When the news broke about President Obama signing the killing of horses for human consumption into law, it was like the law was heard around the world. Many animal activists were not happy.
The controversial law is hard for some to believe, and some are doing all they can to ban it, like The Humane Society of the United States. Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund told The Washington Times that any state which allows horse-slaughter plants to open “will face pressure.”
“People will not be happy about their community potentially bringing in one of these plants,” he said. “Americans don’t eat horses, and don’t want them butchered and shrink-wrapped and sent to France or Japan as a delicacy.”
Around 138,000 horses were exported for slaughter in 2010, The Washington Times reported. Another 30,000 were shipped for other purposes.
Horse slaughter was never banned completely by Congress, but handed inspection powers over to the Agriculture Department in 1996. Then, in 2006 Congress voted to stop federal inspections, which put a stop the horse-slaughter industry.
The Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said there are no current horse slaughterhouses operating in the U.S. that produce meat for human consumption; however according to the United Horseman, a pro-slaughter group, slaughter facilities could be opening sooner, rather than later, in Georgia, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana and even Idaho.
The Christian Science Monitor reviewed a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and reported “that more abandoned and neglected horses in the US – which has 9 million equines – are being sold and processed for meat anyway in countries that may not have the same standard of humane euthanasia that US law requires.”
In addition, with the poor economy, horse owners haven’t had an easy road – resulting in horse neglect and abandonment. “In Colorado alone, horse abandonment ‘increased 60 percent from 975 in 2005 to 1,588 in 2009,’” the GAO report said.
The New York Times also reported that banning the exporting and slaughtering of horses forced breeders and owners to no longer sell meat, which overall caused their businesses to go under.
As with most issues, some see good and bad in the bill. Even some animal rights groups are supporting horse slaughtering. For PETA, this jaw-dropping law can be used to fuel the fire in order to protect horses from slaughter and export.
Even though in the past five years horses have not been used for slaughtering and human consumption in the U.S., they have been exported to Mexico, Canada and other countries. The banning of exporting seems to be just as important as stopping the slaughtering.
“A law doesn’t change what’s in people’s hearts, and if business people view horses as commodities, ignoring their sensitive natures in favor of the few dollars that their flesh might bring, the horses were sunk from the start,” said David Perle, a spokesman for PETA said. “To reduce suffering, there should be a ban on the export of live horses, even if that means opening slaughterhouses in the U.S. again. But the better option is to ban slaughter in the U.S. and ban the export of live horses so that no one is slaughtering America’s horses.”
The ban against horse slaughtering and exporting seems to come down to how Americans view horses. Are they iconic and beautiful beings or do they need to be killed to prevent overpopulation? Is it better to have them slaughtered in our own country, as opposed to sending them over the border and overseas?
Let us know your thoughts.