Just a matter of days ago, congressional members, national animal welfare groups, veterinarians and equestrians gathered together in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill, to support legislation that would protect horses and the American public.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) were joined by the ASPCA, the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States to introduce federal legislation to stop the killing of American horses for human consumption and to prohibit the transport of horses for slaughter across our borders.
The legislation is called Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013. If this new legislation passes, horse slaughter operations in the United States would be prohibited. In addition, it would finally end the current slaughter of horses and the export of horse meat to Europe and China, and would protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. It is estimated that 160,000 or more horses are killed annually.
Many American consumers have become concerned that horse meat may get into our ground beef products as it has in Europe. It is not unsafe to eat horse meat but it may be contaminated with various drugs that are commonly used in the horse industry.
"Horses are not raised for human consumption, and they are frequently treated with drugs and chemicals that are toxic when ingested by humans," says Senator Landrieu. "We must ensure that our food supply is not tainted with horse meat."
Horses also suffer abuse before they arrive at the slaughterhouse. They are transported nonstop for days at a time without food, water or rest in overcrowded trailers. Many are injured or seriously wounded in transit.
Horse slaughter and the methods used to kill horses is fundamentally inhumane. Horses that are killed rarely are dispatched quickly and painlessly. Instead, horses must endure repeated stuns or blows and, even then, many remain conscious during the butchering and dismemberment.
Representative Schakowsky said, "Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment. We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2013 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve."
The ASPCA commissioned a poll in 2012 that resulted in 80 percent of American voters strongly against the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Yet it was just one week ago that the United States Department of Agriculture announced it was processing Valley Meat Company’s slaughterhouse application for inspectors about the slaughter of horses. See my story, Processing of Valley Meat’s app to slaughter our horses in NM almost a done deal.
A January 2012 national poll commissioned by the ASPCA says 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Yet, last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was considering the approval of inspectors at a New Mexico horse slaughtering plant. If approved, the New Mexico plant will be the first facility to slaughter horses for human consumption in the United States since 2007.
Other state legislatures have stopped horse slaughter. The most recent was New Jersey when the state enacted a measure prohibiting the slaughter of horses and the sale and transport of horse meat.
Proponents for horse slaughter say it's an option for horses which are unable to be cared for, are starving or otherwise neglected. However, the majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. The passage of this legislation is a priority for the nation's leading animal welfare organizations as well as many veterinarians and equine groups across the country.
Write your Senator or Congressman today and urge them to support the SAFE Act of 2013. For sample letters, or guidance in how to find your legislator, visit the Humane Society website.
To learn more about the SAFE Act of 2013, visit the Animal Welfare Institute's website.
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