Slaughter Bill Ban On Wild Horses Introduced Today

A bill to restore the 34-year ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of America's wild, free-roaming horses and burros (H.R. 249) was introduced today (Jan. 5) by U.S. House of Representatives Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). Similar legislation was passed unanimously last May as an amendment to the House Interior Appropriations bill, but stripped from the final bill in a House-Senate conference committee. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) commends the representatives for taking quick action to make this one of their top priorities of the new Congress.

A bill to permanently ban the sale and transport of all American horses--the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act , also co-sponsored by Reps. Rahall and Whitfield--passed the House by a margin of 263 to 146 last September, but failed to get a vote in the Senate before adjourning. Legislation to ban horse slaughter is expected to be introduced soon in the House and Senate.

"The slaughtering of America's horses is a betrayal of our responsibility to animals who are symbols of the American spirit," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. "We're grateful to Representatives Rahall and Whitfield for their tireless efforts to help bring an end to the misery and suffering of these iconic and majestic animals and we pledge to work with them until we put the foreign-owned slaughterhouses out of business."

Today's actions seek to restore the federal protections for wild horses and burros from sale and slaughter for human consumption overseas. Wild horses and burros had been protected from commercial sale and slaughter since the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. The longstanding protections for wild horses were removed by a controversial rider slipped into an omnibus spending bill by former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) in late 2004. Burns was defeated in the 2006 elections.

"Horses are an integral part of the tapestry of this country, and Americans have always championed their survival and expect they will be protected," Rep. Rahall said. "The time has long since passed to restore the prohibition on the sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros, and I urge the Congress to heed the will of the American public and respond to common decency by supporting this legislation. We owe no less to these living symbols of the American West."

"In this country, horses are raised as work, sport, and companion animals and have never been part of the food chain here," said Rep. Whitfield. "The industry claims banning slaughter will lead to a proliferation of abandoned and neglected horses and that horses being sent to slaughter are old and unwanted. Nothing could be further from the truth. Less than 1% of the total horse population is sent to slaughter, a percentage easily absorbed. Furthermore, we must remember that a large number of these horses are stolen and most certainly are not unwanted.  I look forward to working with Chairman Rahall to pass this legislation and restore the BLM policy that has served us well for the past 34 year."

The HSUS continues to work toward a permanent ban on horse slaughter with the support of members of Congress, the National Show Horse Registry, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Steeplechase Association, Churchill Downs, and the majority of Americans.

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