Don’t Take My Word for It: Numbers Don’t Lie

As I’ve said again and again:  don’t take my word for it.  Do the research yourself.  So many Quebeckers are vehemently against horse slaughter but they haven’t got the time to do the research.  So here are a few facts (and, all of these have already been listed under my Primers on Horse Slaughter right here on my blog.  If the link doesn’t work, go to My Categories under Primers for Horse Slaughter).

To those who worry what will happen to all those horses who would normally go to slaughter–in short, be discarded for one reason or another–if  horse slaughter is stopped in Quebec, here are the answers:

(one) Horse slaughter is a business like any other, based on supply-and-demand:  an abattoir will not slaughter EVEN ONE MORE HORSE whose meat cannot be sold.  Horse slaughter is for food production, like any other food production industry, especially those that cater to high-end tastes (in Europe, horsemeat sells for $17/lb). Its primary intention is not to be a convenient drop-off for those who overbreed.

(two) The number of horses slaughtered did not change or increase during the period that US horses (which comprise over 60 % of the horses slaughtered in Canada) stopped being slaughtered on US soil.  Those who overbreed (particularly the TB and QH industries) have always over-bred, and they didn’t overbreed any more (according to statistics) than usual when horse slaughter  moved to Canada and Mexico.  Here are the facts:  in late 2008 (the year the US economy took a nosedive and slaughter had stopped in late 2007), fewer horses were sent to slaughter because horsemeat was not in demand which meant that the kill-buyers could only get one-third per pound of the usual per-pound price–not because horses were being abandoned by the roadside.  In fact, so far, the only horses found abandoned were found near the Mexican border, horses who were rejected by the Mexican industry because of the more stringent food safety regulations imposed by the European Union (which is the biggest market for horsemeat to date).  Yet… more horses went to auction–auction sales, not slaughter–because of the economy.  That means that more horses–without the ubiquitous presence of kill-buyers–actually found new owners and new purposes.  Horses sold at that time went not to slaughter, but to new homes.  And those media reports of horses being abandoned by the roadside were just that:  sensationalist media blurbs trying to persuade people that slaughter was necessary…when in fact the numbers show that those isolated incidents were, like incidents related to hoarding or ignorance, just grist for the media mill.

(three) Here are the numbers: 59,693 US horses were exported for slaughter in 2010; 59,933 in 2011 (up to Nov 2011).  According to MAPAQ (Min of Agriculture, QC), almost 7,000 are slaughtered annually in QC (about 90,000 annually in Canada).  There are 9 million horses in the US; nearly 1 million in Canada, and in Quebec, numbers are unclear:  anywhere between 56,000 and 100,000.

Update: As of 2011, there are 131,700 horses in QC, according to a survey done by Filiere du Cheval, the equine marketing arm of MAPAQ.

I know, it’s a lot to digest and process.  Here’s what I want to say, as someone who finds research and statistics essential to any argument:  We’re all good at different things, but if you’re not willing to even look at these facts (as so many whom I’ve pointed towards my Primers and other info sources), then I don’t know what else to tell you.  If you want to fight for horses, know your facts.  And, my standing proviso is always this:  if you find out something that I don’t know about, or something that’s changed in the stats or facts, let me know.  The worst thing that can happen in any fight for change is, getting the facts wrong.  I try never to back the wrong horse. Again, please visit the dozens of posts on my blog for more concrete facts on why horse slaughter is wrong, and visit the EWA for more statistics.


  1. NotABreed
    Feb 27, 2012

    I’ve said it a million times, the pro-slaughter activists who rant on and on about the ‘increase’ in abandonment since the closure of the horse slaughter houses are full of crap. The same number of American horses were slaughtered each year, they were just transported to Canada or Mexico. So, that being said, how did the closure affect horses in the US? Oh right, it didn’t!

    I have lots of articles on my blog about this, including arguments and rebuttals, under the subject ‘Horse Slaughter Articles’.

    • Cynthia
      Jun 1, 2012

      [from Cynthia, June 1, 2012, posted on Facebook]:
      This is one of my most-read blog posts. I re-publish it here [on FB] as an answer to one of the most ignorant (yet ubiquitous) comments made just a few days ago by a kill-buyer who stated that “when horses are slaughtered, the poor and hungry world-wide could have meat to eat.” Um, yeah, sure…if we want to kill starved humans slowly, given the many banned drugs horses are given, or better yet, if we think they can afford imported horsemeat. An ex-friend of mine (whose heart is in the right place) told me that European horsemeat can be got for $2 or $3 per lb. and that many Europeans eat horsemeat. Well we know that…it’s just that the horsemeat they eat is locally slaughtered (probably by a local farmer/breeder), and is not relevant to our North American argument that we DO NOT WANT OUR horses slaughtered for meat to supply the five-star European restaurants who serve it to (probably) wealthy Asian or North American tourists. We cannot control what is legal or what is eaten in other countries, but we can try to control what we EXPORT to those countries, whether as food or anything else. I am not a cultural imperialist. But I don’t want an export culture in my country (or province) catering to the misguided eating habits of foreign countries. That’s all I’m say’ n…..

  2. Cynthia
    Feb 20, 2012

    Thanks, Pauline. That’s why I keep referring people to my Primers on Horse Slaughter on this blog. I will have to have all four of the Primers translated, though. I love Quebec, and in many ways, it’s very progressive, but in so many other ways, it is backward (i.e. shale gas, destruction of habitat–and we won’t even touch our archaic animal cruelty record!). Anyway, I deal with it all by repeating the facts until I’m blue in the face (and my face is pretty blue right now!).

  3. Cynthia
    Feb 22, 2012

    Sandra, I couldn’t agree more and I often feel the same way. There’s a quote from somewhere: “We’re all alone out there…and tomorrow…we’re goin’ out there again.” Existential, I know, but sometimes when I feel defeated, I think about Velma and so many others who never gave up…and finally, I see the faces of the horses I grew up with, I see the face of every horse who’s been abused, tortured, terrified, butchered…and, well, I know you know what I mean.

  4. Cynthia
    Feb 24, 2012

    Okay, I don’t get how this works. It seems that either the comments/replies only show up on my blog or only on FB. I’m going to talk to my webmaster about it. Everyone should see all replies and comments. Thanks for letting me know!

  5. Cynthia
    Feb 22, 2012

    Well-said, Ann Marie. “Revolting,” atavistic, barbaric, inhumane, pathological…have I forgotten anything? Thank you for posting.

  6. Cynthia
    Feb 23, 2012

    Hi Ann Marie. I’m just learning about how FB works with blogging, so I was a little confused. No worries.


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