Amid calls of animal cruelty and abhorring a cultural symbol, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday afternoon (September 7) to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
The vote was far from unanimous, as the vote was 263-146 in favour.
"The way a society treats its animals, particularly horses, speaks to the core values and morals of its citizens," said Christopher Shays, a Republican representative from Connecticut.
"It is one of the most inhumane, brutal, shady practices going on in the U.S. today," said Rep. John Sweeney, R-New York., a sponsor of the ban.
Sweeney further argued that horses are a part of American culture, setting them apart from the slaughter of other livestock for human consumption.
Defenders of horse slaughter say it offers an inexpensive and humane way to end a horse's life when the animal no longer is useful. They say many owners cannot afford to care for an unproductive horse.
"We have serious concerns that the welfare of these horses would be negatively impacted by a ban on slaughter," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a release.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota said many that are slaughtered are sick or already living in pain, and that by banning the practice, it is possible that more horses would simply be starved or abandoned.
They further contend that by banning the practice, slaughter houses will simply move to Canada or Mexico, where the practice is permitted.
The ban now will go to the Senate for approval.
Courtesy Of Standardbred Canada with files from the Associated Press