Is a slaughterhouse for horses coming to Missouri? Is this the right way to treat horses? KOMU 8 News explores the emotional and economic impact in special reports Thursday on KOMU 8 News at Six and Ten.
Washington - Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., brought some celebrity power to the Capitol Wednesday to build support for her legislation that would prohibit inhumane killing of American horses for food. Actress Bo Derek, best known for the 1979 romantic comedy,”10,” and speaking for the Animal Welfare Institute, pushed for passage of the bill. So did Amy Nelson, singer Willie Nelson’s daughter, and Raelyn Nelson, his granddaughter, saying they were speaking on Nelson’s behalf and his love for horses.
Landrieu’s American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would also stop the transport of horses across the border to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
“We must continue to open people’s eyes about this appalling practice that is so often hidden from the public,” Derek said at a news conference, surrounded by Landrieu, other lawmakers and citizen lobbyists.
In November 2011, Congress opted not to renew a ban on funding federal inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the United States and Landrieu and other lawmakers opposed to the practice worry it will spur a return to what they say is brutal treatment of horses.
“There are viable, affordable alternatives to slaughter,” Landrieu said. “When a horse is old, sick, or can no longer be productive, its owner should provide humane euthanasia.
“Ninety percent of all horses that die each year are humanely euthanized and/or safely disposed of – this additional 10 percent is not a burden,” Landrieu said. “Horse owners will buy some of these horses and horse rescue organizations will take others. Brutal slaughter is not an appropriate alternative.”
Amy Nelson and Raelyn Nelson issued a statement on behalf of Willie Nelson “We ride horses in America, we don’t eat them. Slaughter is not humane euthanasia. It is not a responsible end of life option for any horse.”
Also speaking was Lorenzo Borghese from ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
“There may be no more special relationship than the one we have with horses,” Borghese said. “The love and loyalty horses have shown people shows no bounds – they have won wars for us, carried us west and built this great country, and have served as companions for our children and our disabled.”
by Jordon Blum of The Advocate Washington bureau
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.