Montana Residents React As Horse Slaughtering Becomes Legal Again in the United States
Money used for horse slaughter inspections were stripped by Congress in 2006, in effect shutting down the industry in the US. At present, however, a spending bill that was signed into law in early November can spur the practice once again.
With Montana’s ties to horse culture and ranching, the contentious issue brings forth strong emotions on both sides.
Judy Smaaland, the owner of the 4Cat Ranch, a horse boarding and rehabilitation center, said, “I think with the economy and trying to maintain our animals as best we can, having some cost efficient and humane methods of euthanization is a viable option.”
Another local horse owner, Marianne Amsden, said, “I just think it’s sad that these faithful companions that serve humans so well and have for so many centuries, that that’s their fate.”
The newly signed spending bill will provide funding for the U.S.D.A. to examine and inspect horse meat that is meant for human consumption. Although horse meat is not popular in the United States, it sells well in various parts of Europe and Asia.
Advocates for the industry say that the 2006 ban led to an increase in abandoned horses.
Smaaland said, “I think those of us who do work in the industry understand and see every day how many horses are out there without homes, without care.”
However, not everyone agrees. They say that old and sick horses are not the ones that are sent to slaughter houses.
Amsden said, “But it turns out that 92%, according to the U.S.D.A., of all horses slaughtered are considered young, so it’s not just the end of life care that we’re talking about.”
Supporters of the horse slaughter industry say that a state-approved facility could become operational within the period of thirty to ninety days.