Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society

20 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2008 Last revised: 5 Feb 2009

See all articles by Laura Jane Durfee

Laura Jane Durfee

Indiana University Maurer School of Law


The United States horse slaughter industry is on its deathbed. The demise of the industry follows various animal welfare groups' increased activism in recent years to eliminate domestic equine slaughter. These proponents' arguments are emotionally charged. For example, they claim that horses are "a rich part of American culture" without addressing what will really happen to "rescued" horses that would otherwise be destined for slaughter. While horses have played an important role in this nation's history, romanticizing the horse's place in our society while ignoring the consequences that are likely to follow a slaughter ban does little, if anything, for equine welfare. The elimination of domestic equine slaughter does not benefit equine welfare and has negative economic effects on the horse industry. Equine adoption agencies can neither absorb nor fund care for the 65,000 to 90,000 unwanted horses a year that owners can no longer send to equine processing plants. Additionally, the cost of euthanizing and disposing of carcasses is often prohibitive to owners, as is properly caring for unwanted horses. If legislators eliminate the option of slaughter for horse owners, the number of abused, neglected, malnourished, and abandoned horses will likely increase. However, a slaughter ban would adversely affect more than just the interests of horses. The elimination of horse slaughter would further strain animal rescue groups and cause significant economic damage to slaughter plant owners and workers, the horse industry, and the environment.

Keywords: horse slaughter, horse, horses, equine slaughter, equine, slaughter

Suggested Citation

Durfee, Laura Jane, Anti-Horse Slaughter Legislation: Bad for Horses, Bad for Society. Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 84, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Laura Jane Durfee (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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