Appaloosa Horse Club Votes to Oppose Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

The following is a statement released by the Appaloosa Horse Club:

The Appaloosa Horse Club (ApHC) Board of Directors voted Dec. 5th, 2006, to oppose passage of Senate Bill 1915 (H.R. 503), the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. According to President Dennis Dean, "ApHC agrees with other opposition groups that believe this legislation sets a dangerous precedent by banning a livestock product for reasons other than food safety or public health."

Despite the range of emotional issues attached the bill, it fails to address the welfare of affected horses, it fails to ensure levels of funding required to properly care for horses when humane slaughter is removed as an option, it fails to recognize professional judgment in the appropriate application of methods of euthanasia for horses, and it fails to consider potential environmental concerns associated with disposal of these horses.

H.R. 503 is alarming because it bans the processing of horses with no scientific justification. The processing of horses is done under regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as mandated by the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service ensures that meat and meat products are safe, wholesome, and properly labeled. Meat inspectors are also charged with enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that animals be rendered unconscious prior to slaughter. In addition, the 1996 Farm Bill included the Commercial Transportation of Equine for Slaughter provision that mandates the humane treatment and protection of horses being transported to processing plants. These plants are subject to the same regulations, inspections and humane treatment standards as other livestock processing plants. USDA veterinarians are on hand to make sure these horses are not mistreated. Both the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognize properly conducted slaughter as a humane form of euthanasia.

The elimination of processing as a management option poses a risk to horse welfare. Some owners of unwanted horses want to recapture some value out of their animal. Without the ability to recapture value out of a horse at auction, it is expected that some owners will not spend money to have animals euthanatized and taken to a renderer. This means that unwanted horses could be neglected or abandoned, and those that are sick or infirm could be forced to suffer from discomfort and pain, while the healthier ones will starve to death. Both starvation and a life of pain are much worse treatment than humane euthanasia at processing.

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