National Conference of State Legislators Defeats Resolution to Promote Horse Slaughter

Friday, April 25, 2008

Washington, D.C. -- A renegade resolution to promote the continued slaughter of American horses for human consumption abroad was defeated at today's meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The measure, offered by state Representative David Sigdestad (D-SD), urged the United States Congress to oppose the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, currently pending in Congress. AWI commends those state legislators who stood up in support of humane treatment of horses.

"The scheme was yet another dirty trick brought to you by the horse slaughter industry and its lobbyists. Contrary to their claims, the federal American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act has enormous Congressional and public support, and the current trend at the state level has also been towards the passage of laws that protect horses from slaughter," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute.

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 311/H.R. 503), will prohibit the slaughter of American horses here or abroad for human consumption in Europe and Asia where it is often considered a delicacy. The Senate and House versions have 38 and 200 cosponsors, respectively.

Polls show that the majority of Americans support an end to the foreign-driven trade, as do hundreds of horse industry leaders and organizations, humane groups and dozens of celebrities. As a result, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act passed the United States House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin in the 109th Congress and is up for reconsideration again. States are also weighing in.

"While the US Congress is considering a federal ban, California, Texas and Illinois have taken action to send this predatory business packing. South Dakota recently considered the issue when a bill authorizing state funds for the construction of a horse slaughterhouse was stopped in its tracks, yet here we have a legislator from South Dakota, Representative Sigdestad, offering a resolution that flies in the face of legislative trend and public sentiment," said Heyde. "We must enact the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately to protect America's horses from being trucked alive across our borders for slaughter abroad, and to further the will of those states that have enacted measures to end this barbaric trade."

In recent years, more than 100,000 American horses were slaughtered annually at three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses operating out of Texas and Illinois while tens of thousands more were exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter there. Last year laws were enacted in Texas and Illinois prohibiting the slaughter, thus shutting down the country's remaining domestic plants. Nonetheless, the industry continues to haul huge numbers of American horses over the border for slaughter where they may be stabbed in the neck to induce paralysis before slaughter.

"There has been a concerted effort by the misnamed 'Horse Welfare Coalition,' mentioned in Representative Sigdestad's resolution, to mislead legislators and the American public on the gruesome nature of horse slaughter. The fact is that this coalition was founded and is led by the very same foreign-owned companies that were previously slaughtering our horses here and are now trucking them over the border to Canada and Mexico to do the same, only under worse conditions. That the horse slaughter lobby claims to be working in the best interest of American horses by pushing for the defeat of a federal ban on their slaughter is disingenuous," said Heyde. "We're just glad that reason ruled the day and the NCSL defeated the resolution."

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Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142

For over 57 years the Animal Welfare Institute has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. Find our more at: www.awionline.org.