Washington, D.C. -- A bill to ban horse slaughter was introduced in the United States Senate today. Sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and John Ensign (R-NV), S. 727, the Landrieu-Ensign "Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act" will end the slaughter of American horses here and abroad. The sponsors, who have long championed the cause, have the bipartisan support of 14 colleagues who are co-sponsoring the bill.
The legislation comes at a time when horse slaughter no longer occurs on U.S. soil, but each year tens of thousands of American horses continue to be hauled to Canada, Mexico and further abroad. Reports show that horses regularly travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles to the slaughterhouses on double-deck cattle trucks without food, water or rest. At some Mexican slaughterhouses horses are stabbed repeatedly in the spine until they are paralyzed, after which they are butchered while still fully conscious. This country’s three remaining horse slaughter plants – two in Texas and one in Illinois – were shut down in 2007 under state law. Since then, the pro-slaughter camp has led a concerted and disingenuous effort to resurrect the industry domestically, and has used scare tactics in an attempt to defeat the federal ban. The federal legislation is desperately needed to stop the slaughter of American horses, irrespective of where the killing takes place.
In her statement on the Senate floor, bill sponsor Senator Mary Landrieu said, "America's horses are being beaten and dragged across the border into Mexico and Canada so that they can be inhumanely slaughtered for food. I will continue to fight in Congress to end this brutal practice and ensure that American horses will no longer be savagely slaughtered for human consumption."
While horse slaughter no longer occurs on U.S. soil the absence of a federal statute means that horses are shipped out of the country for slaughter. Reports show that horses regularly travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles to the slaughterhouses on double-deck cattle trucks without food, water or rest. At some Mexican slaughterhouses horses are stabbed repeatedly in the spine until they are paralyzed, after which they are butchered while still fully conscious.
"The time to put an end to the practice of slaughtering horses in America is long overdue," said Senator John Ensign said. "Horses have an important role in the history of our country, particularly the West, and they deserve our protection. As a senator and a veterinarian, I am committed to doing what I can for these magnificent animals.
"The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act will amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code to acknowledge horse slaughter as a form of animal cruelty. The legislation includes stiff civil and criminal penalties and gives law enforcement officials the authority to apprehend and charge violators.
“We have great confidence that the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act will move quickly. The bill, which has had strong support from a majority of Congress and the American public, is long overdue. For years I have pleaded with the pro-horse slaughter camp to stop misleading the public but they are more concerned with wringing a few bucks from a suffering animal than doing what is right. Thankfully we have the majority of Congress advocating for change and this is the year that will happen,” said Chris Heyde, Deputy Director of Legislative and Government Affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. “AWI commends Senator Landrieu, Senator Ensign and their colleagues for introducing this very important measure.”
An identical version, HR 503, was introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Representative Dan Burton (R-IN). There are currently 112 bipartisan cosponsors of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act in the House of Representatives.
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