House Subcommittee to Hear Horse Slaughter Amendment

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing for the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503) at 2 p.m. on July 25, according to the subcommittee's web site.

H.R. 503 is an amendment to the Horse Protection Act. The amendment will, according to the legislation, "Prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes." A similar bill (S. 1915) awaits a hearing in the Senate.

There are many organizations concerned about the potential ramifications of the bill and its wording. "(H.R. 503) says that it prohibits transport of horses for slaughter, for human consumption, and for other purposes," Cindy Schonholtz, president of the Animal Welfare Council, said. "What are those other purposes?" Schonholtz explained that the wording leaves the legislation open for loose translation that could be extended to private horse owners.

But that's not her only concern with the legislation. In mid-May, the AWC, a non-profit group, published a white paper titled, "The Unintended Consequences of a Ban on the Humane Slaughter (Processing) of Horses in the United States." (Click here to read the paper in its entirety.)

The paper was voluntarily authored by nine researchers from seven universities who suggested that several negative consequences could result from a ban on horse slaughter, at least without first addressing the problem of unwanted horses.

"From the AWC prospective, we are concerned with the possible effects of a slaughter ban not only to the horse industry, but to the welfare of the horse," Schonholtz explained.

But Nancy Perry, vice president of Government Affairs for the Humane Society of the United States, said that the information in these papers is tainted.

"The AWC's horse slaughter 'report' is junk masquerading as science, relying on faulty information and flawed analysis," Perry said. "It adds nothing new to the debate over whether American horses should be sold at auction to killer buyers, trucked in harsh conditions for more than 24 hours without food, water, or rest, only to be butchered at foreign-owned slaughter plants. American horses don't belong on European dinner plates and we join the majority of Americans in strongly supporting passage of H.R. 503/S. 1915."

The HSUS is joined in its support for H.R. 503/S. 1915 by such groups as the Animal Welfare Institute, The Fund for Animals, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, the Doris Day Animal League, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the American Humane Association.

Groups such as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Quarter Horse Association, and a list of others disagree with Perry and HSUS, and agree with the statements in the white papers.

Schonholtz said, "Every horse owner, especially the wealthy Thoroughbred owners who are supporting this (anti-slaughter) legislation, has the right, and I think the responsibility, to care for their own horses."

The hearing will be webcasted live. (Click here to view the hearing's webcast. The link will become active 10 minutes before the hearing beings.) A transcript of the hearing will also be available shortly after the hearing ends.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for .

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