(Jan. 17, 2007) – Today, the American Horse Slaughter
Prevention Act was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives to ban the slaughter of American horses for human
consumption overseas. The Senate bill was introduced by Mary Landrieu
(D-La.), and John Ensign (R-Nev.), and the House bill, H.R. 503, was
introduced by Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John
Spratt (D-S.C.), and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.).
The bill has 61 House original cosponsors and 11 Senate original
cosponsors. Both bills clearly command majority support in both
chambers of Congress, and nearly all of the leaders in Congress –
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
(D-Md.) and Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Majority
Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.),
and Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) – have favored the ban on
This action comes just after 100,800 American horses were slaughtered
in the three foreign-owned equine slaughterhouses in the United States, according to year-end figures from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. At least another 33,400 were exported to Canada, Mexico,
and Japan for slaughter. Adding in the approximately 4,000 horses
imported from Canada, the total number of horses caught in the
slaughter pipeline for this time period exceeds 139,000.
"Every day the Congress waits, there will be more torment and more
suffering for America's horses," said Wayne Pacelle, president and
CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "The horse is an
American icon, and it is a betrayal of our responsibility to these
animals to treat them like cheap commodities and send them to foreign-
owned companies for slaughter. All we ask of leaders in Congress is
for a fair up or down vote on the issue."
Despite strong bipartisan support in the last Congress, including
passage in the House in September by a landslide vote of 263 to 146,
the Senate failed to act on the bill before adjourning, partly
because of the obstructionist efforts of Montana Senator Conrad
Burns, who was defeated in his reelection bid.
"The slaughter of horses is both cruel and inhumane, and it is our
responsibility to ensure that it no longer occurs," Sen. Landrieu
said. "As a lifelong equestrian, I was proud to cosponsor legislation
to ban horse slaughter in the 109th Congress and I am proud to be the
lead sponsor of the legislation in the 110th."
Supporters of the slaughter ban reject the claim by the industry that
slaughter is "humane euthanasia." In fact, The HSUS documented the
cruelty and abuse last fall, when investigators followed "killer
buyers" transporting horses thousands of miles from auctions to
feedlots to interstate highways. They also documented a barbaric
method of slaughter on a kill floor in Juarez, Mexico. Here, where
thousands of American horses are "stunned" by stabbing with short
knives – a method that leaves them paralyzed and unable to breathe –
the animals are still sensible to pain as they are hoisted up by a
chain and their throats slit.
Footage from domestic plants taken by HSUS investigators also
demonstrates cruelties ranging from harsh conditions that allow for
days of transport with no food, water, or rest before arriving to the
actual killing floor. Once there, a captive bolt gun to the brain is
used to render the skittish animals unconscious, but because this
method is uniquely unsuitable for horses in a frightening situation,
multiple blows may be required. The American Horse Slaughter
Prevention Act will bar the slaughter of horses for human consumption
in the U.S. as well as the export of horses for slaughter in other
"The time has come to put an end to the practice of slaughtering
horses in America," said Sen. Ensign, one of two veterinarians in
Congress. "Horses have an important role in the history of our
country, particularly the West, and they deserve our protection. As a
senator and a veterinarian, I am committed to doing what I can for
these magnificent animals."
The HSUS is joined by members of Congress, the National Show Horse
Registry, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National
Steeplechase Association, Churchill Downs, and more than 500
endorsing organizations along with the majority of Americans in
support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.
"From the farms of Illinois to the blue grass of Kentucky to the
ranches of the West, horses are an essential, defining part of the
American landscape," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky. "For too long, our
government has allowed foreign corporations to slaughter tens of
thousands of horses each year so that they can be consumed overseas.
The vast majority of Americans believe that horse slaughter should be
outlawed. Joined by members of both parties and with the support of
hundreds of animal welfare and agricultural organizations, I'm
introducing legislation to ban this shameful practice."
"A significant number of the 100,000 American horses being
slaughtered for human consumption every year were stolen and
not "unwanted," as opponents of this bill claim," said Rep.
Whitfield, the Republican leader on H.R. 503. "The American public
overwhelmingly opposes horse slaughter, and I urge my colleagues to
support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act to end this cruel
and brutal practice once and for all."
Media Contact: Polly Shannon: 301-721-6440 or 703-283-5104,