Animal protection groups applaud Senate bill to ban horse slaughter


By Associated Press

via Chicago Tribune - Jul 10, 2019


Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced legislation today to permanently end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in the United States and abroad.


The John Stringer Rainey Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, S. 2006, is supported by leading animal welfare groups, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation.


Tens of thousands of American horses are shipped each year to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption—a practice that 80% of American voters oppose. American horses are not raised for food and routinely receive a wide range of medications that are expressly prohibited for use in meat products. Even so, the problem of horses and burros being butchered for human consumption persists because "kill-buyers" can legally purchase horses at auctions or from unsuspecting owners in order to ship them to slaughterhouses abroad.


Horses endure long stressful journeys without food, water, or rest and can experience severe injuries and even death en route to slaughterhouses. During the slaughter process, it can be extremely difficult to accurately stun horses—who react to noise, smells and sounds in a commercial plant with their natural flight response. Improperly stunned horses may even remain conscious during the butchering and dismemberment process. The inherent cruelty of sending horses to slaughter is evident at each stage of their journey and was well documented—even in the presence of government oversight—when slaughterhouses existed in the United States.


Further complicating the issue is that unsuspecting individuals who wish to rehome their horses are being duped into selling them into the slaughter pipeline. A recent example involved a veterinary student who deceived owners into giving up their horses by stating that she would find good homes for them, but instead profited by selling them for slaughter. As long as no federal law prohibits the sale for human consumption, owners are unable to ensure that any horse they sell will not end up on a truck bound for a slaughterhouse across the border. Every horse, in fact, is one bad sale away from slaughter.


The John Stringer Rainey SAFE Act would amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code to make it illegal for anyone to knowingly transport, purchase, sell, possess, ship or receive any horse with the intent of slaughtering the animal for human consumption. The SAFE Act would also codify penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for individuals who violate the law. The bill—which mirrors legislation that was introduced in a prior session of Congress—will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which Sen. Graham is the chair.


The legislation is named for the late John Stringer Rainey of South Carolina. Rainey was a business leader and philanthropist who supported organizations that promote second careers for retired racehorses. He also worked for the passage of legislation to end slaughter of horses.


"The gruesome practice of slaughtering horses for food has no place in the United States, and it's well past time for Congress to say once and for all that horse meat is not what's for dinner," said Sen. Menendez...