The black market horse meat trade refers to lucrative underground businesses who slaughter horses for their meat, to sell for human consumption.
Not to be confused with legal slaughterhouses, the black market horse meat trade is associated with backyard operations involving extreme cruelty and suffering. When the horses are met with death, it is in a torturous manner where they are often butchered for their meat whilst they are still alive!
The horses are slaughtered using various careless and brutal methods. Many horses all strangled with ropes and are stabbed in the jugular vein to bleed out. Often they have their vocal cords severed with dull knives to muffle their bloodcurdling screams, as parts of its body are removed. Other horses have their tendons slashed to restrict movement, are stabbed in the heart or set on fire.
The high demand for horse meat contributes not only to a cultural trend and delicacy but also to a string of misconceptions. Some believe horse meat increases the male libido or serve medicinal values such as cures for blood disorders. None of these have been proven to be anything other than myths and on the contrary, have only shown to be a danger to the consumer’s health.
Horse meat is known to cause cancer, aplastic anemia in children (permanent bone marrow damage) and birth defects due to the drugs given to American horses. As racehorses are the most common prey to the horse meat trade, they are pumped with dangerous drugs that taint their blood which in turn affects their meat, thereby making it unhealthy for human consumption.
Illegal animal slaughter farms are often the main culprits of killing horses for their meat. Horses are stolen, bought cheaply at livestock auctions and discarded from the back of racetracks when broken down or injured. Some are even acquired from ‘free to good home’ ads on Craigslist.com, posing as horse lovers.
The black market horse meat trade is a gruesome illegal business that has been freely operating over the last fifty years. Due to the potential profit that can be made and a high supply and demand ratio, the selling of horse meat is one of the economic backbones of these slaughter farms. Coupled with a lack of law enforcement, this has provided a formula for a thriving underground business.
To provide an understanding of the severity of this issue, and as a gauge of the profits made, ARM has documented the estimated value of each horse that is killed for its meat.
Our investigations reveal that the average horse used for slaughter weighs approximately 1,000 pounds. On average, 400 pounds of the animal’s original weight is stripped and sold at a rate of $7.00 – $40.00 per pound, making a profit possible anywhere from $2,800 and up.
The price of the meat depends on:
- The age (or tenderness) of the horse.
- Availability of the horses
- Whether the slaughter farm is located in a high or low demand neighborhood
ARM’s investigations, presence and results are making grand strides in not only exposing these heinous crimes, but in putting an end to them altogether.
To date, our organization has been responsible for several arrests of horse killers and was also heavily involved in the co-writing of The Good Horse Slaughter Act of 2010. This legislation makes it a felony in the State of Florida for any person to buy, sell, transport, kill a horse or posses horse meat for human consumption. The penalties are a minimum of one year in jail and a $3,500 fine.
This is a groundbreaking animal cruelty law in the United States that was passed on July 1, 2010 and was a collaboration of ARM along with then State Senator Victor Crist, Florida State Representatives Luis Garcia and Joseph Abruzzo.