"Inside an Equine
Slaughterhouse" Action Alert
The above link contains images that were taken from an equine
slaughterhouse. These photographs may not be suitable
for viewing by children and other sensitive individuals.
the last decade, horse slaughter in the U.S. has dropped so dramatically that
only five of the fifteen equine slaughterhouses in this country have closed down.
However, mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases are changing this. These diseases
have devastated European livestock markets to the point where a number a European
countries are turning to the U.S. for an increase in exported horse meat.
This new demand has catapulted the auction price of slaughter horses. For ten
years the average auction price for a horse going to slaughter has hovered around
$500. This price has climbed to $800 and higher. According to a recent article
in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "more horses than ever are heading for slaughterhouses
here and in Canada."
Statistically, the numbers are alarming. According to the USDA 8,600 horses
were slaughtered at two packing houses in Texas during the last quarter of 2000.
During the first quarter of 2001, 11,000 horses were slaughtered in the state.
Even more horrifying is the direct correlation between horse theft and the price
per pound of horse meat - when the price of horse flesh goes up, so does horse
theft. The profit margin for horse thieves is 100% when they sell to slaughterhouses.
Horses who are at greatest risk for theft are those who willingly follow anyone
into a trailer, and are left unattended for long hours on small private horse
properties while their owners are either gone for the day, or out of town and
left in the care of a pet-sitting service. This is especially so in secluded areas
where there may be several acres between neighboring homes.
The lowest risk horses are those who live at private boarding facilities where
there is a lot of activity during the day, with horse owners coming and going,
everyone knows each other, and the proprietors and ranch help live on the premises.
While no horse is 100% safe from thieves, there is much you can do to slow
down these people and make stealing your equine companion extremely difficult,
if not impossible. Below is a comprehensive list for you to consider as you look
at your own stabling situation and evaluate just how vulnerable your horse(s)
may be to theft. Project Equus believes in leaving nothing to chance recommends
ALL OF THEM!
NOTE: For purposes of simplicity, we use the term “horse” to represent all
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONS AND PERMANENT IDENTIFICATION:
Keep current pictures of your horse(s) from all sides including from above
- the angle which most people looking for horses at auctions and slaughterhouses
will see them. Photograph them with and without winter hair coats, when they are
muddy and when they are clean. Take close-up photographs of distinct scars, brands,
freeze-marks and other marks that are unique to your horse(s) such as a splash
of white coloring that looks like a map of the United States, etc. Continue taking
pictures as your horse(s) ages. If s/he has been freeze marked (not freeze branded),
take a close-up photograph of the mark. (More on freeze marking below.)
If your horse(s) turns up missing, you may be able to identify him/her, but
can a stranger such as the sheriff, or slaughterhouse worker? So, in addition
to photographs, write up a complete physical description of your horse(s). This
is important because many horse(s) develop severe stress in response to being
removed from familiar surroundings and drop in weight and/or their behavior changes.
Write your description so that anyone could recognize your horse even if s/he
has dropped a hundred pounds, with or without winter hair coat.
Keep all your ownership papers on your horses in one place. Ownership papers
would include, brand inspection certificate, freeze-mark certificate, breed registration
papers, bill of sale, etc.
The various methods for identifying horses are hot branding, freeze branding
and freeze marking, micro-chipping, hoof branding and lip tattooing and a new
system, for applying a mark on light-colored horses. Project Equus believes freeze
marking is your best method of identification.
Freeze marking is most often associated with the Arabian Horse Registry, and
the Bureau of Land Management's method for identifying wild horses. However, it
is gaining in popularity because freeze marks are permanent, unalterable and as
individual to each horse as your fingerprints are to you. Freeze marks are applied
on the neck along the crest line usually on the side where the mane naturally
falls. Foals as young as three weeks can be freeze marked, and the mark will grow
in size along with the foal. Only specially trained and licensed technicians can
apply freeze marks, and the records are kept on every horse, pony, mule and donkey
in the United States as well as countries around the world.
The freeze marking system uses the International Identification System (IIS)
which combines the application of unalterable freeze-marked symbols with a record
of observable signalment and trichoglyphs (hair whorls, cowlicks and patterns).
It utilizes angle numerical and angle alphabetical symbols which are copyrighted,
and their use is licensed only for official programs. The system allows enough
numbers to have a unique mark for each horse in the world and is adaptable to
computer data retrieval.
In the IIS, unalterable angle numbers are used. Freeze marks are read by looking
at the line of symbols and recognizing not only their place in the "string", but
which numerals 0-9 are represented. The first large symbol indicates the registering
organization or state; the next two smaller symbols, one above the other, indicate
the year of a horse's birth, and the underlined symbols show the registration
number or state number of a horse.
Liquid nitrogen is used for freeze marking. The hair at the site of the mark
will grow back white on a dark haired horse, and on light-colored animals, the
mark will either be bald, or a fine coat of dark hair will re-grow.
Freeze marking is the only identification method that qualifies a horse to
be entered into the National Crime Information Center computer. NCIC information
is available to any law enforcement agencies nationwide. Livestock inspectors
can determine if a horse in question has been reported stolen and who the owner
of record is simply by checking with the NCIC. Since a thief can be proven to
be in possession of stolen property if caught with a stolen freeze marked animal,
very few freeze marked horses are stolen. They are passed up for animals with
no freeze mark, or if they were stolen they've been released when the freeze mark
was discovered. Freeze marks are red flags at slaughterhouses because of the BLM's
Adopt-A-Horse program, as all wild horses are freeze marked prior to adoption.
Freeze marks are also a major deterrent to horse thieves.
NOTE: THE MAJORITY OF HORSES WHO HAVE BEEN SPARED THE CAPTIVE BOLT PISTOL
AT SLAUGHTERHOUSES HAVE BEEN FREEZE MARKED!
To learn more about freeze marking, talk to your equine veterinarian, or call
Kryo-Kinetics, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona at 602-749-2883.
PASTURE & BARN SECURITY:
Do not leave halters on horses, and do not keep halters and leads in accessible
areas like on a rack next to your pasture gates. Doing so only provides thieves
with convenient handling tools for stealing your horse(s).
Keep pasture gates locked with heavy duty padlocks and chains. Chain and lock
the hinge sides of gates as well. (Any unused pasture gates, should also be secured
in this manner.) Replace barbed-wire and single-wire fencing with wood or pipe
fencing which cannot be cut.
Install motion detector floodlights around barns, and especially at vulnerable
points around pasture fencing. An alarm system is also advised. The infra-red
motion detectors are good, where there is minimal risk of barn cats or other animals
accidentally setting them off.
Guard dogs, or other 'guard' animals (geese, peacocks & burros) are well-known
for alerting humans, especially at night, when unwelcome visitors show up.
If you live in semi-rural, or rural areas, it is imperative that you KNOW your
neighbors, and watch out for each other's companion animals and property. If you
have to leave your home for several hours, let your neighbors know. Let them know
if it's okay for someone they don't recognize to be in your pasture or anywhere
on your property.
If you board your horse at a stable, NEVER post your horse's name, parentage
and registry number on the stall. Some stables post enough information on stalls
for a horse thief to transfer ownership of your horse to himself by using counterfeit
or stolen papers, or even papers from a deceased horse whose description matches
your horse. The only information you will ever need on your horse's stall door
is your phone number for emergencies, your horse's dietary requirements and whether
or not s/he is on medication, or is a biter.
PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME:
Chances are your horse will never be a target for horse thieves. Still, it
is very important to be prepared ahead of time for a worst case scenario. The
following preparatory steps are like protecting your homes with smoke detectors
- you may never need them, but when they do alert you to danger, you can take
Make a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of livestock auction
houses not just in your state, but in surrounding states as well.
Most horse dealers who buy large numbers of equines at auctions (a/k/a killer/buyers)
do so legally. Many advertise as horse dealers in the yellow pages. Make a list
of their names and phone numbers. If your horse turns up missing, call them and
give a description of your horse. The last thing a legitimate killer/buyer wants
is to buy a stolen horse at auction.
Create a 'Missing Horse' flyer RIGHT NOW for immediate use in the event s/he
turns up missing. Have several photographs of your horse printed on this flyer,
including close-up s of distinguishing marks, like freeze brands. Include your
name and several phone numbers, but not your address. List the phone number of
the law enforcement agency in your area. You must be prepared to offer a substantial
reward that is well above horse meat prices. Make it clear that the reward will
ONLY BE PAID for the safe return of your horse(s) and for information leading
to the arrest and prosecution of the person(s ) responsible for the theft.
"The Equine Recovery Handbook", by Amelita Donald is a valuable resource. You
can purchase it for $10 from the International Equine Recovery Net, 131 East Exchange
Avenue, Suite 116, Fort Worth, Texas 76106,USA.
If law enforcement officials catch your thief, be prepared to prosecute. If
you live in a state where horses are considered livestock, the offenders can face
felony charges as opposed to a misdemeanor with a pitifully small fine ($500)
and no imprisonment.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HORSE IS STOLEN :
Step 1. Call the police or sheriff’s department that covers the area
where your horse(s) was stolen. If you have a brand inspection or brand certificate
on your horse, call the state brand board. Also, notify your state Department
of Transportation, your state highway patrol, and law enforcement agencies that
cover those areas of your state that are close to the state border. Fax all of
them your emergency 'Lost or Stolen Horse' flyer.
Step 2. Call every USDA licensed equine slaughterhouse in North America.
If there is a slaughterhouse in your area, be there when it opens in the morning.
Try to speak directly to the manager or foreman of the slaughterhouse. Fax your
'Lost or Stolen Horse' flyer to him, and that he post it near the weigh station
(each horse is weighed individually).. Contact these slaughterhouses daily. Below
is the list:
AMFRAM Packing Company
Glendron Road Plainfield, CT 06374
3801 North Grove Street Fort Worth, TX 76106
Cavel International, Inc.
108 Harvester Drive Dekalb, IL 60115
Cavel West, Inc
1607 Southeast Railroad Redmond, OR 97756
Central Nebraska Packing Company, Inc
2800 East Eighth Street North Platte, NE 69101
Dallas Crown Packing Inc.
2000 West Fair Kaufman, TX 75142
Prairie Meat Packer, Inc
157 South Fourth Street Cardington, OH 43315
Transcontinental Packing Company
Palestine, TX 75801
Alaska Beef Company, Ltd.
59180129 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta, TSA 0A6
Abattoir Richelieu, Inc
595 Rue Royale Massueville, Quebec, J0G 1K0
Barton Feeders Company, Ltd.
1010 Fourth Street East Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 5P3
Plains Processing, Ltd.
SW 18-4-4-W Carman, Manitoba R0G 0J0
Bouvry Export Calgary, Ltd.
SW Sec 17 TwP 9 RG W, 4 Hwy # East Fort Macleod, Alberta
403-553-4431 403-553-3037 Attn: Mr. Claude Bouvry
Step 3. If none of the slaughterhouses above are in your driving vicinity,
find out what animal rights groups are in these areas.
Step 4. Saturate your area with your flyers (bus stops, grocery stores,
and especially highway rest stops) and any other place you think where people
might see it.
Step 5. If your horse(s) have breed registration papers, contact the
breed registry to let them know your horse is missing and you want a red flag
placed on the papers so no one can sell the horse and then ask for a transfer
Step 5. Call the media. Often times local radio stations, television
stations, and newspapers will run stories on animal theft. Hit the Internet and
post to as many lost or stolen horse networks that you can.
Step 6. When visiting auction yards and slaughterhouses look in every
horse trailer and in all holding pens. Make sure you check the "out-the-door"
parking lot. Often "hot" horses show up at auctions just seconds before the sales
begin, with fictitious papers being flashed at officials who wave violators through.
If you spot your horse, keep him under surveillance, remain calm and call the
police; let them handle the recovery.
Step 7. Stay in touch with law enforcement officials. Check to see if
fliers have been posted and remain posted at local sites.
Step 8. Don't give up hope. Recovering stolen horses takes time. In
1983 a man in California had his horse stolen from a rodeo. Seven years later
he spotted his horse at another rodeo and was able to notify the authorities and
be reunited with his horse. What this means is not every stolen horse goes to
slaughter - valuable horses such as stallions with good bloodlines and good brood-mares,
good children's horses and well-trained show horses are often stolen and re-sold
for breeding stock, or as pleasure horses. Be aware that the recovery rate is
very low unless you have had your horse visibly marked.
WHICH HORSE IS GOING TO MARKET?
There is a misconception that only old, broken down unhealthy 'nags' are sold
to slaughter. Go to any equine auction today and you will see a wide range of
horses ponies, mules and donkeys being sold to the highest bidders. During the
summer of 1997, Project Equus representatives catalogued the following breeds
of horses who turned up at livestock auctions in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska
and were subsequently sold to killer/buyers (the term used to describe the middlemen
who re-sell to the slaughterhouses).
Action Alert "Inside
a Equine Slaughterhouse" Action Alert
Warning: "The above
link contains images that are taken from an Equine Slaughterhouse.
These photographs may not be suitable for viewing by children and other sensitive