Breaking Investigation: Horses’ 36-Hour Journey to Slaughter Exposed
Every year, tens of thousands of American horses are killed for their flesh. Worse still, they are forced to endure journeys of hundreds of miles in cramped trucks—often in extreme weather without food or a drop of water—before reaching slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. It is a cruel industry that has been hidden from sight—until now.
This spring, PETA investigators rode with and followed a transporter from a meat buyer’s property in Iowa to the Les Viandes de la Petite Nation Inc. slaughterhouse in Québec. U.S. law permits horses to be hauled for 28 hours and sometimes longer without being off-loaded. PETA’s investigator witnessed how the 33 horses aboard the transporter endured a 1,100-mile,36-hour journey in subfreezing conditions and were never given food, water, or a chance to unload.
This long, grueling ride is only a small part of the torment that many tired, injured horses endure. Panicked horses—including thoroughbreds, standardbreds, quarter horses, and draft horses—are crowded inside “kill pens” at livestock auctions across the country. At an auction in Iowa, horses waited for hours before they were corralled toward the auction ring, weighed, and finally sold. The heavy hydraulic gates used to separate the horses as they entered the auction area frequently slammed shut on their heads and necks—just one more ordeal in the long and traumatic journey to their deaths.
PETA investigators found ex-racehorse Royale With Speed, the grandson of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, packed inside a “kill pen” in Kalona, Iowa. By the time investigators saved him, Royale With Speed had been purchased by a meat buyer and was hours away from a harrowing ride to slaughter. He was severely exhausted and running a fever, and his lymph nodes were swollen and later burst with pus—yet he was still scheduled to be killed for human consumption. Following weeks of intensive care, Royale with Speed fully recovered. He was purchased by animal advocate and fitness trainer Jillian Michaels and then adopted by a PETA patron in New Mexico. He will lead a wonderful life.
Royale With Speed was saved from the slaughterhouse, where he would have faced a terrifying death. Undercover video footage taken inside the Québec facility revealed that at least 40 percent of the horses were still conscious after receiving a captive-bolt shot to the head. One horse suffered through an agonizing 11 shots before finally collapsing. In another instance, a worker was taped waving good-bye mockingly to a dying horse. In February, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency temporarily closed the slaughterhouse, but the plant resumed operations just days later and is now attempting to use rifles in place of captive-bolt guns, even though they have been shown to be a cruel and ineffective way to stun horses. Continue reading