Animal Welfare Groups Commend US Senators for Reintroducing Legislation to End Horse Slaughter

A brown horse wearing a faded red halter walks in a paddock
Photo by Sara Kurfess

The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act would expand the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act passed in the 2018 Farm Bill to include equines, permanently protecting American horses from slaughter

Washington, DCThe Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and other animal protection organizations applaud today’s reintroduction in the US Senate of the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (S. 2037/H.R. 3475). This bill would permanently protect American horses from commercial slaughter.

Sponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and eight bipartisan cosponsors, and in the US House of Representatives by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), this legislation would expand the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act—which passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill—to include equines, thereby prohibiting the commercial slaughter of horses in the United States, as well as their export for that purpose abroad. 

The SAFE Act is supported by leading animal welfare groups, including AWI, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. The SAFE Act has also received strong support from industry groups, including The Jockey Club, the US Trotting Association, the Stronach Group, the Breeders’ Cup, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, The Jockeys’ Guild, the New York Racing Association, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and the Maryland Horse Council. Last year, these organizations partnered with animal welfare groups to form the “Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter,” a collaborative effort urging federal lawmakers to pass a permanent ban on slaughter.

“The gruesome practice of horse slaughter for food consumption has no place in the United States. It is well past time for Congress to act decisively in putting an end to this cruelty,” Menendez said. “Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are dangerous for human consumption and should not be a part of our nation’s food supply or export of goods. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide.”

“The horse slaughter industry has claimed the lives of millions of American horses over the the last few decades, producing unsafe food, likely tainted with residues of dangerous drugs, for foreign consumers. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for long distances without food, water or rest, in overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit,” said Susan Millward, executive director and CEO of the Animal Welfare Institute. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are vociferously opposed to butchering horses for human consumption, so we are grateful to Senators Menendez and Graham for leading the SAFE Act to spare horses from this brutal fate.”

“More than 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption, and despite robust partnerships between the equine industry and animal welfare groups to support rehoming horses, a legal loophole still allows tens of thousands of American horses to be shipped to other countries for slaughter each year,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the ASPCA. “We are working resolutely to solve equine welfare issues on the ground, but the threat of horse slaughter contributes significant harm to industry, horse owners, and adoption organizations, and we cannot fully succeed while the slaughter pipeline remains open. By including the SAFE Act in the 2023 Farm Bill, Congress can start a new chapter for America’s equines and finally end the cruel, unnecessary practice of horse slaughter.”

Research shows that 2.3 million Americans have the interest and resources to adopt a horse, demonstrating that there were more than enough homes for the approximately 20,000 American horses who were exported for slaughter last year. America’s equine adoption community is working swiftly to match the horses in their care with foster and adoptive families, increasing the number of adoptions every year. As long as the financial incentive for slaughter exists, however, it will continue to hamper the lifesaving efforts of rescue and welfare groups to provide humane care to equines. 

“Even one horse sent to slaughter is too many. We have been fighting horse slaughter for years not only because it disregards the special connection that humans share with horses, but also because there is simply no way to kill horses humanely in a slaughterhouse,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Congress must pass the SAFE Act so no horse from the US is ever subjected to a grueling trip that only ends with a terrifying and inhumane death.”

The horse slaughter industry not only exploits horses, it also harms the broader equine community, including horse owners, riders, and rescues. Kill buyersthose who buy horses to ship to slaughter in Canada and Mexicoattend auctions and often outbid rescue groups trying to help vulnerable equines. Kill buyers have also been known to pose as good homes in response to ads from horse owners who can no longer care for their animals. Many owners are so fearful that they may even keep their horses beyond the point that they can afford basic care to prevent their animals from being sold to slaughter, causing further suffering. There is no reason to continue this abhorrent practice that 83% of Americans oppose. 

“The pipeline to slaughter is an open grave for the horses it carries off, not just a terrible cruelty but a national heartache. It’s time to saddle up and end their journey to hell. No animal more deserving of our kindness has ever suffered such a rotten fate,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Horse slaughter for human consumption is a ruinous policy not merely for its callous indifference to a faithful species but for its blight upon our national character. We hope that legislators in both chambers and both parties will lend their support to Senators Menendez and Graham in their efforts to pass the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, and vote this appalling practice out of existence.”

“We are grateful to Senators Menendez and Graham for their continued, unwavering leadership,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom. “Polls show that the vast majority of Americans find it abhorrent that any horse, wild or domestic, suffers the road to slaughter. Congress must not allow itself to be undermined by a self-serving few on a measure with overwhelming support.”

The SAFE Act received strong bipartisan support last Congress, with more than half of the US House of Representatives signing on as cosponsors and the full House voting in favor of an amendment to ban horse slaughter. Members of the public are encouraged to contact their US senators and representatives to urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act and secure its swift passage to protect horses, their caregivers, and consumers.

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

Maureen Linehan, ASPCA
[email protected], (646) 628-0006 

Erica Heffner, Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society Legislative Fund 
[email protected], (202) 770-6575

Cory Golden, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation 
[email protected], (805) 737-9246

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) was the first animal welfare organization to be established in North America and today serves as the nation’s leading voice for vulnerable and victimized animals. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation with more than two million supporters nationwide, the ASPCA is committed to preventing cruelty to dogs, cats, equines, and farm animals throughout the United States. The ASPCA assists animals in need through on-the-ground disaster and cruelty interventions, behavioral rehabilitation, animal placement, legal and legislative advocacy, and the advancement of the sheltering and veterinary community through research, training, and resources. For more information, visit, and follow the ASPCA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States fights the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, we take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. With our affiliates, we rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals every year through our animal rescue team’s work and other hands-on animal care services. We fight all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: A humane society. Learn more about our work at Subscribeto Kitty Block’s blog, A Humane World. Follow the HSUS Media Relations department on Twitter. Read the award-winning All Animals magazine. Listen to the Humane Voices Podcast.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at, on our blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation (RTF) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to wild horse preservation through sanctuary, education, conservation and advocacy since 1998. It also operates the American Wild Horse Sanctuary at three California locations, caring for 500 wild horses and burros. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates about wild horses and burros on the range and at our sanctuary.

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