Bill would Amend HPA to Include Slaughter Ban

The Horse Protection Act (HPA) would be amended to include a ban on the transport, purchase, possession, or sale of horses for slaughter under new legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Currently the HPA prohibits "soring," the deliberate injury of a horse's feet and legs to achieve an exaggerated high-stepping gait.

Horse processing has not taken place in the U.S. since 2007 when the last processing facility operating the U.S. was shuttered. Since then, horses have been transported to Mexico and Canada for processing. Previous legislative attempts to ban the transport of horses to foreign processing plants have been unsuccessful.

The new legislation, H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, was introduced into the U.S. House on Sept. 19 by Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.). If passed, H.R. 2966 would amend the HPA to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption and other purposes.

The bill would authorize the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service officials to detain for examination, testing, or evidence gathering any horse or other equine if those officials have probable cause to believe the animal is intended for processing for human consumption.

Schakowsky said the bill would close loopholes that allow the processing of American horses for human consumption.

"We may have successfully stopped horse slaughter here at home, but that does not mean the fight is over," Schakowsky said. "Horses transported across our borders for slaughter continue to be treated inhumanely. The Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011 will make sure that these majestic creatures are treated with the respect they deserve."

Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis who was instrumental in passing legislation that facilitates horse processing development in that state believes H.R. 2966 offers no new solutions to equine welfare issues and probably will not achieve passage: "This version is exactly the same as (bills offered in) the past. I do not believe that (these bills) will ever be passed because they offer zero solutions."

Equine welfare advocate Jerry Finch backs the legislation and believes S. 1176 could pass and become law on grounds that pro-slaughter influences on lawmakers is waning: "Prior to this year the lies and dollars of the pro-slaughter industry played into both the Senate and the House to convince certain members that horse slaughter was a right and honorable thing. Those lies have finally been exposed."

H.R. 2966 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and to the House Committee on Agriculture.

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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