Outcry over slaughtering American horses and exporting the meat to other countries

April 26, 2001 CBS News
DAN RATHER, anchor:

Tonight's Eye on America is a hard-news look at the hidden fallout in this country from the mad cow and foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks overseas. Growing numbers of American horses, deemed to be past their prime, are winding up as prime cuts at dinner tables in Europe and elsewhere. CBS' Wyatt Andrews reports on the slaughter of the horses.

WYATT ANDREWS reporting:

Americans will find this hard to digest, but in this Paris butcher shop, horse is the other red meat. Because of the outbreaks of mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases, Europeans are demanding more steaks from stallions.

Unidentified Woman: (Foreign language spoken)

ANDREWS: Today, worldwide demand for horse meat is up 62 percent to 100 percent, depending on the country. And the world's leading supplier of horses for slaughter is believed to be the United States.

Ms. KELLY YOUNG (Lost & Found Horse Rescue): They're slaughtering our horses from this country for other people to eat as a delicacy.

ANDREWS: My--and my sense is you're outraged by that.

Ms. YOUNG: Well, it makes me very sad. I mean, I can't save them all.

ANDREWS: Kelly Young and her husband, Tracy, operate a farm in Pennsylvania dedicated to rescuing American horses from the slaughterhouse.

Mr. TRACY YOUNG (Lost & Found Horse Rescue): The same way we don't slaughter dogs and cats, we don't think we need to be slaughtering horses.

ANDREWS: So with that conviction and with donated money, Kelly drives here to the New Holland Livestock Auction every Monday where she buys horses that would otherwise be sold for slaughter. We watched as she bid against middlemen known as killer buyers.

That's a name, killer buyers?

Ms. YOUNG: Mm-hmm.

ANDREWS: What does it mean?

Ms. YOUNG: It means that they buy horses that are going to be slaughtered for human consumption.

ANDREWS: For many in the horse industry, the slaughter market is a dirty secret. Americans generally do not eat horse meat. In fact, in many states, the possession of horse meat is illegal, and yet it remains perfectly legal to slaughter a horse for export. Some want to change that. For years, the Humane Farming Association has circulated this undercover tape showing workers in Texas hitting horses with a bolt gun often three and four times before the horse is stunned unconscious. The contention is horse slaughter is not humane.

We showed this tape to Geert Dewulf, the manager at a Belgian-owned slaughterhouse in Texas called Dallas Crown. Today he insists hitting horses more than once is not tolerated. Slaughter, when done correctly, he says, is a humane ending for horses that are past their prime.

Mr. GEERT DEWULF (Slaughterhouse Manager): Horse slaughter serves the purpose of disposing of the unwanted animals. In 99 percent of the cases, we do not receive any animals that really can be saved.

Mr. YOUNG: Yeah, it's recycling unwanted animals. That's not the issue. The issue is: What is a horse, and what place does it have in this country?

ANDREWS: To the Youngs, all of these horses can have useful second lives. On this Monday at the auction, where dozens of horses were sold for slaughter, Kelly rescues three...

Ms. YOUNG: We got him.

ANDREWS: ...including two winning thoroughbreds she's certain will be adopted. She's determined not to have their last ride end in a restaurant in Paris.

Ms. YOUNG: He knows he's home.

ANDREWS: In York, Pennsylvania, Wyatt Andrews for Eye on America.

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