Many of those favoring legalized and monitored horse slaughter include a few animal activist groups, animal rescue operators and ranchers who say abandoned horses face cruel deaths in the wild or face worse fates at the hands of foreign slaughter houses after being purchased at auction and transferred across international borders to facilities in Mexico and Canada.

In addition, a number of livestock associations, the American Quarter Horse Association and a several Native American tribes support a return to domestic horse slaughter for the same reasons. They argue the number of U.S. horses sent to other countries for slaughter has nearly tripled since domestic horse slaughter ceased in the U.S. in 2007.

They also argue that the practice of transporting horses long distances often results in a greater degree of cruelty to the animals, in part because of overcrowded shipping conditions and also because of inhumane methods of destroying the animals in Mexican processing plants.

While there appears to be a major disagreement over the total number of U.S. horses shipped to Mexico and destroyed there, some argue that the number runs well into the hundreds of thousands of animals each year. But regardless whether the processing of horse meat is conducted on U.S. or foreign soil, the issue of whether it is a humane practice continues to attract attention.

Overall an estimated 200 agricultural and horse breeding organizations originally opposed the proposed ban on horse slaughter in the U.S., and more than 300 animal welfare organizations, horse trade groups, prominent horse owners, and corporate leaders supported the ban, illustrating the degree of controversy over the issue.

An Aug. 2 hearing is set on the demand by animal protection groups for a temporary restraining order to prevent the plants from opening and becoming the first horse slaughterhouses to operate domestically on over six years.


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