Senate committee to hear horse slaughterhouse bill
Updated: 5/8/2003 9:00:00 PM
By: Kelly Kyle

Animal lovers across the United States will gather in Austin this weekend to protest the slaughter of horses in Texas for overseas consumption.

The Texas House passed HB 1324, which would allow the only two slaughterhouses for human consumption in the United States to stay open.

Beltex Slaughter Plant, in Fort Worth, and Dallas Crown, in Kaufman County, pay between 30-50 cents per pound for horsemeat and slaughter around 40,000 horses a year.

In 2002, then-Attorney General John Cornyn ruled that the two foreign-owned slaughterhouses were operating illegally, and that the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption was illegal.

Beltex and Dallas Crown lawyers filed an injunction and the slaughterhouses are still in business. The slaughterhouse’s Belgium owners claim exemption from Texas law.

Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, submitted HB 1324 to the House after she was approached by veterinarians in her district who say the plants serve a purpose.

"When one has a horse that they no longer want, it might be old, it might be injured, it might just be crazy, it might be untrainable and then there's also the buyers who go out and buy horses. I don't deny that, but I'm more concerned about those horses that are unwanted," Brown said.

Brown said there are a lot of agriculture-related organizations that support HB 1324, including the Farm Bureau and the Texas Veterinarian Medical Association.

There are also many organizations across the United States in opposition of the bill because of the inhumane treatment to horses at the slaughterhouses. Horses are packed onto trucks and shipped from as far away as California, scared and corralled into tight quarters.

Texas rancher Faye Hancock said many horses sent to slaughterhouses are stolen and healthy.

"The ones that go to the slaughter are not old, sick, and injured, they're beautiful horses that are in the prime of their life," she said.

With days left before HB 1324 heads to the Senate subcommittee on agriculture, Hancock and others plan to fight it.

"The horse is part of our culture, so how if it's part of our culture and should mean so much to us as individuals, how can it be subject to such a horrible death," Hancock said.

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