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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quit Horsing Around on Slaughter and Transport

Eleven lucky horses who had been abandoned last week on a rural road near Molalla, Ore., got a new lease on life yesterday. Authorities still don’t know who discarded the malnourished horses, and the owner might not come forward since he or she could face criminal charges of animal neglect.

Horses_3_2 But five of the horses were rescued yesterday morning by The Humane Society of the United States and taken to its Duchess Sanctuary in Douglas County, Ore., where they will remain until they regain their health. Once these five horses are rehabilitated, they will be put up for adoption; the six other horses were already adopted by new families yesterday. We are grateful to the Oregon Department of Agriculture for making sure that all these horses went to good homes, not to “killer buyers” for the slaughter industry.

It’s not only a happy ending for these horses, but also a double-fisted rebuke to the horse slaughter crowd. First, it is self-incriminating. The proponents of horse slaughter invoke abandonment cases like this one to support their position, almost associating themselves with people who would dump horses in the middle of the road to starve to death. They fail to hold people on their side of the fence to an ethic of personal responsibility, and that is a gross failure on their part. Second, these horses did find a safe place, largely because good people stood tall. Individuals and rescue groups provided a safety net, in spite of the arguments by slaughter proponents that there are no outlets for "unwanted horses."

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, in fact, the House Judiciary Committee considered H.R. 6598, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which would make it a crime to sell or transport horses across state or national borders for the purpose of slaughter. I wrote about this legislation when it was introduced in July, and included testimonials of horse rescuers who try to adopt horses or purchase them at auctions, only to be outbid by the killer buyers who can make a buck by selling horse flesh to French and Belgian gourmands. Tell your member of Congress to pass the legislation swiftly before adjourning this year, and make sure not another day goes by when American horses are trucked hundreds of miles to Mexican abattoirs to meet a grim and painful end.

Horses_1_2 Also this week, Congressman Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) joined animal advocates at Shadowbrook Farm in Mettawa, Ill., calling for a national ban on the use of deadly double-decker trailers for the transportation of horses. These stacked trucks are designed for livestock species such as cattle and pigs—not horses who have longer necks and are forced to stoop in the cramped quarters, often causing severe injuries. Kirk has introduced H.R. 6278, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, to prohibit the interstate transportation of horses in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.

The legislation came on the heels of a grisly accident last fall in Wadsworth, Ill., in which a double-decker cattle truck carrying 59 Belgian draft horses overturned when the driver ran a red light and hit another vehicle. Residents could hear the animals kicking and screaming, panicked by their inability to escape. Nineteen of the horses either died on the scene or had to be euthanized later.

We have a video interview with a volunteer who was on the scene of the deadly crash and who spoke out against cruel transport. Watch the video here, and let it be a reminder that we must fight even harder to protect horses from harm—stopping inhumane and dangerous transport, and ending the cruel slaughter of American horses for food exports.



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