National anti-slaughter group names Zito national spokesperson
October 30, 2003
Thoroughbred Times

NICK ZITO
Photo by Z
Trainer Nick Zito, one of the most vocal opponents of horse slaughter, has been named the national spokesperson of the newly formed National Horse Protection Coalition.

The Coalition is a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based organization and counts Fasig-Tipton Co. Inc., Blue Horse Charities, and Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, among its founding members, according to a press release from the group. Its primary focus will be to address and educate the American public on the top of horse slaughter while working to ensure the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act legislation, which is currently before the United States House of Representatives.

"While Iím happy to help this effort, itís a national tragedy that weíve even had to form this coalition," Zito said. "Other than a few people who directly profit from horse slaughter and some pro-slaughter organizations, the majority of racing industry leaders and organizations want the slaughter stopped and the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act enacted."

The issue of horse slaughter moved to the forefront of the racing industry in July in the wake of the news that 1986 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Ferdinand had been slaughtered in Japan sometime last year after he was no longer deemed useful as a stallion.

While Ferdinandís death has brought new awareness to the issue, Zito wants to make sure it does not take another high-profiled case to keep the cause in the minds of the general public. "The recent death of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand has helped to raise awareness of horse slaughter but it would be a mistake to think that Ferdinand felt any less pain and fear than the 42,000 who were killed last year," Zito said. "Horses have been and continue to be my life. I know that Ferdinand, the horses killed last year, those who will die this year and next year, deserve better treatment. I am dedicated to stopping this practice."

The coalition is open to individuals and organizations interested in ending horse slaughter and is preparing a national consumer advertising campaign to help educate the public about the cruelty behind the practice.

"When people are told that horses are being slaughtered in the United States for human consumption and that there are proposals for opening more slaughter houses, they are outraged and want it stopped immediately," said Chris Heyde of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation and coordinator of the Coalition.

"The coalition brings together a diverse collection of groups and individuals dedicated to informing the American public about this industry and ensuring the welfare of horses."