January 10, 2008

A group of vets opposed to the American Veterinary Medicine Association's support of horse slaughter has released a white paper to challenge what it calls the AVMA's "misinformation" about the issue.

The paper from the Veterinarians for Equine Welfare (VEW) is entitled "Horse Slaughter - Its Ethical Impact and Subsequent Response of the Veterinary Profession".

The group argues that misinformation is being circulated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and other organisations opposing a potential ban on horse slaughter in the US and the export of horses for slaughter.

Several VEW veterinarians met with legislators in Washington last December to discuss the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act - a bill that will prohibit the slaughter of horses in the US or their export for the same purpose.

The veterinarians were shocked by the amount of misinformation they allege is being spread by the AVMA and groups including the horse slaughterhouses themselves who are all part of a coalition called the Horse Welfare Coalition.

"To address this, VEW has released a white paper clearly addressing the inaccuracies," the group said in a statement. "The paper contains detailed supporting information, something largely absent from materials produced by the pro-horse slaughter advocates."

"I submitted a letter to the editor of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in response to the AVMA's latest 'fact sheet' on horse slaughter but it was rejected," stated Dr Nick Dodman, a co-founder of VEW.

"It is a shame to see a professional organisation work so hard to undermine something such as the horse slaughter ban based on speculation and unsubstantiated information."

Dr Dodman went on to say: "As veterinarians we are bound a code of ethics to prevent animal suffering, not hinder animal protection measures in order to promote economic interests."

A recent release from the AVMA points to the dramatic increase of horses being sent to slaughter in Mexico from the US.

While the increase is disconcerting, advocates of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act have always indicated this would happen without passage of the federal ban.

"It has been because of opposition to the bill by the AVMA and other pro-horse slaughter groups that the federal ban has thus far failed to pass," the VEW said. "Had they worked with those advocating the humane treatment of horses, horse slaughter and the export of horses to Mexico would have been halted years ago and enormous animal suffering would have been relieved."

Dr. Theo Antikas, another co-founder of VEW, said: "It is time to stop the rhetoric and political backhanded tricks that have been blocking passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

"We must all work together for positive change that will help end the suffering of tens of thousands of American horses."