December 1, 2011
Wayne's Blog: Urgent Action Needed to Save American Horses from Slaughter
Deal in Congress opens door to horse slaughter plants in U.S.
As part of a broad range of efforts to help animals, The HSUS works hard to see that humane issues are advanced in the U.S. Congress. We are building support for a raft of legislation, including measures related to puppy mills, chimps in research, animal fighting, and much more.
We also work to see that Congress provides adequate funding for the laws on the books, and I am pleased to report we’ve worked with our allies to secure record funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act (which bans “soring”), along with good committee report language on a range of issues from humane slaughter to animal fighting to antibiotic overuse in industrial animal agriculture. This was welcome news on top of an earlier infusion of repurposed funds for puppy mill enforcement.
But there have been setbacks, too, most recently. The worst was Congress’s action, hidden within a massive, must-pass budget bill approved earlier this year, to delist wolf populations in the Northern Rockies, opening the door for sport hunting, trapping, and other forms of killing of the wolves. Populations in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming are being decimated, or will be soon.
In November, we also had a setback on the issue of horse slaughter: the Congress chose not to include a ban on funding of USDA inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the United States, even though a similar provision had been inserted in the department’s spending bill for each of the past five years.
Congressman Jim Moran, co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, worked hard to see the defunding language included again. He even offered an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee and won the vote, albeit narrowly. When the Senate took up the bill, Sen. Max Baucus and other western senators fought against including Moran’s measure. And when the House and Senate leadership on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hashed out their joint package, the horse slaughter provision was dropped.
In the last few days, there have been dozens of news reports indicating that horse slaughter plants can now open up in the United States. That’s true, and that prospect exists because there was no defunding provision in the law. The predatory horse slaughter industry has cash signs in its eyes, and it’s unrestrained by any compassion for these creatures. Its profiteers treat the horses like commodities on the hoof.
It’s a bad outcome and we’ll fight them every step of the way, but that piece was never the main battle in Congress on horse slaughter. The defunding provision has never stopped the shipment of live horses to Canada and Mexico, and that’s been going on uninterrupted since the U.S. plants closed in 2007.
We need to ban the slaughter of American horses not just in the United States, but throughout North America. The way to do that is to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 2966 / S. 1176, which would ban the interstate transport of horses for slaughter but also the live export of horses for that purpose.
This is a tough fight. The HSUS is battling, but the slaughter industry, the National Cattlemen’s Association, the American Farm Bureau, and even the American Veterinary Medical Association are fighting us on the issue, along with their legions of lobbyists.
If you are mad about the defunding language being discarded from the recent spending bill President Obama signed, then use that energy to contact your two U.S. Senators and urge them to cosponsor S. 1176, and contact your U.S. Representative and urge him or her to cosponsor H.R. 2966. Here are the current lists of cosponsors for S. 1176 and for H.R. 2966. If you see any of your legislators on the cosponsor list already, thank them and ask them to do all they can to get this legislation enacted quickly. And please do organize others to call and write too. You can also join our online cause. There’s no time to waste.
We’ve picked up dozens of new cosponsors in the last couple of weeks, but we need many more supporters to win. The American public is with us on the issue, but that support has to be registered in the form of phone calls, letters, and other forms of persuasion. We cannot sit on our hands. We’ve got to take action!