In 1971, Congress declared our wild horses and burros an integral part of our public rangelands and ordered the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to care for them as cultural icons. Over the years, the BLM has rounded up tens of thousands of our wild equines, often with cruel methods, and shipped them to tax-funded holding facilities where they are confined for the rest of their lives.
The BLM is again looking to apply the same failed model of round-ups and removals in revised management plans for wild horses out West. These plans must be altered.
If adopted, these management plans would decimate the wild horse population in the Wyoming Checkerboard, a two-million-acre mix of public and private land where nearly half of Wyoming’s wild horses live. This is certainly not the free-roaming vision Congress set out for these majestic animals.
The good news is that you can help! The BLM is accepting public comments through Friday, September 27, on the potentially devastating revisions to Resource Management Plans that will cull wild horses in Wyoming.
It was a heartbreaking sight. Equines left to fend for themselves—bone skinny, and braving harsh summer elements without access to food or water.
The ASPCA Equine Fund recently stepped in to provide an emergency grant of $13,000 to help provide care for 21 donkeys and five Arabian Mares who were abused and abandoned earlier this summer. To make matters more tragic, all five of the Arabian Mares and ten of the donkeys were pregnant, with one donkey actually birthing a foal during their rescue.
“Unfortunately, equine neglect and abuse is widespread in this country,” says Jacque Schultz, ASPCA Senior Director of Community Outreach. “Rescue groups are struggling with increasing calls for help and shrinking budgets. That’s where the ASPCA Equine Fund comes in.”
The funds granted by the ASPCA in this case will be used to rehabilitate the rescued equines and cover expenses for medical treatment, food, transport, and training.
“The ASPCA Equine Fund is vital when it comes to saving lives,” says Floss Blackburn, president of Denkai Animal Sanctuary, the organization that took the animals in. “Without their help, many equine organizations would not be able to fund such large rescue efforts.”
American horses have quite literally dodged a bullet as a meat processing plant in Iowa has officially withdrawn plans to start slaughtering horses for human consumption.
While the struggle to prevent U.S. horse slaughter is far from over, this announcement is another victory resulting from a string of efforts by the ASPCA and other national and local organizations to ensure that the American people’s voices are heard: Opposition to horse slaughter for human consumption is broad and deep across every demographic.
A plant in New Mexico has also received a grant of inspection to slaughter horses, but it is on hold pending litigation and faces strong opposition from the state’s attorney general and governor. This means we have time to stop horse slaughter before it starts, and we implore you to join us today by urging your members of Congress to cosponsor the SAFE (Safeguard American Food Exports) Act.
Championed by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), to the SAFE Act would prevent the slaughter of American horses as well as their transport to other countries for this purpose.
We have been simultaneously pressing for protections in the FY2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill to prevent tax dollars from being spent on inspections for these plants—no inspections would amount to a de facto ban on horse slaughter on U.S. soil. We must now ensure this language remains in the final version, which Congress is likely to take up next month when it returns from recess.
We know that slaughter is no answer to the problem of horse neglect—that is a hollow argument used by the industry to cover up its greed and abuses (and we are working with a vast network of horse rescues all over the country to provide at-risk horses with safe havens from commercial slaughter). Every step we take together brings us closer to a real and lasting victory for horses! Please take action now!
We recently told you that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved applications for horse slaughter inspections at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, New Mexico, and Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, Iowa. The USDA is likely to also grant horse slaughter inspections at Rains Natural Meats plant in Gallatin, Missouri, in the coming days.
This week we learned that no horse slaughter plants will be granted inspections until at least July 29 as a result of a lawsuit filed against the USDA by several animal welfare organizations.
This lawsuit buys critical time for our horses. The Agriculture Appropriations bills, which contain language that would prevent horse slaughter in the U.S., are expected to pass in the coming months. We are seeing building momentum for the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which would prevent the slaughter of horses in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad and protect consumers from unknowingly ingesting toxic horse meat.
What can you expect to see at your local Fourth of July parade? Decorative floats, marching bands, lots of red, white and blue—and horses! Horses are an American symbol and have played an important role in our country’s history. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. But sadly, even parade horses are just one bad sale away from a brutal fate in a slaughterhouse.
Horse slaughter is inherently cruel, and anyone who knows or sees the commercial slaughter process understands it absolutely cannot be called euthanasia. The vast majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. Moreover, horse slaughter plants destroy natural resources, devastate local economies, and horsemeat is unsafe to eat due to routine equine medications that are toxic to humans.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently approved applications for a horse slaughter facility in New Mexico and Iowa, and approval of an application in Missouri is on the way. Congress must act IMMEDIATELY to stop these plants from needlessly slaughtering American horses for commercial interests. While our government is struggling to fund vital programs, taxpayer dollars should not be wasted on a predatory industry.
The Safeguard American Foods Export (SAFE) Act (S. 541/ H.R. 1094) is a federal bill that will prevent horse slaughter operations in the U.S. and end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad. Please send a polite email to your federal legislators in Congress and urge them to support the SAFE Act and ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.
Thank you for being a voice for American horses this Independence Day!