Day At The Track

2010 not a good year for horse slaughter

09:11 PM 17 May 2010 NZST
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Equine Welfare Alliance and Animal Law Coalition applaud the grass roots efforts in 2010 that have resulted in a series of political defeats for those who want to bring horse slaughter back to the United States.

Of course, commercial horse slaughter for human consumption remains illegal in the U.S. and no state law can change that. Nonetheless, proponents of the cruel practice have tried to use state legislatures to try to convince Americans to bring horse slaughter back to the U.S.

In Missouri, for example, a bill, H.B. 1747, introduced by state Rep. James Viebrock, purported to allow the state to register and license and even provide inspections for horse slaughter facilities. There was even talk of building a horse slaughter plant in a small town in the state.

The bill raised a howl of opposition from horse advocates across the state and country, leading some of its sponsors to become irate to the point of returning opponents' emails unread or forwarding them en masse to one opponent. Some legislators even left harassing, intimidating messages on an opponent's voice mail.

Although state Sen. Dan Clemons announced publicly that Viebrock's bill would progress no further, its provisions were quietly buried in another, unrelated bill, SB 795. A firestorm of public anger erupted when this underhanded tactic was discovered, and the provisions were removed.

EWA's John Holland and former Kaufman, Texas Mayor Paula Bacon testified against HB 4812 in Tennessee, a pro-horse slaughter bill. Mayor Bacon described the economic and environmental devastation a horse slaughter facility caused to her town. Holland told legislators about the declining demand for horsemeat and stepped up enforcement of EU regulations and new restrictions that will likely mean fewer and fewer American horses will be eligible for slaughter. Add to that the dangers of American horsemeat from the toxic drugs given to horses here as established in a recent study published in the peer reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk, and, said Holland, "it would make no sense and, in fact, would be irresponsible for legislators to promote horse slaughter with this bill". The bill was then sent for "summer study", essentially withdrawing it for the session.

Also this year, an investigation revealing the cruelty of horse slaughter horrified European consumers and caused the second largest grocer in Belgium and Holland to remove American horse meat from its shelves and a major distributor to assure customers it will only sell European horse meat.

The Carry the Kettle first nation tribe in Canada declined an offer of economic assistance to reopen the Natural Valley Farms slaughter plant in Saskatchewan. The plant had been closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency after it was discovered dumping blood into the local river and leaving waste in shallow pits.

In Illinois, a bill aimed at repealing the state's 2007 ban on slaughter was withdrawn by its sponsor when it failed to muster support.

Florida's legislature unanimously passed legislation toughening laws against those who butcher horses, or sell or purchase horse meat. The legislation was signed into law Friday by Governor Crist.

The people of Hardin, Montana said no to a proposed horse slaughter plant in their city and even amended city ordinances to prohibit the slaughter of more than ten animals in a seven day period.

Even Jim Schwartz, director of the Wyoming Livestock Board was puzzled by a law sponsored by state Rep. Sue Wallis, that made "send to slaughter" an option for horses in the custody of the Board. "Send to slaughter is not an option in my opinion," said Schwartz. We agree.

Equine Welfare Alliance

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