Americans Outraged at Bill to Legalize Horse Slaughter
U.S. Newswire
10 Mar 20:53

Americans Outraged at Bill to Legalize Slaughter of Horses; Texas
Bill Will Allow Foreign Companies to Evade Prosecution
To: National and State desks
Contact: Paula Johnson of Habitat for Horses, 903-271-0939

AUSTIN, Texas, March 10 /U.S. Newswire/ -- If Texas Republican
Betty Brown has her way, Texas will legally become the horse
slaughter capitol of the United States. Rep. Brown is sponsoring a
bill that will override current state law and allow the last two
remaining equine slaughterhouses in America to escape prosecution
for illegally processing and selling horsemeat for human
consumption. Belgian-owned slaughterhouses Beltex and Dallas Crown
killed 42,312 American horses for export as food to Europe and Asia
in 2002.

Rep. Brown's Bill (HB 1324) will amend sections of the current
Texas Agriculture Code that now makes it illegal to sell, offer for
sale, or transfer horsemeat for human consumption and allow the
meat of horses butchered in Rep. Brown's own Kaufman County, Texas,
to be sold in Europe and Asia. To make matters worse, all profits
derived from the slaughter of our horses will to go a Belgian

"This bill will leave the Lone Star flag flying over a mountain
of dead horses," Jerry Finch, director Habitat for Horses said.
"It's the equivalent of butchering our puppies and kittens and
sending them to China and North Korea as a gourmet treat."

Proponents of horse slaughter argue that slaughter provides the
means for humane disposal of old, sick, or injured horses. In
reality, 92 percent of the horses sent to slaughter are in good to
excellent condition. "The appeal of slaughter is financial gain,"
Finch said. "Slaughter is a quick, profitable disposal method for
unwanted horses."

"The slaughterhouses don't want old, skinny horses," said Jamie
Dale, president of the United Equine Foundation. "Their markets are
quite particular about what they want. France prefers its meat from
a mature horse between 10 and 12 years of age, Japan likes
overweight, well-marbled draft horses. The demand in Italy is for
colts and yearlings up to 18 months of age. Belgium doesn't have a
particular preference; any age saddle horse will bring upwards of
$15.00 a pound at their meat counter."

According to the Humane Society of the United States, horses of
virtually all ages and breeds are slaughtered, from draft types to
miniatures. Horses commonly slaughtered include unsuccessful race
horses, horses who are lame or ill, surplus riding school and camp
horses, mares whose foals are not economically valuable, and foals
who are "byproducts" of the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) industry that
supplies urine to produce the estrogen drug Premarin.

Perhaps the most frequently heard pro-slaughter rationale is an
economic one. The 6 million horses currently in the United States
have a direct impact on the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of $25.3
billion, or over $4,200 per horse. "Slaughter bound horses
represent less than 1 percent of the total number of horses in the
U.S.," said Finch. "If they are absorbed into the current horse
population, it would mean adding almost a quarter of a billion
dollars to the economy each year." The economic impact of closing
the slaughterhouses would be the temporary loss of 150 mostly
minimum-wage, high-turnover jobs in two counties in Texas.

Closing the slaughterhouses would also give the rendering
industry a strong economic incentive to start processing horses
again, providing more economic stimulus across the United States.
Rendering plants will receive deceased horses and process them for
zoo animals and other products currently supplied by the horse
slaughter industry.

"They want us to believe that slaughterhouses do a little bit of
good," Finch elaborated. "The little good they do can be done
better by the rendering plants. The positive national economic
impact of retaining live horses is far greater than the negative
impact felt by closing them down."

"The biggest myth about the slaughter industry is that it is
humane," Liz Lyons of the Doris Day Animal League said. "Callous
treatment at the slaughterhouse often results in prolonged
suffering. Panicked horses are often prodded and beaten off the
truck and into the kill-chute. Improper use of stunning equipment
means that horses sometimes endure repeated blows, and remain
conscious during their own slaughter, including throat slitting."

"Americans don't eat horses, Finch said. "The French and other
Europeans and the Asians do. American horses are companion animals
and working partners, and the medicines and vaccines we use to keep
them fit and healthy make them unfit for human consumption. If
Europe applied the same standards to Beltex and Dallas Crown that
they do to U.S. beef and pork, they'd be in violation of their own
country's laws."

"Texas trades on its heritage worldwide," Dale pointed out.
"There isn't a tourism commercial or advertisement that doesn't
include the image of a Texas Cowboy, and he isn't barbecuing his
horse. If HB 1324 passes the Texas legislature, a boycott of Texas
is in order."

Habitat for Horses is urging Texans to call Representative
Brown, their local representative, and the other members of the
Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, and tell them
to vote "no" on HB 1324.

"This issue isn't limited to Texas, " Lyons said. "The horses
killed in Texas are from auctions and kill pens across the United
States, often in the most horrifying conditions. All Americans need
to stand up and let Representative Brown know that they will not
tolerate the passage of this bill."

For more information, please contact: Paula Johnson of Habitat
for Horses at 903-271-0939. Web:
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

03/10 17:42

Copyright 2003, U.S. Newswire