KPFT Pacifica 90.1 FM-Houston Radio August 11, 2003
Janice Blue: Our first guests are actually going to interview themselves. Mary Nash has been on our program several times on the horse slaughter issue, and she is from Kaufman, Texas. Mary has as her neighbor one of the two slaughter houses that remain in the country…is in her backyard almost, in Kaufman, Texas. Good morning, Mary.
Mary Nash: Hello.
Blue: Welcome, and so you are actually going to be a co-host, and we're going to have you interview Chris Heyde, and we're going to be talking about the federal horse slaughter…HR 857…the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. Rhea and I spent a day in Washington, D.C. last June…a whole day lobbying legislators to get it passed. Mary, let's welcome you to the airwaves and please introduce your guest.
Nash: Is Chris on the line now? Hello, Chris.
Chris Heyde: Hi, how are you?
Nash: Well, Chris and I have talked many times, and we email daily. He's there in Washington, D.C. I'm here in Kaufman. I see what's going on at the slaughter plant. I see the horses arriving, and Chris is working hard to pass federal legislation that would outlaw the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. So I'll start off just by asking Chris a few very elementary questions just to let our listeners know exactly what's going on in Washington, D.C. Chris, what is HR 857, and what will it accomplish?
Heyde: Well, I think you said it perfectly. It's a very simple bill and a very straight forward bill that will ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States. And also a very important part of this is that it will prohibit the transport of live horses outside of the United States for slaughter as well because we do know that live horses are transported to Canada and Mexico and even live horses are shipped by airplane out of Washington State to Japan for slaughter. So this bill will stop all of that.
Nash: Chris, tell us who are the primary sponsors of this bill, and how many cosponsors do we have so far?
Heyde: Well, the primary sponsors are a Republican from New York, Representative John Sweeney, and a Democrat from South Carolina, Representative John Spratt. Those are the two lead sponsors on this bill, and currently we have about 64 cosponsors, and a good representation of Republican and Democrat on this issue. I think Congress is currently in recess right now, but when they return I'm sure we're going to have some more cosponsors added when they come back into session.
Nash: And you know the irony here is we only have one Texas congressman right now as a cosponsor. Texas is the only place where we slaughter live horses for human consumption, and we've only got one congressman in Texas, and that's Dallas area congressman Martin Frost, who signed on…let's see, Chris, when was it? It was early after we defeated the…Betty Brown's horse bill down in Austin.
Heyde: Right after that I think he came on…he'd gotten such an outpouring from his constituency. You know, that was his main reason for coming on. So that's great. I think, you know, a lot of members in Texas have heard from their constituency, but for some reason we're just not getting them on as cosponsors yet. That is, I think, one of the most important things, to have everyone contact their congressmen about this.
Nash: Chris, who are some of the groups and organizations who are supporting this bill?
Heyde: We've got a really diverse group of people in here which I think shows the importance of this bill because it's not only really the animal protection community but we actually also have the thoroughbred industry…has really come out…one of the leading thoroughbred gentlemen who owns a company called Fasig-Tipton, it's a company out of Kentucky and New York, and also, they do auctions in Texas. They are strongly opposed to horse slaughter, and they've helped bring along support from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Breeders Cup…we have a good mix of horse industry and, completely across the spectrum of the humane animal protection community.
Rhea Green: And, Chris, if you could tell us what organization you're with?
Heyde: I am actually with the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.
Green: Is there a website that people could go to for that?
Heyde: It's www.SAPLonline.org. There's a horse on the front page.
Nash: Now, Chris, who are some of the organizations who are opposing this bill?
Heyde: Well, that's kind of the funny part of this. Nobody really has the courage to step up and openly oppose the bill. We do know, which may surprise many people, I know it did me, that the American Veterinarian Medical Association has taken a position opposing the bill. Other groups that we know are talking against the bill are groups such as the American Quarter Horse Association, which is actually out of Texas, and the Equine Practitioners Association, I think it's the American Association of Equine Practitioners. So, it's really disheartening to see two veterinary groups actually claiming that this is a humane ending for horses.
Green: And those two groups are actually opposing the bill?
Heyde: Well, again I think it's that they're not brave enough to openly oppose the bill. They say that they're only concerned about the welfare of the horse, and give all these kinds of excuses for reasons not to pass the bill.
Nash: I think this goes back to a…I'm old enough to know from when I was a kid growing up…the mantra about, "take your old, sick, crippled horse to the dogfood factory." In fact, back in the 1960's that really happened. And there were horse killer plants that were not for human consumption, but where they made dogfood and fertilizer. And a lot of people have, you know, known for years that this happened, and so now when they hear that these horses are being taken by Dallas Crown and Beltex, they assume that it's for dogfood. Well, let's be clear about this. If you've read the… Lisa Sorg's San Antonio Current article you know that she interviewed a killer-buyer down in San Antonio, and he openly admitted back in the 1960's horsemeat got 5 cents a pound for dogfood. Well, those places are no longer in business because the killer-buyers can now get 40 cents a pound for horsemeat at the two Texas slaughter plants. Well, so nobody's going to sell horsemeat for 5 cents a pound for dogfood when they can get 40 cents a pound for human consumption. And the real tragedy…the real tragedy of this is, if you can sell a horse at auction for $700, that's a real incentive for horse theft. And we know that in California after they banned horse slaughter in 1998, that horse theft reports to the California Bureau of Livestock Identification decreased by 34%. That's the real tragedy of this, is that so many stolen horses end up on the dinner plates of wealthy Frenchmen.
Heyde: I think not only that, but federally protected wild horses are sold into slaughter. We've got reports…the Fund for Animals is in a lawsuit with the Bureau of Land Management to protect the wild horse, and they've uncovered that at least 500 were slaughtered last year right from government documents. And those are protected by federal law as it is. So clearly, something's getting through over there, and they're missing these horses that are protected, so it's really important on so many aspects to shut this down.
Nash: Chris, Congressman Charles Stenholm is from Texas, and I understand he is the ranking minority member of the House Agriculture Committee, and I believe that he has publicly stated that he opposes this bill. Can you talk about that and why you think he opposes the bill?
Heyde: Yeah, he has come out about this, and I'm kind of surprised. We went to him following the victory in Texas and the amazing outpouring of public support, and again this is not just an animal community issue. This is one of our…an oilman in Dallas has been very helpful, really, you know treat your horse like this. So I think this really appeals to a broad group, and so I am surprised that the congressman is taking this position. Again, I think a lot of it is coming from these associations that are not necessarily representing the case accurately. They're misrepresenting what takes place here.
Nash: I know there was a lot of misinformation when we were fighting Betty Brown's bill down in Austin. The misinformation being that only old, sick and crippled horses are being slaughtered. Can you address that issue…about the misinformation surrounding the issue of slaughter?
Heyde: Yeah, well I think you're right. A big part of it is that they tell you that it's all old and sick horses. First of all, anybody would tell you that nobody would really want to buy an old sick horse to consume. We know that from France. So, right there alone is…it's not true. You yourself have property next to Dallas Crown and certainly can show that those are not old sick horses. What bothers me the most about that aspect is that a veterinarian would claim that hauling them, let's say from New York with a broken leg, or sick…hauling them all the way to Texas from New York in this condition, to face several days of horrible treatment, would be humane. I find that absolutely horrifying that that's being promoted. Another big false aspect about this is that they're calling it humane euthanasia, and they're saying this follows guidelines from the AVMA which does consider the use of a captive bolt to be acceptable. What they're not telling you is the other part of that is that the AVMA also requires the use of appropriate head restraint. That does not happen in a slaughter facility. So that's really an unfortunate part of the thing, is that they're trying to cover this in a humane, oh, we-care-about-the-horse thing.
Green: One more to add to this then we're going to have to let you both go. I did want to say Janice and I spent the day lobbying in D.C., and a lot of response that I received, as accurate as it is, or not, is that the constituents opposing the bill outweigh the constituents in support of this bill, so it's really imperative for people to call their representatives. And I want to leave everyone with that message. You can go to www.vote-smart.org and find out who your representative is. Make a phone call. Let them know that you're a constituent and you support this bill. I thank you both for being on the show today.
Blue: Thank you very much, Mary and Chris. That was great. And also, the information is on our website www.govegantexas.org and please lobby, as you heard, we only have one Texas legislator, Martin Frost, who is doing anything about this.
Green: And if you would like to receive updates, please email TexansforHorses@aol.com, and we will put you on our email list.
Blue: Right, and Mary Nash is somebody that brought this whole issue to us visually. She had photographs of these horses that were taken, and we could see on her website, and her website is on our website too, so you can get that information. We know that these are healthy horses.