Horse rancher M.C. Baker says he opposes inhumane treatment of horses – that’s why he believes the federal government was wrong to halt horse slaughter.

Baker, a self-described “grouchy old veterinarian” who runs horse breeding center Alpha Equine in Granbury, Texas, said by removing funding for inspections of slaughter facilities five years ago, Congress created a cure worse than the disease.

After all, horse owners have to do something with aging animals. So, many are slaughtered anyway – but in Mexico instead of the U.S., a new congressional report indicates.
“Now those horses are being sold extremely cheap, and most everybody in the horse business knows what’s happening to them,” Baker said.

The practice is prevalent: U.S. horse exports to Mexico increased more than six-fold between 2006 and 2010, and exports to Canada more than doubled in that time, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found. Roughly the same number of U.S. horses – nearly 138,000 – continues to be slaughtered as before Congress stopped funding for inspections, the report said.

Since then, horse abandonment is up, and average horse auction prices, adoptions and general horse welfare have suffered, based on accounts from state veterinarians and reports of abandonment and neglect.