Pet food companies in the United States cannot use horse meat, according to the Equine Protection Network, which is a group dedicated to making a difference for abused, neglected and slaughter-bound horses. The main reason for this is because U.S. companies make more profit by selling it to countries where people eat the meat.
This does not stop horse meat from making its way back into the United States as unspecific “animal” by-products, “animal” meal or “animal” digest.
“Animal” digest is the ramains of pretty much any part of any animal (blood, teeth, hair, spleen) from anywhere (roadkill, shelter animals, euthanized pets and horses, etc.). Cheaper dog foods contain by-products and animal digest (see my post on dog food ingredients).
The only way to be absolutely sure horse meat is not used in your dog’s food is to read the label. Look for dog foods with ingredients like lamb, duck and chicken. The first three ingredients should be specific proteins. Avoid dog foods with unspecific ingredients like “animal” by-products, “animal” meal and “animal” digest.
The reason the horse meat issue came to my attention was because legislators in North Dakota are sponsoring a bill that could lead to the building of the only horse slaughterhouse in the United States.
A North Dakota plant would slaughter horses.
I know this is totally unrelated to dogs, but as an animal lover, the headline “Plant may slaughter horses …” in Saturday’s issue of The Forum caught my attention.
Let me say that I am not a horse person. I’ve never owned a horse, I’ve gone riding maybe five times in my life, and I’m actually a little scared of horses. What bothers me is that horses can be slaughtered in our country and the way it would be done.
The EPN describes on its web site the way horses were killed in our country up to 2007 when the last two U.S. horse slaughterhouses closed.
First the horses were hit in the forehead until they were (hopefully) unconscious. Then their hind legs were shackled and the horses were lifted into the air upside down to have their throats sliced.
This all happened after the horses were shipped for sometimes thousands of miles and then lined up into the slaughterhouses, hearing and seeing their fellow horses being hit in the head and bleeding, according to a PETA forum. Of course, this is how pigs and cattle are also inhumanely killed in our country, but I won't even get into that.
I hate to think of how horses are killed in Mexico and Canada, which is where the U.S. currently ships its horses for slaughter. Something tells me that if you are going to be slaughtered, you’re better off being killed in the United States than in Mexico where horses are stabbed to death, according to the EPN (just do a YouTube search for “horse slaughter”).
In 2006, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an act to ban horse slaughtering. But it failed in the Senate, making it still legal in our country, according to The Forum.
The North Dakota plant would slaughter horses that are no longer used for recreation, farming or racing, said The Forum. Slaughtered horses are used for meat, gelatin, glue, pet food and leather products, according to the article.
I could not find any pet food brands that admittedly use horse meat. Instead, general words such as “animal” by-product and “animal” digest are used. This could be any animal.
Would you care if your dog’s food had horse meat in it? What’s your opinion on slaughtering horses, and should it be done in our country or elsewhere?
Discuss this issue further at ThatMutt.com's new dog forum – What are your thoughts on slaughtering horses in the U.S.?
The photos are from a horseback riding trip I took with friends in Costa Rica a few years ago, one of the few experiences I have with horses.