Worldwide demand for horsemeat is up 60 to 100 percent, depending on the country. And the world's leading supplier of horses for slaughter is believed to be the United States.
That's a fact that doesn't sit well with Kelly Young. "They are slaughtering our horses from this country for other people to eat as a delicacy," she says. "It makes me sad. I can't save 'em all."
Kelly Young and her husband Tracy operate Lost and Found Horse Rescue in York, Pa. The farm is dedicated to rescuing American horses from the slaughterhouse.
"The same way we don't slaughter dogs and cats, we don't think we need to be slaughtering horses," Tracy explains.
So with that conviction and with donated money, Kelly drives to the New Holland livestock auction every Monday to buy horses that might otherwise go for slaughter. CBS News watched as she bid against middlemen known as "killer buyers."
According to Kelly, the name, "means they buy horses that are being slaughtered for human consumption."
For many in the horse industry, the slaughter market is a dirty secret. Americans generally don't eat horsemeat in fact, in many states the possession of horse meat is illegal. And yet it's perfectly legal to slaughter a horse for export.
CBS News showed this tape to Geert Dewulf, the manager at a Belgian-owned slaughterhouse in Texas called Dallas Crown. He insists hitting horses more than once is not tolerated nowadays. Slaughter, when done correctly, he says is a humane ending for horses that are past their prime.
"Horse slaughter serves the purpose of disposing of the unwanted animals," he says. "In 99 percent of the cases we do not receive any animals that can be saved."
But Tracy Young thinks, "Yes it's recycling unwanted animals but that's not the issue. The issue is, what is a horse and what place does it have in this country?"
To the Youngs, all these horses can have useful second lives. This Monday at the auction where dozens of horses were sold for slaughter Kelly rescues three, including two winning thoroughbreds she's certain will be adopted. She's determined not to have their last ride end in a restaurant in Paris.
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