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Bill Introduced in the US Senate to Ban Horse Slaughter for Human Consumption


Legislation has been introduced in the US Senate to permanently end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in the US. 

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC)., Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI), and Susan Collins, (R-Maine), introduced the bill

Tens of thousands of American horses are shipped each year to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption. This being a practice that 80% of American voters oppose. 

Horses in the US are not raised for food and receive a wide range of medications that are prohibited for use in meat products.

How is there a problem of horses and burros being butchered for human consumption?

It persists because “kill-buyers” can legally purchase horses at auctions or from unsuspecting owners to then ship them to slaughterhouses abroad. 

Horses endure long stressful journeys without food, water, or rest and can experience severe injuries and even death en route to slaughterhouses. During the slaughter process, it can be extremely difficult to accurately stun horses. They react to noise, smells and sounds in a commercial plant with their natural flight response. Improperly stunned horses may even remain conscious during the butchering and dismemberment process. The cruelty of sending horses to slaughter is evident at each stage of their journey and was well documented. Even so in the presence of government oversight – when slaughterhouses existed in the United States.

A recent example involved a veterinary student who deceived owners into giving up their horses by stating that she would find good homes for them. She instead profited by selling them for slaughter. As long as no federal law prohibits the sale for human consumption. Owners are unable to ensure that any horse they sell will not end up on a truck bound for a slaughterhouse across the border. Every horse, in fact, is one bad sale away from slaughter.

The John Stringer Rainey SAFE Act would amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code to make it illegal for anyone to knowingly transport, purchase, sell, possess, ship or receive any horse with the intent of slaughtering the animal for human consumption. The SAFE Act would also codify penalties, including fines and imprisonment, for individuals who violate the law.

The legislation is named for the late John Stringer Rainey of South Carolina. Rainey was a business leader and philanthropist who supported organizations that promote second careers for retired racehorses. He also worked for the passage of legislation to end slaughter of horses. 

“The gruesome practice of slaughtering horses for food has no place in the United States. It’s well past time for Congress to say once and for all that horse meat is not what’s for dinner,” said Sen. Menendez. “Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are dangerous for human consumption and do not belong in our nation’s food supply. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses. All while protecting families from toxic horsemeat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide.”

“We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Graham, Whitehouse, and Collins for their leadership in ending the slaughter of American horses. Used for human consumption, by introducing the (SAFE) Act,” said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. “The problem of tens of thousands of American horses being shipped to slaughter abroad has persisted for far too long. Despite overwhelming public opposition to this practice. The food safety and animal welfare concerns associated with the horse slaughter industry are simply too great to ignore. We owe it to these majestic animals to ensure that they do not meet an inhumane death. That the predatory horse slaughter industry is finally stamped out in the United States.”

“Horse industry stakeholders and animal welfare organizations are joining forces on equine welfare solutions by assisting at-risk horses. Also, be providing safety net services for owners in need, but those efforts cannot prevent this practice as long as it remains legal. Each year that passes without a ban on horse slaughter in place subjects tens of thousands of American horses to a horrific fate. One that is entirely avoidable,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Graham, Whitehouse, and Collins for their leadership in moving the SAFE Act forward to protect horses from this cruelty.”

“It is time to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. Horses are an iconic American species, in large part because of their amazing contributions to the building of our nation.” said president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “They deserve better than being shipped overseas to slaughter. We applaud Senators Menendez, Whitehouse, Collins and Graham for helping to protect them from the inhumane practices of slaughter.”

The groups encourage the public to contact their senators to urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act, S.2006. Do all you can to secure its swift passage in order to protect horses and overall consumer health from horse slaughter.

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