Action Alert: Don’t let horse slaughter supporters have the last say!

/ Action Alerts, In The News, News, Slaughter

A stallion and his band from the north herd on the Onaqui Mountain Herd Management Area in Utah. Photo by Meg Frederick.

Even as Return to Freedom (RTF) and an unprecedented coalition of animal welfare and horse industry groups work hard to advance a federal ban on horse slaughter, some organizations have made the unconscionable choice to lobby against it.

A few business groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Equine Practitioners continue to argue against the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act. H.R. 3355 would permanently ban slaughter inside the United States as well as the export of American horses for slaughter.

The tired arguments of groups like the AVMA against a ban are easily refuted. For example:

There is no way that the United States can absorb the tens of thousands of horses shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter each year.

That’s false: The last horse slaughterhouse in the United States closed in 2007. The number of American horses exported for slaughter peaked at 166,572 in 2012 but has plummeted since. In 2021, 23,431 horses were exported to slaughter.

From January to July of this year, 10,048 horses have been exported – a 21.8% decrease from the same period a year ago. That includes not just domestic horses but also an unknown number of wild horses born free on the range, which lose their federal protections and are not tracked by the government after title is passed to an adopter or buyer.

Greater public knowledge of the horse slaughter issue has contributed to the steady decline – 83% of Americans said that they opposed horse slaughter in a recent poll – along with increased attention to equine aftercare and retirement and the growing number of quality rescues and sanctuaries, which also support the ban.

The broad support for a slaughter ban includes the unprecedented Final Stretch Coalition, which includes not only RTF and the nation’s largest animal welfare groups but also horse industry organizations like The Jockey Club, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the New York Racing Association working collectively in support of a ban.

In addition, 223 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of this important legislation.

There is no environmentally responsible way to properly dispose of 20,000 more dead horses annually.

That’s false: First, more than 92% of horses exported for slaughter are in good condition, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, and can be rehomed. Second, a much larger number of horses are humanely euthanized in the United States each year — yet the same groups have curiously neglected to argue against that.

Slaughter is a form of euthanasia.

That’s not only false but the most cynical argument of all: Slaughter is anything but humane. Horses are transported long distances in overcrowded trailers without food or water, enduring terror, trauma and pain. On foreign killing floors, horses have been documented as having their throats cut while fully conscious.

The slaughter pipeline provides irresponsible owners and breeders with a dumping ground and allows a few kill buyers to profit. No one should be rewarded for abusing sentient social beings, and to continue supporting this cruel business is unacceptable and wholly un-American.

If groups like the AVMA truly wished to help horses, it could help educate the public about responsible breeding and ways to rehome equines in need. They could also encourage veterinarians to donate time to assist equine rescues and sanctuaries that are working on the ground to protect and rehome horses every day.


  1. Please contact your representative at 202-225-3121 and urge them to push for movement of the SAFE Act (H.R. 3355) to end horse slaughter. We don’t have much time left in this Congress so every minute counts. You can also send an electronic message here.
  2. Please ask your veterinarian if he or she is aware that business organizations like the AVMA and the American Association of Equine Practitioners support horse slaughter. Please ask your vets to help us pass the SAFE Act by contacting for information about how they can join a growing list of veterinarians standing up against the slaughter of America’s horses.

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which supports our lobbying, grassroots advocacy and selective litigation.