Horse slaughter prohibition pushed
By Jordan Blum, The Advocate
WASHINGTON — Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., teamed with celebrities Bo Derek and John Corbett on Wednesday to tout her horse slaughter ban legislation during a "Horses on the Hill" event.
Landrieu has repeatedly pushed for a ban on slaughtering the animals for meat that is exported mostly to Europe and Asia. She is upping her efforts now that applications are in the works to open the nation's first horse slaughterhouses since 2007.
"There's no humane way to slaughter a horse," Landrieu said. "Most horses going to slaughter are not old and they're not sick."
Expressing a lifelong love of horse riding like her daughter, Mary Shannon Snellings, who was present, Landrieu said she was "horrified" to learn in the past that horse slaughterhouses existed in the U.S.
But now, horses are exported under allegedly poor conditions to Mexico and Canada for slaughter and efforts are under way to open slaughterhouses domestically. About 100,000 horses are estimated to be exported for slaughter a year.
In November, Congress failed to renew a five-year ban on funding federal inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the United States, opening the door for a return of horse slaughter to American soil.
Landrieu's American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would prohibit the killing of American horses for human consumption in the U.S. and stop the transport of horses across the border to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
Actress and anti-slaughter activist Bo Derek said it is "truly obscene" that she is still fighting after 10 years for a ban on the slaughter of animals that provide so much "companionship."
Landrieu also received bipartisan support Wednesday from Republicans such as Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky.
Landrieu said the lobbying of the horse industry has prevented Senate and House floor votes on her legislation thus far.
Dave Duquette, president of the pro-slaughter group United Horsemen, said the lack of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. only leads to a poor market for the value of horses, which forces financially struggling horse owners to abandon their animals or keep them under poor conditions.
"We don't advocate that everyone needs to slaughter their horse," Duquette said. "But the option needs to be there."
Duquette, who said he regularly receives death threats, said there are currently plans for horse slaughterhouses in Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Oregon and Washington.
"There's a lot of efforts going on, and I think it's probably going to happen in the near future," he said.
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report advised either an outright ban on horse slaughtering or to legalize it, in order to stop the negative side effects of current practices, such as increased horse abandonment, the poor condition of horses exported to be slaughtered elsewhere and the overall decline in the price of horses.
Duquette, a self-described horse trainer, contended it is hypocritical for people to argue that horses must be treated differently when they go home and eat the meat from cows and pigs that were slaughtered.
"What makes them different? They're not really," he said. "That argument is emotional, not reality."
"That argument is ridiculous on its face," Landrieu said. "Cows are raised for slaughter."
"We don't eat our dogs and our horses," she added.