After almost two years and tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its report, Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter with two contradictory recommendations: restore horse slaughter or ban horse slaughter outright.
The GAO examined issues commonly associated with horses and horse slaughter (transport, abuse, neglect, overbreeding) since the suspension of slaughter in the US, rehashing most of the points raised by AWI over the years with no new significant revelations. The GAO did manage to criticize the USDA for its shoddy record-keeping, its failure to issue a final rule to ban double-deck trailers, and its continued authorization of shippers to haul horses despite past records of inhumane transport by those shippers.
There was one particularly significant omission from the GAO ’s review—the failure to consider the welfare of horses when slaughter existed in this country. This was a glaring oversight, particularly in light of the GAO ’s suggestion that perhaps horse slaughter within our borders should be resumed. As Quarterly readers well know, horse slaughter doesn’t occur in a void, and the handling, hauling and slaughter of horses when it happened on US soil was unquestionably brutal.