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New Research Reveals Missourians Strongly Oppose Slaughter of Horses for Human Consumption

ASPCA urges support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to ban horse slaughter
May 23, 2013

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced in a new poll conducted by Lake Research Partners that 70 percent of Missouri voters are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption and that 75 percent do not want a horse slaughter plant in their community. The statewide survey reveals that Missourians overwhelmingly oppose horse slaughter regardless of their political affiliation, gender, geographic location or whether they live in an urban or rural area.

In 2011, Congress chose to remove language from an appropriations bill that banned federal inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the U.S., opening the door for a return of horse slaughter on American soil, despite broad opposition to the practice. Several applications have been filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture by companies – including one in Gallatin, Mo. – that want to slaughter horses on American soil. If the application is approved, it would be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed and Congress chose to suspend funding for any further horse meat inspections.

"There is broad consensus in Missouri, as there is throughout the nation, that our horses deserve more than to be shuttled off to a gruesome death and served abroad as a toxic delicacy," said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. "With 70 percent of all registered voters in the state opposed to the slaughtering of American horses, opening a horse slaughterhouse in Missouri clearly flies in the face of public opinion, and using our precious tax dollars to enable horse slaughter on U.S. soil is even more tone deaf. Enacting a ban on horse slaughter has never been more urgent."

According to the new research, 7 in 10 Missouri registered voters are opposed to allowing American horses to be slaughtered for human consumption, with 57 percent in strong opposition to the practice. In addition, 3 in 4 Missouri voters do not want a horse slaughter plant in their community, with just 13 percent of voters supporting such a facility. Furthermore, opposition to a horse slaughtering facility extends across race, age, political affiliation, and geographic divides, with 73 percent of rural voters and 72 percent of urban voters disapproving of such a facility.

The surprising move toward a resumption of domestic horse slaughter comes in the wake of the recent scandal in the European Union, where consumers were alarmed by the discovery of horse meat mislabeled as beef in prepared food products ranging from lasagna to meatballs. Horses are routinely given medications and other substances that are toxic to humans and are expressly forbidden by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption. In March, U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., introduced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 541/H.R. 1094) to prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat.

Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and often erroneously compared to humane euthanasia. The methods used to slaughter horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses are difficult to stun and often remain conscious during their butchering and dismemberment. Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, these equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, and in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.

For more information on the ASPCA’s poll, please contact Maureen Linehan at [email protected] or 646-706-4602. To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to ban horse slaughter or support the SAFE Act, please visit www.aspca.org.