Barbara Boxer, a Democratic senator from California, dismissed arguments that the bill would lead to many more abandoned horses. "We have this law in place in California ... since 1998. The people voted for it, and the state has seen no increase in neglect and no abandoned horses - and this is from the largest state in the Union."
The three remaining foreign-owned slaughter plants in the United States - located in Illinois and Texas - have been shut down temporarily by recent court decisions. However, passage of the bill is seen as critical by supporters to ensure horses are protected from slaughter forever, and that they are not exported elsewhere to be killed for the same purpose.
"Until Congress acts, horses are being hauled under horrible conditions across the border to Mexico and Canada, where they are brutally slaughtered," said Chris Heyde, deputy legislative director of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation. "The AHSPA is their only hope."
Two years ago, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to stop horse slaughter for a year, and last year, the House passed the bill. Unfortunately, Congress went out of session before the Senate could vote on the measure. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored in this session by Senators Mary Landrieu (Democrat, Louisiana) and John Ensign (Republican, Nevada) will ensure that the practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is stopped permanently.
Before the measure went up for a vote, Senator Ensign said: "There is no question that this bill will pass in this Committee, in the full Senate and in the House of Representatives, finally stopping horse slaughter."