Horses are one of my least favorite animals. I know that every little girl's dream is to have their parents buy them a pony so they can ride it and brush it and love it forever. But I just don't see the appeal. To me all horses do is make weird grunting noises, smell horrendous, and leave humongous turds all over the place that smell worse than the horse itself.
Despite all those issues, I still have some respect for the animal and would hate to see any horse get slaughtered, or worse consumed by humans. Luckily the Snohomish County Council agrees.
On Wednesday Snohomish County officially banned the slaughtering of horses and any animal of the genus equus for human consumption with a 4-0 vote on Ordinance No. 12-106 in the county council. Further, such slaughtering was defined as a misdemeanor, punishable with a maximum $1,000.00 fine and 90 days of jail time.
Since 2007 sanctioned horse slaughtering has not occurred in the United States. After a Congressional decision in 2006 to stop allocating the Department of Agriculture money for slaughterhouse inspections, each U.S. horse slaughterhouse was forced to close its doors or operate illegally.
But after a June 2011 report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed a lack of slaughtering houses in the United States only increased the number of horses being shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter, President Obama and Congress decided to reappropriate money to inspections that November, effectively reopening the horse slaughtering business in the U.S.
Shortly after this bill passed, several individuals in Snohomish County became concerned that Wayne Lindhal, owner of Florence Packing Co. in Stanwood, Wash., would start slaughtering horses. According to Lindhal himself in a March 20, 2012 article in the Stanwood/Camano News, Florence Packing Co. slaughtered horses from 1972 to 1992 and currently ships horses to Bouvry Exports Calgary Ltd. in Fort Macleod, Canada for slaughtering, but had no intentions to reopen the practice in Washington. As the article explains:
""We don't have the equipment to go back to slaughtering," he said. "We have no cold storage facilities."
Lindahl added that he was not aware of any other facility that might open in this region, although it could happen."
This exact fear of the possibility for horse slaughtering in Washington led to Allen Warren, founder of the Horse Harbor Foundation in Poulsbo, Wash., taking action, contacting several local political leaders about the negative impacts of horse slaughtering and working on creating the legislation seen today.
While there is not truly a market for horse meat in the United States, in several locations throughout the world horse meat is considered a delicacy. As an ABC Good Morning America online post from earlier this year notes:
"Touted as a healthy alternative to beef, horse meat is popular in non-English speaking countries. In Italy's Veneto region, horse meat stew, called pastissada, is made with wine and paprika. In Japan, horse meat sashimi is a delicacy. It is sometimes served barbecue style or wrapped in a shiso leaf.
In other parts of the world you can be served horse mane, the skin underneath the horse's hair. Horse meat tartar, smoked horse, steaks and sausage are popular in Belgium. And in France, horse meat is served in a classic style with fried potatoes and foie gras."
The ban, which while covering the entire genus equus protects ponies, donkeys and mules as well as horses, also helps protect Snohomish County from possible environmental degradation. As the article in Everett's The Daily Herald on the ban states:
""A horse slaughtering plant would be an environmental disaster for Snohomish County," according to Mead (Russ Mead, general counsel member for the Seattle-based Animal Law Coalition), who said such operations have the capacity to contaminate tens of thousands of gallons of water with horse blood. "The smell is atrocious.""
And even though some individuals spoke out against the ban, arguing that horse meat could be better used for "human welfare," and an easy way to get rid of unwanted meat, many were pleased at the legislation's passing. One of the most excited was Warren, who plans to work with lawmakers in Olympia to enact a statewide horse slaughtering ban.
Meaning that if reading this inspired you to start a horse slaughtering business you better hurry, and watch out for the horrid smell.
A copy of Snohomish County Council Ordinance 12-106 can be seen on the following page...