The Oklahoma Legislature is dangerously close to passing two bills – Senate Bill 375 and House Bill 1999 – that would overturn a prohibition on the sale of horse meat for human consumption dating back to 1963. These laws were put in place to ensure that horse meat was not sold or commingled with other types of meat.
This misguided legislation, along with the recent horse meat scandal in Europe, is bringing the topic of horse slaughter to the forefront and opening the dialogue up across the country on why horse meat is unsafe for human consumption.
American horses are not raised for consumption. De-wormers, fly treatments and pain-killers full of chemicals banned for human consumption are given daily to horses on the track, in the show ring, and on the ranch. If Gov. Fallin were to sign these bills, Oklahoma would be serving up toxic products and harming its reputation for all types of producers.
In addition to the toxicity of horse meat, slaughter is inherently cruel as horses are biologically unsuited for commercial slaughter and difficult to stun prior to dismemberment. It is a myth that only neglected, old or injured horses are sent to slaughter. The USDA found that more than 92 percent of American horses sent to slaughter are in good condition – healthy horses who could go on to lead productive lives in loving homes.
Oklahoma would become a doormat for polluters, as well. Passage of these bills would invite foreign-owned companies to establish horse slaughter plants in Oklahoma, with no regard for the local communities, which would be victim to the severe environmental and economic factors associated with slaughterhouses. Horse slaughter plants that operated in the U.S. were notorious for polluting local waterways, decreasing property values and permeating the air with a foul stench. If the past is any indicator, establishing horse slaughter plants will degrade communities and impose economic burdens on local citizens.
SB 375 and HB 1999 are out of step with American people and would be detrimental to the surrounding communities, not to mention the horses that must suffer the transport and horrific slaughter. Even when regulated, these facilities were still reported for rampant violations and cruelty, as detailed in government documents by the USDA, prior to the closure of the last domestic slaughterhouse in 2007.
A 2012 poll conducted by the ASPCA revealed that 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughtering of American horses for human consumption. Several states have enacted laws to reflect the public’s opposition to horse slaughter, most recently in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie signed A.2023/S.1976, to prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The new law also bans the transport of horses to slaughter, as well as the sale and transport of horse meat for human consumption.
Oklahoma residents who would like to make sure their state does not become the horse slaughter capitol of the U.S. can visit the ASPCA’s Advocacy Center for more information on how to contact their local representatives.
If you would like to learn more about the laws regarding horse meat in your state, visit www.aspca.org/equine.