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August 25, 2010

California Lawmakers Call on Congress to Take Swift Action to Stop Horse Slaughter

The Humane Society of the United States applauds California lawmakers for passing a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to pass the federal Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act. Senate Joint Resolution 22, which passed the state Senate today, demonstrates strong support for the federal bill to prevent the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. The resolution — championed by Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter with Assembly leadership provided by Assemblymember Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara — calls on the state Senate secretary to convey this message to federal officials.

"The Humane Society of the United States is very pleased that California — which has the nation's second largest horse population — is sending such a strong and clear message to the president and Congress that the slaughter of horses for human consumption will not be tolerated," said Nancy Perry, vice president for government affairs for The HSUS. "When Congress returns from recess next month, they should act swiftly to put an end to this grisly practice."

The bill passed the Assembly earlier this month with a 55 to 16 vote after being approved by the Senate by a 27 to 7 vote in April. Today's Senate concurrence vote forwards the resolution to the president, vice president and other top U.S. legislators. The votes in both houses reflect strong bi-partisan support.

Recognizing the special place that horses occupy in American culture, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 6 in 1998, banning horse slaughter for human consumption. Every year, however, approximately 100,000 American horses are shipped to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for food exports. Their meat is considered a delicacy by foreign gourmands. While California prohibits horse slaughter, California horses continue to be transported and then sold out-of-state for this purpose.

Horse owners who are struggling to care for their animals have many options. They can find them new homes, surrender them to a reputable horse rescue group, or, if necessary, have their animal humanely euthanized by their veterinarian. Dozens of California horse rescue organizations support this resolution as their precious resources are bled dry by bidding against kill buyers.

The federal legislation (H.R. 503/S. 727), is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as 24 bi-partisan members of the U.S. House delegation from California. Both the House and Senate have voted by wide margins in previous sessions of Congress to stop horse slaughter, but the final policy remains incomplete. Congress has also defunded USDA inspections at horse slaughter plants.

The horse slaughter industry is fueled by a foreign demand for American horse meat. The USDA concluded that 92.3 percent of horses transported for slaughter were in good condition. "Kill buyers," the predatory individuals who buy horses for slaughter, often outbid families, private individuals and rescue groups for horses who would otherwise go to good, loving homes.

A survey of California horse rescue organizations identified more than 650 incidences where kill buyers have intercepted California horses, demonstrating how this industry harms horses, rescue groups and horse owners. In addition, the process of transporting horses to slaughter entails travel in crowded trailers without food or water for days on end. Once the animals arrive at the slaughter plant, they face a cruel and horrific death. Recent Canadian Horse Defence Coalition footage shows horses being shot in the face repeatedly until they were hoisted, still kicking, for dismemberment.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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