Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act Passes House Judiciary Committee

Washington, DC—Despite three weeks of stonewalling by horse slaughter proponents on the House Judiciary Committee, H.R. 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act passed by a voice vote after the majority rejected several poison pill amendments.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) commends committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and subcommittee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) for their swift shepherding of this crucial legislation through the committee, which was achieved with bipartisan support.

"By moving this bill, Chairman Conyers, lead cosponsor Representative Dan Burton and Representative Scott are acting in line with the more than 70 percent of Americans who oppose the senseless slaughter of our nation's horses," said Chris Heyde, AWI deputy director of government and legal affairs. "But opponents of this legislation persist in their attempts to mislead the public, and make horses pawns in their political games."

Despite the claims of horse slaughter supporters, horse slaughter is neither humane, nor a necessary evil. The horses—of which more than 92 percent are deemed to be healthy, adoptable and "in good condition" by the US Department of Agriculture—suffer terribly from start to finish.

"Our opponents love to suggest that horse slaughter is a necessary evil, without which the country will be overrun with a 100,000 horses annually," notes Heyde. "That's ludicrous. At most, a few dozen may be confiscated during a criminal investigation, and AWI will work to ensure any such horses are cared for. This isn't a humane disposal service for sick and old horses; it's a predatory business that is making a profit off the death of healthy horses."

AWI urges House leadership to follow through on the Judiciary Committee's decisive action, and bring the legislation up for a vote before the full House before adjourning at the month's end. Every five minutes Congress fails to act, another horse is slaughtered.

Issue background:

Each year, more than 100,000 horses are purchased at auction by killer-buyers for export to Canada and Mexico, where they are brutally slaughtered for human consumption. In some cases, the killing method involves activities such as knife stabbing.

In the last Congress, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill banning horse slaughter for human consumption by a vote of 263 to 146. The bill was not taken up by the Senate before the end of the congressional session.

A 2006 national poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies found that almost 70 percent of Americans already support a federal ban on horse slaughter.