The Homes for Horses Coalition, representing the nationâs horse rescue community, applauds U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541 and H.R. 1094), and urges its swift passage.
The bipartisan legislation would stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U.S. border for slaughter in Canada and Mexico. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.
The Homes for Horses Coalition is supported by the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsÂ®), the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States, through the Jeannie Dodson Equine Protection Fund.
âThe Homes for Horses Coalition thanks the sponsors of the SAFE Act for taking action to protect our nationâs equines and the health of the public, and urges Congress to move quickly to pass this much-needed measure,â said Cindy Gendron, Homes for Horses Coalition coordinator.
âOnly those who profit from slaughter want to see it revived in the U.S. Horse slaughter is a predatory, heinously cruel industry which encourages and even rewards the irresponsible behavior of a very small percentage of American horse owners.â
Horses gathered for slaughter come from random sources and often have been administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by current federal regulations for use in animals intended for human consumption. There is currently no system in the U.S. to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plan to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a New Mexico facility. If the application is approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed and Congress chose to suspend funding for any further horse meat inspections.
The federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to open new horse slaughter plants at a time when spending cuts associated with the sequester could curtail food safety inspections for U.S. meat products.
In addition to the public health concerns associated with the consumption of horse meat, horse slaughter is inherently inhumane. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit.
The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated stuns or blows and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter and dismemberment. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners.
Past congressional actions on horse slaughter have demonstrated a strong, bipartisan desire to prohibit the killing of horses for human consumption, but Congress has failed to permanently end the export of live horses to neighboring countries for slaughter. Numerous state legislatures have already acted to stop horse slaughter.
Most recently, New Jersey enacted a measure prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as well as the sale and transport of horse meat for human consumption. The SAFE Act was introduced with a strong list of bipartisan original cosponsors.
Passage of this legislation is a priority for the nationâs leading animal welfare organizations, as well as many veterinarians and equine groups across the country, including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. A January 2012 national poll commissioned by the ASPCA confirms that 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption.