Washington State Targeted for Equine Slaughter

Filed under National, Pets / Animals

Horse Harbor Foundation informs about the impending disaster of horse slaughter in Stanwood, Washington, in the following report. 

STANWOOD, WA — This small upscale community north of Seattle has long been known to the region’s equestrian community as the Pacific Northwest’s “Death Row for Horses” because of the location near here of a major buying station, collection point and feedlot for U.S. horses destined to die and be butchered in one of Canada’s equine slaughterhouses for human consumption abroad.

If a reported plan by the giant Canadian horse meat packing company Bouvry Exports-Calgary to reopen the Florence Packing plant on Florence Road for equine slaughter to service developing markets for its product in Russia, China and other Asian nations is accurate, Stanwood soon might become better known as the region’s “Butcher Shop for Horses”.

Horses were slaughtered onsite at the isolated Florence Packing facility for about 20 years after it opened in 1974, although original applications to Snohomish County for zoning and use permits indicated it would butcher cattle.

It is now a major provider of horses acquired throughout the region to Bouvry Exports’ huge Fort MacLeod slaughterhouse near Calgary. Bouvry Exports owns and operates two of the four horse killing facilities in Canada, the other being its Richelieu Meats brand name equine slaughterhouse in Quebec.

Wayne Lindahl, manager of the local feedlot operation, says that an average of two truckloads of horses are shipped weekly from here to their deaths at Bouvry Exports’ Fort MacLeod facility. Equine slaughter is currently under attack in Canada by animal welfare advocates as constituting animal cruelty because horses cannot be killed in large numbers in an efficient and humane manner and investigation after investigation shows them enduring horrible pain and suffering in these meat processing operations.

“Florence Packing” is another brand name for Bouvry Exports, along with “Bouvry”, “Richelieu” and “Springbank Bison”, and a source with close ties to Bouvry Exports has alerted equine advocates in Washington and other states in the region that the company has plans to modernize the Stanwood facility and begin slaughtering American horses here again because of its proximity to air freight transport to Pacific Rim markets.

Bouvry Exports traditional markets in Europe have been made more expensive to service and are expected to shrink because of new health standards imposed by the European Union on horse meat imports to countries there.  The Asian markets have no such restrictions and also represent a market for lower quality animals than those in demand in Europe, meaning many more horses that were previously owned and loved as companion animals will die here if the Florence Packing slaughterhouse is reopened.

Claude Bouvry, owner and president of the giant Canadian meat exporting company, which is the only horse slaughter operation currently licensed and bonded for meat processing in the United States by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has failed to deny or even respond to questions about his reported plan for Stanwood despite repeated attempts in recent weeks to contact him by both email and telephone from equine advocates and at least one member of the local television news media.

A group of equine rescue sanctuary operators from throughout states in the region expected to provide doomed horses to the Stanwood location have banned together to try and demonstrate to the public, county and local officials that a horse slaughterhouse will be a detriment to their community as these facilities proved to be in Texas and Illinois before equine slaughter was halted in the United States in 2007. Their goal is convince Snohomish County commissioners to pass an ordinance banning equine slaughter and prevent the resumption of horses being butchered here.

Allen Warren of the Horse Harbor Foundation in Poulsbo and spokesman for the group said that a denial by Bouvry of the plan to begin killing and butchering horses here would have been welcomed, but his failure to do so only lends credence to the report from a source close to the Canadian company’s management.

The horse rescuers contend that despite propaganda by some in the commercial equine industry, which uses horse slaughter as a convenient way to dump horses after their productive careers are over or they do not meet their standards, there are immediate and viable alternatives for these at-risk horses, born and bred as companion and sports animals in America and not for the food chain.

In addition members of the group point out that reopening the Stanwood facility to horse slaughter poses a tremendous risk to the area’s environment based on the experience of other communities where these operations have been located.  This is particularly true here since Florence Packing is situated on the banks of the Stillaguamish River, which has salmon hatcheries downstream.  They will present evidence to the county commissioners of this hazard from communities in Texas and Illinois, which still suffer from the effects of equine slaughter years after plants there were closed.

Members of the equine rescue group opposed to equine slaughter in Washington in addition to Horse Harbor are Pasado’s Safe Haven, Monroe; Second Chance Ranch, Elma; Center Valley Animal Rescue, Quilcene; Avalon Mist Equine Rescue, Yakima; and Sunrise Equine Rescue, Grapeview.  They are joined by the Montana Horse Sanctuary,  Great Falls; and  Western Montana Equine Rescue & Rehabilitation, Corvallis, in Montana; Strawberry Mountain Mustangs, Roseburg, and  HyTyme Equine Rescue, Portland, in Oregon, and Free Spirits Equine Rescue of Ketchum, Idaho. They are supported by the national Animal Law Coalition headquartered in Seattle, which is currently reviewing the Snohomish County codes prior to drafting a horse slaughter ban ordinance for consideration by the commissioners.

A controversy over the return of equine slaughter is now raging across the country following a last minute amendment to this year’s Congressional Appropriations Bill that reinstated funding for USDA meat inspections for horse meat which ended in 2007.  As a result equine slaughter is now legal in the United States again despite being opposed by a full 80 percent of the American public in a recent poll.

The situation here has also been closely monitored by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has threatened to bring legal action against USDA unless a standing court order requiring environmental impact studies prior to the issuance of meat inspection approval to any new concerns applying for this service is complied with.

There is some question whether Florence Packing as an existing horse slaughterhouse would fall under this ruling, but the regional animal welfare organizations promise to bring an injunction here against the plant opening to determine this if Bouvry Exports moves to resume killing horses at the Stanwood plant.  This would compliment any legal action taken by HSUS against the USDA.

“We believe that the people of Western Washington in particular and also our surrounding states are even more opposed than the national average to the brutal and unnecessary trade of butchering horses, companion and sports animals never bred and raised for the human food chain, and intend to show Bouvry in no uncertain terms that it is bad enough he is murdering our horses in Canada and under no circumstances do we want him doing it here also,” the horse rescuers state.

Bouvry Exports also operates buying stations and feedlots in Fallon, NV, and Shelby, MT, with the three locations trucking thousands of horses from the western United States annually to its two equine slaughterhouses in Canada.

A search of Snohomish County records has established that all licenses and permits for the Florence Packing slaughter operation have been kept up to date and there is no impediment to its killing horses again from a local, county or state code standpoint.

Further evidence that the plan by Bouvry Exports is real is that the meat packing industry trade publication Livestock Weekly recently reported that insider information indicates an existing equine slaughterhouse in the United States will be modernized and horse slaughter might begin as early as this Spring. Florence Packing is one of only three or four such facilities in the country that fit this description.

Horse slaughter was effectively halted in this country by a U.S. District Court ruling on March 28, 2007, that it was illegal for horse meat packers to pay USDA inspectors directly, a practice allowed by the George W. Bush administration.  The following day USDA pulled its inspectors out of the three plants operating at that time, two in Texas and one in Illinois, all foreign owned.  The court order requiring environmental impact studies by USDA prior to plant openings stemmed from this case.

Equine advocates had long argued that allowing the horse slaughters to pay for their own inspections made a mockery out of the system and failed to take into account the high degress of pain and suffering that takes place when horses are killed in an assembly line process.

Since that time the slaughter of American horses has continued virtually unabated, numbering over100,000 each year, as they have been trucked instead across the borders to their deaths in Canada and Mexico.   Although horse slaughter proponents claim the trade is necessary to deal with small percentage each year of America’s horses they call “unwanted”, horse rescuers say that no horse is unwanted in this country and all that are displaced can be saved if the breeding and racing industries contribute financially to their efforts to their existing programs to re-home them instead.

In fact it was a White Paper outlining viable and immediate alternatives to slaughter for at-risk horses that brought the Bouvry Exports plan for Stanwood to the equine rescuerers’ attention.   A family member of a Bouvry Exports employee read this document written by Warren in 2010, and then contacted him to alert him to Bouvry’s plan to reopen Stanwood. This person remains unnamed to protect the family from reprisal.

The inside source said the Stanwood slaughter plant and feedlot were chosen by Bouvry to reintroduce equine slaughter to the U.S. because it can be readied far faster and less expensively than building from scratch at one of its other two facilities in Montana and Nevada, and also because of its location on the Pacific Rim and proximity to a major airport between Seattle and Tacoma for fast overseas transport of its product to countries where there are no health requirements such as those in Europe.

Bouvry Exports has already been investigated numerous times for inhumane practices in handling and killing horses, including by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Humane Society International/Canada, the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition and Animals Angels.

Although horses are supposed to be stunned and at least unconscious before their throats are slit and being butchered, hidden videos taken in Bouvry Exports facilities and other Canadian slaughterhouses has shown a high percentage of incidents where this is not the case.  In one, a horse was struck a total of 11 times by a captive bolt killing device before it was finally rendered unconscious.

“Although all mass forms of animal slaughter are brutal to a large degree, most food chain animals such as swine and cattle are relatively controllable when meeting their fate,” Warren said.  ”But horses by their very nature are inquisitive and fearful animals, uncomfortable with confinement and are extremely head shy, making it virtually impossible to kill them cleanly by either gunshot or the more modern captive bolt system.”

Video after video shows horses being shot or struck by a bolt in the head repeatedly in Bouvry Exports operated and other Canadian equine slaughterhouses, only to struggle back to their feet in obvious agony.

“Their pain and suffering are unquestionably inhumane in even the most modern plants and some of the videos actually show horses screaming in anguish before they die”, Warren continued.  He said another potential legal avenue to try and stop equine slaughter in Washington might well be that it inherently violates the state’s animal cruelty laws.

The anonymous source, a self-described horse lover, has provided so much detailed information, much of which has been verified, the horse rescuers are convinced that the plan to start slaughtering horses in Stanwood is imminent and say their respective nonprofit sanctuaries will take the lead in organizing opposition from other animal welfare organizations, the general public and state, local and county officials to try and stop the plant from opening and prevent even one horse from being kill and butchered here.

“Despite what those who would make a profit on equine slaughter claim, there are no “unwanted horses” in our country and those of us who have dedicated our lives to saving these animals which have served mankind so faithfully throughout history hope the people of Snohomish County will join us in preventing this unconscionable atrocity from ever taking place here again,” Warren concluded.

For More Information, Contact: equinenewssource@yahoo.com.


16 Responses to Washington State Targeted for Equine Slaughter

  1. Laurel D

    It’s no wonder Bouvry is not answering questions. Allen Warren has been hammering on this since mid December when it proved to be false. Stanwood is simply a gathering point for horses bound to Canada. The old packing plant would have to be demolished to build an operational one. USDA current requirements for waste disposal and water supply could not be met at this location without major improvements to the community’s services.

  2. Shirley Smith

    I so agree with the last paragraph of this article. The economy has been the problem because if you can’t afford to eat and feed your family the horses have to find new homes NOT BE INHUMANELY SLAUGHTERED for $$$$$$$$ for some people to benefit!!!!!! The horses do not deserve to die such a horrific death they have served man since time began and still are. The wild horses are supposed to be protected also and not slaughtered!!! SO we do not need slaughter plants to open in the USA now or ever. AMERICANS DO NOT EAT HORSES!!!! 80% OF THE PUBLIC HAVE VOICED THEIR OPINIONS AND THAT IS NO TO HORSE SLAUGHTER!!

  3. mary papini


  4. Horseshoe Angel

    Despite the horrific content of this article, it is WELL WRITTEN, thorough and informative! Great job. Those of us who oppose horses being slaughtered will be watching this story very closely, and alerting everyone we know in this area and surrounding states. THANK YOU!

  5. Marcel

    THis is a very Apalling, horrific, inhumane practices in handling and killing horses…Is this America or a 3rd world Country that we have turned into…The hideous things we turn our back on and do nothing about ..pure corruption and greed

  6. Suzanne Moore

    You are absolutely right. Get ready to fight because the pro-slaughter forces are completely without honor or ethics.

  7. Cathy Pickett

    Who is writing this story?! Where can we get info?! The above email won’t work and it will be a cold day and hell before we in Washington sit back and watch this happen?!!!!!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!! Please provide info. as to whom we can contact or top writing this kinda crap!

  8. Ernest

    Cathy this report was posted by me and it was sent to us media persons by the Horse Harbor Foundation. The email in the above post, to my knowledge, is correct and functional. When did you write to the email and what info would you like to know? For any complaints against the horse slaughter, please write to the Governor and any organizations working for horse safety and protection. Also, contact as many media people as you can and tell them about this report. Horse slaughter is a calamity and only people power can stop it. Your effort counts.

  9. Christie Finn

    Write, call, email, or fax your Congress persons. Tell your representative that you want to see him or her support H. R. 2996 The Prevention of Horse Slaughter Act of 2011 sponsored by Indiana Congressman Dan Burton. Tell your senators that you want them to support S 1776, the Senate version of the Horse Slaughter Prevention Act sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu.

    If you have children, you can have them write letters and send them to the Children’s Letter Writing Campaign, A Million Horse March being conducted by Jo-Claire Concoran with the Equine Welfare Alliance. Your letters are needed by March 20, and will be delivered to Congress on March 27.

    If your Senators are willing to help sponsor either the House or the Senate Bill it would hasten the process of getting the bills through committee and to the floor for a vote. The horses are facing some powerful political forces. Senator Reid supports horse slaughter, so it will take a large number of Senator sponsors to get that bill through committee to the floor.

    Our voices count.

    By the way, great article.

  10. liz frejay

    I have been a horse breeder and trainer for over 26 years. You are all so right, in this touchy, feely, liberal world we live in, all animals should live forever. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic option. Since horses require thousands of dollars a year in care, feed and boarding, not every owner can afford to keep their horse anymore. Especially with so many Americans out of work. Just find it a home you say? Right! You can’t even give horses away since slaughter was banned in the U. S. So now horses get to wait in feedlots and then ride for a thousand miles to a slaughter house outside the U.S… Way to go do do-gooders!!! You made such a difference in those horses lives! So let’s look at the other side, all the rescues are filled to the brim. Some so-called rescues like the one in Virginia, where over 50 horses were recently seized, starved and neglected. Your right ban slaughter and let them starve!

  11. Ernest

    If horses are doomed to die one way or the other, I say better let them starve instead of being killed and butchered. Millions of humans also face starvation, as they suffer in African and other countries. But do you slaughter them simply because they will die. There is no excuse for slaughtering, except of course the excuse of corporate interest and human cruelty.

  12. gwen

    Why not humanely euthanize unwanted horses and put pressure on breeders and industries that use, abuse, and throw away? (Horse racing, Premarin Production, etc.)

    I agree that shipping them to Canada and Mexico is worse. I can’t imagine what a slaughter house in Mexico is like.

    We must put an end to transport AND slaughter.

  13. Pingback: Americas Wild and Domesticated Horses Need You « Donkey Whisperer Farm Blog

  14. dena moore

    What, I do not understand is what is happening at the boarder where are the killer getting COGS on horse that have no vet records?? I use to show horse in Canada and our paper had to be in order for each horse to cross the board. How is it possible to COG’s on truck load of horse. What can be done to stop the exporting of horse into Canada and Mexico for that purpose consider illegal in US and procure for such purposes should be illegal.

  15. dena moore


    Then stop breeding them and further more vet will humanly euthanize your horse or is made money by pound more your style. You really should get out of the business. I was raised on horse breeding stable where one time we had 30 plus horse, we to this day know where they all located, imagine that we had clause in sell contract that at anytime they always had home. When time came after retirement and their quality of life declined with assists of our vet put them to sleep we did not torment and thank them by sending them to slaughter to be knock unconscious but still alive to have neck sliced open and leg cut off. YOU DO NOT DESERVE THE TRUST THEY GAVE YOU, WHAT IS EVEN MORE SICKING YOU WHERE THE ONE WHO GAINED THERE TRUST JUST BETRAY THEM.

  16. Linny

    So sad, There are not places for all the unwanted horses. Breeders have stopped breeding by the droves!! Horses starving yes that’s the answer!! Hide your head in the sand and it will all go away.
    Make horse slaughter humane, figure it out people, there is a safe and sane process that can and should be used. Oh wait, you can’t have them put down by your vet and buried on your property, but you can have them hauled to the land fills!
    Check that one out. Rescue’s are in it for the money just the same and I’d like a list of rescues that are taking horses today right now. Sick lame and unhealthy one’s. Not the one’s they take in for free and turn a profit on!! The one’s they have to pay to euthanize and dispose of.
    There must be a humane process that would make sense. Sending them to Mexico and Canada is not the answer.

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