April 24, 2009
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, 21 polo horses die horrific deaths. Now reports claim these poor animals were given the wrong mix of a generic version of a banned substance. This story has touched so many hearts. But the reality is that many American horses who serve their riders loyally end up dying horrific deaths. Tens of thousands are transported from the United States to Mexico or Canada, then slaughtered and sold overseas as horse meat. We`re talking about horses that don`t win a race, or throw a rider, or just don`t look right. Or they got old. That's how they're transported, in those containers. The journey to the slaughter house is torturous. They`re stuffed into overcrowded containers, often deprived of food and water. Many dead on arrival. But there are two bills before Congress to stop all this. So call your Congress person, demand action. If you love horses, on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, let's stop the transportation of our supposedly beloved horses for slaughter so people in other countries can eat them. Joining me is Lisa Land, senior vice president of communications for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Lisa, lay out the problem for us. And why is it that so many Americans are completely clueless that this is going on?
LISA LAND, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, PETA: Well, you know, the death of horses in this country is not something that`s really publicized very well. More than 100,000 horses are sent to slaughter from the United States, and now transported across country lines into Mexico and Canada, as you said. It`s important to realize that a minimum of 12,000 of these horses are thoroughbreds, formerly raced thoroughbreds. Experts actually estimate that up to 50,000 to 60,000 of the animals slaughtered can be thoroughbreds. But the reporting is so bad that we don`t know the exact number. And you mentioned...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you saying? Are you saying that basically the racing industry is over breeding?
LAND: They`re absolutely over breeding. They`re not only -- 50,000 foals are born every year, and they`re not all going to be good racers. So many of them are killed very early on. A horse is usually raced only until the age of five. Their life span is 30 years. When they`re no longer useful to the racing industry, most of them are sent off to slaughter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the journey to the slaughter house is tortuous. Stuffed into overcrowded containers. Some are pregnant, born to be slaughtered. Now, take a look at this. Look at these foals who were born this week, just hours after being rescued. Had their moms not been rescued by animal lovers, these babies would have been born in the truck, on the way to the slaughter house, only to be killed when they arrived. This is why we need to act right now. This is why I`m urging, as an animal lover, as a horse rescuer, call your Congressperson. Demand action on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. What is this bill going to achieve if we do get it through Congress, Lisa?
LAND: Well, this bill is an important bill, because currently slaughtering horses in the United States slaughter houses in this country is illegal. But what has happened to replace that is these animals are being shipped across the border. Sometimes the travel takes up to 24 hours. They`re kept in double- decker buses. They`re overcrowded. They suffer from lacerations and infected wounds. They get broken bones. Many of them are dead upon arrival. But once they`re at the slaughterhouse, in Mexican slaughterhouses, for example, these horses are continually stabbed in their throats and then they`re hung up by one leg...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, gosh. We can`t even show you the video. Go to PETA.org, HumaneSociety.org. Get involved, Americans, to stop this horror.
Lisa, thank you.