Slaughter house in Oregon – a way for rescues to get rid of those pesky older and/or ill horses

According to this article, (Devil) Dave Duquette has facilitated the purchase of 252 acres in Hermiston, OR by a California company.  The purpose of this chunk of land? To kill horses, of course.  Yup, they’re fixin’ to erect a new slaughter house.  But wait!  They’re also going to donate a portion of that land to be used by United Horsemen (of which Devil Dave is the President) for their “rescue and rejuvenation” program.  This article on paraphrases Dave while succinctly describing the underlying purpose of the program, “horses deemed too old, too ill, too dangerous, or otherwise unsuitable for rehoming would be processed”.

“The Rescue and Rejuvenate Program is intended to prevent overburdened rescues from having to care for and feed horses that cannot be retrained or used for any purpose,” Duquette said. “This program allows them to use their funds to help horses that are viable and can be helped and placed in new homes.” (also from the article on

So these people actually, truly, believe that rescues are going to dump their aging horses with a “rescue and rejuvenation” program that flat out states they’ll kill ’em.  Where did they get an idea like that?! In what universe would a rescue send an animal they’ve taken in to slaughter?  That is, a rescue who doesn’t share United Horseman’s perverted outlook on the disposable nature of our equine companions.  Unfortunately we all know that there are some less than ah-mah-zing rescues out there…

From Alex Brown Racing, a feedlot is described as “an aggregation point for horses that are destined for slaughter.  Similar to a kill pen in that regard.  A feedlot can be USDA approved or a private feedlot, which might be owned by a kill buyer.  USDA approved feedlots are regulated by the USDA and should adhere to a certain level of standards.  Slaughter houses typically own their own feedlots.”

Hmm, so you’re saying that a feedlot is a place, typically owned by a slaughter house, where you keep horses prior to slaughter.  Oh gosh, where have I heard that before? Hold on, don’t tell me.  It’s on the tip of my tongue.  I could have sworn I was just talking to someone about it.


Dr. Temple Grandin, proponent and designer of innovative slaughter techniques designed to reduce the stress of the animals prior to death, was reported in this article to be on board for designing the proposed slaughter house in Mountain Grove, MO – plans for which have since been squashed.  I’m wondering if she’ll replace that now empty slot in her day planner and step up to design the proposed Oregon plant?  What I find curious, is that most of her research and work appears to be with cattle, pigs, bison and antelope – the above linked to article flat out states that “she has not yet worked on any designs for horse slaughter plants in the United States, but believes they’re a logical alternative”.  On her webpage entitled Research Articles on Horses, Dr. Grandin includes a link to her paper on “Design of loading facilities and holding pens” – which mentions specific requirements for cows, pigs and sheep, but not horses.  Huh. [Side note: if your googling skills are better than mine, and you know of some information where Dr. Grandin has successfully designed a slaughter house for horses please forward me the link, I’d be very interested to read about it.]

Let’s put aside the issue of pro or anti slaughter for just a second and assume they go through with this plant, have Dr. Grandin design it specifically to reduce the stress and potential bodily injury to horses specifically.  Yay! Sounds great! If we can’t get rid of slaughter it might as well be 1000% humane, right?  They’re just missing one key factor: humans.  In an industry where the margins are already pretty slim, you’re going to ask people to spend more money developing and maintaining safe slaughter practices specifically for one species?  And they’re really naive enough to think this will happen?!  NO!  The people in the slaughter houses will find new and undoubtedly unhappy ways to cut corners, likely to the ever increasing detriment of the individual horses being processed.

Dream big, boys and girls, but dream realistic.  That’s the only way to turn fantasy into reality.


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Posted on April 3, 2012, in Horse News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Americans don’t eat horses.

  2. “Horses that cannot be adopted out, will get ‘processed'” absolutely awful. So any sick, old or lame horse will be dragged, limping into the slaughter house? And how can they claim not for profit status when they’ll be slaughtering most of their ‘rescues’? It seems to me that what they want to do is to run a horse slaughter plant and when a pretty or trained horse turns up they’ll try and get even more money out of it with an ‘adoption fee’ – that they know people will pay because they basically threaten to butcher the horse if you don’t! Un-frickin-believable!

  3. Temple Grandin actually visited my college in Vermont. She spent the day touring the farm, and gave a talk after dinner-our dining hall was packed to the rafters to hear that amazing woman. As I was part of the draft horse program, we showed her what our horses could do, and she said she’d never seen such happy, content, fit, willing animals. I actually did ask her about horse slaughter at her talk that night-she basically said she didn’t think horse slaughter was feasible in a humane way. It would take too much time and money and care to process horses humanely because of how big and flighty and alert and agile and different they are from cattle and pigs and sheep. Any corners cut would make the process inhumane, so the meat wouldn’t be worth the cost to process it humanely. That pretty much changed my mind-if it can’t be done humanely on a commercial level, then it has no place.

  4. Sadly the problem could be alleviated, not completely but a huge dent could be made IF (a big if) people would stop breeding just for the sake of breeding (foals are so kyoot!!! I love my mare!!!!!). Yeah I know…preaching to the choir here.

    And when they did breed actually handled and trained the resulting offspring! What makes anyone think someone wants to deal with your wild unhandled 5 year old that has never even seen a halter? I have been silly enough to work with some pretty goofy horses in my life in the interest of saving them but anyone sane sometimes has to draw a line for their own safety. I am not much help to the rescue/retraining world if I am flattened or crippled…..

    Then there are the idiots who ride horses too young and break them down, the racing industry that often sees them as disposable, the stupid futurities and anyone who puts greed over the welfare of their horse.

    For the record I am against slaughter. I wish some of the so-called horse lovers out there realized they are feeding the problem with their stupidity and greed.

  5. I have seen plans that Dr. Grandin developed for horse slaughter some years ago but I don’t know if I can find them again. The funny thing is that even though the article stated that she was going to design the facilities, when she was asked about it she had no idea about it at all. I think her name was used without her knowing.

  6. Americans don’t eat horses. No to horse slaughter in the USA!!!!!

  7. I just found an April 2012 article by Temple Grandin on horse slaughter here:

  8. That guy is so full of shit he could provide fossil fuel for the entire country for the next nation…

  9. Dr. Grandin already replied to their “claim” she was going to design the horse slaughter plants- she had no clue and was furious they spread that lie. As another poster already noted, Dr. Grandin believes there is no economically-viable way to humanely slaughter horses, so I see no possibility of Dr. Grandin being any part of it. Ever.

  10. I know this dates me and my “city” is hardly the size of some American suburbs so I keep this in mind. When I just began to really Work as a training assistant in the industry in my late teens I began to see the horses who because of either a physical problem that was not managable ( like wobblers or navicular) or a dangerous temperment could NOT be sold on the open market. It was a liability and would stain the trainer’s Name.
    Then there were the horses that sustained a big injury that May???? heal up over time but may not. They needed turn out time of 3-9 months to let nature do it’s thing.
    What does a trainer who needs to fill his stalls with potentail revenue do?

    Well around here we called “meat man”. I know it Sounds horrible but this guy really is a best friend a horse can find. He never said “no”. He would come and get whatever you had in a nice 7′ 3″ high 3 horse stock with ramp. He was so patient loading them. He never got into the horse or allowed the OLD owner to bang on the horse. Once he got the horse back to his ranch outside the city he would do what he could to look after it, make it comfortable if possible and settle it in. They all stayed for a few months till he could get a good idea of who and what they were all about. Some he had a vet come and euth becuase they were in constant pain. They were rendered. The vast majority ate their faces off and got fat. A pretty good % that were not unsound were retrained and sold as working cattle horses or pleasure horses. In fact, If, Big If, you could buy one of the horses this guy had been using on his cattle farms, You’d never let it go. but there was a waiting list. He only made a few trips with a big truck and flat trailer to Fort McMurry every year as most horses he took in he managed to turn into solid working mounts. Oddly, the plant in McMurry would have particular times every few months they “did” horses as they would have to reconfigure all the panels and equipment for equines as what worked on cattle wasn’t adaqute for horses. They would NOT take or house horses outside that very specific time.

    I hate slaughter and never sent a horse “on the Van” but the way the Meat Man of my youth did it I have to say, I think he took on an ugly job and turned it into a saftey net.

  11. Get real people. Banning the Slaughter Houses has all but ruined the Horse Industry. People are left with no way out of the financial burden of horse ownership once the animal has become disabled. Regulations say you cannot bury a horse on your own property . . . so, what are people suppose to do with them? Every Rescue Organization you call is FULL, every Foster Home is FULL . . . can you not see the writing on the wall? How do the horses fend in the wild when a cougar runs one down for the dinner kill; do you think that being eaten alive is a fast death? It’s a natural food chain. Horses aren’t going to the slaughter houses for our dinner-table. If the meat goes overseas, who cares; if it goes for dog food, so what . . . it’s a food chain! Our Government does not support our horse fancy interests; it is up to each individual owner. With the economy the way it is, why should I be expected to spend what money I have to support my horse, when I need to feed myself? I don’t hear the same outcry for Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, etc.; they are used as companion pets as well as any horse; but, reality is reality. The U.S. does not have to slaughter horses for human consumption; slaughter for carnivorous animal diets or dog and cat food! There are far too many horses and not enough individual incomes to cover them and certainly no Grants. You cannot give a horse away these days; come-on get real people!!! Ban together and offer suggestions for a better way to get rid of the unwanted horses, if there is one; but, for right now, the Slaughter Houses are all we got.

    Despite the fact that horse meat is not widely consumed in Canada, over 90,000 horses a year are slaughtered for food there. Its high-protein, low-fat meat is still consumed in many parts of the world, including Italy, Japan and Brazil. The taboo of eating horse meat persists in most of North America, however, and the Canadian horse meat industry remains controversial. If horse meat isn’t your thing, perhaps you would like camel (Egypt), whales (Norway) or monkeys (sub-Saharan Africa).

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