The Kaufman Herald, Page 2, Thursday, April 3, 2003
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor:

It has come to my attention that an organization based out of Hitchcock, Texas, Habitat for Horses, has sponsored a recent ad in The Kaufman Herald relating to House Bill 1324, which I have authored.  I have been surprised and saddened by the tactics used by many who oppose this bill.

Because I support the ethical and humane treatment of all living things, I applaud and support the efforts of hard working individuals and organizations who commit their time and resources to rescuing horses.  I admire their unrivaled dedication and the alternatives they provide for animals.  Many horses would otherwise suffer neglect and abuse if it were not for these devoted individuals.  However for those animals which are not rescued, these plants provide an essential service.

Many organizations including Texas Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Paint Horse Association, Texas Thoroughbred Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Greater Houston Horse Council, Livestock Marketing Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Independent Cattlemen's Association, and Texas Sheep and Goat Raiser's Association all support HB 1324.  In addition many veterinarians in Kaufman County feel as I do that these plants provide a needed service for unwanted horses.

Each plant is regulated by USDA, the Dept. of Agriculture, and the European Union and brands are inspected by the Texas Cattle Raisers Association.  Plants are prohibited from slaughtering unless there is a USDA inspector present.  There would be no hope of identifying stolen horses by inspecting brands if they were sent to Mexico where brands are not registered and where no organization is given the responsibility of looking for stolen horses.

Currently it is legal to operate a horse slaughtering plant in Texas.  My bill adds language to the existing statute stating explicitly that a person commits a crime if they sell, offer to sell, or exhibit for sale horsemeat as food for human consumption anywhere in the United States.  The addition of this language brings this statute into compliance with the Attorney General's opinion.  The bill also requires that auction barns post signs notifying the seller that there is a possibility that a horse sold at auction could go to a slaughter house.  This was done to ensure that no one would sell unknowingly to a buyer with that purpose in mind.

We would all prefer that these animals be placed with caring owners and be allowed to live out their natural lives or be put down mercifully by a veterinarian and then duly disposed.  There is expense incurred with either decision and many simply cannot afford to do what you and I would prefer.  With a horse population reaching over a million, Texas has the unique distinction of having one of the largest horse populations in the country.  Dallas Crown provides a viable, profitable, and necessary service and has for over a decade served to employ hundreds of hard working men and women in Kaufman County.

I accepted this bill because I thought it was the right thing for District 4 as well as the state of Texas and for no other reason.  Thank you for the privilege of representing you in the Texas State Legislature.

Betty Brown
State Rep. from Terrell