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U.S. House leaders introduce legislation to prohibit slaughter of American horses

Animal welfare organizations support Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act


Federal lawmakers have introduced legislation to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 113, was introduced by Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.). The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Legislative Fund announced their enthusiastic support for the legislation.

Approximately 130,000 American horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico each year to be slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries. The animals often suffer long journeys to slaughter plants without adequate food, water or rest. At the slaughterhouse, horses are brutally forced into a “kill box” and shot in the head with a captive bolt gun in an attempt to stun them before slaughter—a process that can be inaccurate due to the biology and fight or flight nature of equines. As a result, some horses endure repeated blows or remain conscious during the kill process.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” said Rep. Buchanan.

“Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “I am proud to once again join a bipartisan group of colleagues in reintroducing the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”

"The bipartisan SAFE Act isn't just the humane thing to do for horses, it also shields the American people from the significant risks that come with consuming horsemeat," said Rep. Royce. "This is an opportunity to both bolster consumer safeguards and protect America’s horses; it's a win-win."

"In addition to the fact that horse slaughter is inhumane and causes great pain and distress to the animals, the practice also poses environmental and food safety concerns,” said Rep. Lujan Grisham. “Horses are not intended for human consumption, and as a result, often contain unregulated drugs. We must end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad from both a moral and public health standpoint."

The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from dangerous American horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Horses are not raised for food, and they are routinely given hundreds of toxic drugs and chemical treatments over their lifetimes that are potentially toxic to humans if consumed – and many of which are prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption.

At a time when Congress is so focused on fiscal responsibility and the budget of the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service is already stretched thin, the USDA should not extend taxpayer funding for a new program to slaughter horses when the majority of Americans oppose the practice.

The ASPCA, AWI, The HSUS and HSLF encourage the public to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act, H.R. 113, in order to protect America’s horses and overall consumer health from horse slaughter.

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