection program.

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government affairs with Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C., said Viebrock is "naive" to believe Missouri could pass a law that bypasses the will of Congress.

"He's markedly misinformed about the industry," Heyde said.

Animal rights advocates continue to push for an outright ban of all horse slaughtering for human consumption in the country through a bill known as the "Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act."

Proponents of horse slaughtering say the lack of a market has given rise to more neglect and abuse of horses that people can't afford to care for, but would have been sold for slaughter prior to 2007.

"They ended up with no humane way of terminating the lives of horses that were -- I hate to say the word -- usable," said Chardy Shealy, who breeds and trains horses at Brindabella Farms in Fair Grove. "They've been trying to portray horses as pets. It should not be defined that way. Horses have always been livestock."

Horse veterinarian Jim Joyce of Springfield said the lack of facilities to take horses for slaughter has "killed the horse market."

"The situation that is set up right now was not thought through and the people who designed this don't know what they're talking about," Joyce said.

Animal welfare advocates say the pro-slaughtering crowd is exaggerating claims of widespread horse abuse and neglect.

"There is not as big of a problem as is being portrayed by proponents of the horse slaughtering industry," said Cori Menkin of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Randy Little, owner of PFI Western Wear Store in Springfield, said the horse slaughtering ban has trickled down to his business. When people can't get rid of an old horse, they don't buy new horses and new saddles and tack supplies, he said.

"People are starving horses to death; taking them out into national forests and letting them out is far more inhumane than having a market," Little said.

With little options for old or infirm horses, some get euthanized and taken to a rendering plant, where dead parts of the carcasses are processed into animal feed, fertilizer, grease and other products.

But there are few rendering plants left across the country. Halfway Packing Co. in Halfway picks up dead horse carcasses and sells them to a Oklahoma company for processing, said general manager Ted Ballinger.

Halfway Packing is the only service in a 100-mile radius across southwest Missouri, Ballinger said.

Viebrock, who is term-limited and running for Greene County presiding commissioner this year, said allowing Missouri plants to butcher horse meat and ship it overseas would help the struggling horse economy.

"We've got to revitalize this industry and put some value back into these animals or they're just going to continue to suffer from starvation," he said.

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Evelyn Startzman January 17, 2010 | 11:21 a.m.

My Name is Evelyn Starzman, I have been in the horse industry my whole life starting with mules. I have been wanting to comment of this problem of the stopping of horse slaughter for some time. Wake UP Peta and congress you started some of the ugliest abuse known to man. I dont like horse slaughter one hundred percent, but I would rather feed a person, than starve them and under faulty and unrational decision to Attack mainly France By a government body to prove a point (George W. Bush, look it up) they used who they needed to to get this done PETA. In this outcome people get hurt by horses, who just arent safe, as a pet? Or a family is forced to sell because of moving over lose of home, income and the animal ends up starving or left behind. A responsible Congress would have put in a order to gradually cut down the production of horses, Face it horse industry stepped on cattle producers, but you cant force foriegn countries to eat beef, if its not thier meet choice. Also this was a stable industry the horse industry and Gov. proved they wanted nothing stable anywhere. LOOK!!!!! But this is just my look into things. Money moves in the horse industry, and not everyone had to own a thousand acres to be part of it. SO who is more cruel the man who leaves the horse to starve, over buricratic tape, or the man to feed starving humans. Go for it Missouri we have always had to stand on our own 2 feet, and always will.

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VICTORIA Hammond January 17, 2010 | 1:36 p.m.

Well, here we go again. They wanted to pass a bill for the chips in the animals unless you were a big producer and you could get one chip for a batch of a thousand poultry, or a feedlot full of cattle. The beef industry and the chip industry and the USDA supported the National Animal Identification System, so that if I want to ride my horse down to the neighbor's house, I had to file with the government that movement of the horse, with a chip in it, so they could track it. Or if I wanted to give my neighbor four of my laying hens, to help them start a flock, they all had to have chips, and the movement filed with the government database. They already have numbers for every piece of property in the country, so that when your daughter goes down to register her lamb for the 4 H show at the fairgrounds, you would have to get the chip put in, register the movement, and your premises would be registered with the NAIS database. Well, your premises are already registered. But Missourians were smart enough to turn down the NAIS.

We do not need a slaughterhouse to help the alleged horse industry, we do not eat horses here in America, so why make it legal to slaughter them. The French, per the last comment are not starving. They have a breed of horses that they raise as cattle, for food, in their own country. They will not starve to death if we do not supply them with horses. The people in the article, Jon Hagler say, "It was certainly less horrible here in the United States where we have standards, safety and inspections than it is if they're shipped to Mexico," Hagler told the News-Leader. "I think a safe, responsible, humane processing facility is a much more responsible way to go."

There was no humane slaughtering going on in Texas or in Illinois. I saw the videos, taken in those plants with hidden cameras, where the horse, not even stunned, because the bolt missed that brain, was hung by his hind feet, and eviscerated, screaming, very much still alive.
Victoria Hammond, MA, LPC

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VICTORIA Hammond January 17, 2010 | 1:38 p.m.

The horse is not designed like the cow, with a short neck. It has a long neck, and by swinging that neck, can evade the bolt gun. The horse is very intelligent, and as a prey animal, very aware of it's impending death in a slaughter plant. These people think they can fool the intelligent people of Missouri, promising jobs for our economy. A handful of people would be hired, and taught to ignore the screams of the horses as they are murdered. I know some people have abandoned horses, but I rescued several pregnant draft mares from the PMU industry when the truth came out that Premarin was not all that good for women, and horses were being shipped to Japan, on air cargo jets, and pregnant mares were being eaten within hours of stepping off those jets, because the Japanese had a fetish for fresh horse meat. Let them raise their own horses to eat.

We should stop overproducing horses, and the fault of that can be laid directly at the door of the breed organizations, that keep lines like the quarter horse Impressive line going, when all horses of that line have risk of a severe and fatal muscle disease, so the line should not be promoted. If a horse is born positive for that disease, they want a place to dump it, since they cannot sell it for breeding or showing. All of the major breed organizations that want to allow for horse slaughter are guilty of the excess number of horses in America. They need to stop what they are doing instead of fostering the idea that we should slaughter their culls so they can still make a profit on their gamble. The men that worked in the slaughter plants killing horses hardened their hearts, becoming base and callous to the suffering of those animals, which were NOT, I repeat NOT humanely killed.

I just spent $105 to humanely euthanize my aged, 33 year old mare, who spent years serving my family, and several of the last years of her life, being a facilitator for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, helping young people to deal with issues of abuse, giving unconditional love to them. She had well more than paid her dues, and deserved good care and peace at the end, instead of a terrifying trip in a cattle truck, sliding on manure, with stallions, colts, geldings and mares all mixed up together, whether to Mexico, or Missouri for their inhumane slaughter. Injuries are not treated, they are not fed or watered, and they are terrified. Should we cause more suffering on those with no voice, or be responsible, and prevent as much suffering as we can, by opposing the liars who want to kill horses for profit?
Victoria Hammond, MA, LPC

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Connie Reuss January 21, 2010 | 9:45 a.m.

I am 100% in Agreement with Victoria Hammond. We should stop overproducing horses, and the fault of that can be laid directly at the door of the breed organizations, that keep lines like the quarter horse Impressive line going, when all horses of that line have risk of a severe and fatal muscle disease, so the line should not be promoted. If a horse is born positive for that disease, they want a place to dump it, since they cannot sell it for breeding or showing. All of the major breed organizations that want to allow for horse slaughter are guilty of the excess number of horses in America. They need to stop what they are doing instead of fostering the idea that we should slaughter their culls so they can still make a profit on their gamble.

I am not wealthy by any means but I do have horses, and unless I am selling a horse to a responsible horse pearson my horses stay with me until they pass and then they are laid to rest on my property. AGAIN, the issue isn't the number of horses it is the breeders that are in it only for a profit and if they can't make a profit by using one method they will use another. I really am surprised with Veterinarian Jim Joyce of Springfield, it is not the old and injured horse that are sent to slaughter, they can't be eaten, it is the healthy or stolen horses that are being sent to slaughter. If you have an injured horse you have the ability to humainely do the responsible actions, there are many people, children that would love to have a free healthy horse or foal -- but greed of the $$$ prevents them from being donated. Let the rest of the world feed themselves,horses are part of America and should be respected.

Missouri is my home and as a child I would have given anything to have a horse, I saved all of my allowances and gift money and when I was 12 I purchased my 1st horse and that horse remained with me even after he became lame due to a pasture injury, he moved from Missouri, to Washington D.C., to South Carolina, and finally to Georgia, injury and all and was finally laid to rest on our property at the age of 28. Based on the comments I have read ABOVE this wonderful fellow would be food in France because he was injured when he was 8 and of no use. SHAME ON ALL OF YOU --- KILLING ANIMALS TO MAINTAINE CONTROL IS NOT THE ANSWER -- OWNER RESPONSIBILITY IS THE ANSWER TO THE CONTROL OF THESE WONDERFUL ANIMALS.

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Susan Griffin January 21, 2010 | 9:51 a.m.

As a horse owner all my life and rescue/rehabilitation of abused and neglected horses - and horse trainer...I DO NOT SUPPORT ANY BILL ALLOWING THE RE-OPENING OF SLAUGHTER HOUSES IN THE USA. It is a horrific sight to watch and hear these horses die that are not HUMANELY KILLED. The proplem of over horse population arrises from Breeders who breed just for preformance, looks and if they dont get what they want they are throw away animals - Vet bills are climbing out of control and people can not afford to get their animals proper care let alone be euthanized. In our state it cost well over $400.00 to euthanize a horse then provide transportation or a grave site to be dug - its a huge expense that they avoid at all costs. Putting a horse down in our state is a expense of $800.00+ dollars thats horriable - thats how they suffer and are not humainly put down or treated. If breeders think and research before breeding the influx of horses not making the cut would be much less. I know a farm with over 50 horses has to have each mare in foal just because one in every 20 foals make the show cut - if they cant make the show world at the age of 3 they are cut loose and sold and or neglected - Why breed if there is no market - Its a horriable thing and it all stems from over populatin of greed from breeders.

Thank you Victoria Hammond for your comments you are 100% correct and I'm with you.

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Steph Ginsbach February 18, 2010 | 6:25 p.m.

The horses that are slaughtered are not the "pets". The people that are not in the horse business should not try to control situations that they have no experiences in. I am not saying that people should not voice opinions I just wish that they would educate themselves before trying to control my lifestyle. Horses are livestock and are very differnt from dogs and cats. So why are people comparing them. How do people know that a horse can sense its upcoming slaughter? I have been blessed in my life to be around some of the most intelligent horses and I have seen horses pass away from rattlesnake bites and other means. The whole purpose of my comment is just to say this, People with limited or no horse experince should not be telling those of us in the horse industry what is cruel and inhumane. We do not purposely hurt these animals that provide our livelyhood.

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Suzanne Moore March 16, 2010 | 10:30 p.m.

Some very excellent posts, folks! Not too much left for me to say except - how do the pro-slaughter people plan to get around the new regulations about tainted horse meat that the EU has put out? Considering that bute and ivermectin are two of the totally banned substances, how can they claim that ANY American horse has not been given these drugs at some time in his/her life? There IS no way.

They never seem to bring that up, but come April, they will have to address it, because the rules will start to be enforced.

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Jacob Carver March 29, 2010 | 2:26 p.m.

I think horses are beautiful animals, but when they get old and tuckered out, it is better to make use of them. I think the bill should be passed-along with qualifications of how old the horses should be and such.

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carla thomas March 29, 2010 | 11:30 p.m.

i have notified wayne pacelle of the national humane society to help me stop this bill!!!!! i will see to it that no horse is slaughtered!!!!!!!! i have also put this on the humane society facebook page!!!!! i have also put it on wayne pacelle,s facebook page!!!!!
shame on you who want to see beautiful animals don,t deserve to own a pet or a horse!!!!!
NUFF SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Report Comment)
carla thomas March 29, 2010 | 11:34 p.m.


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carla thomas March 29, 2010 | 11:41 p.m.


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Ellis Smith March 30, 2010 | 6:24 a.m.

Is it really necessary to employ all capital letters in a post? Looks like a #%@&$ telegram!

If one can't make their point using the proper combinations of upper and lower case letters then maybe the point wasn't worth making in the first place.

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robert link March 30, 2010 | 1:02 p.m.

Ellis Smith March 30, 2010 | 6:24 a.m.
Is it really necessary to employ all capital letters in a post? Looks like a #%@&$ telegram!

ES That is akin to shouting, using all caps.

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C Wren April 5, 2010 | 1:43 p.m.

Thank goodness Jim Joyce is not my vet.
I frankly do not consider Steph Ginsbach much of a horseperson, either.

I have owned, bred, raised, bought, and sold horses for years. I have had to put some down.

A bullet to the brain is much more humane than a slaughter house.

Of course, it's much easier to just ship 'em out, and make a few bucks in the process than to do the right thing. Shame on those who choose to make a profit in their deaths!

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Allan Sharrock April 5, 2010 | 4:34 p.m.

A bullet to the head is almost the same thing in regards to how the horses are put down. It is a metal rod that is launched into the brain that causes instant death. There will be some who argue that it is not but it is really no different than a bullet. In fact I think it is bigger in diameter than most bullets.

Yes "shame" on farmers and horse owners who would like to feed their families instead of throwing money away. How dare they do that. Why the idea of making money on a animal is crazy. Horses are like humans didn't you know. Sarcasm

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Mark Foecking April 5, 2010 | 6:38 p.m.

Yes, the actual means of killing in a slaughterhouse is similar to a bullet in the head (and yes, the bolt in a captive bolt pistol is quite big compared to common bullets), but what I think C Wren is saying is that it is less stressful on the animal to be shot in its own quarters than to be shipped to a slaughterhouse and have to deal with all the frightening, unfamiliar experiences.

A lot of this is because horses are not bred for food, and tend to enjoy the status of "pet". A lot fewer people care about the feelings of the cow or pig they eat for dinner, than care about the dogs and cats at the Humane Society. This is basically the same thing.


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Kathryn McGonigal April 12, 2010 | 1:40 p.m.

I also agree with CWren. Thank goodness that Jim Joyce isn't my veterinarian. Also, I wonder how many horses that Chardy Shealy has sold to slaughter house agents?

And what is this nonsense from Shealy about not having a humane way to euthanize horses? Any vet can give an injection into the neck vein and down the horse goes. But I guess that extra $120 in the pocket for a crippled or older, unwanted animal feels better to the pocketbook than any concern about the outcome for the animal.

I also have to wonder how many of these folks sell animals to slaughter house buyers for cash and then take the animal's original value as a total business loss on their income taxes?

By the way, I am an owner of four horses and am married to a rancher in western Kansas. I do have one "unusable" horse--she suffered a broken leg in a work accident, and I was lucky with K-State's help and two local vets to help her live a very enjoyable life. Thank you, God, that Jim Joyce was not my vet then. I guess I know what he would have recommended.

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mary ann mcgregor November 1, 2010 | 5:59 a.m.

I think Dr. Jim Joyce is a man with a lot of common sense, and I think horses are wonderful - and our daughter has one, but people - it sounds to me as though you are worshipping the creation, rather than our Lord, our Father in heaven - He created horses, cows, pigs, chickens - you and I.
Many of you same people - may think it is fine and dandy to euthanize an elderly person - but a horse???
Come on. You see horses in fields - no people with them. Now we have "adopt a horse" ads on the computer and in magazines - horses are starving to death!!! That is a known fact. The HSUS likes to use pictures of animals just like these starving horses, to raise more money for their lobbying and their own pockets. They get rich from these starving, and dying horses. They could actually be saving lives - in this country and others. Horse slaughtering is much more benevolent than our state parks and forests - ending up with 'wild' horses running through them - actually being a danger to the people who go there.
Horses are left to die - and end up on the ground - ribs sticking out 2 inches from their bodies and YOU call that humane??

Go ahead and call mr. wayne - the vegan - pacelle. My goodness - I can not believe I actually saw that in print. Oh, we have to get PETA in here too.

It makes me sick to see you so called "horse lovers" go on and on, and attack good people who advocate common sense. I do feel sorry for you.

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Johnna Nichols November 21, 2010 | 5:45 p.m.

Okay Victoria. the horse indutry does need slaughter houses. im 17 years old. and i know this. why dont you start gettin some facts before opening your mouth and say something. Since slaughter houses have been closed down there has been an increase in human injury due to unsafe dangerous horses. that would have regually been sent to slaughter. also in increase in horse stavation and abuse. take that into concideration.

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