The American Veterinary Medical Association endorses only one method for killing horses humanely: shooting in the forehead with a bullet or a 4-inch captive bolt, and even with the latter, "about the size of a roll of quarters . . . Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving," Christopher Beam wrote for Slate in 2009.
"Horses, because of their size, are not good candidates for euthanasia by drugs – death can take hours," Nichols writes. "Dr. Temple Grandin, a noted autistic and designer of livestock handling facilities, says she struggles with her feelings about horse slaughter plants." She said at the recent Summit of the Horse "that she is skeptical whether a horse slaughter facility can ever be made humane. Horses are slaughtered using the same method as cattle. The problem is, Grandin said, that they are nothing like cattle. A horse’s flight instinct works contrary to cattle’s huddling behavior when scared, making the recommended 95 percent first-attempt kill shot difficult to achieve."
Since the ban was lifted, Congress hasn't set appropriations for Department of Agriculture inspections of horse slaughterhouses, estimated to cost $5 million annually. Chris Heyde, deputy director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, told Nichols he would be surprised if the government found money for inspections when there is such pressure to reduce its budget deficit. (Read more)