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Over one million horses are slaughtered in the United States every three years. Even more horses are sent to slaughter but do not survive the trip there due to inhumane transportation conditions. With eight functioning horse slaughterhouses around the United States, approximately twelve thousand horses are sent to their deaths each week.

The eight slaughterhouses are owned by foreign companies and can be found in Texas, Connecticut, Illinois, and Oregon. The majority of horse meat is then sent to countries such as Belgium, Japan, and France, where it is sold for as much as 15 U.S. dollars per pound. In these countries, horsemeat is considered a gourmet treat. In no way is the horsemeat used as a staple food for peoples’ survival.

Even though horses are slaughtered in the U.S., they are still taxed as companion animals, such as dogs or cats, and not as livestock that is used for food, such as cows and chickens. For the most part, U.S. citizens do not eat horsemeat and consider it to be wrong to do so, as eating a dog or cat would be. Horses are looked upon fondly by most Americans as beautiful, kind animals and are primarily used for pleasure, sport, and recreation.

Healthy racehorses, show horses, and even pet horses are taken to slaughter under very inhumane conditions. Two-level livestock trailers are often used to transport the horses, but these trailers are generally of inadequate height to comfortably transport horses; most horse trailers are two feet taller than livestock trailers. Pregnant mares, foals, and infirm horses are packed into these trailers as well. These horses, naturally running animals, are forced to stand in one place for hundreds of miles. The weaker animals will often slip and fall and be trampled by the other horses. These transports can last for as long as a week and often no food or water is offered to the horses during the trip. Many of them die before they even reach the slaughterhouse.

The methods of slaughtering horses are abusive as well. Most commonly, the horses are hung by their legs as their throats are slit, and they are left to bleed to death. However, in order to make the horses cooperate while they are hung upside down, it is necessary to fracture their skulls to simply immobilize them (but not to kill them). Apparently, this is the only way for the horse meat to be certified for human consumption.

Over the past five years, the number of horses slaughtered each year has declined, but not nearly enough. There are other ways to slow down horse slaughter, such as euthanizing ailing horses and preventing the over-breeding of horses. The slaughter of horses in the United States has been kept as quiet as possible, and until it is out in full view of the public, the abuse of these beloved animals will continue.