A fact that might surprise you: Horse slaughterhouses operated in the US until 2007. And another: Ranchers, horse owners, and some animal-welfare groups want them back. The unlikely trio is attending the Summit of the Horse in Las Vegas this week, where they're hoping to drum up a game plan for kickstarting an industry that killed as many as 100,000 horses a year. Proponents say the reopening would inject cash into rural areas and give owners unable or unwilling to care for the creatures a humane way out, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Rather than pay a vet hundreds to euthanize and dispose of a horse, old or difficult ones are often sold for as little as $10 then packed aboard transports and shuttled to Mexico: The number jumped from 11,080 in 2006 to 57,017 in 2008. The journey is often a painful one, which has some animal-rights supporters switching from slaughterhouse foes to proponents, so long as any reopened ones follow strict guidelines regarding humane treatment. Seven states are on board, and the American Humane Association is considering backing the cause. But opponents argue there are alternatives, like giving struggling farmers free hay and requiring horse purchasers to pay an up-front cost that would cover euthanasia.