We are happy to report two significant state-level wins for horses in the past few days that will ensure horses have more options to protect them from slaughter:
Nevada Finalizes Wild Horse Agreement With Wild Horse Protection Group: Return to Freedom, the founding organization of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign (AWHPC), and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) reached an agreement to humanely manage more than 1,500 horses in the Virginia Range, which encompasses more than 280,000 acres. This precedent-setting agreement launches the largest-ever private-public partnership to manage horses while improving public safety and benefiting Nevada taxpayers.
Kentucky Gov. Signs Bill to Assist Stray Horses: Governor Steve Beshear enacted a measure to reduce the hold period for stray horses from 90 days to 15 days to enable the rescue and care of those horses. By shortening the amount of time a horse must be held before being re-homed, costs for local officials are significantly reduced and will enable a great deal more rescue work for horses in need. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 312, which takes effect on June 24, 2015, Kentucky had the second-longest hold period in the country at 90 days. This new law brings Kentucky more in line with bordering states that all have 10-day hold periods.
The ASPCA stepped in to provide grants for diversionary feeding, fencing and other management tools and we worked to help enact these reforms knowing these victories will pave the way for further assistance from local and national organizations. Importantly, these horses now have more options, which will help keep them off the auction block and out of slaughter plants.
As part of the ASPCA’s goal to end the slaughter of American horses, we work to pass legislation that protects horses from this predatory industry, including pushing for a full federal ban on horse slaughter. We also work to provide options for at-risk horses through grant-making, education and equine programs that support the horse-rescue community, offering more than $1.1 million in equine grants in 2014 alone.
The new year is looking good for horse welfare on Capitol Hill! President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16), released yesterday, reaffirms the President’s support for a ban on the use of tax dollars for horse slaughter. If accepted by Congress, the budget proposal will renew language prohibiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from spending any tax dollars on inspections at U.S. horse slaughter plants and prevent horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. for another fiscal year.
“We appreciate the White House’s continued commitment to keeping the grisly business of horse slaughter out of the U.S.,” says Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “The President’s actions reflect the will of the 80 percent of Americans who oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and large, bipartisan votes in past Congresses have underscored this position. Congress should move swiftly to heed the American people’s wishes and renew this prohibition for the sake of protecting horses from cruelty and consumers from this gross threat to human health.”
This funding limitation mirrors the language included in the President’s previous budget proposal and is in line with Congress’s demonstrated opposition to horse slaughter. Congress included this same prohibition on tax dollars for horse slaughter in its FY14 and FY15 spending packages, both after strong House and Senate committee votes on the issue.
In addition to these achievements on Capitol Hill, great strides have been made on this issue internationally. As of January 15, the European Union bans the import of horse meat from Mexico for human consumption. This decision was based on evidence of the terrible treatment of these horses—many of whom originate in the U.S.—and the risk their meat poses to human health (due to the vast array of dangerous drugs routinely given to American horses). We must build on the momentum of these recent victories to ensure that the President’s recommendations are adopted by Congress for the next fiscal year!
What You Can Do Let’s make sure the message comes through loud and clear that protecting our horses must continue to be a priority in this new Congress. Sign up for the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade today to stay current on the latest animal welfare developments, and join us in being a voice for horses on Capitol Hill!
As this Year of the Horse comes to a close, we are thrilled to share two huge pieces of news related to horse slaughter:
Congress: Slaughter Funding Ban Included in Omnibus Proposal Update—December 17, 2014: Great news! This bill passed both chambers and was signed into law by President Obama on December 16. No horse slaughter plants will open on U.S. soil for at least one more year!
First, the Fiscal Year 2015 omnibus federal spending bill put forward by congressional negotiators this week includes the vital amendment that continues to block the use of federal funds to inspect horse slaughterhouses. The renewal of this all-important spending ban will prevent horse slaughterhouses from opening in the United States for at least one more year! Congress is once again sending a clear message: Our tax dollars should not enable the predatory and inhumane horse slaughter industry.
House and Senate leadership expect to pass this comprehensive spending bill within days, and then send it to the President for his signature. Strong bipartisan votes in House and Senate committees in support of the Moran (D-VA) Amendment and the Landrieu (D-LA)-Graham (R-SC) Amendment this summer helped secure this recent success. Special thanks go to the horse advocates nationwide who contacted their Member of Congress to ensure this amendment’s inclusion in the final spending bill. We will charge ahead as the FY2016 bills are formulated this spring and keep you posted on their progress.
Europe to Ban Horse Meat from Mexican Facilities A second monumental announcement rocked horse slaughter proponents this week: The European Union (EU) announced that a ban on imports of horse meat from Mexico to the EU is imminent. This announcement comes on the heels of the EU’s release of a scathing audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants, which kill tens of thousands of American horses each year. The report repeatedly criticizes the Mexican horse slaughter industry for its blatant animal cruelty, and emphasizes the inability of the Mexican government to ensure the safety of horse meat. The report stresses that because horses are not raised as food-producing animals in Mexico or the United States, but are instead considered companion animals and partners in work and sport, they are routinely given many medications that are illegal for use in food animals. There is no practical way to protect consumers from the toxic health risks of American horse meat.
Since the audited Mexican plants are backed by many of the same businesses pushing to open plants in the U.S., we could expect that the same brutality would befall horses if slaughtered in the U.S. Regardless of geographic location, horse slaughter is inherently cruel to horses, inherently dangerous to people, and must not be tolerated.
Join us as we build on these advances and push the new 114th Congress to take the final step: A permanent ban on the slaughter of American horses here and abroad. Please sign up below to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and help us make this ban a reality—the new session of Congress starts next month, and we’re ready to hit the ground running!
Tomorrow is a big day in the world of horse racing: The Belmont Stakes, the final leg in the Triple Crown, will run and California Chrome has a chance to be the first horse in decades to win all three races. However, despite the fervor over a horse with potential to be only the twelfth Triple Crown victor in history, a dark cloud overshadows the event. The widespread and dangerous practice of horse doping continues to sully the sport of horse racing.
The New York Times recently published the latest article in its series about the pervasive doping of horses at U.S. racetracks. Drugs are regularly used to give horses a performance-enhancing edge in racing—enabling them to run through pain and creating the risk of serious harm to both horse and jockey.
Illegal drugs such as cobra venom, Viagra, cancer medications, and dermorphin (a substance extracted from tree frogs that acts as a pain killer 40 times more powerful than morphine) are used to push racehorses past their physical limits, but drugs that are currently legal are problematic, too. Drugs that are banned in every racing jurisdiction other than North America are legal at American racetracks—it is hardly surprising that twice as many racehorses die in the U.S. as in other countries with horse racing (numbers calculated by the Jockey Club). A 2012 New York Times exposé revealed that an average of 24 thoroughbred racehorses die at U.S. tracks every week. That number doesn’t even include Quarter Horse racing or Standardbred racing fatalities.
It’s time to clean up the U.S. horse racing industry by passing the federal Horseracing Integrity & Safety Act(HISA), H.R. 2012/S. 973. Introduced by Representatives Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) in the Senate, this bill will ban performance-enhancing drugs in U.S. horse racing and designate the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as the governing body to create and oversee the implementation of uniform medication rules to protect horse welfare. The Jockey Club recently acknowledged the importance of this bill and agreed that the USADA “has the experience, the knowledge and the credibility to bring much-needed integrity to our sport.”
Guest blog by Nancy Perry, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Government Relations. ___
I am happy to report that the month of May in the Year of the Horse is ending on a very positive note for America’s horses! Following on the heels of last week’s victory in the Senate, today the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the Moran Amendment by a bipartisan vote of 28-22.
Introduced by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), the Moran Amendment is now part of the House’s Agriculture Appropriations bill, which is our nation’s agriculture budget for Fiscal Year 2015. The amendment bans the use of federal funds to send USDA inspectors into horse slaughterhouses—without inspections, it would be illegal to sell the meat.
Special thanks go to Representative Moran for his brilliant leadership, skillfully guiding the amendment to success in the choppy waters of the appropriations process. He spoke eloquently in favor of eliminating tax spending on horse slaughterhouses and inspired strong speeches in favor of his amendment from Representatives Farr (D-CA), Dent (R-PA), Calvert (R-CA) and Quigley (D-IL). We are grateful for this vocal and compelling work that led to success today.
“Horse slaughter has no place in American society and this amendment affirms that Congress does not condone this inhumane practice,” said Rep. Moran. “These iconic creatures are a proud symbol of the American West that should be treasured for their beauty and treated humanely, not killed for export. The American public has made clear they oppose horse slaughter and today’s vote reflects the will of the people.”
Sitting, watching the vote unfold, there were powerful reminders of just how critical our grassroots advocacy truly is. Members repeatedly referred to hearing from people in their districts and what the American people wanted. These victories are not possible without strong support from individual advocates as well as organizations, large and small, who partnered with us in these tireless efforts. Everyone who has worked to spare horses from the nightmare of slaughter, organized to block the industry from setting up shop in their state, or taken to the courts and legislative offices to raise their voice against this cruelty played an important part in this victory today. My hat is off to you today, and I ask you to stay with us for the next steps we must take.
There are no longer any slaughterhouses in the United States that kill horses for human consumption—however, if the Moran Amendment and its Senate companion, the Landrieu-Graham Amendment, are not in the final legislation, our tax dollars could once again be used to enable the killing of horses for their meat and these predatory, inhumane businesses will return. Our job now is to make sure that the amendment remains in the final version of the bill that gets passed by the full House of Representatives. We also will press even harder to see the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act move ahead.
If you want to help the ASPCA protect our horses and communities from slaughter, please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and we’ll email you when we need your voice!