A Congressional committee has approved a measure to keep horsemeat off the table. The “Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act” would make it a crime to possess or transport horse meat for human consumption or horses intended to be slaughtered for human meals. The measure still needs to pass the full House and Senate before it can become law.
Animal advocacy groups have been pushing U.S. officials to regulate horse slaughter for years. The last three remaining U.S. horse slaughterhouses were closed in recent years, but thousands of horses are still exported for slaughter in Canada and Mexico each year. Because horses are not regulated as meat animals, Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, says the process by which they are killed is extremely cruel.
“There’s absolutely no way to make it humane. It’s an industry that cannot be regulated to make it humane.”
Those opposed to the law include some cattle ranchers, horse breeders and veterinarians who say the slaughterhouses provide a necessary option to deal with unwanted horses. Mark Lutschaunig, director of governmental relations for the American Veterinary Medicine Association, tells ABC News, his group is hearing reports of a sharp increase in cases of horses being neglected and abandoned by owners. It can cost several hundred dollars to euthanize horses and dispose of their bodies, but owners can make money selling their horses for slaughter at auctions. Colin Woodall is the executive director of legislative affairs of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
“People out there who would make the choice to allow their animal to just starve rather than having a veterinarian come out there to euthanize the animal.”
About 100,000 American horses are exported for slaughter in Mexico and Canada each year.
Are you working in your community to raise awareness about animal welfare or tackling cruelty? We want to hear about it! Do Something and the ASPCA have teamed up to create the best online resource out there for young people who care about animals. To kick it off we’re giving out ten $500 grants for projects about animal welfare. Apply here.