Ban slaughter, bill urges
European connoisseurs of horsemeat may no longer be able to rely on U.S. exports, should a new bill pass Congress.
H.R. 3781, introduced by Rep. Connie Morella of Maryland, would ban the U.S. slaughter of horses for human consumption abroad and in the U.S. and prohibit horses from being transported to another country for slaughter.
Jonathan Dean, press secretary for Morella, admits very little horse consumption occurs in the U.S.
"Most, if not all Americans, don't eat horsemeat nor raise horses for human consumption," he says.
Instead, the driver for the bill, according to Dean is "Because of the sad fact that last year more than 50,000 majestic horses were slaughtered in our country for human consumption abroad. This number is on the rise."
These horses are being slaughtered at a very specific type of slaughterhouse.
"These are foreign-owned slaughterhouses (in the U.S.) that are killing these majestic animals for people in other countries," says Dean. "They are not American slaughterhouses."
The bill, which was introduced in mid-February, also forbids the transport of horseflesh designated for human consumption. Other bill supporters include New York Representatives Benjamin Gilman and Maurice Hinchey, Stephen Horn and Tom Lantos of California, Walter Jones Jr. of North Carolina, and Frank Pallone of New Jersey.
Congressional supporters say they hope the bill will end horse slaughter in the United States and prevent slaughtering of U.S. horses in neighboring countries.
The bill's opposition contends horses that are no longer effective for physical reasons will only be subjected to more suffering.
Dean argues "there are other avenues," such as donating horses to rescue organizations, making arrangements to have them sent to retirement farms.
Also, he adds, "This bill is for human consumption - slaughterhouses - not for humane euthanization of sick or dying animals. This bill is very specific. It only would ban slaughter of horses for human consumption."
The American Association of Equine Practitioners and American Veterinary Medical Association were not immediately available for comment.
The full text of House Resolution 3781 can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/