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Texas Considers Slaughter of Horses for Dinner

AUSTIN, Texas, May 12, 2003 (ENS) - Legislation to overturn an existing Texas law which outlaws the slaughter of horses for human consumption was introduced earlier this year, but it may not go very far. A new opinion poll shows that a majority of Texas voters, 77 percent, are opposed to the slaughtering of horses for human consumption.

Texas has the two remaining horse slaughter houses in the United States. Both are foreign owned, and the meat is shipped to Europe and Asia where it is considered a delicacy.

The survey was conducted May 4 to 6 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for Blue Horse Charities and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, the largest equine rescue organization in the country.

In response to the question, "Do you favor or oppose changing state law to legalize the slaughter of horses and foreign export of horsemeat for human consumption?" 77 percent of those polled said they were opposed.

"The horse holds a unique place in the lives of Americans, so we weren't surprised to learn that 77 percent of Texans oppose the legislation pending in the state legislature," said John Hettinger, executive committee, Fasig-Tipton Co., Inc., which conducts auction sales of thoroughbred horses.

The survey also revealed that horse slaughter is an unknown industry to most Texans. Eighty-nine percent of those questioned said they were previously unaware of the practice.

Because horses are not raised for human consumption in the United States but in Europe and Asia, slaughterhouses and their middlemen known as "killer buyers" have to travel throughout the entire United States from auction to auction to fill their quotas, often buying from owners who are unaware that their animals will be killed and their flesh served in European restaurants.

Diana Pikulski, executive director of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation says, "There are ample, quality sanctuaries across the United States that can take in horses in need of homes. We have four major farms at correctional facilities where inmates and juvenile offenders derive emotional as well as educational benefits while helping care for the horses. Additionally we have seven other satellite farms around the country caring for horses."

A federal bill, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 857), was recently introduced by Representative John Sweeney, a New York Republican. This bill would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, and the export of live horses for slaughter abroad.

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