The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 961, has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL). This bill would ban horse slaughter in the United States, while ensuring that American horses are not exported out of the country for the same purpose.
AWI has long worked to expose the rampant cruelty and dishonesty of this industry—from what happens inside the slaughterhouse to the kill-buyers who mislead horse owners in order to obtain animals. In a recent horrific case, a veterinary student was charged with acquiring dozens of horses under false pretenses. The woman had assured horse owners she would give their companion animals a loving home when in fact she was sending horses to slaughter for profit.
Undercover footage and firsthand observations by AWI staff of former US horse slaughter plants revealed appalling conditions: employees whipping horses in the face, horses who flipped over backward and were injured due to rough and abusive handling, and horses remaining conscious while shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. Documents and photos collected by the USDA from these slaughterhouses show horses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds.
In addition to the terrible abuse and cruelty that is inherent to horse slaughter, the food safety threats that plague the industry continue to gain attention here and abroad. Horses are not raised for human consumption in the United States and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by federal regulators for use in food animals. Race horses, for example, are given a plethora of drugs and toxic substances to enhance their performance on the track—there are even documented cases in which cobra venom and cocaine have been used. It isn’t only race horses, though: To alleviate pain, pet horses are regularly given medications considered unsafe for human consumption, such as phenylbutazone (“bute”). In 2015, the European Union banned imports of horse meat from Mexico, after an audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants found widespread animal welfare and food safety problems. The report noted that, over the time period examined, 87 percent of the horses slaughtered for human consumption in Mexico for export to the European Union came from the United States.
Email, call or write your US representative today and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 961. You can send an email via AWI’s Compassion Index. For more information on horse slaughter and how you can help, click here.
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