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In this Year of the Horse, We Have Won a Pivotal Battle -- Now Let’s Win the War

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The federal spending bill recently signed by the President marks a huge victory for America’s horses. The new law includes a provision prohibiting the use of tax dollars to inspect facilities that slaughter horses for human consumption – effectively banning this grisly practice within the United States for the duration of Fiscal Year 2014.

This action again clearly signals Congress’s stand on horse slaughter – it is unacceptable due to its inherent cruelty, its devastating impact on local economies and communities, and the toxicity of horse meat. We applaud the members of Congress and animal advocates nationwide who supported this action and who share the ASPCA’s commitment to the wellbeing of America’s equines.

The ASPCA commissioned an independent research firm to gauge the public’s views on horse slaughter. Not surprisingly results indicated that opposition in every corner of the country (polling included national, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington) is higher—and broader—than ever. Urban and rural, Republican and Democrat, voters want horse slaughter to stop.

Although horse slaughter in the U.S. is banned through FY 2014, a loophole in the law still allows horses to be shipped to slaughter across U.S. borders. Horse slaughter is inhumane, no matter where it happens. To permanently end the slaughter of American horses, Congress must pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. This legislation not only prohibits horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S., but it also bans the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.

The SAFE Act also protects the public from toxic horsemeat. American horses are not raised for food and are routinely given medicines and treatments such as dewormer, fly repellent, pain killers, and vaccinations – all of which are specifically barred for use in animals raised for human consumption due to their toxicity to humans.

What about the fate of our horses if we close the across-the-borders slaughter pipeline? The number of horses sent to slaughter represents a tiny fraction (approximately 1% annually) of the U.S. horse population, and many alternatives to slaughter are already available. They include rehoming, preventing irresponsible overbreeding, and removing incentives for dumping horses at auctions. In those rare cases where no other option exists, humane euthanasia is always preferable to cramming a horse onto a dangerous, overcrowded trailer for a grueling journey to a terrifying, painful death. No American horse, no matter how talented, healthy, or loved, can truly be free from the looming threat of the slaughterhouse until Congress approves the permanent protections mandated by the SAFE Act.

Slaughtering horses is cruel, and eating their flesh is dangerous. To protect the wellbeing of American horses and that of the public, this carnage must be stopped for good. The ASPCA strongly encourages you to contact your federal legislators and ask them to support S. 541/H.R. 1094—The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act.

Let’s cross the finish line for these magnificent animals now.

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