Utah leaders discuss possibility of horse slaughterhouses

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SALT LAKE CITY -- One Utah representative has opened the conversation about the possibility of equine slaughterhouses in Utah.

Rep. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, said some of his constituents are forced to make tough decisions when it comes to their domestic horses. He said when the recession hit, demand for horses went down, and it hasn't fully recovered. He said the situation is putting a lot of people who want to sell their horses in a financial bind.

Anderegg received a lot of backlash after he brought up the possibility of slaughterhouses as one option to fix the problem, but he said it remains a federal issue, and he's more interested in solving the problem locally.

"I'm not suggesting slaughterhouses in Utah, but I am suggesting that we've got a problem here," Anderegg said. "We have horses that are starving to death, we've got horses that are dying in trailers, we got people who are sending them to auction at the county auction and not coming to pick them up. Why? Because they simply can't afford them."

The Humane Society of Utah said domestic horses are an iconic symbol of the west, and they obviously oppose slaughterhouses. They said horse meat should not be consumed as food because of the bad chemicals it may contain.

According to the Humane Society, horses can be legally slaughtered in Utah for pet food, but they may not legally be slaughtered to provide food for humans. They said if Utah were to legalize this practice, slaughterhouses would be processing horse meat for shipment to other countries.

Utah lawmakers have requested an in-depth study to determine just how bad the domestic horse problem is, and how they should proceed. A Utah State University student is expected to conduct that study.