Horse slaughter has been illegal in the United States for a number of years, but that ban ended in November 2011 when U.S. President Barack Obama signed in to law a United States Drug Administration spending bill that restores the inspection process for domestic horse slaughter. The USDA has said, though, that a number of federal, state and local requirements and prohibitions remain in place and that there have been no requests for the USDA to initiate the authorization process for any horse slaughter operation in the United States.

Many of you know that at Jill Milan we are big fans of animal welfare. That’s in part because CEO Jill Fraser has a long history with animals, particularly horses, stemming from her career showing in equitation and hunter classes. She later became involved in various animal welfare causes, including opposition to horse slaughter, and Jill Milan supports organizations that rescue former racehorses from slaughter and retrain them for new lives.

One of these organizations is Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, an all-volunteer, registered 501(c)(3) charity with a mission to rescue thoroughbred horses - bred and raised for racing - from slaughter, neglect and abuse. SCTR is run by Caroline Betts, who founded the organization and continues to serve as its director and president. She began riding horses at approximately age seven when growing up in Surrey, England, and has experience in multiple equestrian disciplines including dressage, hunt-seat and field hunting.

Caroline Betts
Caroline Betts


“The implications of the recent policy change are quite devastating, if energizing, to those of who advocate an end to horse slaughter,” Caroline said of November’s legislative action. “It might serve to make our mission more difficult, but I know ours and other organizations working on behalf of these great animals will continue doing what is necessary to oppose horse slaughter.

“The problem of course is that you cannot rescue your way out of horse slaughter, and that is an ongoing source of frustration and heartbreak for rescuers,” she continued. “Advocacy for, education about and promotion of a change in the law is the only way forward.”

Caroline’s resume is an interesting read. By day she is as an associate professor of economics at the University of Southern California, where her research has been in the field of macroeconomics. The rest of her time is spent on Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, which she founded in 2008 after she became aware of the sad demise many Southern California thoroughbreds met in slaughter plants and began rescuing them at auction.

For an example of how SCTR revitalizes horses’ lives take a look at the before and after photos of Magic Route below. He is just one of many SCTR successes over the years. If you would like to help, visit SCTR's website for more information.

Magic Route Before

Magic Route After

Former racehorse Magic Route was discovered by a woman who responded to a "horse for sale" ad and found this starving young thoroughbred gelding. Within 24 hours Magic Route was impounded by local animal services transferred to SCTR a day later. Magic's rehabilitation with SCTR took less than 4 months, in which time he was transformed from the horse in the top photo on the left to the beautiful animal in the lower photo.