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January 26, 2010

The State of the Union’s Horses

Members of Congress, Celebrities, The HSUS Speak Out Against Horse Slaughter

  • Actress Kelly Carlson speaks at the press conference in support of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Wendie Malick, horse lover and supporter of The HSUS, lends her voice to the fight to ban horse slaughter. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Kelly Carlson, Wendie Malick and Dr. John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, listen intently to members of Congress. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The HSUS, spoke about the cruelty horses face in the slaughter industry. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), has been instrumental as the lead Senate sponsor of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act to enact a federal ban on horse slaughter. Michelle Riley/The HSUS

  • Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours in cramped trailers without food, water or rest. Kathy Milani/The HSUS

  • The panic-stricken environment of a slaughter plant is particularly harsh for horses, who often sustain injury even before they are killed. Kathy Milani/The HSUS

  • The suffering only intensifies upon entering the kill box, where frightened horses often struggle. Frank Loftus/The HSUS

At a press conference on Tuesday, representatives from The Humane Society of the United States, members of Congress, celebrities, and representatives from agriculture and the horse industry showed their support of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727), a federal bill to prohibit the trafficking in horses for slaughter for human consumption in the United States and the export of horses for this purpose.

The group also called attention to the Bureau of Land Management's cruel and unnecessary wild horse roundups, calling on BLM to place a moratorium on these roundups until it has a plan in place for contraception and release or adoption of these horses.

Actresses Kelly Carlson and Wendie Malick, both horse lovers and supporters of The HSUS, spoke passionately about their love of horses and their desire for both slaughter and roundups to cease.

Quoting Henry David Thoreau, Malick said, "We need the tonic of wildness."

Protecting America's Horses

In addition to Carlson and Malick, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lead sponsor of S. 727; Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., co-sponsor of H.R. 503; John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association; Alex Brown, racing industry expert; Keith Windwalker Wainwright, Maryland Coordinator of the Longest Walk Northern Route 2008; Commissioner Red Deer, Deer Clan representative, Maryland commission on Indian Affairs; and Ron Kagan, director of the Detroit Zoological Society, all expressed their support of The HSUS' efforts.

Landrieu said, "America's horses are being beaten and dragged across the border into Mexico and Canada so that they can be inhumanely slaughtered for food. I will continue to fight in Congress to end this brutal practice and ensure that American horses will no longer be savagely slaughtered for human consumption."

"America's horses are symbolic of the great freedoms this nation offers," Whitfield said.

The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 (H.R. 503/S. 727) was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., to prevent any horses from being slaughtered here in the United States and to spare horses from being transported over the border to foreign slaughter plants. The legislation has garnered large, bipartisan co-sponsor lists in both the House and Senate and is poised for action. In 2009, more than 90,000 American horses were exported for slaughter—the majority shipped in long-distance transport to Mexico.

While there are currently no operational horse slaughter plants in the United States, tens of thousands of healthy, young American horses are still being trucked thousands of miles without food, water or rest to plants across the border into Mexico and Canada.

An Inhumane Fate

Documentation uncovered by horse welfare advocates demonstrates that the plants in the United States were equally inhumane and riddled with tremendous abuse. There is no humane way to slaughter horses for human consumption, and Americans are horrified to find out that all kinds of American horses—former show horses, race horses, lesson ponies, even wild horses and heavily pregnant mares—meet this fate.

Individuals who own horses must take responsibility for the proper care of their horses. If they cannot fulfill their basic obligation to provide lifetime care, then their options include adoption to new families, placement in equine sanctuaries or humane euthanasia.

"Horse slaughter is cruel, and is by no means humane: Horses suffer immensely while being transported in cramped carriers to foreign slaughterhouses, and, when they arrive, meet a grisly death unfit for these loyal and noble creatures," said Wayne Pacelle, The HSUS' president and CEO.

Ask your U.S. Representative and Senators and to support The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503/S. 727). It will ban the barbaric killing of American horses for human consumption, including the export of horses across our borders for slaughter.

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