Big success for anti horse-slaughter lobbyists

March 11, 2008

Anti horse slaughter supporters Vicki Tobin, from Illinois, and John Holland, from Virginia, make plans with volunteers before visiting the House of Representatives.

Alex Brown (center) with volunteers. Brown is at the forefront of the Americans Against Horse Slaughter group.

The supporters of the AAHS come from all walks of life but many are horsemen and women. Alex Brown is pictured above working Golden Hare.

Americans Against Horse Slaughter (AAHS), supporters of a federal ban on the slaughter of American horses for human consumption overseas, proclaimed last week's "lobby week" a resounding success.

In all about 100 volunteers showed up in Washington on March 4 and 5 for its "lobby week". The intense two-day effort, intended to garner support for federal legislation, was the largest such effort to date.

"It was an incredible example of grass-roots democracy at work," said Alex Brown, a racing professional, professor and one of the event's organizers. The all-volunteer effort attracted experts on every aspect of the issue as well as several celebrities.

The volunteers were joined by actor Paul Sorvino who attended meetings with key congressional members and staffers. In all, hundreds of separate and pre-arranged meetings were held between AAHS volunteers and congressional staffers, and packets of information were presented to each office.

"We wanted to stress that the closing of the three domestic plants has not stopped slaughter," said Julie Caramante, "Our horses are still going to Mexico and Canada and they are suffering terrible stress and brutality." Only federal legislation can stop these exports.

Among the activities was a reception attended by AAHS volunteers, members of Congress and congressional staffers. The capacity crowd heard presentations from Paula Bacon, the former mayor of Kaufman Texas (home of the defunct Dallas Crown slaughter plant), Sonya Meadows of Animals' Angels, writer John Holland, Jill Anderson of Return to Freedom, Shelley Grainger of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition (CHDC), Nancy Perry of Humane Society of the United States, Liz Ross of the Animal Welfare Institute, actor Paul Sorvino, Phantom Stallion author Terri Farley, survivor star Jenna Morasca, and documentary producer Robyn Day (What about the Horse).

Chris Heyde, left, of the Animal Welfare Institute AWI helped volunteers prepare for lobbying.

The presentations were intended to bring the members up to date on all aspects of the battle against horse slaughter and to present the findings of investigations into horse transport by Animals' Angels, conditions at Canadian slaughter facilities by the CHDC and deceptive press accounts concerning the effect of the closing of US based plants last year. All presentations will soon be available on line.

The AHSPA, which had 193 cosponsors in the House and 38 cosponsors in the Senate, immediately gained two cosponsors with indications more would soon follow. Of particular significance, the top candidates for president, Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama, are already cosponsors of the legislation.