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Press Release
October 6, 1998
Equine Placement Network, Inc.
Press Releases

PA HB 2127

Harrisburg- The PA House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Representative Thomas Gannon voted out of committee HB 2127, The Horse Transport Bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Lynch, Warren County. The bill is aimed at ending the cruel and inhumane methods used to transport horses to slaughter for human consumption.

The Equine Placement Network, a grass roots advocacy group whose members are professional horsemen/women and who is supported by over 25 major horse industry organizations including; Brook Ledge Horse Transport, The American Horse Shows Association, The United States Trotting Association, The PA-Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Hanover Shoe Farms and The Paper Horse is calling for 3 amendments to the bill. Only one of those three amendments was added:

" Each equine animal transported in violation of this section shall constitute a separate offense under this section."

This amendment is crucial to the law having teeth, otherwise the fines are so minimal, that they are nothing more than the cost of doing business, on the level of a traffic ticket. The EPN is pleased that this amendment was added to the legislation. The EPN is appreciative to the Judiciary Committee for adding this amendment.

The most crucial amendment though, to make the trailer standards apply to ALL horses, not just slaughterbound horses was not added. Without this vital amendment the law is unenforceable and will be nothing more than a publicity victory. The Equine Placement Network and our supporters will not support the bill without this amendment, and in fact we will oppose the legislation.

The third amendment is the definition of an Intermediate Handler. This definition must be added so as not to affect legitimate horsemen transporting horses for veterinary care or the legitimate transport of pregnant mares and foals.

In the horse industry, the weekly horse sale in New Holland is known as the largest weekly sale of "killer horses" east of the Mississippi. The weekly sale averages 250 horses per week. Horses sold for slaughter at the auction are transported to Texas and Canada, distances of 1500 and 550 miles respectively.

The horses are slaughtered for human consumption overseas in Europe and Japan. Horses purchased for slaughter are often transported in trailers designed to transport cattle and hogs and which do not meet equine industry standards for vehicles used to transport horses. This, in conjunction with overcrowding and a lack of segregation often cause injury and even death to the horses being transported. The lack of food, water and rest contribute to the arduous journey making it especially inhumane for blind, sick, injured, and/or the very young or the very old.

In recent months New York State Police have made close to 200 arrests of 3 habitual offenders who transport horses from PA auction barns to Canadian slaughterhouses after stepping up their enforcement of New York State's horse transport law. New York State has the strongest law in the country passed in 1981. The law makes it illegal to transport horses in a double deck trailer and requires other safety features in trailers transporting 6 or more horses. PA HB 2127 is modeled after New York State law, which was passed unanimously by the New York Legislature in 30 days.

On July 22, 1998 New York Governor Pataki signed into law Senate Bill 6332 introduced in March 1998 by Senator Kuhl, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The bill raises the fines for violating New York State's Agriculture and Markets law, Section 359-a, the illegal transport of horses. The fines were raised from $100 to $250 for a first violation and from $500 to $1000 for a second conviction. The fines are PER horse, PER violation. The new fines take effect on November 1, 1998.

On July 6, 1998 the PA State Police were at the New Holland Sales Stables in New Holland, PA responding to complaints regarding the trucks and trailers that transport the horses and the conditions of the horses at the auction. The PA State Police had officers inside the auction from early morning until late afternoon.

A shipper from KY was cited for not having Coggins Tests, as required by PA law, for 12 of the 14 horses that he had shipped in from Kentucky. A court date was set for early October.

Law abiding citizens and reporters who attend these public horse auctions are often harassed and threatened by "killer buyers", auction workers, and others who participate in the abusive treatment of horses at auction barns. The auction barns are notorious for keeping insufficient records regarding the description of horses and consignors as required by law. When purchasers have tried to contact the previous owner of a horse purchased at auction they often learn that there is no such address, no such person, etc. This facilitates the trade of stolen horses and the non prosecution of abuse and neglect cases.

The EPN is asking citizens to write their State Representative and Governor Tom Ridge requesting them to pass the Horse Transport Bill with the amendments the EPN is calling for added, so that PA can end the shameful way we treat horses on their Last Ride.


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