Missouri House approves horse slaughtering bill

Monday, March 29, 2010 | 7:33 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House has endorsed legislation designed to allow the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

The legislation is intended to get around a federal ban on meat inspectors working in horse slaughtering plants.

The House bill would levy fees on slaughterhouses that the state would then transfer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was approved by voice vote Monday and needs another vote before moving to the Senate.

Congress has barred federal funds from being spent by USDA to inspect horse slaughtering plants.

The horse meat bill also includes a provision aimed at blocking initiative petitions restricting agriculture.


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carla thomas March 29, 2010 | 11:10 p.m.

i am appauled that this bill was approved!!!! i have notified the national humane society,i will have this investigated by wayne pacelle!!!!! i will stop this from happening.i work very closely with wayne pacelle,i helped get the animal evacuation bill passed.i will see to it that no horse is slaughtered!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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carla thomas March 29, 2010 | 11:20 p.m.

i,ve just personally contacted wayne pacelle!!!!! of the national humane society!!!!! i will do everything i can to stop this!!!!!!!!!!!

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John Schultz March 29, 2010 | 11:31 p.m.

Were any exclamation points harmed in the making of this comment?

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D Adams March 30, 2010 | 5:18 a.m.

@Carla - would you like to take some of the starving and debilitated horses off folks' hands? I don't condone slaughter - but horses can live a good 30 years and until people stop breeding them without regard, there are always going to be too many. We've already seen increased cases of neglected and starving animals since the ban, and many are being shipped to Mexico slaughter houses where the treatment is far less humane than in the US.

The right thing to do is for breeding to be regulated. Gah, I cannot believe I am arguing for more goverment. There will still be the issue of old/lame horses, but hopefully not as many. The slaughterhouses then will have little reason to continue operating.

Have you called the humane society about the cows/pigs/chickens being slaughtered? Because many of us choose not to make them pets doesn't make their slaughter any less humane than horse slaughter.

What about the unborn babies being slaughtered? Anyone care to get riled up about that? Or is it because you can't see them, or it's not your body, it's not inhumane, right? There's another argument for more breeding regulation...

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T.M. Ford March 30, 2010 | 8:56 a.m.

I have owned horses 30 years for trail riding. Never before have I seen horses treated so poorly, horses are being dumped on private and public lands in large numbers. When the horse slaughter was banned the horse prices fell - dramatically. The slaughter can be done humanely - much more humane than the beef some of you eat at BK or Mickie D's. Horses are never raised in confined areas. It is short sighted and ill informed people that believe banning the slaughter helps the horse. I have never sold or taken a horse to slaughter but it did serve a purpose for those owners without means to retire a lame horse gracefully on their own land. Horses endure a variety of injuries that disable riding and cause chronic pain and many cannot afford to care for horse in pain or afford to have the horse put down and disposed. I currently have a 31 year old mare that cannot be ridden - I can afford to provide her end of life care - many Missourians could not afford this luxury.

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Theresa Messick March 31, 2010 | 9:22 a.m.

In 2006, Congress defunded ante-mortem inspections required to slaughter horses for human consumption. In 2007, a federal court rejected an attempt by the USDA to allow horse slaughter operators to pay for the inspections. Without these inspections, it is illegal under the Federal Meat Inspection Act to slaughter horses for human consumption. This effectively ended horse slaughter in the United States. Horses are now shipped to Canada and Mexico at the same pace that we were slaughtering them in the United States before the plant closures.

H.B.1747 will allow the collection of fees by the Director of Ag to be paid to the USDA, effectively doing an end-around of the federal court's decision. If only our legislators had tackled other issue with the same zeal they attacked horse slaughter ...

Recently, the European Union came up with a new set of rules for horses slaughtered for human consumption. Effective 7/31/10, it will be mandatory for all Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspected facilities, engaged in the slaughter of equines for edible purposes, to have a complete set of records for each animal slaughtered. They have a list of drugs which completely disallow the meat from slaughtered equines which have been administered these drugs, entry in to the human food chain. One of those drugs is Phenylbutazone which has been shown to cause cancer in humans. Bute is commonly administered to sale horses to mask pain and/or inflammation. The US does not have any such requirements. So there is a good possibility that horses slaughtered in Missouri will have Bute in their system. Other drugs routinely given to horses in the US are anabolic steroids and hormone medications. And lets not forget that any de-wormer, many supplements and all medications state that these products are contraindicated for use in horses intended for human consumption. Is the Missouri Department of Ag Director going to put safeguards in place to protect the public from ingesting meat contaminated with these substances?

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Michael McNally March 31, 2010 | 11:17 a.m.

I agree that the slaughter houses should be reopened in Missouri for serveral reasons, it will create jobs that are so badly needed, it will reduce the numbers of horses that are just turned lose because the owner cannot feed them and lastly it will bring the horse market back on track. I am a horse owner and have been my entire life, but there's got to be a line drawn and that line is too reopen the slaughter house for the horse.

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Kate Long March 31, 2010 | 11:48 a.m.

@ Carla Thomas. Maybe you should have gone to all the horse sales and picked up the ones people left because they didn't sell and they could no longer afford to care for them.

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Theresa Messick March 31, 2010 | 12:26 p.m.

Reopening the slaughter houses is not the answer. Using good sense when breeding is. If color is your main requirement when breeding your mare, you are part of the problem.

The amount of jobs added because we open up the slaughter plants will be minimal. They will pay minimally and the positions will more than likely go to illegals. Not exactly a boon for the local economies.

Also, Paula Bacon was the Mayor of Kauffman, TX, the home of the now closed, Dallas Crown, wrote a letter to federal legislators pleading for a nation-wide ban on horse slaughter. The foreign-owned company that ran the plant in her city effectively bankrupted their legal budget each year. They were constantly in violation of their permits. The neighboring residents were always dealing with blood and fluids backing up into their homes, the smell, the sounds, carcasses and bones being hauled into their yards. Not exactly where you'd want to raise your kids. Cavel, in Illinois, also caused major havoc on the community's sewer system.

All that being said, let's take the horse factor out of it and consider public safety. If the European Union is concerned about the chemicals fed to slaughter-bound horses, shouldn't we be? The meat can't be sold to them, so will remain in the U.S. or go to Mexico (where they also slaughter US horses).

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E. H. March 31, 2010 | 8:48 p.m.

Outragious!!! We need Missouri land for growing things, not killing! Missouri is not a wasteland it is prime growing/farming land! Everyone knows they already "secretly" dump the horses in the beef factories. I wonder what the incentives were to pass this bill under the table because I sure don't see any on the table!!! Hmm when is re-election time again?

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rusty shepard March 31, 2010 | 9:15 p.m.

I have personally rescued 3 horses from being abandoned. I know the health of most illegally dumped horses will keep them from going to slaughter. I do support the slaughter bill as a valid cure for an ongoing problem of mistreated horses. First of all the european country's have a history of not liking american agriculture it started with genetically altered crops corn, wheat ect then it was beef with growth hormones. I wonder why?? When Europe lost millions of head of cattle due to "mad cow" disease we even had a cow left here. Its apparent you people dont understand these same agricultural practices to eliminate disease and blight feeds the world. I ask how is it you claim you only eat organic beef? When in Missouri most of the pasture (99%) is growing genetically hybride grass ie k-31 fescue. I will continue to care for my rescues untill they naturally parish, but how many of you whinners are going to take in a few youyrself. Do you not realize that domesticated horses wont survive without human intervention. Do you actually feel like you have solved anything by oppossing a quick end to the pain these dumped animals endure. Yeah yeah yeah some dont die right off when hit with a air activated bolt gun well starvation takes months and in some severe cases these animals could have had intervention prior to getting to this point had their been a market. In closing guess what some one killed that burger/ steak/chicken/ fish you have been eating.

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Theresa Messick April 1, 2010 | 10:28 a.m.

Rusty, it is well known that Bute contains carcinogens which cause cancer in humans. That isn't something that the Europeans came up, just pure medical fact.
After the plant in Illinois shut down, the manager was interviewed on an internet show. What I remember most, was what I've seen firsthand, you can't process the numbers of horses a day needed to keep the plant profitable and do it in a humane manner. I was inside many of the slaughter plants prior to their closing and it is not a humane process.
And I'm not whining, I'm just plain mad. I get angry every time I go to a sale and see someone's failed breeding attempt sell to a kill-buyer, because they were too lazy or arrogant to educate themselves.

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Karen McCarthy April 1, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

I rescued 5 Shires 6 years ago. When my husband lost his job we had to re-home them. We investigated every inquiry and chose a ranch close to us that use them for buggy rides. We also have a contract with them so if they are abused we will reclaim them. We also had the option of turning them over to Long Meadow Rescue Ranch. Missouri is one of the worse states out there for animal abuse. Our laws to protect animals from abuse and neglect are among the poorest in the country. Making people pay a registration fee for all non altered animals (like the St. Louis City special license for non altered dogs)would be a small step in stopping animal neglect. Stronger penalties for the crime of neglecting and abusing animals would also be a step in the right direction. And for those out there who say that people like me who disagree with this Bill should rescue these animals or shut up, let me tell you this. I've personally rescued 15 parrots, several dogs, goats, horses and every stray cat that comes on my property. I also alter all the cats and vaccinate and worm all animals I take in.

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rusty shepard April 1, 2010 | 11:45 p.m.

Just thinking that teaching people to not breed so many horses "theory" will work as well as it has for dogs and cats. Lets not abandon the only thing that will solve the issue of horses starving for months untill they die.

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Theresa Messick April 2, 2010 | 8:47 a.m.

Rusty, but by taking away the incentive, i.e., the killer market, you significantly diminish the amount of folks breeding irresponsibly. Let's face it, it's much easier to dump a dog or cat than it is a horse. Consider that many of these horses that are in such bad shape could have been sold, and would most likely have gone, to slaughter. After all, according to the USDA numbers, we're shipping in excess of 100,000 horses a year out to Canada and Mexico for that purpose. It makes one question whether or not the owners of these poor horses wanted them to to go to slaughter. Clearly, that is not the case or they would have dumped them at the first sale they could have before they lost weight.

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Sarah Siplinger April 6, 2010 | 6:42 a.m.

You guys just don't get it do you. Allowing horse slaughter back will not help the economy, it will not help jobs, it will not stop abuse on horses. If this is passed, horses will in fact become 'livestock.' People will begin breeding horses even more so they can then be sent off to slaughter; just like a cow. This just isn't going to solve anything.
Also, as someone said before, there really isn't a humane way to kill horses at slaughterhouses while still making a profit. For all the people out there who think slaughter is better than letting a horse die naturally... you are wrong.
Most people who support the idea of horse slaughter are not grasping the whole picture, or just don't know enough on the subject.
And think about this. In America, horses are companion animals. If we allow slaughter of them here, what's next? Are we going to begin allowing the slaughter of our own dogs and cats too?
I don't want my children to grow up in such a beautiful country hidden by slaughter of our companion animals.

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Mark Foecking April 6, 2010 | 8:36 a.m.

I suspect a lot of the fear of phenylbutazone causing cancer comes from this study:

However, the dosages used in this study are far greater than are used in horse medicine:

Assuming the drug is distributed through the body and not metabolized significantly at time of slaughter (which it likely would be) eating a pound of horsemeat might give a person a dose of three to four milligrams (an active oral dose for a human might be 200-300 mg). It's likely not a significant issue.


Sarah, we DO allow the slaughter of our dogs and cats. How many thousands were put down at the Humane Society last year? We just don't eat them, which, if you think about it, is really kind of wasteful, especially in hard economic times. Sorry, but if someone wants to eat an unwanted dog (and it's not uncommon in Asia), I think that's better than landfilling or incinerating the carcass.

The cause it the same as with horses - irresponsible breeding. We've been trying to get a handle on that for decades, however, without much success. So what are we supposed to do with all these unwanted animals?


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Allan Sharrock April 6, 2010 | 3:40 p.m.

Sarah I believe by Missouri law horses are considered livestock. Plus it is not cost effective to breed horses for slaughter. Horses consume far more grass than cattle and it takes twice as long to reach a marketable weight. That is a recipe to lose money. It is much more profitable to raise cattle for that purpose. Horses are processed because something needs to be done with the animal and there really isn't any point of losing any more money. If you want to euthanize your animal it is your right. But if others want to sell the horse to help make ends meet then it should be their right.

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Pauline Olsen May 2, 2010 | 8:58 p.m.

What in the world do you pro slaughter people have against humanely putting an animal down and lovingly letting them pass with dignity through euthanasia as we do our other pets? And I will say now, if you are not against slaughterhouses, you are for it.
Is it that they can be sold as meat therefor the all mighty dollar should step in? Dogs are eaten in many parts of the world, would you then agree with slaughtering the family dog and selling it's meat when it's time has come? Or a daily slaughtering of the animal shelters dogs and cats? It's the same thing, don't think it's not, it is exactly the same thing.
The whole idea is crazy. I have a horse I rescued from a slaughterhouse. A perfect appendix mare that came with papers and she is as sweet and gentle and as lovely as any horse I have ever met.
You pro slaughter people, have you watched a slaughterhouse video? Do you have any idea of how barbaric it is? The torture, the brutality, the pure violence of it? Do you know they are knifed in the spine repeatedly?
And lastly pro slaughter people, and I will remind you again, if your not against it, you are for it.....
are you aware that we continually poison the Europeans with our horse meat? These horses are not all raised the same, on farms, raised for slaughter. They are racehorses full of steroids and cortisone, they are family horses full of Butte, they are horses of all walks of life that have been fed God knows what, wormed, vaccinated, de-limed, given pain killers, antibiotics and who knows what else and you Missouri, you are taking on the responsibility with a slaughterhouse to assure that the meat coming out of there is safe for both human and pet consumption? This is a multifaceted lawsuit in the making.

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Mark Foecking May 3, 2010 | 5:51 a.m.

I used to get tissues from a veal slaughterhouse in Florida and I've seen the whole process hundreds of times. I've never seen an animal knifed in the spine. They are stunned (knocked unconscious) and immediately bled out. Most of them never know what hit them. No, it's not pretty, but it's not barbaric considering all the other ways an animal can die.

As far as drugs and chemicals in meat go, as long as they are withheld for the prescribed length of time before slaughter, they will not be in the meat (or not enough of them to matter). These things don't build up and never go away. Europeans tend to be a lot more chemophobic than we are, so I find it difficult to believe chemicals in horsemeat are an issue.

I'm not pro-slaughter, particularly. But I also don't see the harm in using the meat of an otherwise unwanted animal for food.


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Allan Sharrock May 3, 2010 | 3:46 p.m.

Pauline I am not against people putting down their horses how they wish. If they want to sell them for slaughter then they should be allowed to or you are free to buy them to keep them from going to slaughter. If they want to euthanize them then they can. If the horses were slaughtered in the US they would not be knifed. The anti-slaughter crowd allowed this to happen by sending the businesses to Mexico. If the Europeans "USDA" government body was so concerned with the meat they would have inspectors at the plants. The Almighty dollar is what makes this nation and the world go round sorry if you don't like that.

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D. Covey May 3, 2010 | 9:52 p.m.
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gwinna mcwilliams May 5, 2010 | 3:11 p.m.

finally people with common sense. we may not like the fact that our horses have to be put down but there comes a time when it has to be done. i hear alot of talk about rescue/theraputic riding centers these place only take so many or certain kinds of horses what happeneds to the rest. whats next we done slaughter cows, chickens or pigs because it not humane. why is it that a few people want to tell everyone else what to eat, wear (uniforms in school), how to raise our children (no prayer in school, no discipline), if we are allowed to smoke or not and where. if i didnt know better i would say i lived in a communist country instead of america. congradulations to the missouri legistors who had the GUTS to stand up to the few.

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carla thomas May 14, 2010 | 3:15 a.m.

well i will work to stop horses from being slaughtered if it means that i have to keep my eye out for horses being taken anywhere against their will.if i see any horses being taken i will start taking down license plate numbers of those transporting the horses and turn them into the national humane society

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KERRI MAGNUSON May 20, 2010 | 10:33 a.m.

What do you think the Humane Society is going to do? Nothing... You have lots and lots of big words put out on here since the thread opened. Makes for some interesting reading but you need to bring yourself back down to EARTH. This is the United States! We are free to care for our animals as we see fit (within the limits of the law of course!) Not everyone thinks like you! I don't care how many animals you say you have "rescued". There are not enough of you out there who can take these animals from the people who are really in financial stress! Why do you think that they only go for $50-$350 at the auctions? Even good riding horses. To many subpar animals! As one of the people said before on here, they have attempted to control the over-breeding of dogs and cats and have also attempted on horses. IT DOESN'T WORK!!! I would rather these animals go to a place where there will be regulations and good outcomes for the finished products produced, no matter what it is used for.
I for one hope that the federal legislation doesn't pass because then it's each state for itself. Let them figure out how to handle their over population of horses as they see fit. I'm keeping up on the pro-slaughter side of the house and there are many states that already have legislation sent to the federal government stating that they do not want the federal ban on horse slaughter and that they want to regulate it themselves.

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Price Kellar June 30, 2010 | 9:38 p.m.

Absolutely hilarious. Horses are beasts of burden, property, tools, and not any different than any oxen. Carla is going to interview horses about "their will." How were you received by the National Humaniac Society? Buzz off!

Feed people--l'll worry about my damnded horses and shoot 'em where they stand if you kooks come around. A hooved animal is mine alone.

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KERRI MAGNUSON July 22, 2010 | 3:20 p.m.

Well, I don't mind slaughter houses because I understand that no type of killing animals for human consumption is humane. We chop the heads off of chickens (although probably the most humane way to slaughter), we slit the throats of goats, pigs, cattle because you can actually find people that eat the brains and if you shoot them, it ruins the head meat. Obviously, you must not be a country boy/girl! If I had to, I would slit a horses throat too if it meant that my family wouldn't starve.

Please, everyone think about the reasons that the last slaughter houses got out of hand and broke all those rules... They were opened when there were no regulations or people to enforce them. Do you really think that the states that end up allowing horse slaughter aren't going to make sure that there are stricter regulations in place to ensure that when the slaughter houses are built that they run to the standards set forth before the contracts were given. Come on, you don't believe that they would let that go again , do you? I'm sure that the states have learned from the mistakes of the past.

No slaughter will ever be completely humane. It's just not in the dictionary for the word "slaughter". Right now, horses can be slaughtered and the meat used for fertilizer, zoos, and other non-human cunsumptive purposes. That's what the state of Tennessee wants to do. They already have a building ready to be put in for the purpose of slaughtering horses for non-human consumption purposes. If the federal gov't decides to keep their nose out of this and allow the states to do what they feel is right for their own horse control problems, many states are looking into, and already have plans in place with investors in line waiting to open these slaughter houses. To each state their own!

I wonder if the Chinese would buy freshly slaughtered dogs and cats from us? That would be an interesting business proposition! I wonder if it would work? I bet the Africans in the very poorest of countries would love the protein that that meat would provide. We are always overrun with dogs and cats and if you shoot them between the eyes with a much smaller captive bolt gun, it would do the trick. They actually farm dogs in China! We wouldn't have to have farms here... just take some from the animal shelters and hold them to make sure that there is no residue in their body and take them to slaughter... I know, not the best thing to say but come on guys, get off your "high horses" and come back down to the earth where half of the world is starving.

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tammy cook August 3, 2010 | 1:52 a.m.

I have seen so many horses here that are starving! ya know, I don't have alot of money but I can not and will not stand by and watch a horse starve to death.. I have started taking horses that people can't care for anymore.. we have gotten a few so we decided to apply for a state license for a horse rescue!! so far, so good!! we got 3 recues in pretty bad shape and 2 more coming this week besides our own riding horses!! there are so many high and mighty people out there complaining about this.. get off your duff and do something about it!! If we hear of anyone taking horses to the slaughter place in mexico or where ever kansas city we tell them just bring them to us..

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Robyn Howell September 17, 2010 | 10:56 a.m.

I tell you what, I am sick and tired of HUMANS causing the death of animals. It's not their fault that there are too many, it's humans who are the irresponaible ones. Get real people and take responsibility for the animals you own that are over breeding. Animals of all kinds should not be terrorized with fear by being slaughtered because you think they are only property, too many or they are too old. They should have the right to live out their lives naturally or if sick and in pain be euthanized humanely and not subjected to torture, pain and fear. Horses are a part of our American History. And we thank them by slaughtering them?

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Lynette Frick September 26, 2010 | 1:27 p.m.

The great thing about animals Robyn, is that they don't live in fear, and terror of being slaughtered by humans. They don't understand that when that horse got in the trailer it didn't come back because it joined the food chain. It's just gone, it could be anywhere. They have better things to worry about, like the threat of dogs, bears, wolves etc. killing/maiming them, in much more painful ineficient ways. I have had horses all my life, and now raise sheep. In my opinion all hoofstock is livestock, and many other countries share that opinion.

Did you know that the Ox, and working cow where just as, or more important than the horse in early American history? Most pioneer families had working cows to pull their covered wagons... not horses. The working cow could produce calves, milk, pull the wagon or plow, and when her time had come she herself was not lain to waste, giving her keepers, both food, and leather.
In true American spirit, I believe that people should have the choice of what to do with their animals. Horses offer a fine lean meat that is perfectly edible, is preferred by some, and can be far less expensive than beef. One of the greatest affronts to nature is to take perfectly good animals, inject them with poisons, and make their flesh useless. It's just plain wasteful, and unnatural. We live in a society that thinks it's rich enough to waste... just look at where that has gotten us in the grander scheme of things.

PS. Yes I process my own sheep. Even the old girls with names, and personalities. I would rather utilize their meat, organs, and hides for me, my family, and my dogs, then poison them and burry them, or dispose of them like common garbage. Its our families way of showing respect for years of faithful service, and we are always thankful for the time that we where allowed to share in their lives, and for knowing that they didn't have to suffer and become decrepit. We honor them in this way because we have the CHOICE to.

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Missi Maleki October 18, 2010 | 7:09 p.m.

This is absolutely disgusting! How can people be so ignorant and heartless? As if there isn't already enough meat with cows, pigs, chickens, fish, ducks, deer, etc.!!! Horses were not intended to be food, they were intended to be transporation and companions! I would like to throw a bucket of guts on every person in support of this! We own a horse ranch and I have been around horses most of my life, and I simply do not understand how anyone could support slaughtering these beautiful creatures!

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