Friday, February 27, 2009


H.R.503 Title: To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit certain conduct relating to the use of horses for human consumption. Sponsor: Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] (introduced 1/14/2009) Cosponsors (96) Latest Major Action: 1/14/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 2/11/2009
Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 1/14/2009
Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3] - 2/4/2009
Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G. [MD-6] - 1/26/2009
Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 1/14/2009
Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 1/27/2009
Rep Bilbray, Brian P. [CA-50] - 1/14/2009
Rep Bilirakis, Gus M. [FL-9] - 1/28/2009
Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1] - 1/26/2009
Rep Bono Mack, Mary [CA-45] - 1/14/2009
Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] - 1/14/2009
Rep Brown, Henry E., Jr. [SC-1] - 1/14/2009
Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5] - 1/14/2009
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 2/4/2009
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 1/14/2009
Rep Castle, Michael N. [DE] - 1/14/2009
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 2/23/2009
Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 1/14/2009
Rep Courtney, Joe [CT-2] - 1/26/2009
Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7] - 1/14/2009
Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] - 1/14/2009
Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Diaz-Balart, Mario [FL-25] - 2/4/2009
Rep Dicks, Norman D. [WA-6] - 1/27/2009
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 2/26/2009
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 2/11/2009
Rep Gallegly, Elton [CA-24] - 1/14/2009
Rep Gerlach, Jim [PA-6] - 1/14/2009
Rep Green, Al [TX-9] - 1/27/2009
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 1/14/2009
Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19] - 1/14/2009
Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22] - 1/14/2009
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 2/11/2009
Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 1/28/2009
Rep Inglis, Bob [SC-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 1/26/2009
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 1/14/2009
Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9] - 2/23/2009
Rep King, Peter T. [NY-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Kirk, Mark Steven [IL-10] - 1/14/2009
Rep Klein, Ron [FL-22] - 1/14/2009
Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 1/14/2009
Rep Lance, Leonard [NJ-7] - 1/26/2009
Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2] - 2/4/2009
Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1] - 2/23/2009
Rep Levin, Sander M. [MI-12] - 1/26/2009
Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 1/14/2009
Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3] - 1/26/2009
Rep LoBiondo, Frank A. [NJ-2] - 1/14/2009
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 1/14/2009
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 1/27/2009
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 1/14/2009
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 2/23/2009
Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G. [MI-11] - 1/14/2009
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 1/14/2009
Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] - 1/14/2009
Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 1/14/2009
Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] - 1/14/2009
Rep Murtha, John P. [PA-12] - 1/26/2009
Rep Myrick, Sue Wilkins [NC-9] - 1/26/2009
Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] - 1/14/2009
Rep Neal, Richard E. [MA-2] - 2/23/2009
Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 2/23/2009
Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 1/14/2009
Rep Peters, Gary C. [MI-9] - 1/27/2009
Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19] - 1/14/2009
Rep Rahall, Nick J., II [WV-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 1/14/2009
Rep Rooney, Thomas J. [FL-16] - 1/27/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 2/11/2009
Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 1/14/2009
Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2] - 1/14/2009
Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17] - 2/4/2009
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 1/14/2009
Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 2/23/2009
Rep Scott, Robert C. "Bobby" [VA-3] - 1/14/2009
Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] - 1/14/2009
Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] - 2/4/2009
Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 1/14/2009
Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4] - 1/14/2009
Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] - 1/14/2009
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 1/14/2009
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 1/14/2009
Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 1/14/2009
Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 1/26/2009
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 1/14/2009
Rep Whitfield, Ed [KY-1] - 1/14/2009
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 1/14/2009
Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 1/14/2009
Rep Young, C.W. Bill [FL-10] - 1/14/2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter

Feb 10, 2009 09:18 PM MST

I-Team: Bold Plans to Save Wild Horses

The BLM announced last year it has no more room for additional wild horses, yet it continues to fund additional roundups on the ranges. The bureau says it can't afford to feed the animals either. Pickens and her husband are serious about their idea to set aside a million or more acres as a sanctuary for the more than 30,000 wild horses now squeezed into government pens.
The wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens is riding to the rescue of Nevada's wild horse herds. Madeleine Pickens has a bold plan that would not only save the horses, but would get taxpayers out of a jam as well. The proposal is bold and big. Pickens wants to create a refuge for wild horses that could encompass more than a million acres of public land in northern Nevada. She has the support of wild horse groups, key lawmakers, and even a few people in the Bureau of Land Management. "It's fascinating to me that you don't realize what you have. Here you have one of the greatest ecosystems that could be so popular. People go to the rain forest, imagine coming to Nevada and visiting the wild mustangs," she said.
Pickens thinks Nevada's vanishing herds of wild horses could be transformed into a major tourist attraction, instead of being viewed as four legged vermin, which is how many ranchers and bureaucrats see them. Pickens and her husband are serious about their idea to set aside a million or more acres as a sanctuary for the more than 30,000 wild horses now squeezed into government pens. Pickens initially wanted to take a few thousand of the horses off the BLM's hands, but the idea sort of took off on its own, "The first year I anticipate we would take 8,000 to 10,000 horses. They are the ones in temporary holding. If you go to Fallon, Nevada and you look at the horses in short term holding, they are stuffed into these corrals and they are really derriere to derriere. They have no room to move around. They were supposed to be here for three months and they've been there for three years. It's cruel. They would be the first group we would take."
The BLM announced last year it has no more room for additional wild horses, yet it continues to fund additional roundups on the ranges. The bureau says it can't afford to feed the animals either, which is why it admitted that thousands of the captured mustangs would have to be euthanized or shipped away to slaughterhouses.
Pickens wants to take the horses out of the corrals and let them run free on a vast sanctuary she hopes to assemble out of parcels both private and public. The horse refuge could provide an economic jolt to rural Nevada since Pickens hopes to turn it into an ecotourism attraction where visitors could observe mustang herds in their natural environment.
"There are so many creative ways you can think afterwards -- Jeeps, all kinds of things where you go out on safari and look for the wild herds. You can have an education center with videos, the history -- it's a living history. It's not dead. It's not gone. These horses live on and we can enjoy our land," she said.
Taking the horses out of the BLM pens could save the government more than $100 million in just the first three years, plus it would relieve the overcrowding and eliminate the need to put the horses to death.
Back in January, she met with BLM officials in Washington to explain her plan to create a million-acre sanctuary for wild horses.
BLM said it would need one month to address some initial legal questions. The month is up as of Friday. After that, Pickens plans to take her case directly to Congress to try and force BLM to act. It will be a major surprise if BLM has an answer by Friday and it will be an even bigger surprise if the bureau helps move the plan forward.
Horse advocates are already convinced BLM will come up with a list of reasons why the sanctuary is impossible. Pickens says she can't see how BLM could pass on this opportunity, just for the financial savings alone.
"It is costing BLM so much money to keep this program going. It's $27 then $35 then it goes to $65 million next year. It's inappropriate at a time when we have a global meltdown, that they still continue to gather, continue to put into short term holding and cost the taxpayers this money. By the year 2020, if they do my program, they would have saved $800 million. It's a huge number. I don't see how they could turn it down," she said.
But when it comes to the federal government, financial logic doesn't have to enter the picture. BLM's cooperation is needed in two main areas - first to allow the mustangs to be removed from the crowded pens where they're housed now so they could be transferred to the wide open spaces of Pickens refuge. BLM has long complained it has no room for the horses, and can't afford to feed them, but that doesn't mean the bureau would willingly let them go.
Second, BLM's help is needed to put together the million acres. Pickens would buy the title to ranchland but most of the acreage is public range with grazing rights assigned to individual private ranches. BLM would have to okay the transfer of that land from cattle grazing areas to horse sanctuary.
In the view of Pickens and other wild horse advocates, BLM has long been under the control of the cattle industry, "I don't think they hate the wild horses, I think they hate the wild horse issue. I sometimes wonder if they don't want the issue to go away because their departments grow and grow and grow and they get a bigger budget if they do more and more. So after awhile you start to think, could it possibly be that?"
When asked about concerns with the program, spokesman with BLM said they don't want to get into any of that at this time.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Horse Slaughterers' Strategy Revealed
Posted Feb 9, 2009 by lauraallen
Horse Slaughter
State legislators have been introducing pro horse slaughter resolutions on behalf of foreign investors anxious to defeat H.R. 503.
H.R. 503, which is pending in Congress would stop them from using American horses for horsemeat served as a delicacy in fine restaurants primarily in parts of Asia, Europe and South America.
These resolutions are worded almost identically.
The resolutions proclaim that there is an increase in "unwanted" or "unusable" horses, as many as 100,000 or more annually, because of the closing of U.S. horse slaughter facilities in 2007. They claim the closing of U.S. slaughter houses in 2007 had "significant economic impact on the...equine industry". These resolutions call for "processing" or "harvesting" horses, euphemisms for "slaughter", which they describe as "humane". They claim slaughter can be managed through inspections and regulations.
These resolutions, if approved by the state legislatures, would be sent to Congress, as the state's position that H.R. 503 should be defeated.
It is important to voice your opposition to these resolutions. These resolutions are pending in these states:
Arizona, S.C.M. 1001 Find your Arizona legislators here. Contact all Arizona state House and Senate members.
Utah, H.J.R. 7, which has already passed the state House and has been approved by a Senate committee. Contact all Utah state Senators.
Missouri, HCR 19 in the House and SCR 8 in the state senate. These resolutions also call for opening a horse slaughter house in that state. Find your Missouri legislators here. Find all Missouri state representatives and senators. HCR 19 is pending before the state Agri-Business Committee and SCR 8 will be voted on by the state Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions, and Ethics Committee.
South Dakota, S.C.R. 2 has already passed the state House by a vote of 63-1. A separate, second bill, S.B. 114, asks the South Dakota state legislature to spend $100,000 on a study "of the feasibility, viability, and desirability of establishing and operating an equine processing facility in the state. Find your South Dakota state senators here. Find email addresses for all South Dakota state senators here. Find contact information for all South Dakota state representatives and senators here.
North Dakota S.C.R. 4021 will be heard on Feb. 12, 2009 at 11 a.m. by the Senate Agriculture committee. Fax the committee at 701-328-3615 or email A second bill, H.B. 1496 has already been approved by a legislative committee. The committee approved $75,000 in North Dakota for a study of possible markets for horse meat, applicable laws and funding for a horse slaughter facility there. Find all North Dakota state senators here. Find all House members here.
Wyoming, H.J.R. 8 has already passed committee. Find all Wyoming legislators here.
Minnesota, S.F. 133 is currently in the state Senate Agriculture and Veterans Committee. Find your Minnesota state senator and representative. Find all Minnesota state senators and representatives.
Kansas, HCR 5004 Find your Kansas legislators here. Find all Kansas state House and Senate members.
Arkansas H.C.R. 1004, also calls for incentives and support for opening of horse slaughter houses nationally and in the state. This bill has already passed in the state House and is in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Find here all Arkansas state senators, including yours if you live there.
In Illinois Rep. Jim Sacia has introduced a bill, as he did last session for the repeal of the 2007 state law banning horse slaughter. That state law helped shut down the horse slaughter facility in Dekalb, Illinois.
Rep. Sacia's bill, H.B. 583, would also allow horses destined for slaughter for human consumption to be shipped into the state for slaughter with no certificate of veterinary inspection contrary to current state law governing horses. 510 ILCS 65/4 The new law would also exempt downed, sick, diseased, lame or disabled horses from the requirements of the Humane Care for Animals Act governing animals in this condition. 510 ILCS 70/5, 7.5
This means Rep. Sacia and the interests he represents in the horse slaughter underworld understand that horse slaughter is brutal and cruel and so would want to exempt their sordid practice from the animal cruelty laws and inspection requirements.
Contact Illinois state House and Senate members and urge them to vote NO on H.B. 583 and keep horse slaughter out of Illinois.
The horse slaughterers' strategy
These resolutions and bills are a not-so-subtle ploy by the foreign investors that own horse slaughter houses to defeat H.R. 503 which would ban the sale, transport, and possession of horses in interstate and foreign commerce for slaughter for human consumption.
Even without H.R. 503, horse slaughter cannot occur legally in the U.S. There is no point in states appropriating tax dollars for studies when currently horse slaughter for human consumption is not allowed in the U.S. These resolutions will simply insure horse slaughterers can continue to take American horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
There is also another goal: to make horse slaughter acceptable to Americans and, in fact, create a market in the U.S. for the consumption of horsemeat. The resolution proposing the North Dakota study says as much. If Americans begin eating horsemeat, the theory is that Congress will be forced to fund ante-mortem inspections. Under current law because these required inspections are not funded, horse slaughter is not legal in the U.S. For more on this.....
Keep in mind when the remaining 3 horse slaughter houses in the U.S. closed in 2007, they were owned by foreign companies, Dallas Crown, Inc.; Cavel International, Inc. and Beltex Corp., which now operates a horse slaughter house in Mexico, Empacadora de Carnes de Fresnillo.
Even when there were horse slaughter houses in the U.S., they were part of a horse meat industry that was only 0.001% of the U.S. meat industry. The foreign-owned U.S. horse slaughterhouses paid little in income taxes. One facility paid $5 in federal taxes on $12 million in sales. These slaughter houses paid no export taxes, meaning the U.S. government effectively subsidized the sale of horse meat to consumers generally in parts of Asia, South America and Europe.
The profits went to the foreign investors. The communities where horse slaughter houses were located were left with horrific odors of dying and dead horses, blood literally running down the streets, and illegally dumped waste. There is no economic or other benefit to these states in subsidizing horse slaughter. Just the opposite. It is akin to supporting dog fighting rings.
Horse slaughter is also not a means of controlling numbers of "unwanted horses". This is a myth perpetuated by the horse slaughter industry that is simply repeated over and over again as in these resolutions. Horse slaughter is a multi million dollar a year business that is driven by a demand for horse meat. Kill buyers buy horses at auction for slaughter, and the USDA has said over 92% of American horses slaughtered, are healthy, not old, sick, injured, or neglected. These horses were not unwanted; they were simply sold at auction, and their owners had no control over who purchased them. Without the kill buyers who skulk around horse auctions, looking for the best potential horse meat, most of these horses would be purchased by others or end up in rescues or sanctuaries.
As John Holland, a free lance writer and researcher on horse slaughter and consultant for Americans Against Horse Slaughter, has explained, "Kill buyers do not go around the country like dog catchers gathering ‘unwanted horses' as a public service."
As Americans Against Horse Slaughter points out, "Just over 100,000 horses were slaughtered in the U.S. in 2006. If slaughter were no longer an option and these horses were rendered or buried instead, it would represent a small increase in the number of horse being disposed of in this manner - an increase that the current infrastructure can certainly sustain. Humane euthanasia and carcass disposal is highly affordable and widely available. The average cost of having a horse humanely euthanized and safely disposing of the animal's carcass is approximately $225, while the average monthly cost of keeping a horse is approximately $200."
Also, the horse slaughter industry actually encourages the over breeding of horses. Because owners can make money from the brutal slaughter of their horses, they have an incentive to over breed. As Paul Sorvino put it, "37% of those horses are going to be slaughtered because they couldn't run fast enough....So, it's run for your life." If the slaughter of horses for human consumption is illegal, there is no reward for over breeding.
Sadly, pro-slaughter groups have disseminated disinformation in the media to convince the public that without horse slaughter, there will be large numbers of abandoned, abused and neglected horses. (Even if that were true, which it is not, it is not clear how substituting one form of cruelty for another is somehow a solution.)
Indeed, these reports in the media have proven to be unfounded. A study released last year showed a decrease in horse abuse and neglect cases following closure of the last U.S. horse slaughter house in 2007. Any abandoned or neglected horses are not a result of a lack of horse slaughter houses.
Historically, there have not been increases in abandoned, neglected or abused horses following closures of horse slaughter houses. In 2002 the Illinois slaughter house burned to the ground and was out of commission for some time. Reports of abandoned, abused and neglected horses in the Illinois area were actually on the rise in the 2 years before the fire but decreased afterwards.
Remember the number of horses slaughtered in the U.S. dropped significantly from over 300,000 annually in the 1990s to 66,000 in 2004. There was no notable increase during that time of abandoned, abused or neglected horses.
When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, there was no rise in cases of cruelty or neglect to horses. In fact, there was a 39.4% decrease initially and that rose to 88% eventually in horse thefts. (What does that tell you about this "business"?)
Also, from 2004-2007 5000 horses were imported into the U.S. for slaughter. If horse slaughter occurs because of all the unwanted horses, why would these horse slaughter businesses need to import them? The answer is, of course, they wouldn't. Horse slaughter has nothing to do controlling numbers of unwanted horses. It is a business driven by a demand for horse meat primarily as a delicacy in foreign countries.
As Americans Against Horse Slaughter puts it, "The ‘surplus horse population' [argument] is a scare tactic."
Horse slaughter is also in no sense humane euthanasia. That much has been established by documents recently released in response to a FOIA request. The captive bolt gun used in the U.S. slaughterhouses did not typically render horses senseless before slaughter. The slaughter houses never bothered to restrain the horses' heads or use only trained personnel to operate the gun.
As John Holland has explained, "In its 2000 report on methods of Euthanasia, the AVMA stated that the captive bolt gun should not be used on equines unless head restraint could be assured. This is because of the relatively narrow forehead of equines, their head shyness and the fact that the brain is set back further than in cattle for which the gun is intended. It is difficult for an operator to assure proper placement of the gun.
"No slaughter house ever found a practical way to restrain the heads of the horses, so by the AVMA's very definition, the process was not acceptable. The result was a very large number of ineffective stuns. These misplaced blows undoubtedly caused severe pain until a stunning or fatal blow was delivered. "
Imagine the pain and terror experienced by horses as bolts were repeatedly fired at their heads many times by untrained operators. Many times horses were still conscious when they were then hoisted upside down for slaughter. For more information on the brutality of horse slaughter in the U.S., click here to read the July 25, 2006 testimony of Christopher J. Heyde, Deputy Legislative Director for Animal Welfare Institute, before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Click here to read testimony offered during a Congressional hearing in 2008 about the cruelty of horse slaughter.
Also, listen here to a discussion on WFL Endangered Stream Live Talk Radio about horse slaughter by Laura Allen, Executive Director of Animal Law Coalition; John Holland, journalist and consultant for Americans Against Horse Salughter; Dr. Nena Winand, DVM with Veterinarians for Equine Welfare and Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Tx and leader of the fight to shut down the horse slaughter facility that operated there until 2007. (Download this broadcast!)
Then contact your U.S. representative and urge him or her to vote YES on the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, H.B. 503.
Also, tell your representative to vote YES on H.R. 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, which will put an end to all transports of horses on double decked trailers.
Where You Can Find More Information on Horse Slaughter
Read Frequently Asked Questions About Unwanted Horses and the AVMA's Policy on Horse Slaughter
Read Veterinarians for Equine Welfare's Horse Slaughter - Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response by the Veterinary Profession

Saturday, February 7, 2009


JOHN HOLLAND Senior analyst for AAHS, PAULA BACON former mayor for Kaufman, TX, and LAURA ALLEN Animal Law Attorney. These panelists are fighting to abolish horse slaughter and the export of horses for slaughter with support more stringent enforcement of laws to prevent abuse and neglect.Call-in number: (646) 727- 2170. Calls will be accepted live during the show. The chat room at the show's WFL Endangered Stream Live Blog Talk Radio page will be open throughout the broadcast for simultaneous discussion and to help answer questions. Registered listeners may connect and talk straight from their computer from anywhere in the world. (learn more) Listen live on Saturday, Feb 7th at 3pm (PST) at WFL Endangered Stream Live Blog Talk Radio.Listen anytime on demand. Links:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Farmers and Rancher Target HSUS Equestrian Magazine Issues Stern Criticism to Breeders\By Steven Long HOUSTON, (Horseback Magazine) - The nation's largest animal welfare organization has for the first time gone on the record to counter claims that it wants to end the slaughter of food animals.
Michael Markarian, executive vice president of Washington based Humane Society of the United States, emphatically countered the charge frequently made by agriculture groups that it wants nothing less than to end the slaughter of any animal for food, not just horses.
Asked Tuesday if HSUS is targeting the food animal industry for abolition Markarian was quick to respond.
"The answer is no," he told Horseback Magazine through a spokeswoman. "That is not our goal."
Agriculture groups from across the nation have zeroed in on HSUS as the bogy man in their war with animal welfare activists over horse slaughter. They say that the ultimate goal of the Society is to eliminate the killing of all food animals including cattle, sheep, goats, and swine.
"They have a simple goal, and that is to eliminate animal agriculture in this country," said South Dakota Rancher Troy Hadrick in a story in Tuesday's Rapid City Journal.
Such talk is sweeping the nation. Agriculture interests will soon take their battle to Congress and to state legislatures as legislation to end horse slaughter forever is brought up for debate and a vote.
In meeting after meeting, both large and small, farmers and ranchers are pointed to the Humane Society by industry leaders as the group most well funded and determined to end their livelihood and way of life. The result has been an emotional upheaval against the group coming from across rural America.
In the current Texas legislative session a fierce battle is expected over the issue. It will pit recreational horse owners and animal rescue operators against breeders, ranchers, and much of the horse industry itself.
Polling has consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses.
The industry is well funded and able to tap the deep pockets of the Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser's Association, AQHA and others who have a vested interest in being able to recoup the costs of raising a horse with little market value. Selling a horse for slaughter enables a breeder to recover at least part of his costs for breeding a seemingly unwanted horse. In short, it's all about money and the ability to recover the investment made to breed the animal.
The battle could well be waged in multiple states all at once, as well as in Congress. Animal rights activists counter that there are no unwanted horses and most animals culled from breeding programs may be placed with the public if only given the chance. They say that it is a myth that old, frail, and ill horses are sold for slaughter as the slaughter advocates frequently claim. They say it's all about meat on the hoof, and there isn't much meat on a starving horse.
Yet the agriculture industry is fiercely determined to bring back slaughter plants that were outlawed and closed in Texas and Illinois during the past two years.
In fact, a bill has already been filed in South Dakota that would provide funding for a study to establish a horse slaughter industry in that state. Currently, there is no legal horse slaughter facility operating in the United States, although horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico to supply markets in Europe and Japan.
While the Humane Society has now gone on record saying it will not target animal agriculture for elimination, that doesn't mean it has embraced it either.
"Most animals raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products today suffer immensely on factory farms," said HSUS spokeswoman Heather Sullivan. "They are confined by the tens of thousands in warehouses where many of their natural instincts are frustrated and are generally treated like mere commodities as opposed to living, feeling individuals."
Sullivan said the organization welcomes animal lovers of all dietary persuasions, from vegans to confirmed carnivores.
"The Humane Society of the United States is a big tent organization -- we're comprised of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. In fact, the vast majority of our members are not vegetarians," she said.
"We accept the fact that most Americans eat animals and we support efforts by individuals, corporations, voters and lawmakers (and what they) can do to help reduce the suffering of these animals. At the same time, while most Americans eat animals, they do not want to see them treated inhumanely. The industry can only be expected to go so far as the public wants it to go, and many standard industry practices today are clearly out of step with the sentiments of most Americans. This is where HSUS focuses the bulk of our farm animal resources. While HSUS is not officially opposed to meat eating, it clearly isn't promoting it either, and in fact promotes alternatives. "We support a variety of reasonable efforts to help reduce animal suffering. If consumers want to avoid eating animals, we'll provide them with the information they need to make that decision," Sullivan said. "If they want to reduce the number of animals they eat, we'll give them recipes and other useful information. And if they want to avoid products that cause the most animal suffering (e.g., switching from battery cage eggs to cage-free eggs), we applaud that too, and give them the info they need on where they can find those products. This is the range of motion for the bulk of the American public, and we are comfortable working in all of these ways."
Tel: 281-447-0772FAX: 281-893-1029Internet: