During the past 25 years over four and a half million American horses have been slaughtered to meet a foreign demand for horsemeat. Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby winner was slaughtered in Japan, and Exceller the only horse to ever beat two Triple Crown Winners died in a Swedish slaughterhouse. We do not raise our horses for food in America; we breed them with dreams of the next Triple Crown winner or Olympic champion.


Although the topic of horse slaughter is a controversial and emotional issue in the horse industry, it really comes down to the simple issue of the disposal of unwanted horses. Just as we do not slaughter unwanted dogs and cats for human consumption, nor should we slaughter American horses for human consumption.


The pro slaughter forces often ask, “What are we going to do with all the horses that are sent to slaughter?”, or “Who is going to pay for these unwanted horses to be euthanised?” The answer is simple – their owners are going to be required by law to cover the expense of euthanasia and carcass removal – the cost is relative to the cost of having a farrier put a set of shoes on, which is done every four to six weeks. Just as we cannot use decompression chambers or drowning to dispose of unwanted dogs and cats, it must also be illegal to slaughter unwanted horses for human consumption. The horse slaughter issue is not about providing homes for all the unwanted horses, it is simply about the method of disposal. Slaughter versus euthanasia via lethal injection.


Pro slaughter forces argue that if slaughter is no longer an option for horse owners, then there will be horses left to stand in fields to starve. Horse slaughter is a for profit industry driven by dealers and agents for foreign owned slaughterhouses. Horse slaughter has been around for over three decades and it has not prevented irresponsible horse owners from neglecting their horses, nor are there any scientific studies to back up this argument.


Law enforcement agents familiar with horse cruelty cases can attest to the fact that defendants adamantly profess their love for their horse, spending thousands in court to defend themselves against the charges and to regain custody of their neglected horse. The Large Animal Protection Society, LAPS, enforces the Pennsylvania cruelty law in four counties, two of which have the densest horse population in Pennsylvania, the fourth

largest horse state in the United States. LAPS has investigated over 2500 cases of horse cruelty over a 17 year period. One of the counties LAPS covers is Lancaster County, home to the New Holland Horse Auction, long known in the horse industry as one of the largest weekly horse auctions. For the past 25 years there have been as many as five “killer buyers” present at the New Holland sale purchasing horses for foreign owned slaughterhouses.


JoAnne Mauger of LAPS has stated, “I have investigated cases of cruelty so close to New Holland, the owner could have led the horse to the sale.” The availability of slaughter has not stopped people from starving and neglecting their horses.


Other pro slaughter forces argue that slaughter provides owners with salvage value for their horses. Allowing a socially unacceptable practice to continue so a handful of owners can reap the last few dollars from their horse is not a valid argument.


There are three facts on this issue that cannot be disputed by either side:

·        Horse slaughter is a cultural issue. Americans do not eat horses.

·         Horses are NOT raised as food and fiber animals in the United States. Horses are currently taxed as sport, recreation & pleasure animals. The individual states will lose millions in state sales tax revenue currently collected from horse owners. It seems a high price for the states to pay so a handful of horse owners can reap the last $400.00 from 50,000 horses per year. Horse owners are also not given the same agricultural benefits as food and fiber animals. As long as it remains legal to slaughter a horse, I as a horse owner am being unfairly taxed.

·        The products we use on our horses have not been tested by the FDA for use in horses intended for food. The products we use on our horses carry the warning label, "Not for use on horses intended for food." It is unlikely that the manufacturers would spend the money to obtain a withdrawal time from the FDA for horses for human consumption; the cost of the testing is not justified by the revenue from the sale of these products. We slaughter 37 million cattle each year in the United States. In comparison the entire horse population is 6 million.


The largest horse state, & the leading agricultural state in the country, California, made it a felony to slaughter a horse in 1998 when over 60% (5 million) of California voters, just said neigh to horse slaughter. The passage of Prop 6 did not change the status of horses from livestock to companion animal, nor did the number of horse abuse cases rise according to Carolyn Stull of University of California at Davis.


If given the chance tomorrow, overwhelmingly Americans would vote to outlaw horse slaughter. Poll after poll always comes back with the same predictable results, Americans want horse slaughter banned. The most recent polls of voters in Texas, Virginia and Kentucky in 2003 and 2004 demonstrate that 74% to 84% of voters want slaughter outlawed.


On February 1, 2005, Rep John Sweeney from NY, co-chair of the Congressional Horse Caucus, introduced HR 503 in the 109th Congress which would prevent the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes. HR 503 amends the Horse Protection Act.


I am asking you to co-sponsor or support H.R. 503 which would make it illegal to transport horses to slaughter, thus preventing the slaughter of American horses for food.