The horses are being transported outside the borders of the country, slaughtered, and then brought back for consumption.
Despite a ban on killing horses in the United States, more than 60,000 horses, both wild and domestic, were slaughtered for human consumption in 2019. To evade the ban instituted in 2006, the horses are taken across the border to either Canada or Mexico, where they are slaughtered before being brought back to America. There is overwhelming support among Americans for a bill that could end the slaughter of horses abroad. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2019, H.R. 961/S. 2006 calls for the permanent ban of horse slaughter and also prevents the export of horses for the same purpose. The bill has bipartisan support in Congress and is also backed by 80% of the American people. Americans support the ban as a majority do not look at horses as a source of meat unlike many countries like Mexico, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Poland, and China, where it's a delicacy.
Horses are killed with gun bolts to the brain before being left to bleed out. Their meat is then processed and shipped out. "The overwhelming majority of Americans are not just against horse slaughter but are intensely opposed to this cruel practice. As more people learn that we are allowing our horses to be shuttled off to a gruesome death all for the sake of foreign gourmands, they are outraged and opposition for this grisly act is growing," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.
Actor Bo Derek is passionate about horses and is working actively to put an end to their slaughter. Her love for horses started when she went location scouting for the movie Bolero in 1983. In no time, she became a horse breeder and a trick rider. In her California ranch, the Tarzan actor had up to 22 horses but is down to five now. Derek is now pushing to put an end to horse slaughter along with Horses in Our Hands, an equine welfare-specific organization that's lobbying Congress for the permanent ban on horse slaughter.
"I've developed a sense of their body language that's tuned to very high sensitivity. But you have to spend a lot of time with animals to be able to develop that understanding. But once you do you find they'll never lie to you," Bo Derek told Upworthy about her relationship with horses. Derek's fight to end horse slaughter dates back almost 18 years. She believes the Cattlemen's Association lobby is the biggest obstacle to the bill, fearing that any regulation of four-hooved animals could be extended to cattle as well. "They believe it's a tipping point that will have cascading consequences for their industry," said Derek. "Which, I don't believe, but they seem to take a hard line on that."
Derek is stunned by the staunch opposition by the lobbies. "Our politics is out of control. I found it obscene and vulgar the money that was spent on both sides of this issue for 60,000 horse carcasses. Why fight so hard to keep this practice going?" she lamented. Bo Derek believes change is around the corner. "The one thing I did find while I was working in Washington is that when people write their congressman it really does make a difference," said Derek, before adding that she has been encouraging people to call up their respective Congressperson to vote in favor of the bill. "I've had congressman call me and say, 'Bo, please tell them to stop with the phone calls. Ok, you have our vote. Seen it happen many times and it works," said Derek. As of May, more than 112,000 supporter letters have been submitted to members of the US House and Senate via the Horses in Our Hands website. You can click here to send a letter to Congress asking them to pass the SAFE Act to end horse slaughter.