Critical Legislation Reintroduced In The U.S. To Permanently Ban The Horrific Slaughter Of American Horses

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and other animal protection organizations applaud the reintroduction in the U.S. Senate of the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (S. 2037/H.R. 3475). This bill would permanently protect American horses from commercial slaughter.

Sponsored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and eight bipartisan cosponsors, as well as in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), this critical legislation would expand the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act—which passed as part of the 2018 Farm Bill—to include equines, thereby prohibiting the commercial slaughter of horses in the United States, as well as their export for that purpose abroad.

“The gruesome practice of horse slaughter for food consumption has no place in the United States. It is well past time for Congress to act decisively in putting an end to this cruelty,” Menendez said. “Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are dangerous for human consumption and should not be a part of our nation’s food supply or export of goods. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide.”

“The horse slaughter industry has claimed the lives of millions of American horses over the last few decades, producing unsafe food, likely tainted with residues of dangerous drugs, for foreign consumers. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for long distances without food, water or rest, in overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit,” said Susan Millward, executive director and CEO of the Animal Welfare Institute. “The overwhelming majority of Americans are vociferously opposed to butchering horses for human consumption, so we are grateful to Senators Menendez and Graham for leading the SAFE Act to spare horses from this brutal fate.”

“More than 80% of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption, and despite robust partnerships between the equine industry and animal welfare groups to support rehoming horses, a legal loophole still allows tens of thousands of American horses to be shipped to other countries for slaughter each year,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the ASPCA.

Research shows that 2.3 million Americans have the interest and resources to adopt a horse, demonstrating that there were more than enough homes for the approximately 20,000 American horses who were exported for slaughter last year. America’s equine adoption community is working swiftly to match the horses in their care with foster and adoptive families, increasing the number of adoptions every year. As long as the financial incentive for slaughter exists, it will continue to hamper the lifesaving efforts of rescue and welfare groups to provide humane care to equines.

The horse slaughter industry not only exploits horses, it also harms the broader equine community, including horse owners, riders, and rescues. Kill buyers—those who buy horses to ship to slaughter in Canada and Mexico—attend auctions and often outbid rescue groups that are trying to help vulnerable equines.

Kill buyers have also been known to pose as good homes in response to ads from horse owners who can no longer care for their animals. Many owners are so fearful that they may even keep their horses beyond the point that they can afford basic care to prevent their animals from being sold to slaughter, causing further suffering. There is no reason to continue this abhorrent practice that 83% of Americans oppose.

“We are grateful to Senators Menendez and Graham for their continued, unwavering leadership,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom. “Polls show that the vast majority of Americans find it abhorrent that any horse, wild or domestic, suffers the road to slaughter. Congress must not allow itself to be undermined by a self-serving few on a measure with overwhelming support.”

The SAFE Act is supported by leading animal welfare groups, including AWI, ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. The SAFE Act has also received strong support from industry groups, including The Jockey Club, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Stronach Group, the Breeders’ Cup, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, The Jockeys’ Guild, the New York Racing Association, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, and the Maryland Horse Council. Last year, these organizations partnered with animal welfare groups to form the Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter,” a collaborative effort urging federal lawmakers to pass a permanent ban on slaughter.

The SAFE Act received strong bipartisan support last Congress, with more than half of the U.S. House of Representatives signing on as cosponsors and the full House voting in favor of an amendment to ban horse slaughter.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact their U.S. senators and representatives to urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act and secure its swift passage to protect horses, HERE!

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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