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U.S. Representatives Praised for Introducing Bill to End Horse Slaughter

The HSUS applauds U.S. Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011.

The Humane Society of the United States applauds U.S. Reps. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing H.R. 2966, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, a bipartisan measure that will end the export and inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption across our borders. The bill was introduced in the House with 57 original co-sponsors.

“Although horse slaughter plants no longer operate in the United States, many thousands of American horses still endure the long journey to Canada and Mexico to be killed in cruel and unacceptable ways,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “Americans don’t eat horses, and we don’t have to be the nation that is the pipeline for horse meat to satisfy the demand for a small group of high-end foreign consumers in Belgium and Japan.”

“I personally believe in the importance of treating all horses as humanely and respectfully as possible,” said Rep. Burton. “I look forward to working with Representative Schakowsky to end the cruelty after decades of effort to stop these practices.”

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“I am proud to join Representative Burton in supporting this bill to put a stop to the cruel practice of shipping horses abroad for slaughter,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “As a strong supporter of animal rights and a horse lover, I recognize the need to protect animals that aren’t able to protect themselves. Protecting animals ought to be a bipartisan issue, and this bill is a strong step in the right direction.”

Approximately 100,000 American horses are sent across U.S. borders to slaughter each year. This represents 1 percent of the total population of American horses, as the vast majority of horse owners choose humane euthanasia—not long-distance transport and slaughter—as an end-of-life option for their beloved companions. States have acted to stop horse slaughter, shuttering the last remaining horse slaughter plants in the United States in 2007, and federal courts have upheld these state laws. Now Congress must act to stop the export of live horses for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

The horrendous end for these American icons sold for slaughter begins at an auction. The journey to and across a border can mean confinement in a trailer at temperatures in excess of 100 degrees for thousands of miles without access to food or water. Once unloaded, the exhausted, dehydrated and often battered horses are recklessly shoved into kill boxes where they suffer abuse as workers’ attempts to render the panic-stricken animals unconscious cause additional suffering.

A recently released GAO report also recommends that “Congress may wish to consider instituting an explicit ban on the domestic slaughter of horses and exports of U.S. horses intended for slaughter in foreign countries.” National polls show that 70 percent of Americans favor a ban on the slaughter of these animals, which hold an iconic place in the nation’s history and its self-image. The HSUS joins Reps. Burton and Schakowsky, along with the vast majority of Americans, in support of this bill to protect our treasured equine companions from this cruelty by banning their slaughter for human consumption.

A Senate bill, S. 1176, was introduced in June by U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and now has 24 co-sponsors.

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