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Horse slaughter humane? My response to the Denver Post.

November 26, 2015

Vickery Eckhoff

Temple Grandin's "humane" horse slaughterhouse was shut down after authorities found it did not succeed in humanely stunning horses.

Temple Grandin’s “humane” horse slaughterhouse was shut down after authorities found it did not succeed in humanely stunning horses.

On Thanksgiving day, the last thing I expected to wake up to was Tom McGhee of the Denver Post’s article, “Horse slaughter inhumane? Some say no.

But here’s my response to it. Feel free to share.


November 26, 2015

Dear Tom,

I read your article, “Horse slaughter inhumane? Some say no,” with great interest, especially Temple Grandin’s words on horse slaughter being humane.

Back in 2012, I interviewed Ms. Grandin over videos of a slaughterhouse that she designed for horses in Quebec (Les Viandes de La Petite Nation, Inc.). That slaughterhouse was shut down after the videos showed repeat blows from the captive bolt gun (which Grandin describes as “humane”) failing to render horses unconscious (the legal definition of a humane stun, according to the law, is accomplishing that task with one blow). The Canadian authorities, upon reopening Grandin’s slaughterhouse, replaced the captive bolt guns there with firearms.

My article on Grandin’s slaughter house, including the videos (“Horse Slaughterhouse Raises Food Safety and Cruelty Alarms”),  can be read on’s site:

Grandin and I watched the videos seven times together during the course of our interview. Throughout, she maintained that her system was working. Of course, the video, and the shutdown of the plant, prove otherwise.

I’ve been writing about the horse meat trade, and the intersecting wild horse issue, for four years now. My articles on it have appeared on, The Daily Beast/Newsweek, Salon, Alternet, the HuffPo, and my screenplay on the closing of one of the last horse slaughter houses in the US, Dallas Crown, has been optioned. A site I used for a lot of my research is,  set up by the people in Kaufman, TX, who eventually succeeded in shutting down the plant there.

There’s a reason why Grandin’s claims are scoffed at by people who worked to close these slaughter plants. And, FYI, the EU may be in the process of winding down sourcing of US horse meat from Canada, as it did back in January, regarding Mexico. This industry isn’t just inhumane, it abuses communities and its lack of regulation poses food safety threats, as well. Those food safety hazards, by the way, are THE reason why a majority of Congress has voted to defund horse slaughter inspections.

As for it being humane, no humane laws are applied in this country. It’s a word people throw around, but when you study agriculture and write about it, you come to realize that all that humane talk is just another version of “greenwashing.”

I run, at this moment, a small site that was the second (after the Wall Street Journal) to break the story of Whole Foods top turkey supplier caught on video claiming humane handling while stuffing birds into barns that can only be described as revolting. You can find that story here: (“There’s Nothing Humane About Whole Foods Turkey.”)

It is my sincere hope you may amend your story to reflect what the reality is — not just the one Grandin (a paid consultant to the meat industry) is painting.I am available, at your convenience, if you’d like to talk further or write another article.

Thanks for your important coverage — and happy Thanksgiving.


Vickery Eckhoff

New York, NY


This post was updated on November 28, 2015 to include a 150-word Letter to the Editor,  which I submitted through the Post’s web site:

RE: “Horse Slaughter Inhumane? Some Say ‘No'”

Dear Editor:

Horse slaughter is indeed inhumane and Dr. Grandin should know this. She designed a Canadian slaughterhouse (Les Viandes de la Petite Nation) whose horse operation was shut down for failing to humanely stun horses, even after repeat stunnings (the legal requirement is one stun leading to unconsciousness).

Grandin and I reviewed video footage together of the plant’s kill box for an article I published on Throughout, she maintained that her system worked. Obviously, the video and subsequent shut down of the plant confirm otherwise.

Congress most recently acted to defund horse slaughter inspections because of food safety hazards (due to banned drugs in horse meat) and liability issues resulting from a lack of oversight. The business, when it was regulated by the USDA here in the US, overlooked ongoing humane and environmental violations as well. As a country, we are better off without this taxpayer-funded activity.



Vickery Eckhoff


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Post a comment
  1. November 26, 2015

    What a freak, she really is, probably all of the cylinders she may own, are not firing, saw the movie about her, she seems to enjoy the slaughter environment, for beef anyhow, there is no humane slaughter, she missed the mark a long time ago, for reasons listed above.

    • November 26, 2015

      Her views are distorted by autism disorder. She does not operate in the same world as normal human beings who understand pain and fear. In this case, psychological and physical pain and terror of slaughter would be foreign to her for the most part. I don’t blame her, I blame the government and organizations that conveniently used her.

  2. MorganG #
    November 26, 2015

    There is no manner of making wholesale animal slaughter humane. The methods are barbaric. The animals, as they travel the slaughter line know full well what their fate is going to be and they are panicked. If the methods used to kill our food animals were used on humans we would decry them as being a horrific murder. Temple Grandin can only support this brutality as without her stamp of approval she would be out of an, apparently, very lucrative job. I have no respect for her theories of the kill nor her refusal to see the obvious inhumanity.

  3. Claudia Bloom #
    November 26, 2015

    Thank you, as always. I think that whole autism angle used by Temple should be exposed for what it is-horses**t.

  4. Sue carter #
    November 26, 2015

    If the Reporter (and Grandin) were really concerned with the slaughter aspect of the Davis Report; they would have addressed the Public Health Safety issue in the Disposition of the Investigation, itself.

    DOI /BLM chose to let Davis walk when the trail led to Dennis Cavez’s South West Auction in Las Lunas NM, at which point hey handed the matter over to USDA as a Public Health concern.

    The fact that the USDA Veterinarian Inspector never even laid eyes on the horses and acknowledged that he knew Dennis Chavez or his hired-hands filled out The Equine ID’s, relied on to trace Drug traceability; was seized on a a way out for BLM.

    At that point, it became Health issue. An International Health issue as Chavez was now caught, filling out International Health Certificates, determining which horses were “fit to ship.” Which, no doubt, would be any and all of them, regardless of fitness.

    It is a mistake to focus on Davis at this point. All eyes should be on USDA and the unsupervised Assembly Points” or feedlots.

  5. Ann Lawrence #
    November 26, 2015

    Slaughter and humane can not, should not , must not be used in the same sentence. Ms Grandin is selling a product. Pro horse- slaughter groups will latch on to anyone that supports their work. Although she used a “squeeze chute” to alleviate her symptoms, she was not subjected to a death bolt. Just ask any horse…you already know the answer.

  6. November 26, 2015

    Temple Grandin does not operate in the same world as normal human beings with compassion. This is not meant to criticize her, but to understand that her views are distorted by autism disorder. No government should accept her views on the psychological and physical pain and terror of slaughter. She cannot possibly understand. I don’t blame her, I blame the government and organizations that conveniently used her.

  7. November 26, 2015

    Colorado is playing games. They are strongly pro-slaughter with few exceptions. Just look at their statistics on S.1214/HR1942 — very bad — it doesn’t take brains to know that there is a powerful pro slaughter lobby. Denver Post is historically biased in favor of horse slaughter. Not worth reading them. Temple Grandin, while it is admirable that she was able to complete her PdD is hardly a candidate for being able to determine pain and fear in horses, being afflicted with autism disorder, herself. She has been used by the pro slaughter industry and they should be ashamed of themselves, but that’s never going to happen.

  8. Nancy B #
    November 27, 2015

    You continue to do excellent work! So proud of you, Vickery.

  9. Barbara Griffith #
    November 27, 2015

    There is also a number of politicians in both Colorado and TX that also could care less about horses being sent to slaughter Senator Cruz is one.
    That guy should not be put in the White House along with pushing for a 500 % increase in H-1B’s to take US jobs. I really haven’t seen much current information about US horses being sent to Mexico since the EU claims they have cut off buying horse meat from Mexico. The last thing I read about it that US horses are still being sent to Mexico if the EU isn’t buying the horse meat who is buying it then? Mexico is trying to push their population into eating horse meat so they can still slaughter the US horses. The horses were still being delivered to Mexico after the supposed Jan, 2015 cutoff date this came from Equine Welfare Alliance months ago. They said they had people watching, I thought the feed lots bring the horses in. Also the rancher that bought over 1,700 wild horses from the BLM and shipped them to slaughter is not the first time this has happened. In 1997 BLM was caught doing the same thing according to the Peer White Paper (Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility) it can be found in their archives they are located in DC.
    The article Horses to Slaughter Anatomy of a Coverup within the Wild Horse & Burro Program of The Bureau of Land Management.
    According to this 45 pages it was common for truck loads of horses that had been rounded up to be sold to the friends of BLM employees. I read several years ago about pkg of horse meat being seen in super markets in the EU with a label saying it was grass fed wild horse meat from the US. This White Paper is the smoking gun as far as what the BLM is and has done to the wild horses. This is why the BLM refuses to give anyone the addresses to any of the so called ranches where the horses are supposed to be boarded using privacy as the reason. Which is BS because the horses belong to the taxpaying public not the BLM. I doubt there is any boarded wild horses anywhere because all of them except a few hundred that is kept in pens to fool the public into believing the BLM’s lies are still alive.

  10. November 27, 2015

    Thanks for staying on top of this and always speaking up.

  11. sedna #
    November 27, 2015

    Simple test to determine in an action is “humane”: would you like it done to YOU? If not=not humane. Same for cows, pigs, chickens….

  12. cath hurwood #
    November 27, 2015

    No slaughter anywhere can really be ethical or humane. Animals of any species are sentient, breathing, feeling and living beings…who sense death, and know the smell of it and the fear of it, as they are sent in to the slaughterhouses. Isaac Singer commented: “…the only justification for killing animals is the fact that man can keep a knife or an ax in his hands and is shrewd enough and selfish enough to do slaughter for what he thinks is his own good……All nice talk about humanism, a better tomorrow a beautiful future, has no meaning at all as long as [they] kill to eat or kill for pleasure…”

  13. November 28, 2015

    As a taxpayer and citizen I am dismayed that the laws and federal agencies entrusted to protect our wild horses and oversee their well being are not upheld and the horses are actually sold to the highest bidders…the 1% and their lobbyists. The Denver Post continues to spew the rhetoric of BLM without challenge and does not allow for fair representation by wild horse advocates in their articles. Quoting Temple Grandin was a low blow as she is a pawn of the cattle industry. If the article shared video links for people to witness the slaughter process of horses there would be no doubt this is animal cruelty at its worst.

  14. Davide #
    November 28, 2015

    Go Vegan? (It’s a question, not a comment)

  15. November 29, 2015

    I have said this so often it is ‘ad nauseum’ for me. I have analyzed the Statute – ‘The Humane Slaughter Act of 1958’ which has been amended twice and made stronger. I have had my analysis vetted by Constitutional Scholars that are Professors at Yale and Harvard. They assure me that Equidaie Slaughter is in fact ILLEGAL.

    If there is a violation every single time (we know about the 30 second ‘Shackle and Hoist’ rule and that the Horses, Ponies, Mules and Donkeys and Foals (!) are in fact awake when they are being Vivisected) those constant violations are what makes Equidaie Slaughter ILLEGAL.

    I am so sick of people denying this is the case! Additionally, I have had it with people who say it is okay to Slaughter for Zoos, These people have told me ‘Well, we have to give them something’… First, WHO are ‘They’ and we do not have to give ‘them’ a single thing. That attitude and Logic reduces the entire anti slaughter Argument to an absurdity. We must apply the same rules to all Equidaies equally!

    It is ILLEGAL and we have been Suing from the wrong Venue which is why we fail. The Legal strategy has been poor. Precedents exist and they have been ignored as nobody did the homework!

    Your article is great, as usual, Vickery!

  16. Kelly Allen #
    November 30, 2015

    My question is why are we putting so much credibility on Temple Grandin. She is unable to feel apathy. There is no question that the captive bolt which was developed specificity for cows is not suitable for horses. My bigger question is why horse slaughter at all. Shouldn’t we protect that which was our number one support in all facets of our earlier survival. Horses have plowed our fields, transported ourselves and our goods and carried us through battle. Why are we disowning them now. They need our protection!

  17. November 30, 2015

    Ignorant woman..You would think that with all the pain this woman has felt in her life by being misunderstood that she would be able to understand compassion. Not only is she ignorant…but she is seriously jaded where pain & suffering is concerned, I hate the sight of her…

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