“Support for ending the cruel and wasteful slaughter of America’s horses spans the political spectrum; it’s not a partisan issue — this is a quintessentially American issue. It’s about our values, our heritage, and what we tolerate as a society. Truly, this is a common sense issue we can all support, and now it is time for Congress to act.”
These words are from an article written by former Republican Congressman Bob Barr and me, published this week in the conservative monthly, The American Spectator.
Some people might be surprised to hear about a conservative like Bob Barr supporting animal protection. But that would be a misreading of the core tenets of animal protection.
For so many people, animal protection is not so much about animal rights or welfare, but human responsibility. It is precisely because we are smart, intelligent, and creative that we should treat our fellow creatures with respect and compassion. We should view our power not as a license, but as a call for restraint and common decency.
When it comes to the humane treatment of horses, how is it a conservative notion to own a horse and then to dump or sell that horse when you are done with him or her? That’s not a conservative value – that’s just selfish and reckless.
If you have a horse, it’s your duty to provide lifetime care. If you cannot provide that care, you have a responsibility to find a good home for the animal. Or, if that isn’t possible, see that the animal is humanely euthanized. Sending that creature on a long passage to slaughter dooms that animal to misery and suffering, and it’s no way to treat these creatures.
Conservatives also value the heritage and history of our country, with all of our triumphs as well as our pockmarks and troublesome times. There can be no question that horses played a major role in the settlement and expansion of our nation, providing essential means of companionship, transport, and sport over more than two centuries. They were never a food source for us. Why should we allow our country to become a hub for horse slaughter, for the purpose of exporting these creatures for foreign consumers to eat?
The current debate in Congress over horse slaughter should be viewed in that light. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 1942/S. 1214) will ensure that places where horses are slaughtered for human consumption can never reopen in the United States, and it will stop the current export of horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
It is time to put an end to the needless, wasteful slaughter of this American icon. That is something that every red-blooded American – Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, or Democratic Socialist – can and should agree upon.