Photo by Animal Law Coalition
When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town
Human Consumption Health Risks
Humane Alternatives to Slaughter
Tennessean’s and horse-owner’s alike, may be surprised to learn that on April 7th, there is a rather unpublicized and controversial hearing proposing legalizing horse slaughter in the state. This could lay the groundwork for potential slaughter plant openings in the future.
According to this article written by Christine Kreyling of the Nashville Scene on March 24th, “State Rep. Frank Niceley and state Sen. Mike Faulk have a bill in the Tennessee legislature that would enable "the humane handling and slaughter of surplus domestic horses" (HB 1428/SB 1898). Prime co-sponsors include a hefty number of themembers of the House Agriculture Committee through which the bill must pass.
As Kreyling reports in her article "Tennesee Legislators Have a Novel Answer to Equine Abuse: Horse Slaugter":
“The reason the slaughter bill has so far not registered on the radar screen is because Niceley filed it as what's called a "caption" bill, a bill whose stated purpose has little-to-no-relationship to its ultimate legislative intent. The real import behind a caption bill is revealed by subsequent amendments to the original. This legislative hocus-pocus is permitted as long as the amendments alter the same sections of the Tennessee legal code as the original bill. Legislators often employ the tactic to conceal the content of controversial legislation until it can be rammed through with a minimum of unwelcome publicity. "
Also according to Kreyling’s article, “Niceley says the opposition to horse slaughter isn't rational but emotional — "Desperate Housewives. Girls all want a horse when they're little; they don't want to eat Trigger. But we eat livestock, that's what we do."……..
Slaughter of horses for human consumption is currently illegal in the United States. It is; however, legal in Canada, Mexico, and Europe. American horses are transported by kill dealers on long journey’s-often cruel and inhumane- to meet their fate at slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Although there is no market for horsemeat in the United States, there is a market overseas. Currently, recent studies have brought into question the “safety” of horsemeat due to the presence and contamination of many carcinogenic medications frequently given to horses- most commonly, “bute” or phenylbutazone used frequently in all types of pleasure, performance, and companion horses and thoroughbreds.
Such contamination of horsemeat poses a serious health risk to the humans. Click here for a recent article regarding the serious questions about the safety of horsemeat according to recent reputable studies. Strict new regulations are also to take effect on July 31, 2010, which may seriously threaten the market for horsemeat overseas, making it an economically unprofitable business. An article outlining upcoming strict directives via the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can be read here.
Needless to say, horse slaughter is a controversial issue. Pro-Slaughter advocates believe this is an adequate and ‘humane” solution to “unwanted” horses. Anti-slaughter advocates argue that it is “inhumane” and "cruel" and does not address important issues such as overpopulation due to irresponsible equine breeding practices. Many argue that slaughter encourages the very problem of overpopulation by encouraging more breeding of unwanted horses as a “meat” product. Will it curb a problem, or exacerbate one that already exists?
Opponents wish for alternatives to overpopulation be investigated, such as the creation of charities such as this one, in each state dedicated to offering “humane euthanasia” of horses versus sending them to slaughter- in again, what many animal advocates consider being “inhumane.” Another argument is whether having slaughter plants in the state of Tennessee could increase the incidence of horse theft – an issue horse owners already face all too often. Tennessee slaughter plants could potentially give thieves an easy outlet to make a buck by stealing horses and quickly selling them to slaughter. This could potentially victimize many innocent horse owners and horses in the Tennessee and other states. Yet another argument against slaughter plants speaks to the negative environmental and economic impacts such plants have had on past communities where they have been located. Such concerns have been documented by both the Animal Law Coalition as well as an in-depth recent study conducted by the International Fund for Horses titled “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town.”
What You Can Do To Voice Your Opinion? (Before April 7th):
Consider emailing Governor Phil Bredeson at firstname.lastname@example.org along with committee chair email@example.com and include via link or attachment a copy of “When Horse Slaughter Comes to Town” along with this open letter provided by the Animal Law Coalition.