Federal Hearing on Horse Slaughter Draws Large Crowd
by Amanda Duckworth
Date Posted: 7/25/2006 6:44:35 PM
Last Updated: 7/25/2006 9:59:32 PM

A legislative hearing Tuesday by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce
Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection. concerning the
American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act a drew a large crowd, causing
the hearing to be moved after opening remarks.

The original room was standing room only and could not accommodate all
of those who wished to attend.

The bill, which has over 200 co-sponsors, seeks to amend the Horse
Protection Act of 1970 by prohibiting the slaughter of horses in the
United States for human consumption overseas.

Three witnesses for the bill and three witnesses who opposed the bill
testified in front of the committee. The supporters for the bill were T.
Boone Pickens, Dr. Patricia Hogan, and Russell Williams. Those opposing
were Dr. Bonnie Beaver, Dr. Doug Corey, and Dick Koehler.

One of the main concerns about the bill involved what would happen to
the thousands of horses originally destined for slaughter and who would
be financially responsible for them if the bill went into effect.

"By banning slaughter in the U.S., it will not stop slaughter," said
Corey, the vice president of the American Association of Equine
Practitioners. "It won't stop a Ferdinand from happening. I would prefer
to have these horses processed in the United States where there are

"We are all concerned about the fate of unwanted horses," said Dr.
Hogan, the chief surgeon for the New Jersey Equine Clinic. "We are just
removing one option (by passing this bill)."

Both sides agreed that the legislation elicits emotions because the
horse is viewed differently in America than other livestock.

"Can we imagine Barbaro being sent to slaughter if he can't recover?"
asked Williams, who is the vice chairman of the American Horse Council
but was representing his personal views at the hearing. "Why should
other horses be any different?"

Beaver addressed the emotional side of the issues as well, stating "The
concern about emotion is real, but the concern about humane care is even

Another issue involved with the bill is concern about the government's
right to regulate private property.

Koehler, the vice president of Beltrex, one of three slaughter houses in
the United States, said that, "It is a matter of choice. If you wish to
do that with your horse, I believe you should have the choice to do that."

"I don't think most of the time people know where their horses are
going," said Pickens, the chairman of BP Capital Management who is
married long time Thoroughbred owner Madeleine Paulson. "The kill plants
are here to make money, and I think that ought to be addressed."

The lead sponsors of the bill -- Reps. John Sweeney and Ed Whitfield
--were in attendance as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte, who is heading the

The bill is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives at
the beginning of September.