Roll Call   Capitol Hill


October 6, 2003
By Brody Mullins,
Roll Call Staff

According to an urban myth, washed-up racehorses are shipped to the slaughterhouse and hacked into hot dogs.

Not true.

But a pair of U.S. slaughterhouses do process horses to be eaten in other countries, such as France, Belgium and Japan.

Now a wealthy American horse lover is trying to ban the practice.

John Hettinger, a longtime horse breeder and owner of Akindale Farms, is bankrolling an effort on Capitol Hill to pass legislation that would ban the slaughter of horses in the United States for foreign consumption.

As part of the effort, Hettinger has hired Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, the powerful GOP lobbying shop headed by former Republican National Committee Chairman and current Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Haley Barbour.

The cause also has created a lobbying alliance, the National Horse Protection Coalition, and signed up Hunter Bates, a former top aide to Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who failed in his own bid to become Kentucky’s lieutenant governor.

Together, the horse lovers are pushing legislation introduced by Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) that would shut down two Dallas-area slaughterhouses that process horse meat.

But the effort is facing resistance from the House Agriculture Committee in the form of Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas).

According to sources familiar with the campaign, the National Horse Protection Coalition plans to run ads inside the Beltway and in key districts to draw attention to the effort.