Many vets say a slaughterhouse for horses could be humane

May 24, 2012

Although controversial, many veterinarians agree that a slaughterhouse could be a humane, efficient way to end the lives of old and unwanted horses.

University of Wyoming Veterinarian Doran  O’Toole says it’s a “sensitive” subject for horse owners, who view the animals as part-pet, part-livestock, and might have difficulty shooting an ailing horse.  He says having a vet administer barbiturates can be costly, and the owner is responsible to bury or incinerate the horse to prevent the carcass from spreading toxins to scavengers.

Although horse slaughter is now legal in the U.S., O’Toole says many owners ship their unwanted horses long distances to Canada or Mexico, where they suffer en route before being slaughtered. He says there’s a better way.

“Since horse slaughter is going to continue in the Americas, that if it’s done, it’s done in the United States, it’s done under the control of the USDA, and it’s done as humanely as it can possibly be done.”

Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis has announced preliminary plans to build a horse slaughter house near Riverton. City officials say they’ve heard no specific proposal.