Organization Aims To Save Horses From Slaughter

By Craig Hoffman

(LOUISVILLE, October 28th, 2003, 5 p.m.) -- There was a major announcement Tuesday at Churchill Downs involving the newly formed National Horse Protection Coalition. Its goal is to save tens of thousands of horses from being slaughtered every year. WAVE 3's Craig Hoffman reports.

Nearly 45,000 horses in the United States alone are slaughtered every year. Often times it's for human consumption in a number of foreign countries. The National Horse Protection Coalition wants horses humanely euthanized.

And it wants horses -- including thoroughbreds -- adopted or sent to farms for their final years.

It's hard to believe it was 1991 when Strike the Gold hit the jackpot with the Kentucky Derby. Now the Derby winner's trainer, Nick Zito, still finds it hard to believe Strike the Gold now lives in Turkey, not the U.S.

"It hurt us when he left," Zito said. Zito has been told Strike the Gold's new owners are taking good care of him, but that doesn't always happen. Earlier this year, shock waves rolled through the Bluegrass when it was learned that 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand was sent to a slaughterhouse in Japan. He's one of nearly 60,000 American horses slaughtered here or overseas every year. And in many cases, it's for human consumption.

"The idea of slaughtering a horse is repulsive," says U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield. He is joining Zito and others by becoming part of the National Horse Protection Coalition.

Whitfield is spearheading special legislation to stop more than 100 horses from being killed every day in the United States alone. "These horses are slaughtered to provide meat for human consumption in several foreign countries including France, Belgium, and Japan."

No one is denying a country's right to commerce or culture. But the coalition is challenging tracks, big and small, to think about the animals that are bringing them profits.

Michael Blowen with the National Horse Protection Coalition feels that, "before a horse is allowed to leave thee track, it should have to pass a physical examination to be sure it is able to make any sort of trip on a truck -- a very simple veterinary requirement."

Online Reporter: Jay Warren

Online Producer: Michael Dever