Ending Transport of Horses Across State and National Lines Will Have the Effect of Banning the Trade, Notes Animal Wellness Action
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, an amendment led by U.S. Reps. Troy Carter, D-La., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., John Katko, R-N.Y., Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. and conceived by Animal Wellness Action to H.R. 3684, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America (INVEST) Act cleared the House Rules Committee and is set for a vote tomorrow before the full U.S. House. The measure – now amendment #15 Rules print – would ban the transport of equines across state lines or to Canada or Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. This amendment, if enacted into law, would prevent a cruel and predatory trade that claims the lives of tens of thousands of our nation’s horses and burros every year at foreign abattoirs.
The amendment has picked up additional cosponsors, including Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Vern Buchanan, the lead authors of the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (the stand-alone anti-horse slaughter bill); Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., (co-chairs of the Congressional Horse Caucus); and Reps. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., Donald Payne, D-N.J., Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., and Jerry Nadler bringing the total cosponsors to 7 Democrats and 6 Republicans.
The measure has been endorsed by more than 229 animal and equine protection and advocacy groups, organizations, rescues, and businesses in the U.S., including The Jockey Club; The Breeders’ Cup, New York Racing Association, which operates The Belmont Stakes; Pimlico Racetrack, which operates The Preakness Stakes; the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance; the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization; U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association; Claiborne Farm; Stone Farm, where three Kentucky Derby winners were raised; Crawford Farms; West Point Thoroughbreds; Nick Zito; Pin Oak Stud; the Texas State Horse Council; Winterstone Pictures; the Horses for Life Foundation; the Animal Wellness Foundation; and Center for a Humane Economy, to name a few.
“This amendment offers the very real prospect, for the first time in 15 years, of stopping the transport of live horses to Canada and Mexico for butchering for human consumption. We have an amazing array of supporters in Congress backing this amendment and it’s time to make prohibiting horse slaughter national policy.” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, who was recently honored by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II for his work to protect horses.
“Rep. Troy Carter was a leader on animal welfare issues in the Louisiana State Senate, and he is picking right back up by leading the amendment to stop the commerce in American equines for slaughter,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy. “Business and enterprise in our nation must be robust, but it must also be humane. Shedding horse slaughter is good for the economy and befitting the character of our nation.”
Horses and other equines are revered and cherished in the United States, and 80 percent of Americans oppose their slaughter for human consumption. As public awareness has grown of the inherent cruelty involved in the horse slaughter industry, calls for a federal response have grown louder, especially as the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been implicated in a suspect adoption plan that is allowing “adopters” to rake in profits by selling unprecedented numbers of federal-protected wild horses and burros to slaughter.
Transport of horses for slaughter is unsafe and has caused multiple serious accidents on American highways. The list is long of serious accidents on American highways involving trucks loaded with horses bound for slaughter. Most of these involve horrific injuries to and deaths of horses on the trucks. As recently as October 2020, 14 horses were killed and 11 badly injured when a truck driving the animals to slaughter flipped on a highway in Franklin County, Missouri. Similar accidents have happened over the years, and in most, motorists had to avoid the accident and, in some cases, encountered terrified and injured horses running loose in the lanes of traffic. Similarly, in 2017, a truck belonging to the infamous kill buyers who own one of the nation’s largest horse slaughter holding facilities in Bastrop, Louisiana, was involved in a terrible crash that led to the deaths of 19 horses.
While horse slaughter does not currently occur on U.S. soil due to a de facto ban achieved through the congressional appropriations process, tens of thousands of domestic and wild horses are shipped to Mexico and Canada each year to be slaughtered for human consumption in those countries, Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.
Stand-alone legislation that would permanently ban both the transportation of slaughter-bound horses and slaughter itself – the SAFE Act – was recently introduced, but despite the passage of a similar bill fifteen years ago, and the majority of House Members cosponsoring the measure in the 116th Congress, enactment of the legislation continues to be an uphill battle due to industrial agriculture interests and pro-slaughter Members of Congress.