U.S. House Supports Bill Against Horse Slaughter

(Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:30 AM EDT)
A proposal to ban the slaughter of horses in the United States for human consumption has cleared a major hurdle in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 7 passed the “American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act” by a 263-146 vote. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The bill, H.R. 503, had more than 200 co-sponsors in the House, and is supported by the Humane Society of the United States.

Currently, three horse slaughterhouses operate in the U.S. Each is foreign owned and exists to feed the lucrative international market for horse meat. According to the USDA, more than 91,000 American horses were slaughtered in the U.S. in 2005.

Horses land in slaughterhouses in a number of ways. Some are stolen for profit. Others end up in the hands of “killer-buyers,” people who attend livestock auctions and take advantage of unsuspecting horse sellers who believe their animals are being sent to a responsible owner.

When merchants of stolen and purchased horses sell to slaughter houses, they often transport the animals in crammed trucks designed for cattle or pigs, giving them little or no food, water or rest, critics say. Many of them reportedly are injured or die during transport.

“This inhumane practice must stop,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, who supported passage of the legislation.

The horse has “a special place in hearts of the American people as a majestic creature, symbolizing the American West,” Moran said. “Each year, over 90,000 horses in the U.S. are sent to slaughter so that expensive restaurants in Italy, France, Belgium and Japan can offer what their customers consider a delicacy,”

Moran said most Americans are “repulsed” at the thought of eating horsemeat.

“To allow this practice to continue is simply un-American,” the congressman said.

Supporters of the ban say public opinion is on their side, with 68 percent of those surveyed in one poll opposed to slaughtering horses for food.

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