ASPCA Commends U.S. Senate for Introducing Bill to Ban Horse Slaughter in America

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prohibit horse slaughter in the U.S. and prevent the transport of horses to other countries for slaughter
August 2, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) commends federal lawmakers for introducing legislation to prevent the cruel horse slaughter industry from establishing operations in the U.S., as well as prohibit the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S.1706), was introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC),Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Susan Collins (R-ME). The SAFE Act was introduced in the House earlier this year by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM).

Approximately 100,000 American horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico each year to be slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries. Whether slaughter occurs in the U.S. or abroad, 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. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are healthy animals who could otherwise go on to lead productive lives with loving owners. In addition, meat from American horses is unsafe for human consumption since horses are not raised as food animals. They 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.

“Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and poses serious threats to the safety and well being of American horses and consumers,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA thanks Senators Menendez, Graham, Whitehouse and Collins for reaffirming their commitment to saving America’s horses from this terrible fate, and protecting the American food supply from toxic horsemeat.”

Horses are currently protected from slaughter on American soil thanks to language included in the annual Appropriations spending bill that prohibits the USDA from using taxpayer dollars to inspect horse slaughter facilities. This effectively bans the grisly horse slaughter industry from setting up shop in the U.S. This provision must be renewed each year, but, unfortunately, only the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the horse slaughter amendment to the FY18 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The House Appropriations Committee failed to pass the amendment in a close vote (25-27), thus opening the door for horse slaughter to return to the U.S.

“Until we pass the SAFE Act to permanently ban horse slaughter, this amendment in the Agriculture Appropriations bill is the only thing preventing horse slaughter operations from resuming in the United States,” said Perry. “While the House failed to approve this critical amendment, thankfully the Senate listened to the majority of American voters who oppose the brutal practice of horse slaughter, and we have a fighting chance to continue the longstanding ban on horse slaughter when the final bill is voted on later this year.”

The fate of American horses will be decided when Congress returns from summer recess to reconcile the two versions of the Agriculture Appropriations bills. For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to protect wild and domestic horses, please visit