Veterinary Group Opposes New Slaughter Legislation

U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearings on new anti-slaughter legislation will begin July 31, and the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has gone on record opposing the bill. In a written statement (posted in its entirety below), the AAEP rejected H.R. 6598--the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008--because it eliminates what is "currently a necessary end-of life-option" for unwanted horses.

"We oppose H.R. 6598 not because the AAEP believes that sending a horse to a processing plant is the best option for reducing the unwanted horse population," the statement said, "but because it does not help address the long-term care and funding that will be necessary to help the tens of thousands of horses that will be affected by the ban."

H.R. 6598 prohibits transport, sale, delivery, or export of horses for slaughter for human consumption. It also criminalizes the purchase, sale, delivery, or export of horsemeat intended for human consumption. Supporters praise the bill for banning horse export to processing plants in Canada and Mexico.

The American Veterinary Medical Association reserved comment pending a review of the bill, according to assistant media relations director Sharon Curtis Granskog.

Also on July 31, the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on H.R. 6597, The Animal Cruelty Statistics Act of 2008. The measure would require the Department of Justice to collect and maintain animal cruelty crime data for inclusion in the national crime database. The Department does not currently do so.


AAEP statement regarding H.R. 6598:

"Unwanted horses in the United States are facing a crisis. Horses that are considered at-risk in the equine population are being severely impacted by a struggling economy, high grain and hay prices, and the closure last year of the U.S.'s three remaining processing plants. The result has been increased equine cruelty in the form of abuse, neglect and abandonment. In the state of Colorado alone, equine cruelty investigations increased by 40 percent in 2007.

Because of the large population of unwanted horses in this country, the AAEP believes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary end-of-life option. We oppose H.R. 6598 not because the AAEP believes that sending a horse to a processing plant is the best option for reducing the unwanted horse population, but because the bill does not help address the long-term care and funding that will be necessary to help the tens of thousands of horses that will be affected by a ban. Given the current factors causing an increase in the unwanted horse population, we feel this legislation is premature.

The AAEP has not visited processing plants in Canada or Mexico, so we have not observed the euthanasia of horses at those facilities. The AAEP supports only the three humane methods of euthanasia for horses as designated by the American Veterinary Medical Association."


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About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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