Washington, DC—Amid claims that animal welfare advocates are to blame for the steep increase in horses going to Mexico for slaughter, the Washington, DC-based Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) today fired back. The group, which has been at the forefront of the effort to end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption abroad, pointed the finger of blame directly at the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for its culpability in the suffering of American horses.
"From day one, AWI has worked to end the slaughter of American horses here and over the border. The AVMA, on the other hand, has lobbied Congress to block passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act," said AWI's deputy director of government and legal affairs, Chris Heyde.
Records show that AWI has a long history of working with Members of Congress to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), which would prohibit the slaughter of horses here for human consumption as well as their export for the same purpose. While the federal bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a landslide vote in 2006 it is pending on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, AWI successfully worked with legislators and activists in Texas and Illinois to close the country's three remaining horse slaughter plants last year under state law.
"AWI actively worked in Texas and Illinois to close those plants. Citizens there wanted the plants gone and Congress had failed to pass a ban, so the states invoked their right to control what happens to horses within their own state lines. But the goal for all genuine equine advocates, of course, is passage of the federal bill. That's why we're taking off the gloves with the AVMA on this," said Heyde.
Documents held by AWI show that the AVMA is part of a coalition founded by the companies that own the defunct domestic slaughterhouses which are now exporting horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. The coalition's primary goal is to block passage of the AHSPA.
"It's ironic that those screaming the loudest about the mass exports are actively working with the very same slaughterhouses that are shipping our horses to Mexico. How the AVMA can claim to be acting in the name of animal welfare is anyone's guess," said Heyde. "While they're helping to send horses to Mexico for slaughter AWI is working to shut the trade down. We're also promoting responsible horse ownership, combating unscrupulous breeding and working to ensure placement of horses in need through our leadership in the Homes for Horses Coalition. I think it's pretty clear who has the best interest of the horses at heart, and it's not the AVMA."