Tag Archives: equine welfare alliance

Market for Slaughter Horses Plunging in Wake of Burger-gate

EWA (Chicago) – USDA data for the first quarter of 2013 indicates a precipitous drop in the number of horses going from the US to Mexico for slaughter. The flow of horses south had been increasing steadily for over two years but dropped 62% between the first full week of 2013 and the end of the first quarter.

Since the closing of the US based horse slaughter plants in 2007, US horses have been going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico for consumption in the European Union (EU) and Russia. Beginning in late January of this year horse meat began to be detected masquerading as beef in countless products across Europe and much of the world. The resulting scandal was dubbed “Burger-gate” for the fact that horse meat was first detected in Burger King “all beef patties” in England.

“We have been watching these numbers closely,” explains EWA president John Holland, “because we knew they would tell us how much of the meat from our horses was being sold as beef. The answer is apparently a great deal of it.”

The EU scandal also explained another mystery. The available data indicated that the consumption of horse meat in EU countries was flat to down over the past decade, but the export of US horses kept climbing.

Mexico-statsThe sales of processed beef products have dropped in the EU in the wake of the comingling scandal, but the consumers of horse meat in the EU were unlikely to change their buying patterns since they were intentionally consuming it all along. Therefore, Holland reasons, “Any drop in horse meat sales is most likely attributable to its no longer being sold as beef.”

The current trend does not bode well for fledgling companies trying to bring slaughter back to the US since they will be competing with multinational conglomerates in what appears to be a rapidly shrinking market.

Data on the export of horses to Canada for slaughter will not be available for 60 days, but reports in the Canadian media indicate an even more severe drop in the number of US horses being slaughtered in Canada.

The export of horses to Canadian slaughter had already been on the decline in 2012 when it dropped by 7.5%, but this was more than offset by a 61% increase in horses going to Mexico. The reason for this shift to Mexico is thought by some to be attributable to the fact that Mexico does not test for phenylbutazone contamination, an issue that has plagued Canadian slaughter plants.

The Equine Welfare Alliance is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 250 member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 18 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids.





John Holland

Vicki Tobin

Slaughter of U.S. Horses Soars as Horse Meat Scandal Explodes

February 27, 2013 – Chicago (EWA) – According to USDA statistics, the slaughter of US horses soared by 32% in 2012 to over 176,000, a twenty year high. The horses were exported largely to slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada, which then shipped the meat to the EU (Europe Union) where horse meat has subsequently been found to have been fraudulently substituted for beef in everything from burgers to lasagna and even school lunches.

The number of horses exported to Mexico increased from 68,429 in 2011 to 110,202 in 2012, a 61% increase while exports to Canada actually decreased slightly (7.5%) to 59,812.

Despite the EU repeatedly finding the prohibited carcinogen phenylbutazone and other banned substances in the meat of US horses, and despite its own audit reports stating that they still have no effective way of preventing contaminated horse meat from entering their food chain, the authorities have allowed the trade to continue to expand.

Both Canada and Mexico require slaughter horse sellers to provide Equine Information Documents (EIDs) stating any drugs the horses have been given. But inexplicably, Mexico does not test for phenylbutazone or even include it on seller affidavits despite the fact that the drug is at the top of the EU’s banned substance list.

Until recently it was thought that this endangered only consumers of horse meat, but now it is clear that is not the case. The finding of horse meat in meals supplied to schools and hospitals is of particular concern since children are extremely vulnerable to even trace amounts of phenylbutazone, which can cause potentially lethal aplastic anemia.

The reason for both the scandal and the contamination lies in the nature of the horses. US horses being sent to slaughter are overwhelmingly young sport horses, four to eight years old, and at the end of very short careers. The horses are comprised largely of Quarter Horses (~ 70%), followed by Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. Most were used in rodeo and racing before being dumped to slaughter.

Since the horses are a byproduct of these sports, they were not raised for slaughter and were almost universally given drugs prohibited in food animals. The low cost of these horses ($100 to $500) makes them far cheaper than beef, thus providing a huge incentive for the fraudulent substitution.

Increases in the cost of keeping horses in recent years have suppressed the domestic market for recreational horses, leaving the kill buyers with bargains galore.

A ban on funding for US horse meat inspections, which was passed by Congress in 2006, was rescinded in 2011, but to date no horse slaughter plants have opened in the US.

Despite the devastating effect of the scandal on beef sales in the EU, and endless revelations about contaminated horse meat, Oklahoma is considering repealing its own ban on horse slaughter in hopes of enticing a plant to that state.

The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) is a dues-free 501c4, umbrella organization with over 275 member organizations and over 1,000 individual members worldwide in 18 countries. The organization focuses its efforts on the welfare of all equines and the preservation of wild equids. www.equinewelfarealliance.org

John Holland

Confusion Reins as Canadian Slaughter Plants Stop Slaughtering US Horses

October 12, 2012 – Chicago (EWA) – US horses are no longer being accepted by Canadian horse slaughter plants, according to multiple sources. The Shipshewana auction in Indiana confirmed reports that they have discontinued loose (slaughter) horse sales for an indefinite period of time.

A spokesperson for the Sugar Creek Ohio auction also confirmed that the kill buyers were no longer taking slaughter horses because “the plants are shut down”. This was further confirmed by a Richelieu slaughter house official. An unconfirmed report from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) indicated it was the result of a European Union (EU) directive.

Canadian customs officials, however, knew nothing of the action. To add to the confusion, at least one driver stated that he did deliver horses to an undisclosed plant Friday afternoon.

Continue reading Confusion Reins as Canadian Slaughter Plants Stop Slaughtering US Horses

International Equine Conference Press Event to Be Held at UNLV Campus

September 14, 2012 – Chicago (EWA) – The Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and Respect4Horses are holding a press conference that will feature sponsors and presenters from the International Equine Conference (IEC). The press conference will be held at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) campus in the Stan Fulton Bldg. on Friday, September 21, 2012 at 11 A.M.

Current issues surrounding the BLM roundups of our wild horses and burros and horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States and its social and environmental impacts will be discussed at the press conference. The general public as well as students and faculty of the university are invited to attend. Refreshments will be served at the press conference.

The conference will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 22 & 23, 2012, at the UNLV campus Stan Fulton Bldg. Current initiatives, legislative issues and progress addressing the care and futures of domestic and wild horses and burros in this country will be covered by an impressive and diverse panel of experts.

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Testing Finds More Contaminated Horse Meat

Chicago (EWA) – Following a ban funding for USDA inspections, and state legislation in Texas and Illinois, the last three horse slaughter plants in the US were closed in 2007. The result was that the horses were shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Last year the prohibition on funding was lifted, but now the very market for the meat from US horses is in question.

As the debate rages about the reintroduction of horse slaughter to the US, documents continue to leak out that indicate a major change in the testing of meat from US horses both in the European Union (EU) where the meat is largely consumed, and in Canada where many of the horses are slaughtered. For years, the EU has been tightening traceability of horse meat it produced domestically while apparently turning a blind eye to drug residues in imported meat.

Equine advocates have long claimed that since US horses were not raised as food animals, and since they were commonly medicated with prohibited substances, their meat could not be safe.

Continue reading Testing Finds More Contaminated Horse Meat

Equine Advocacy Organizations Form Partnership with Cruelty Investigators

August 23, 2012 – Chicago (EWA) – Wild Horse Freedom Federation (WHFF) and Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) have announced a new working relationship with a team of professional undercover cruelty investigators. This new alliance will increase WHFF and EWA’s ability to inform law enforcement, lawmakers, the media and the public regarding all forms of cruelty to domestic and wild equines.

Hard-nosed and effective, with a history of these successful investigations focused primarily on equine cruelty related to the horse slaughter pipeline, the work of the investigators has assisted enforcement agencies and exposed numerous inhumane conditions inherent to the horse slaughter world.

Their investigation of Three Angels Farms, already notorious for two recent accidents, revealed numerous blatant on-going transportation violations. The report has been widely used throughout the equine welfare community, publications and the TV news media.

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Rockville Horse Slaughter Plant Another Misfire for Sue Wallis

Chicago (EWA) – Despite dozens of articles about the imminent opening of a horse slaughter plant in Rockville, Missouri, EWA has learned that the plant is not opening anytime in the foreseeable future.

The announcement by Sue Wallis that the plant was undergoing renovation and would be open in September turns out to have been as premature and misleading as her earlier announcements in Wyoming and Mountain Grove, MO.

Wallis has not in fact purchased the plant, and cannot legally do so (had she the resources) because its ownership is entangled in a complex web of civil and criminal issues involving dubious deeds of trust through a shell company called Six Bears, and criminal theft charges against its Canadian operator Vincent Paletta.

Continue reading Rockville Horse Slaughter Plant Another Misfire for Sue Wallis

2012 International Equine Conference

Chicago (EWA) – Registration is now open for the 2012 International Equine Conference (IEC) to be held at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event follows the extremely successful 2011 conference in Alexandria, Virginia last year.

The conference will kick off with a reception at 8PM on the night of September 21st, and continue with two full days of presentations starting on the morning of the 22nd. Thanks to the generosity of sponsors, this year’s conference will include both breakfast and lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Evenings will be free for participants to enjoy the many exciting diversions of Las Vegas.

The program will address all aspects of equine welfare for both domestic and wild equines as well as the impact of horse slaughter on public health and communities. Speakers will include many of the personalities that have been in the news over the past year, as well as some who have been working quietly behind the scenes. “It will be a chance to get the inside story from people who have dedicated their lives to protecting our horses and burros and much of the information will not have been publicly available before,” explains EWA’s John Holland.

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Ayache’s (Three Angels Farms) Trailer Involved in Accident, Again

June 17, 2012 – Chicago (EWA) – For the second time since January, a truck from Dorian Ayache’s Three Angels Farms was involved in a major accident on an interstate highway. The 53’ trailer broke in half on I24 just outside of Nashville less than an hour from Ayache’s property. The 37 horses were being taken to the Texas-Mexico border for slaughter.

The driver received several citations including driving a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver’s license. One horse was euthanized. The remaining traumatized horses, as with the wreck in January, were quickly cleared for travel by a veterinarian at the scene, loaded into another Ayache rig and on their way to Texas.

This incident is representative of the nature and economics of transport of horses to slaughter. These “bottom feeder” operations invest as little as possible which results in threats to public safety as well as inhumane treatment and care for horses. Transport violations in a USDA document contained hundreds of graphic photographs of horses whose injuries and conditions were violations of humane laws. The photographs were taken in 2005 while horse slaughter still operated at three plants in the U.S.

Continue reading Ayache’s (Three Angels Farms) Trailer Involved in Accident, Again

Study Exposes Real Reasons behind Decline of Horse Industry

Chicago (EWA) – The Equine Welfare Alliance has released the first comprehensive analysis of economic forces that have caused major shrinkage of the horse industry in recent few years. The study analyzes the cost of alfalfa, grass hay, corn and gasoline as well as the impact of the extended recession, and explains why breed registries have seen an approximately 50% reduction in foal registrations since 2007.

While all sectors of the economy have been hammered by the economic conditions this new study shows that the horse industry has also suffered hyper-inflation of its costs. The combination has been devastating.

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