The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2013 was introduced on March 12 in both houses of Congress. Sponsored by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and by Reps. Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House, this bipartisan legislation would stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption by prohibiting both domestic slaughter and the transport of horses across U.S. borders to foreign slaughterhouses.
AWI joined the SAFE Act’s sponsors for a press conference to announce the bill’s introduction. Renowned veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nick Dodman of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University shared his expertise on equine welfare and human health risks associated with horse slaughter and consumption. AWI was also joined by Brittany Wallace, a student from Massachusetts, and Kelly Smith, Director of Omega Horse Rescue, who worked together to rescue Brittany’s beloved horse, Scribbles, from slaughter. (See accompanying story on page 6.)
The sponsors of the SAFE Act emphasized that this legislation is needed to protect consumers and horses alike. Sen. Landrieu explained that “the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is revolting to me as a horse owner, but also as a consumer. Horses are not raised for human consumption, and they are frequently treated with drugs and chemicals that are toxic when ingested by humans. Especially in light of the European horse meat contamination scandals, we must ensure that our food supply at home is not tainted with horse meat, nor should we supply an unsafe food product to foreign industries.” Rep. Meehan added a note of fiscal concern: “At a time when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is threatening to furlough meat inspectors due to budget cuts, American taxpayers should not be subsidizing horse meat inspections for the foreign export market.” Highlighting the cruelty of slaughter, Rep. Schakowsky stated that “horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment. We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2013 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”
Although there are currently no horse slaughter facilities operating in the United States, more than 160,000 American horses were exported for slaughter last year, and efforts to reopen domestic slaughterhouses have begun.