Colorado horses are being slaughtered abroad for human consumption. A new bill could shut down the industry.

An investigation by animal welfare groups followed horses from auctions to holding facilities to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where they were exported for human consumption

Jennifer Brown
The Colorado Sun
Wild horses are seen from State Highway 159 near Costilla County on June 6, 2022.
Olivia Sun/The Colorado Sun via Report for America

Colorado and other states are sending an estimated 20,000 horses per year to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, which export them to other countries that eat horse meat, according to an investigation by three animal welfare groups. 

The release of the investigation, which followed horses from auctions to holding pens to slaughterhouses across the northern and southern borders, coincides with Colorado legislation that would prohibit the sale of horses if there is reason to believe they could end up being used for human consumption. 

Animal welfare advocates support the Colorado bill, but have set their sights on federal legislation that would ban the practice nationwide. 

It’s not explicitly illegal in the United States to slaughter horses, but the last three horse slaughter facilities in the country, two in Texas and one in Illinois, shut down in 2007 as a result of state laws and a congressional amendment that removed funding for inspection of live horses at their plants.

“Horse slaughter is ultimately a terrible betrayal of animals who helped us settle America and helped America succeed,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, based in Washington, D.C. “We treat them like disposable commodities and reduce them to a price per pound.”

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