House to vote on slaughtering American horses for meat

WASHINGTON, DC, June 6, 2005 (ENS): Animal protection groups are lobbying their Congressional Representatives hard this week to support a bill that will help prevent the slaughter of horses for human consumption in foreign markets.

About 65,000 American horses die each year in one of the three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants that operate in the United States. The plants ship the horsemeat overseas to upscale meat markets and high-end restaurants.

s "It is unconscionable that for decades, we have been using federal taxpayer dollars to support a practice that the American public is overwhelmingly opposed to," said Representative John Sweeney, a New York Republican. Sweeney will introduce an amendment to the 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Bill that he says will "prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being spent on facilitating the export of horsemeat from the United States for sale to countries abroad."

Cosponsors include Congressmen Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican, and Democrats Nick Rahall of West Virginia and John Spratt of South Carolina.

The budget bill is scheduled for consideration on the House Floor this week.

Despite overwhelming public support and 228 bipartisan cosponsors, last year's legislative efforts to protect American horses failed to move when the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act was refused a hearing before the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives.

"The vast majority of Americans are appalled that our horses continue to suffer such horrible cruelty during both long grueling journeys to slaughter plants and at the plants themselves," said Chris Heyde, policy analyst for the Society of Protective Animal Legislation.

"Horses can be hauled without food, water, rest or medical care for over 24 hours," said Heyde. "Often the easily frightened animals are not properly rendered unconscious, so many horses are fully aware and sensitive to pain while proceeding through the slaughter process."

"Not only are there clearly humane concerns, but very real human safety concerns, too. Because Americans don't raise horses for their meat, these horses are being dosed up with all sorts of medicines that are dangerous for humans," said Liz Ross of the Doris Day Animal League.

Sweeney said, "It makes good fiscal sense to prohibit any further waste of the American people's hard earned money for an industry that offers absolutely no economic value to the United States. Even more importantly, it is our moral responsibility as a humane nation to protect our equine pets, companions and athletes from the cruelty of horse slaughter."

A diverse coalition of equine industry professionals, humane groups and veterinarians support this amendment.

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Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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