Hearing on Slaughter Gets Graphic


    On July 31, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., heard from equine welfare advocates during a House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing regarding passage of a new bill that would ban slaughter of U.S. horses for consumption abroad.

    The bill, The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, HR 6598, was introduced on July 24 and would criminalize the domestic or international sale, delivery or receipt of horses for processing for human consumption. HR 6598 was drafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Representative Dan Burton (R-IN). If passed into law, the bill would amend Title 18 of the US Code, providing U.S. government officials and law enforcement officials with the tools necessary to ensure that American horses are protected from slaughter.

    According to Associated Press reports, witnesses at the House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing “recounted graphic stories of the methods of slaughter and provided photos of bloodied horses.”

    The Associated Press quoted one of the witnesses, Nicholas Dodman, a founder of Veterinarians for Equine Welfare, as saying, “From the transport of horses on inappropriate conveyances for long periods of time without food, water or rest—to the very ugly slaughter process in which horses react with pain and fear, no evidence exists to support the claim that horse slaughter is a form of humane euthanasia.”

    The last three horse slaughterhouses in the United States closed in 2007, but horses are currently being exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter there.

    Still, not everyone is in favor of a ban on slaughter. The Associated Press quoted Douglas Corey, former president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, as saying, “Those of us who are in the field every day practicing equine medicine know the harsh realities confronting horses that are unwanted. Horses are left unsold at auctions, even with a rock-bottom sale price. Others endure a worse fate of being neglected by their owners or abandonment.”

    According to Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) federal policy advisor Liz Ross, slaughter proponents have an uphill battle. She says the new bill has already garnered tremendous bipartisan support. “This issue has been vetted in Congress on multiple occasions and every time any measure to prohibit or restrict horse slaughter comes up for a vote the tally is overwhelming in favor of ending this form of animal cruelty.”


    1. I’m really sick and tired of excuses like, “What happens to all the unwanted horses if people can’t send them to slaughter?” Well, you know what? If you own a horse, you’d better be prepared– emotionally and mentally– for the possibility that you might have to make the decision to have your vet euthanize your horse. Maybe there should be a law for that and a fine to cover the costs if a vet has to absorb the cost of euthanizing an unwanted or neglected/abused horse if the owner cannot afford it. If you can’t stomach the concept of having a horse put down once you don’t want it or it can’t be useful anymore, then DON’T BUY A HORSE!

    2. I dont believe in slaughtering horses for food but to expose them to mistreatment and abandonment seems just as harsh. We need more horse industry people to get involved in protection of our precious animals. I am sure that if the government would help finance some more rescue habitats you could get people to take in unwanted and abused horses. I know I would. I am a single mom and have 3 dogs and 4 horses and a kid to support but I would gladly take in rescue horses if I had some help in the way of feed and shelter for them.

    3. Perhaps, if slaughter was banned for good, the breeding indtustry would get more selective and the number of unwanted horses would decrease – or is that a naive assumption…?

    4. Thanks for presenting this article. Yes, I am against horse slaughter and for the bill (HR 6598) because I believe that it would put an end to mass breeding practices and everything would naturally level out.


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