Americans don’t like horse slaughter. Our polling shows Americans want to see an end to the killing of our horses by foreign slaughter plants, with the horse meat going to high-end consumers in Europe and Asia.
Though there have been serious efforts mounted here, especially in the last few years, the Congress hasn’t yet shut down the trade—which still claims the lives of nearly 100,000 American horses each year, most of them perfectly healthy animals and just unlucky enough to have been funneled into the grisly trade. We get reports from horse rescue groups that contract buyers for the slaughter industry are frequently at horse auctions, outbidding individuals offering good homes for horses. Illinois and Texas forced the closure of horse slaughter plants in those states in 2007, and I was delighted to learn this week that the New York Racing Association has just instituted an anti-slaughter policy, with penalties for those who either directly or indirectly sell a horse for slaughter. The association encouraged owners and trainers to collaborate with rescue groups as part of a broader solution to the current dilemmas we face in helping those animals being discarded or retired by the racing industry.
This state racing association is to be commended for taking such a major step in the fight against horse slaughter—surely, one of the biggest humane issues facing horse racing. Sadly, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and many other industry groups are standing on the sidelines as we fight to protect horses from this abuse and work to pass H.R. 503, and S. 727.
In Tennessee, we may have had a recent indicator of the pitiful effects here in the United States of the slaughter industry. Our Emergency Services team has been on the ground for weeks after they teamed with local law enforcement to rescue 82 horses starved by their owners. There’s speculation that they acquired the horses to sell them to the slaughter industry, but they didn’t even have the decency to feed and care for them properly.
The Tennessean, one of the state’s largest newspapers, comments today on the horse slaughter issue, as well as the efforts by state Rep. Janis Sontany to upgrade penalties for violations of the state anti-cruelty statute. So many good people want to do something about this problem, and now is the time for all of us to take collective action.