When your business is horse slaughter, you don’t attract many fans. It’s a transactional business, with ruthlessness and profit driving the enterprise. The people who work with you aren’t idealists or even hobbyists, but hired guns – people who lobby or file lawsuits or send out press releases, and don’t much care who they work for or what kind of suffering they enable. They don’t admit that they have contempt or disregard for our society’s standards against animal cruelty, but they do their best to cloak their cruelty behind some high-minded purpose.
On the other hand, when you want to promote the protection of animals, you can attract some extraordinary allies – people who speak up against cruelty as a matter of principle, and do so for no material gain. That’s the case with the horse slaughter fight. Today, actor, director, and philanthropist Robert Redford and former New Mexico Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson announced the formation of a new foundation which has filed a motion to join our lawsuit as a co-plaintiff, with Front Range Equine Rescue and other respected animal protection groups, to block horse slaughter plants from resuming operations. Within the last three weeks, the Obama Administration granted permits for inspection to would-be slaughter plants in New Mexico and Iowa.
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Horses being loaded onto a truck bound for slaughter.
And Redford and Richardson aren’t the only ones coming to the aid of horses. Also joining the case is New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, who has established a record of untiring opposition to animal cruelty during his tenure as the state’s chief law enforcement official. Attorney General King previously declared that horsemeat fits the legal definition of an adulterated food product and therefore cannot be manufactured, sold or delivered anywhere in New Mexico; trainers and horse owners frequently treat American horses with drugs prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food-producing animals, raising serious public health concerns. In joining the lawsuit, the State referred to its responsibility to enforce regulations pertaining to the environment and public health, the adulterated nature of horsemeat, and the harms the state would face, including the additional regulatory costs of ensuring the horse slaughter plant’s operations do not endanger the local water supply or the health of residents. The State also pointed to the harm that New Mexico’s beef industry could face if a horse slaughter plant were to begin operating in the state.
The USDA’s inspection permits are not the final word, as our lawsuit demonstrates. Horse slaughter has no place in New Mexico, Iowa, or anywhere else in North America. Eighty percent of Americans support a ban on horse slaughter. We owe horses more than to treat them as a cheap, throw-away commodity, and to slaughter them as a matter of convenience and profit. If you have a horse, you should be a responsible owner, and handle the animal with care and a sense of stewardship.
The international horse slaughter industry is an inhumane, predatory one. Ultimately, Congress must ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and the sale of live horses to our North American neighbors for similar purposes. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1094/S. 541, introduced by Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., would do just that. The imminent threat of horse slaughter makes it critical, now more than ever, to contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives to ask them to co-sponsor the SAFE Act to shut the door on horse slaughter for good.