WASHINGTON—Federal lawmakers reintroduced legislation today to permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States and end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad. Sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. and Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, H.R.3355, is supported by leading animal welfare groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA), the Animal Welfare Institute, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation.

“For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride. They are our companions, work partners, entertainers, and athletes. With such a special place in our nation’s history it’s beyond time that we end the brutal practice of slaughtering these majestic creatures as food for humans. I am proud to reintroduce the SAFE Act with Congressman Buchanan and offer legislation that will finally close a loophole to end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption, both domestically and abroad,” said Rep. Schakowsky.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” Rep. Buchanan said. “I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for the same purpose.”

“The ASPCA is working resolutely to solve equine welfare issues on the ground, but we cannot fully succeed while the slaughter pipeline remains open,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and with May being Adopt a Horse Month, there is no better time than now to support at-risk horses by prohibiting this unnecessary and cruel practice. We are grateful to Representatives Schakowsky and Buchanan for their steadfast commitment to protecting our horses and we urge Congress to pass the SAFE Act to finally end this abhorrent practice.”

“Each year, a huge number of American horses are shipped to foreign slaughterhouses to be butchered under shockingly inhumane conditions,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Some are former racehorses who have been recently dosed with drugs considered unsafe for human consumption. The SAFE Act would ensure that both horses and people are protected. We are grateful to Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Buchanan for their dedication to ending the slaughter of horses for human consumption.”

“Only nine years ago, 160,000 American horses were exported abroad for slaughter. Due to awareness of this inhumane and predatory industry, that number has dropped dramatically with just over 35,000 shipped to slaughter in 2020. But one horse is still too many,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Fortunately, Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Vern Buchanan have committed to passing this crucial animal and consumer protection bill which will end this grisly industry and protect these American icons from those who profit off their deaths.”

“That almost 370,000 American horses—including an unknown number who once roamed freely on our public lands—were shipped to their deaths in foreign slaughterhouses over the past five years is an unnecessary betrayal of the animals that helped us build our country and continue to serve humanity,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. “RTF applauds Representatives Schakowsky and Buchanan for recognizing the public’s overwhelming opposition to horse slaughter and continuing this bipartisan fight for the good of America’s horses and for human health.”

In recent years, the number of American horses shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries has dropped, making this an opportune time for Congress to close this legal loophole that causes so much suffering. Last year, over 35,000 horses were exported for slaughter, and research published in 2017 found that 2.3 million Americans have the interest and resources to adopt a horse. America’s equine adoption community is working swiftly to match the horses in their care with foster and adoptive families, increasing the number of adoptions every year. This means that every horse who might have been sent to slaughter could have a home waiting, if given the opportunity to find it.

The horse slaughter industry not only exploits horses, who endure grueling journeys to slaughter plants and an inhumane death. It also harms the broader equine community, including horse owners, riders, and rescues, who fear that their horses will end up in the slaughter pipeline despite their best efforts to keep them safe. Kill buyers—those who buy horses to ship to slaughter in Canada and Mexico—attend auctions and often outbid rescue groups trying to help vulnerable equines. Kill buyers have also been known to pose as good homes in response to ads from horse owners who can no longer care for their animals. Many owners are so fearful that they may even keep their horses beyond the point they can afford to prevent their sale to slaughter. Horses have even been stolen out of their stalls or pastures and shipped to slaughter.

The SAFE Act would also protect the public from dangerous American horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the common, unregulated administration of drugs given to horses. Horses are not raised for food and are routinely given hundreds of drugs and chemical treatments throughout their life that are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in food items because of their toxicity to humans if consumed. Products routinely used to care for horses, such as fly repellent, pain medications, and wormers, contain banned, toxic ingredients that are dangerous to humans.

We encourage the public to contact their U.S. representatives to urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act, and secure its swift passage, to protect horses, their caregivers and consumers.

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