October 4, 2007

An animal welfare group says claims that horses are facing worse fates in Mexico and Canada since US slaughter ended are a "red herring" argument.

The Animal Welfare Institute says that now horse slaughter has effectively ended in the United States, "the pro-horse slaughter camp is claiming it was right about the need to keep slaughter an option in the US." The AWI is actively working to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act into law.

"They say that our horses are facing a far worse fate in Mexico and Canada than they were when they could be slaughtered in America. This is yet another 'red-herring' argument advanced by the pro-horse slaughter side to distract humane Americans from the ultimate goal of protecting all American horses from slaughter via passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 311/HR. 503). This legislation will end the slaughter of American horses here and their export for slaughter abroad," a spokesman said.

Because there is no legitimate defense of horse slaughter as a "necessary evil", organizations supporting the cruelty such as the American Farm Bureau, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Equine Practitioners, have promoted various myths to defend the abhorrent practice, the AWI says.

"First, they told everyone that cruelty would increase without slaughter, but data from California and Illinois proved just the opposite to be true. They told everyone that horse abandonment would be epidemic if slaughter was no longer an option, yet once again the facts and historical evidence deemed this to be untrue. In fact, these two arguments, if taken to have any credibly, would imply that horse slaughter offers a financial reward to individuals who would illegally neglect or abandon their horses if the cruel option of slaughter were withdrawn."

The AWI says that these few groups and the remnants of the domestic horse slaughter industry "are circulating a new myth - that they were acting on humane principals in fighting a ban on horse slaughter, arguing that it would be worse for the horses to be sent to Mexico or Canada for slaughter." Ironically, this is perhaps the single point on which both sides agree. "The fate of horses being sent to slaughter in Mexico is horrific, however, we are working to stop it while the pro-horse slaughter camp fights to perpetuate the cruelty," says Animal Welfare Institute Deputy Legislative Director, Chris Heyde.

"Not only are these organizations actively lobbying Congress to block passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would prohibit the export of our horses to Mexico for slaughter, but the pro-horse slaughter lobby, which consists of the groups mentioned above and the owners of the Cavel, BelTex and Dallas Crown horse slaughterhouses, fails to mention that the plants (specifically BelTex and Cavel) are actively buying tens of thousands of American horses and shipping them to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. They are actively engaged in a trade which they admit leads to increased animal cruelty."

As leaders in the campaign to end horse slaughter, the Animal Welfare Institute's primary goal has always been passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. "Only with this legislation will we have the tools to stop horses from being exported to other countries for slaughter," said Heyde.

"If the American Veterinary Medical Association and other contingents of the pro-horse slaughter lobby are truly concerned about the suffering of American horses at the hands of Mexican slaughterhouse workers, now is the time to join us in working to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act into law."