On Sept. 7 the U.S. House of Representatives voted 263-146 to pass H.R. 503, a bill to end horse slaughter for human consumption. The two amendments added to the bill didn’t pass.
Congressmen Ed Whitfield of Kentucky and John Sweeney of New York have sponsored the bill for several years, but it’s failed to leave committee each time until now.
The bill would shut down all three slaughterhouses currently operating in the United States: Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Texas, Beltex Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas and Cavel International in DeKalb, Ill.
Now the bill moves to the Senate where an identical measure has been introduced by John Ensign of Nevada and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. It’s likely that the Senate will not have the opportunity to consider the bill before it recesses this month.
While animal rights groups celebrated, the American Quarter Horse Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture frowned on the passage of the bill.
“H.R. 503 does not offer any solutions to the 100,000 unwanted or unusable horses that are sent to slaughter facilities each year and infringes on the rights of all horse owners,” stated a press release by the AQHA. “Additionally, the bill does not have any oversight measures or guidelines for equine rescue operations that are expected to absorb these horses each year. AQHA supported humane transportation and treatment laws for horses bound for slaughter.”
Mike Johanns, Secretary of the USDA added that while horse slaughter remains legal in the United States, it will be regulated by the USDA. If it’s made illegal, “there exists the chance that individuals would find other ways of moving these animals, either under false pretenses or covertly. Without the knowledge of their movement, APHIS [Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] would then be unable to regulate or even monitor the condition of these animals to ensure their safe travel conditions.”