Believe it or not, this week I was planning on writing one of those “dog that did not bark” stories about the fact that in no state has re-starting horse slaughter come up as a legislative issue.


Sorry, I was the guy waiting in the harbor for a ship to come in while the party I was meeting arrived by train.

Instead of doing legislative jujitsu up in Laramie, Wyoming lawmaker Sue Wallis is on the road with a business plan for building a horse slaughter and processing plant in rural Missouri.

Wyoming’s State Rep. Wallis suffers with the moniker “Slaughterhouse Sue” from her advocacy for building a horse slaughter operation in the Cowboy State as an economic development project.  Wallis was just about the only one who did think it was a good idea.

Now “Slaughterhouse Sue” is back as Chief Executive Officer of Unified Equine, LLC,  with a business plan for locating a new horse slaughterhouse and horse meat processing plant at an industrial park between Mountain Grove and Cabool, Missouri.

The last three horse slaughter operations were closed more than five years ago after Congress pulled the USDA meat inspectors from the plants. USDA again has authority to inspect horse meat, and many think it’s only a matter of time before slaughter in the U.S resumes somewhere.

Wallis clearly wants to be the first.  In public meetings, she is touting the 40 to 55 jobs such a slaughterhouse would bring to the area, which is about 70 miles east of Springfield. The Twin Cities Board, the local economic development organization, is carrying Unified Equine’s water.

“I think two years from now if you come down and talk to me, people are going to be glad this is here, and it will be a great success, but it needs to be done right,” says the TC’s Roger Lindsey.

Wallis is pitching her American-owned company. The last horse slaughter operations in the U.S. were foreign-owned.

The end of U.S. horse slaughter has been far from clean.  The main concern is the often inhumane shipment of horses from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico for slaughter as those countries have not ended the practice.

Wallis expected a warm welcome for  the planned $6- to $7 million investment and all those new jobs in economically hurting rural Missouri, but instead she has faced emotional crowds with some hostile questions.

The horse slaughter plan has generated enough controversy that the Ozarks Family YMCA withdrew from its agreement to host a public meeting on the issue.

Too many uncared-for horses are one of the signs the country has gone through severe economic distress.  One horse can eat $200 worth of hay in a month, according to Duane Adams, who runs the Harmony Equine Center near Franktown, CO.

Throughout the West, there have been instances of horse rescue operations becoming overwhelmed, and county sheriffs finding starving and skinny animals.  There are an estimated 6,000 unwanted horses in Colorado alone.

John Malone, the largest private landowner in the U.S. and chief executive of Liberty Media, says “the big picture is that 130,000 (U.S.) horses a year are being sent to slaughterhouses in Mexico and  Canada.”

Malone is concerned about whether those shipments are being done humanely. 

Unlike many of us, Malone is in a position to do something about it.  He’s putting up $7- to $8 million to ensure that the Harmony Equine Center can back up smaller rescue centers.

The Bureau of Animal Protection in Colorado estimates euthanasia costs as much as $600 per animal once disposal is included.  It helps explain why starvation on the hoof is a fact.


So while unwanted horses have not been a legislative issue in 2012,  the economics are driving the problem. Horse people like Sue Wallis and John Malone are trying to improve the situation, but we’ve got a long way to go.

  • Alexis de T.

    THE EPIC STRUGGLE: American enterprise vs. American drama queens.
    Profitable slaughter facilities built with private funds to address the very real problem of horse overpopulation are opposed, but subsidized unprofitable slaughter facilities built with public funds to indulge the fantasies of hobbyist goat ropers are championed. USDA’s Merrigan speaks fluent foodie psychobabble, why is she not mediating this sensational issue?
    Drama rules the media. Bloody good show, Yanks, bloody good!

    • MorganLvr

      Wallis couldn’t even get a horse slaughter plant up in her OWN state. The lies she told the people in Missouri is the stuff of legend. Here is a letter written by the attorney for Mountain Grove, MO, Cynthia MacPherson of the local firm, MacPherson Law Center, to Wallis’ attorney, Dan Erdel, after Wallis was practically ridden out of town on a rail.

      The comment in the beginning part of the letter that she doesn’t know a lot about the HSUS is in answer the the lie of Wallis’ that MacPherson was sent to Mt. Grove by the HSUS! There weren’t even any HSUS people there.

      MacPherson Law Center to Attorney Dan Erdel:

      DO read this, people. It’s really hilarious.

  • Wynann Brownell

    Anyone who even slightly thinks about killing a horse for food ought to be horse wipped!!! Wallis is only thinking about the money she can put in her pocket. It’s disgusting!!

  • nana t.

    Somehow Slaughter Sue has managed to dupe Missouri into thinking she cares about them. Her only concern is how she can legally kill every horse on the planet and line her pocket with the proceeds. She thinks of horses as vermin and not fit to live. Her plan to build there is to let Missouri foot the bill for 6-7 million dollars to employ a meager 50 people most of whom will be paid min.wage. There will be widespread crime(proven in Kaufman,Tx.) and contamination of their water system from all the blood they dump. The pro-slaughter have even filed a lawsuit to stop school children from the letter writing campaign to save the horses. Seriously people,wake up ! The only way you can stop her is to finally ban horse slaughter once and for all.

  • Jen

    You can say what you want about Sue, I know nothing of her, but would you rather have hundreds of thousands of horses shipped to mexico every year, where they are assuredly NOT killed humanely? Many places in Mexico put the horse in a box stall, stand over the back of the horse, and drive a knife in their spine repeatedly until the horse goes down. I will never eat a horse, and do not advocate eating them, but I would rather have a horse humanely slaughtered in this country, with a captive bullet, than trucked with no food or water for thousands of miles to wind up in Mexico and stabbed to death. Lets face it.. rescues are getting full. Times are hard. There is no WAY to rescue, rehab and adopt out all the unwanted horses out there. What is YOUR solution?

    • MorganLvr

      The same people that owned and inspected our horse slaughter plants own the Mexican horse slaughter plants – they just slid over from Texas to Mexico.

      The horses are under the very same regulations as they were here. They are not slaughtered humanely here and they’re not slaughtered humanely in Mexico – the treatment in the Mexican plants is just like the treatment in US plants.

      The Mexican plants are regulated by the European Union and use the captive-bolt pistol It is NOT a bullet, and it is totally unsuitable for horses whether in Mexico or the US, The puntilla knife of which you speak is only used in the small local abattoirs, not the large commercial plants where our horses are sent.

      The massive increase in “unwanted” horses is a myth, the Big Lie the pro-slaughter people have spent millions of dollars promulgating. They even managed to co-opt the GAO – but it still is not true.

      How the GAO deceived Congress about horse welfare

      Full Report:

      How the GAO Deceived Congress About Horse Welfare After Domestic Horse Slaughter Plant Closings:

      Horse owners already knew the report was a crock, but this was shocking, even to us.

      There are many options other than slaughter. One just has to care enough to check them out.

      White Paper – Eliminating Horse Slaughter:

      Help For Horse Owners:

      The rescues are not full. Just another lie.

  • spanky

    my solution: If you own a horse, be responsible enough that when the time comes for your friend to be put down, you take care of it. If people would euthanize their horses at the end of their lives…we wouldn’t have such neglect. If you cant AFFORD to do this…then you have no business owning a horse in the first place. Shame on you!

  • Rosco Tanninger

    Why not expect the person who breeds the horse in the first place to be responsible for the care of said horse, or a humane euthanasia via barbiturate overdose?
    Why do we think that inhumanely slaughtering horses is a good solution for irresponsible breeders and owners?

    • MorganLvr

      You are so right!