May 11, 2008

A TV show investigating the slaughter of thoroughbred horses for profit is airing in the US on Monday.

The item, named "Hidden Horses" will air on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, on May 12.

"Few casual horse racing fans are aware that many former racing horses are slaughtered for profit," the show's promo says. "When a thoroughbred racehorse reaches the end of its career or is simply no longer profitable on the track, it is often taken directly to auction and sold for meat.

"Because horse slaughter is no longer practiced in this country, these thoroughbreds are now being shipped by 'killer buyers' to slaughterhouses abroad, which are frequently less regulated and less humane than former US slaughterhouses."

Many of the horses depicted in the HBO segment went from the track to a slaughterhouse in Mexico very quickly.

"It's disturbing that anyone would sell a horse to slaughter, but to do so the moment a young horse stops earning the owner a big check seems particularly repugnant," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs with the Animal Welfare Institute. "This piece further demonstrates the clear need for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act."

While the last three horse slaughterhouses operating on US soil were closed in 2007 under state laws, more than 100,000 American horses continue to be killed annually at plants located in Canada and Mexico. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, introduced in the US Congress as H.R. 503 and S. 311, would prohibit the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption abroad, as well as their export for the same purpose.

"This is a black eye that the Thoroughbred racing world just can't afford right now," Heyde said. "We hope the industry will clean up its act."

AWI encourages everyone to step up calls to their legislators and House and Senate leadership demanding a vote on the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediatly to stop the slaughterhouses from exporting tens of thousands of American horses to Mexico and Canada.