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

ASPCA urges support for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to ban horse slaughter
April 4, 2013

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced in a new poll just conducted by Lake Research Partners that 70 percent of New Mexico voters are opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption and do not want a horse slaughter plant in their community. The statewide survey reveals that New Mexicans overwhelmingly oppose horse slaughter regardless of their political affiliation, gender, ethnicity, geographic location or whether they live in an urban or rural area. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plan to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a Roswell, N.M. facility. If the application is approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will 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 New Mexico, 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 nearly three quarters of all registered voters in the state in opposition to the slaughtering of American horses, opening a horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico 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 New Mexico registered voters are opposed to allowing American horses to be slaughtered for human consumption, with 55 percent in strong opposition to the practice. In addition, 70 percent of New Mexico voters do not want a horse slaughter plant in their community, with just 20 percent of voters supporting such a facility. Furthermore, opposition to a horse slaughtering facility extends across race, age, partisan, and geographic divides with 76 percent of Hispanic voters and 66 percent of Anglos disapproving of such a facility.

"In every way, shape and form, New Mexicans continue to reject the idea of a horse slaughter plant in our state," said Lisa Jennings, executive director of Animal Protection of New Mexico. "New Mexico benefits from living and thriving horses, not dead ones. We're determined to continue developing a robust equine safety net, not condemn horses to a slaughter pipeline that will guarantee the misery continues."

The surprising move toward a resumption of domestic horse slaughter comes in the wake of the scandal unfolding in the European Union, where consumers have been 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. Last month, 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 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, 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 Rebecca Goldrick at [email protected] or 646-291-4582. To learn more about the ASPCA’s efforts to ban horse slaughter or support the SAFE Act, please visit www.aspca.org.