Guest blog by Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations
Horses have been central to the ASPCA’s work since our founding in 1866. Trying to help horses through congressional action often demands patience and persistence, and the interests of animals are not always at the forefront in Congress—but tomorrow is the exception.
We worked closely with the House Appropriations Committee to secure a vote to accept the Moran-Young Amendment to prevent horse slaughterhouses from opening on U.S. soil. Tomorrow, it is the Senate’s turn, and our stalwart leaders, Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are offering the Landrieu-Graham Amendment to do exactly the same thing in the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill—to prevent the flow of our tax dollars to the horse slaughter industry. You can help by checking to see if your U.S. senator sits on the Appropriations Committee and then taking action.
Prohibiting federal funding for horse slaughter facility inspections is a critical step toward ending the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. If the Landrieu-Graham Amendment is adopted by the Senate Appropriations committee, planned horse slaughterhouses will be prevented from opening on U.S. soil, and we will have that much more support and momentum for passing a full ban on horse slaughter and transport to slaughter.
Simultaneously, our leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives worked diligently this week to offer an amendment to the House Farm Bill that would ban horse slaughter for human consumption altogether by prohibiting the slaughter of horses here as well as transport for slaughter to other countries. Unfortunately, the House Rules Committee rejected that amendment late last night—but we will persevere and direct our full energy to the Landrieu-Graham Amendment in the Senate. And when we are able to bring the issue of a full horse slaughter ban to the House floor, we will be ready.
Surveys conducted by Lake Research Partners in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa confirm that an overwhelming majority (70%+) of voters in all three states disapprove of horse slaughter for human consumption and would oppose the opening of horse slaughter facilities in their states. Opposition to horse slaughter for human consumption in these three states is broad and deep, extending across every demographic, regional and partisan group.
Unfortunately, meat processors in at least five states—the three surveyed, as well as Oklahoma and Tennessee—are currently trying to get horse meat plants up and running. The New Mexico processor, Valley Meat Company, passed a USDA inspection in April and its permit to begin slaughtering horses for meat could come through as soon as the end of June.
Take Action There has been no slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. since 2007, but there is no federal law against it. But with your help, we can fix that! Please join us in advocating for Congressional passage of the SAFE Act, a bill that would ban horse slaughter in all 50 states, as well as the transport of our horses over our borders for slaughter in other countries.
Got a sec? Today we’re joining forces to celebrate National Animal Advocacy Day—and we could really use your help! We need everyone to pick up the phone, call their legislators and urge them to ban horse slaughter once and for all.
Horse slaughter is barbaric and cruel. It’s not only bad for horses, but it also for people. Meat from American horses is unsafe for human consumption. Enacting a ban on horse slaughter has never been more urgent.
What Do You Say? It’s simple. Ask your legislators to support the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. The SAFE Act will prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and ban their export abroad for that purpose. This bill will protect our nation’s horses from the predatory horse slaughter industry and protect the public from toxic horse meat.
The ASPCA wanted to take a day out of the year to draw special attention to the plight of horses in our country. We chose April 26 because in 1866 our founder, Henry Bergh, stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26. Horses were critical to our mission at the founding of the ASPCA—and they’re just as important now.
Tana, a two-year-old filly, at the time of rescue (top) and after rehabilitation (bottom).
When several horse lovers in rural Carbon County, Montana, noticed more than a dozen starving, neglected horses on two local ranches, they did what we hope everyone who witnesses animal suffering will do: They spoke up.
Local law enforcement was eager to take on the case. But, like most law enforcement agencies, they didn’t have the facilities or resources necessary to build a successful case against the owners and nurse dozens of horses back to health. So, officers reached out to the county’s only animal welfare group, Beartooth Humane Alliance, for help.
Diane Zook, Beartooth’s tenacious executive director, jumped at the chance. The only problem: Beartooth works mainly with cats and dogs. In fact, it had never assisted with an equine cruelty situation before.
Zook was unfazed. She called on experts including ASPCA Equine Initiatives Manager Stacy Segal for help. “Stacy is my hero!” Zook tells us. “Without her guidance, I really did not know how to go about this process.”
Segal drew on her wealth of experience investigating equine cruelty to help Zook and local police create a strong case against the owners of the starving horses. The hard work paid off: In July, both cases were settled in court, and Beartooth was awarded custody of many of the horses. For Zook, her greatest challenge was just beginning: Beartooth would need to find permanent placement for these deserving horses.
Segal immediately facilitated an ASPCA grant for the removal and care of the horses at a short-term foster home. Zook and her volunteers began the work of medically and behaviorally rehabilitating the horses, many of whom were undersocialized.
Meanwhile, Segal and Zook called on other equine rescues to see if they could take in and rehome these resilient equines, and the horse welfare community responded with an outpouring of generosity: Seven rescues from all over the country took in Beartooth’s horses, until there were just eight left. Zook prepared to care for the horses through the winter. And then, on Thanksgiving, Zook got an amazing surprise: Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue in Jones, Oklahoma, had an opening for the last eight horses. By December, every horse had been placed.
Today, many of these horses are in loving homes, while others are in sanctuaries. One is now a trail horse, two were adopted out together to be well-loved companion animals, and still another is a working cow horse. This spring Hazel, a mare who went to Zuma’s Rescue Ranch in Littleton, Colorado, gave birth to a foal. Hazel and baby will remain on the ranch as a part of its humane education program.
Should equine cruelty occur in Carbon County again, Segal notes, the police and Beartooth are now ready to confidently take on the case. We’re thrilled to have helped.
“The best part is that these horses have found a better tomorrow,” Zook tells us.