Throughout history, horses have helped mankind live and prosper. Now, Congress will need to decide if horses should be afforded the same courtesy.
On June 22, 2011, The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter of which explained that the U.S. ban on horse slaughter does not prevent American horses from being killed abroad. According to a Washington Times article by Stephen Dinan, “In 2010, about 138,000 horses were exported for slaughter, and another 30,000 horses were shipped for other purposes, though some of those were likely sent to feedlots to be fattened for later slaughter.
“Horse meat is regularly used for consumption by circuses and zoos, and it is now sent to Eastern Hemisphere countries where it is an accepted food.”
The horse slaughter controversy is very serious and contains multiple perspectives. Dinan reports, “Rep. Adrian Smith, a Nebraska Republican is in favor of horse slaughter and said, ‘The GAO report makes it clear ending horse processing has had a detrimental effect on both the economy and animal welfare.’
“Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the group, disputed claims that no slaughter will lead to more unwanted horses, saying the market is controlled by demand, not supply.’ Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, has introduced legislation for an outright ban on both U.S. and export horse slaughter. She claims, ‘There is almost no market for horse meat in the United States, and the majority of Americans oppose the practice of horse slaughter.’
“Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat also said, ‘Given the iconic role horses have played in our nation’s history and the overwhelming opposition of the American people to the slaughter of horses, I believe the latter option is the moral choice and one that most Americans would support.”
Madeline Pickens, founder of Saving America’s Mustangs foundation and Wild horse Mustang Monument Eco-Preserve suggests, “What we really need is for Congress to promptly pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D- LA) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), banning horse slaughter domestically and prohibiting the export of horses to Mexico and Canada.”
In their report, the GAO lists numerous recommendations for congress to consider ways to implement further action. Local Gainesville rescue organizations try to save horses from an uncertain fate and Dinan reports that animal rights groups such as the Humane Society have spent years fighting the export of horses for slaughter. The matter of horse slaughter is so complex that the GAO has stated that “Congress and the Obama administration may need to revisit the entire issue.”