April 28, 2008

A resolution before the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) which would have promoted horse slaughter in the United States has been defeated.

The measure, offered by South Dakota state representative David Sigdestad, urged the US Congress to oppose the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, currently pending in Congress.

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, commended state legislators who stood up in support of humane treatment of horses, describing the resolution as "another dirty trick brought to you by the horse slaughter industry and its lobbyists".

"Contrary to their claims," he said, "the federal American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act has enormous Congressional and public support, and the current trend at the state level has also been towards the passage of laws that protect horses from slaughter."

The Act in its current form will prohibit the slaughter of American horses in the US or abroad for human consumption in Europe and Asia, where it is often considered a delicacy. The Senate and House versions have 38 and 200 co-sponsors, respectively.

Polls show that the majority of Americans support an end to the foreign-driven slaughter trade, as do many horse industry leaders and organisations.

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act passed the US House of Representatives by an overwhelming margin in the 109th Congress and is up for reconsideration again. States have also weight in with their own legislation.

Heyde said Sigdestad's resolution flew in the face of legislative trend and public sentiment."

"We must enact the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately to protect America's horses from being trucked alive across our borders for slaughter abroad, and to further the will of those states that have enacted measures to end this barbaric trade."

In recent years, more than 100,000 American horses were slaughtered annually at three foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses operating out of Texas and Illinois while tens of thousands more were exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter there.

Last year laws were enacted in Texas and Illinois prohibiting the slaughter, thus shutting down the country's remaining domestic plants.

Nonetheless, the industry continues to haul huge numbers of American horses over the border for slaughter where, in Mexico, there have been rreports of horses being stabbed in the neck to induce paralysis before slaughter.

"That the horse slaughter lobby claims to be working in the best interest of American horses by pushing for the defeat of a federal ban on their slaughter is disingenuous," said Heyde.

"We're just glad that reason ruled the day and the NCSL defeated the resolution."