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January 18, 2013

The HSUS Forms New Responsible Horse Breeders Council

Council will develop strategic initiatives to keep horses out of the slaughter pipeline

The Humane Society of the United States is forming a Responsible Horse Breeders Council composed of horse breeders around the country who are dedicated to improving horse welfare. The goal of the council is to decrease the number of horses in the U.S. who are at risk of being neglected, abused or slaughtered for human consumption. Council members will work with The HSUS to discourage overbreeding and to promote responsible horse ownership and nationwide horse rescue and rehoming efforts. 

“We have a responsibility to every horse born, and for some time now there has been a crisis of overbreeding that is having a terrible impact on the welfare of horses,” said Keith Dane, director of equine protection for The HSUS. “Horse slaughter has been used as an outlet for irresponsible breeders to continue to overbreed horses and to treat them as disposable commodities. The Humane Society of the United States is working to end this unnecessary slaughter of horses, and we commend the responsible breeders who have chosen to be part of the solution.”

“As a breeder of Arabian horses for 30 years, I believe that responsible breeding means not only breeding for the finest conformation and behavior, but also ensuring that our foals lead happy, productive lives,” said council member Melissa Forberg. “This commitment to the welfare of our foals must be lifelong and unwavering.” 

As a first step, the council is encouraging horse breeders to sign a pledge to be a responsible breeder. In doing so, they agree to take back any horse they have bred should the horse become homeless or at-risk of being abused or sent to slaughter. More than 800 breeders have already joined the responsible breeder’s list. Horse breeders can join the initiative here or email vpringle@humanesociety.org. Horse owners can also use this list to search for their horse’s breeder in the event that they need assistance in continuing to humanely care for their horse.

Facts:

  • Approximately 100,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year. This represents about1 percent of the total population of American horses, as the vast majority of horse owners do not choose slaughter as an end-of-life option for their treasured companions.
  • National polls show that 80 percent of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter.
  • In June, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., to block spending by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect U.S. horse slaughter plants in Fiscal Year 2013. The spending prohibition had been in place since 2005, but was not renewed last year by a joint House-Senate conference committee, leading to concerns that horse slaughter plants could reopen within the U.S. at a cost of about $5 million annually to U.S. taxpayers.
  • The horrendous end for these American icons sold for slaughter begins at an auction, where horses are corralled, sold and crammed into trailers. The journey to slaughter can involve confinement in a trailer at temperatures in excess of 100 degrees for thousands of miles without access to food or water, and can often result in serious or even fatal injuries, as horses fight, kick and trample each other in these cramped conveyances. Once unloaded, the exhausted, dehydrated and often battered horses that survive the trip are recklessly shoved into kill boxes where they suffer abuse and violence as workers’ repeated and often misguided attempts to render the panic-stricken animals unconscious cause additional suffering.
  • Horses, whether wild or domestic, are routinely treated with drugs that are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for animals slaughtered for food and are potentially dangerous to humans. Current USDA rules do not require sufficient testing or documentation to ensure that former companion, work and sport horses slaughtered for human food do not contain or have not been administered prohibited substances.
  • In 2012, The HSUS launched the Safe Stalls program, a nationwide network of horse rescues, professionals, and enthusiasts who provide emergency care and shelter for horses in cruelty or natural disaster situations.
  • The HSUS is a member of the Homes for Horses Coalition, which is dedicated to ending horse slaughter and other forms of equine abuse while promoting growth, collaboration and professionalism in the equine rescue and protection community.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

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