Washington, D.C. -- A bill to ban horse slaughter was reintroduced in the United States Senate today. Sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the "American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011" will end the slaughter of American horses here and, most urgently, will stop these horses from being exported abroad for slaughter. The sponsors, who have long championed the cause, have the bipartisan support of 14 colleagues who are co-sponsoring the bill.
"As a lifelong horse lover and rider, this practice is appalling to me, and more importantly, the majority of Americans oppose it. We raise and train horses to trust us, perform for us, and allow us on their backs, and as such, they deserve to be treated with human compassion. When horse owners are faced with the sad reality of having to put their animals down, it should be by humane euthanasia," said Senator Landrieu. "I intend to work with Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina and my other colleagues to get this bill passed and permanently end the slaughter of our American horses."
The legislation comes at a time when horse slaughter no longer occurs on U.S. soil, but each year approximately 100,000 American horses are hauled to Canada, Mexico and beyond. Reports show that horses regularly travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles to the slaughterhouses on double-deck cattle trucks without food, water or rest. At some Mexican slaughterhouses horses are stabbed repeatedly in the spine until they are paralyzed, after which they are butchered while still fully conscious. This country’s three remaining horse slaughter plants - two in Texas and one in Illinois - were shut down in 2007 under state law.
"The slaughter of horses is not a substitute for humane euthanasia though it is often mischaracterized as such by opponents who are more concerned with wringing a few bucks from a suffering animal than doing what is right," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. "AWI commends Senator Landrieu and Senator Graham for their continued leadership and for reintroducing this very important measure."
For years, the pro-slaughter camp has led a concerted and disingenuous effort to resurrect the industry domestically and has used scare tactics in an attempt to defeat the federal ban. The federal legislation is desperately needed to stop the slaughter of American horses, irrespective of where the killing takes place.