Horse Slaughter Debate Not Over in Oklahoma




Background | Tulsa World

Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin might have thought that quick passage of the horse slaughter bill would bring the controversy to an end. Instead, they probably just guaranteed that the controversy will continue to drag on, perhaps for years.
And the awful irony is we might have had to endure this dreadful experience, and the damage it’s done to our already lousy reputation, for naught   –  because there’s a good chance Oklahoma will never end up with a horse slaughterhouse. Let’s hope so, anyway.

But perhaps there might be at least one good outcome from this awful chapter in our legislative history: If Tulsa World readers follow through with their vows, lots of those lawmakers who supported horse slaughter and blithely ignored the wishes of voters might get booted out of office. (To learn how lawmakers voted go to or

Several developments in recent years could mean there won’t be a slaughterhouse anywhere in the U.S. any time soon: pending federal legislation; stricter requirements for exported horse meat; persistent documentation issues, and a growing meat-fraud scandal.

And, there’s a growing movement across the country, articulated by the nation’s top agricultural official, to find a solution other than slaughter for managing the country’s horse population.

Just a few weeks ago, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for developing a “third way” to deal with unwanted or unneeded horses.

Vilsack called on Congress to “come up with a better solution for handling unwanted horses than slaughtering the animals for meat for human consumption.”
Vilsack’s agency is reviewing five applications for slaughterhouses, including reportedly one from Oklahoma, although it is unclear if the Oklahoma application is still being pursued.

The secretary wasn’t specific about what he meant by a third option, but suggested as examples that these horses could be used in programs to help returning war veterans or prison inmates.

Apparently a number of federal lawmakers agree with his stance. Pending federal legislation would ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and prohibit transporting them across the U.S. border to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

The measure, called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, is in part a response to reports that horse meat has been found in food products in Europe and wrongly identified as beef.

The meat-fraud scandal began in early February when the British food protection agency found horse meat in a frozen lasagna product labeled as 100 percent beef, according to a Feb. 26 Washington Post report.

As more investigation ensued, Europeans learned the meat-switching involved “a multinational network of traders, factory owners and marketers.”
The investigation has found that meat fraud could be commonplace and that horse meat-laden products could have been sold across the European continent. “There is no telling how long the cheating has been going on or how much is undiscovered,” concluded the Post.

The discoveries have led to the removal of numerous frozen foods from “hundreds of multinational-chain supermarkets in at least 16 countries,” and “a dozen national investigations have been launched.” There’s now even talk of mandatory DNA testing for such products, among other steps.

Think something like this can’t happen here in Oklahoma? Think again: According to a recent report, it already has. The reason Oklahoma leaders adopted a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption in Oklahoma, according to the report, was because it was found in what was supposed to be beef hamburgers in a couple of fast-food restaurants back in the early 1960s.

Just the beginning

Meat fraud isn’t the only scandal dogging the horse-slaughter business. Ensuring proper documentation of the eligibility of horses to be slaughtered for export, as well as the conditions of their transport to slaughterhouses, is a persistent problem.
According to a federal review of USDA’s ability to ensure humane transport, “many owner/shipper certificates, which document compliance …. are being returned to USDA without key information, if they are returned at all.”

The agency rarely takes action against any owners or shippers who are found to be in violation of transport regulations, nor has it been able to track horses that have been given drugs that would render them ineligible for slaughter and human consumption, according to a series of articles on horse slaughter run by Forbes magazine.

A Canadian survey, according to the Forbes reports, found that Equine Information Documents required by the government there had “missing and incomplete information on the horses’ previous owners or agents and misidentification of horses in accompanying photographs.”

It recently came to light that allegations of some shippers falsifying health forms are being investigated in Oklahoma. Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese confirmed the investigation, now before a state multicounty grand jury.
Allegations also include stolen property, concealing stolen property, transporting stolen property across state lines and other crimes.

It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that the foreign markets might some day turn their noses up at American horse meat, given the documentation issues. Wouldn’t be much need for slaughterhouses then.

Why would state leaders want to get into a business fraught with so many troubles? Oklahoma had the chance to be a pioneer in developing a humane, appropriate response to managing the nation’s horse population  –  or at least the state’s  –  but instead leaders here chose the most objectionable route, one that experience shows will lead to a never-ending quagmire of legal and environmental problems, controversy, and divisive debate and activism. To those who think the problems related to this issue are over: They’ve just begun.

22 thoughts on “Horse Slaughter Debate Not Over in Oklahoma

  1. We simply have to right this wrong and hopefully they will do just that. I’m happy to see that Secretary Tom Vilsack is calling on Congress to come up with another solution other than the slaughter of our American horses. Let’s hope that common-sense, compassion and the responsible approach in saving our beautiful equines will prevail. Their loyality and service must never be underestimated and the human race, in my opinion, has the obligation to provide a safe and humane end to their life, not on a slaughterhouse floor!

  2. One thing these pro-slaughter idiots can’t seem to understand is that the European Union IS the international horse meat trade – they OWN it. And the EU has already banned the export of the meat from American domestic horse slaughter plants. Without the EU, there is NO market. They may thing they can go around the EU, but they can’t and they’ll find that our sooner than later. I doubt a horse slaughter plant will EVER be built in OK.

  3. Working in the vet field…every time I would give horses drugs and reading the labels of the dangers to humans and thinking if they send this horse to slaughter Europe, Asian children would be eating these chemicals that has a warning on our boxes. I have seen at auctions many people come in with there horses and turn them over to the KB without any papers, history nothing. I know of race horses given enormous doses of bute to get them to walk in the auction ring. I had trouble sometimes sleeping knowing people were eating this contaminated meat in EU and here we don’t know. I do know when the plants here closed breast cancer rate went down. I have been following the health issues around the world. Many people in France including children had to visit the hospital for toxic poison this was keep quiet. The people were not putting this together that it is from the Toxic Meat America was sending them. Horses were used in all city Police forces and did wonders. I think they should be brought back. Horses used in schools for people taking Equine classes bring that back. Horses used in many many summer camps and ranches for people to use to learn bring that back. Bring more handicap riding programs back to help the handicap children horses do wonders. There are so many ways to use horses and not expensive you can all summer with good grass just graze horses a few laps of hay a day. Just have feet trimmed, deworm, make sure there in good health when it is time have them put town. Hire more vet tech’s to work give more jobs. Jobs for people walking horses, working for the city police taking care of them, many ideas sending toxic meat to other countries is to me terrorist doing.

  4. The politicians in OK thought they could treat the voters as if they were children that didn’t know their own mind. If ever a group of politicians needed to be shown the door, this pack of crooks do.
    I don’t live there but if I did, I would be calling for a recall vote on all of them, including the governor. I wouldn’t wait for them to be running again for their seats in congress. Go after them now while the iron is hot.

    • I live in OK and, believe me, I wish some kind of sense would show up at the polls. People in this state vote as if it were still 1950.

  5. With everything that has been happening lately WHY on earth has the Bill 1094/s/541, STILL sitting where it began!!! What in H–L is our GOV. doing oh yeah nothing as usual, oh no that is not right they are fighting back and forth and nothing gets passed that’s what must be happening!!!?? If they don’t stop this most of the American Public will be fed up to their eye balls with our so called public leaders, thank god for the ones that did step up WE THANK THEM ALL!!!

  6. This is a good thing and i hope it moves forward a force change in right direction to stop all horse slaughter here in America and worldwide too let the horse run wild and fee or at least for some find alternatives safe and free alternatives to allow them to live out their years they been thru enough abuse it ‘s a kind thing and will make for a better world

  7. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings, and this fat lady can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Say NO to Horse Slaughter!!!

  8. We travel and will never step foot in Oklahoma the way things now stand. We are surely hopeful that Oklahomans will stand up to the state legislators who have not listened to the majority of the citizens, and somehow see to it that there is never horse slaughter in the state.

  9. Dianne Symons, if you have not yet done so, please send your comments above to The Sec. of Ag. who wanted “a third reason” to keep older horses around – you just flooded his request! Send it on to the legislators everywhere. Go to capwiz and PopVox and paste it into the blank form letter. Your comments need to be heard. Thank you for your ideas.

  10. for the life of me, I still can’t understand why this even, ever has to be debated! to poison thousands of men, women, and children….or not to poison them! REALLY??? oh, silly me! I am sorry..i forgot about the money factor! not, for the tax-payers…but,for those who signed this bill of carnage! the problem with this country is that, NO ONE is held accountable for their actions or inactions! it is time to hold people responsible! we have to license our dogs…why not our horses? every owner must have a detailed description of each horse along with a picture….a fee of $5.00 a horse for every 3-5 yrs.. and microchipped! if a horse is abandoned, it can be traced back to their owners..who then will be fined. if the horse is old and or ill.. the owner must pay a vet to put the horse down, ( which is the ONLY HUMANE way) or face steep fines and jail! for the over-breeders, which includes the racing industry. and did we forget?…the major drug companies, who make premarin and other hormone replacement therapies! after 10 yrs. of studies it has been proven that premarin and hrt’s, cause breast cancer!!!!!!! these mares are kept pregnant, and confined in stalls too small for them to move or lay down! they have tubes in their noses, where water is pumped in…and tubes in their bladders, to collect the urine. when they give birth, their foals are taken from them, and if rescues can’t take them..they are discarded…like trash! btw:( drs. still prescribe premarin to unknowing women! these organizations and companies need to be regulated and fined! these actions by each state will create jobs and revenue! that money can be used to help the wild horses and burros… the money can be used for tranquilizers, for the stallions, so vets can geld them and then return them back to their herds! I also wonder if the E U is aware of the fact that kill-buyers have been selling thousands our horses to the slaughterhouses in mexico and Canada? I wonder how the E U would feel if they knew that our politicians know this and have turned a blind eye! these people also have to be held accountable, for allowing kill-buyers to intentionally poison their people! I hope and pray that someone in the E U will wonder why horse meat and it’s consumption is banned in this country! it will be very interesting when they put 2 and 2 together!

  11. This debate will never be over, as long as the betrayal of our loyal friends persists. For thousands of years, the horse has protected us, taxied us, and walked beside us, we now owe the horse our loyalty, and to stop the insanity of greed that has overtaken the subculture of .equine betrayers, and murderers.

  12. If anyone is talking directly with Second of Ag Tom Vilsack I hope they can politely let him know that even if a slaughter-house is built, the entire ‘old and sick horses’ line is just propaganda. The horses really needing protection are the 22,000 drug-free wild horses and burros in BLM holding pens in OK.

    This leads us to another salient point. This is not a partisan issue. The Republican legislature and Governess of a red state worled hand in hand with the Obama Interior Dept as Interior Second Ken Salazar directed the BLM to clear wild horses off their Federally protected rangelands which had safeguarded these herd since a 1971 law passed by a Democrat US Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The ‘clearances’ occured after energy and cattle industries greased the wheels so Congress at different times and leadership modified the 1971 law; thus introducing what we now know as the dual-use lie.

    Dual-use is a lie because you cannot build the kind of infrastructure. Needed for energy and cattle industries and still allow herds of wild horses to range freely. Thus with 50,000+ wild horses and burros in BLM holding pens and just 32,000 left on the range; the number of ‘drug free’ horses in captivity outnumbers the numbers on Federal rangelands. Those under captivity are the equines who will, mostly, test neg for prohibited drugs in food animals.

    Damn right this argument isn’t over.

  13. I am so proud of PA congressman Pat Meehan for his role in the new pnd anti-horse slaughter legislation. The New Holland area was re-districted last year and given to Meehan after the Honey Brook scandal of the woman claiming to re-home race horses and instead sold them directly to a KB in the parking outside of the auction. Meehan immediately sent me a pm with a copy of the press release and the story on ABC. Never going to quietly accept horse slaughter

  14. Two thumbs up for your pro-equine position! Equines have become my all consuming passion in life and I consider myself blessed to care for 21 magnificent equine souls each day. IF there is an anthropomorphic ‘heaven’ I beg for the blessing of continuing my service towards equines forever. Perhaps in that way I might be able to give back a small measure of everything they have and give to me body, mind and spirit!

    ~”If there are more beautiful, magical and mystical beings in this world than equines are, I have yet to discover them and am not convinced it’s even possible for such to exist.” – 01/06~

  15. no puedo creer que la solución a los problemas siempre sea matar….Gente inteligente elige la solución más despiada: matar y matar. No entiendo por qué siempre buscan excusas si lo que desean es lucrar y matar. Por qué no reconocen que son nazis que nada les importa de la vida de nadie…mucho menos la vida de los caballos o cualquier otro animal….EL CABALLO ES MUCHO MEJOR QUE EL SER HUMANO.
    Nadie que tenga alguna sensibilidad o mínimo de ética y moral puede firmar para mandar a matar a nadie…tampoco a los caballos…Basta, dejen de matar CABALLOS..NO MATEN CABALLOS

  16. I hope Tulsa world holds there word!!! We don’t want this in our state, just the money hungry pollitions who went against what the majority of Oklahomans want!!!

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