Horse slaughter opponents will be disappointed to learn that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has not come any closer to protecting US horses from slaughter. The March 15 edition of the Journal of the AVMA (“JAVMA”) contains the text of a joint statement on horse slaughter released by the AVMA with the Canadian and Mexican veterinary associations.
Note: Horse slaughter in the US is currently banned only under a technicality of federal administration funding which currently does not allow USDA inspection of horse meat slaughtered within the United States. No specific law exists to ban horse slaughter outright in the United States. Federal law does not prohibit shipment of horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter in those countries and shipment to Europe, Asia or South America for human or animal consumption.
The veterinary medical associations of the three largest North American nations issued a joint policy statement that is basically a re-issue of the AVMA’s longstanding position. The groups agree that horses deserve humane treatment en route to slaughter; the document also states that “transporting horses destined for slaughter over long distances can negatively impact their health and welfare.”
The language could be interpreted as endorsing a return to slaughter in the US: “Use of local slaughter facilities is preferred to avoid welfare risks (e.g., physical and mental stress, injury) associated with long-distance travel.” It also pledges a “hands off” no-interference policy across the borders: “Horses should be humanely slaughtered consistent with the requirements of the country in which the horses are being processed.”
While the AVMA has been proactive in some other welfare-related horse issues, the organization makes its position policies on an issue-by-issue basis. The slaughter of animals for meat is a primary industry in the United States, employing thousands of veterinarians in inspection and herd management roles.
Endorsing a ban on the slaughter of one species has been a leap the AVMA has never been willing to take, although it has been willing to risk the alienation of some of its members, and the criticism of many animal lovers, to continue to defend that stance.
Pacific Crest Trail sign by Carissa Rogers.