Horse News

Maine Bill Cites Cruelty, Seeks to Ban Horse Slaughter

Source: By Dennis Hoey dhoey@mainetoday.com  as published in the Portland Press Herald

The plan also would prevent transport of horses through Maine to plants in Canada that would turn them into food.

A legislative committee will hear public testimony Tuesday on a bill to prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

L.D. 1286 would ban slaughterhouses for horses in Maine and any transportation of horses through Maine for slaughter in Canada.

It also would repeal current state law that allows horse meat to be sold in Maine as long as it is conspicuously labeled.

Supporters say the bill could prove controversial but Maine should take steps to outlaw horse slaughter.

Horse slaughterhouses were outlawed in the United States in 2007, after the Department of Agriculture said it did not have enough money or resources to inspect them. But last year, the government resumed inspections, allowing slaughterhouses to reopen.

The chief sponsors of Maine’s bill, Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, and Rep. Elizabeth Dickerson, D-Rockland, said they are concerned that someone might try to open a horse slaughterhouse in Maine.

“Our bill is a proactive measure,” said Dickerson, who owns a horse rescue farm. “It’s an inhumane process being used in the slaughterhouses. At least a cow will stand still, but a horse will not.”

Knight said he has heard that slaughterhouses shackle horses’ legs before slitting their throats.

The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee will hold a public hearing on L.D. 1286 at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Room 214 of the Cross State Office Building in Augusta. At a later date, the committee will hold a work session on the bill to decide on its recommendation to the Legislature.

A similar bill, introduced three years ago, never gained support and was withdrawn from consideration.

Knight said the new bill has support from both parties.

He said he decided to push the bill after hearing reports from Maine Friends of Animals that a farm in Vassalboro was sending horses to slaughterhouses in Canada. Knight said it is his understanding that the farm is no longer in business, but the legislation is still needed.

“Maine has become the focal point for horse (slaughter) trafficking,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people and there is no one in my district who thinks this bill doesn’t make sense.”

Violators would be prohibited from owning animals and could be required to take humane-education courses.

Wendy Ireland, executive director of the Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, said she is aware of the bill but is reserving judgment.

Ireland, whose organization promotes harness racing in Maine and represents more than 3,000 horse owners, trainers, breeders and drivers, said a big issue for all competitive horse owners is what to do when a horse nears the end of its racing life.

“Most owners try to find good homes for their horses, and most do,” she said.

L.D. 1286 was drafted with help from Falmouth-based Maine Friends of Animals, which estimates that 1,500 horses are shipped through Maine each year to slaughterhouses in Quebec, based on inspections done during border crossings.

Robert Fisk Jr., the organization’s president and director, said, “Our state serves as a funnel for horse slaughter.”

He said the market for horse meat is being driven by consumers in Europe — France and Belgium in particular — and Asia.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law in September that prohibits the slaughter of horses, transportation of horses to slaughter, and sales of horse meat for human consumption in his state.

At the time New Jersey adopted its law, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said a national poll showed that 80 percent of Americans opposed horse slaughter for human consumption…(CONTINUED)

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18 replies »

  1. Good news for the State of Oregon, and hope they follow the law in New Jersey no horse slaughter…..

    Maine Friends rescue your a bunch of “UNETHICAl JERKS” and should be shut down for your dishonest rescue practices…

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  2. Exactly one State at a time , working on Ohio for 6 months already !!!!!! This all tskes time !!!Start by getting signatures from Vets, Rescues all other Horse Organizations TO PRESENT !!! tHIS IS WHAT TAKES ALL THE TIME TO DO,……..

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  3. “Most owners try to find good homes for their horses, and most do,” she said.

    If this is true, then why be on the fence about slaughter? it’s clearly not needed for “ethical” purposes. Man up and take a side, for goodness sake!

    BTW I live in Maine and have sent emails to all members of the Maine Joint Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation, and have only received 2 responses (one of which was very snide). I’m sorry to say I don’t have much hope for this bill as I believe a similar one was voted down years ago, but I certainly won’t stop trying.

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  4. Mr Hoey states more than a few factual inaccuracies. (what is it it with the IGNORANT press that feign journalistic integrity, news to the masses for public education and CONTINUALLY misstate the facts???)

    Happy to see Maine considering this legislation, HOWEVER….will they enforce it?

    California doesn’t.

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  5. There is something so insidious about someone who raises horses for pleasure and competition, to think of slaughter as an alternative to a horse that is no longer competitive. They should NOT be breeding horses for any purpose, if this is their attitude. I am disgusted!

    The great news is New Jersey, Maine, and other states will follow, will ban horse slaughter from their states. I love this, this is the good news. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing all this. It gives me hope in a rather hopeless time for animals.

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    • Convenience and greed, Debra…..convenience and greed and those that stand by without so much as raising a cough or finger at evil.

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  6. I hope this bill passes in the state of Maine, &, anywhere else it may be considered. It does take time, one state at a time! How many states, &, which ones, have already banned horse slaughter, or, are considering it? I hope more & more states take notice, & follow suit. America needs to avoid getting into the same horse meat scandal that is all over Europe! America needs to take charge, & remember our roots, like the original reasons our ancestors came here in the first place, to start a “new life”, to become independent, to live by our own rules & government, NOT continue doing what “everyone else is doing”. Our ancestors left that life behind, &, with good reason! Just because people living in another country or continent have their “eating preferences”, whatever they may be, does not mean we Americans need to do the same! Or, if that’s not enough, what about the moral or even legal aspects of knowingly selling tainted “meat” to other individuals? Come on America, it’s time to wake up & smell the coffee! Let not the wants of the few out-weigh the needs & wants of the many!

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  7. Love states that ban human consumption horse slaughter all you want, but if the DON’T ENFORCE IT WITH FUNDING it is hardly worth anything.

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      • I can’t speak for other states, Illinois was the place to close a slaughter plant and we passed legislation after a real tough battle. Illinois too has had violators came through our state. In fact,
        we have had some pretty bad crashes. One Moron trailering 59 horses went through a red light or stop sign causing the death of 19 horse. The other 49 were rescued and adopted. The truck driver ran away and was later found and prosecuted. I have heard that law enforcement officers have been on the look out for trailers hauling numerous horses. Many of the horse people in our state also are on the look out. Most law enforcement personnel are not as informed as we are so cut them some slake. It is also up to all of us to report this too. I am glad to see another state has done the right thing by passing this law. We assume that law enforcement is up on all the issues. We should all be taking the time to share our information. Our horse club put on an emergency training session for the police and firemen in our area since we have major expressways which are frequented. They enjoyed it as much as we did. We also put together a manual that they could take with and use as a reference. It contained procedures, names of our local vets and a list of volunteers they could call in an emergency. Very few had any contact or knowledge about horses. They all commented on how well it was run and couldn’t thank us enough for putting this on for them. It was done by an organization in northern Illinois. Law enforcement officials have to be so knowledgable about so many laws. This workshop gave them another prospective regarding our horses and why we should not allow slaughter any where in our country. The accident and the workshop detailed also why our horses should not leave Americas shores to be slaughtered else where. Its amazing how a bra comes in handy in a trailer accident.

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  8. What’s his frack awaiting a UFO abduction face mentioned something in an article about moving it through El Paso? Won’t that break TX law much? Also Texas has anti cruelty laws which appear to be broken every day at a border town. Why aren’t the local authorities pressing on violators…..specifically shelter, food, water, transport, and speeding/traffic violations?

    Great to have state laws, but not useful unless enforced. A nationwide ban is the solution to include all borders. Only then will true humane options grow and flourish.

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  9. I am in Illinois. So we are constantly fighting the trailers passing through. In our community they have stepped up patrols including around the local sale barn which are only for cattle, the cops check into it every night and day-its on their route to stop horse trafficking in our area. We also have noticed cops are more nervous over horse thefts in our area only because it means that the type of people stealing them are normally carrying criminal records, especially felonies. We are constantly checking out abandoned farms for marks or indications of vehicles or animals. Through much of the state the State Police are really concerned whats going on. We also have to keep the public informed because we cannot take a horse to sale barns in Indiana knowingly if they are sick, injured or diseased, if caught its a misdemeanor on first offense second is felony- they want animals euthanized or cared for in Illinois or travel directly to a vet, so many of those slippery folks who want to slide them into Indiana are now finding a cop pointed that direction watching for trailers leaving the state and people are getting checked. We have to be on the lookout everywhere we go! We need to knock on California’s governors door and get him to resubmit that yes he will enforce the law and put out a warning that this type of behavior needs to stop! It’s important to remind officials its all part of the daily routine because many killer buyers/transporters are actually felons, and habitual animal abusers. So its for the horses but for the safety of the states people as well. Maine has much more interest in this bill this time around! And we need to also contact the Maine Harness Racing Association because they are on the fence on a done deal issue, NO racehorses accepted for human consumption so they need to be made aware that it’s NOT an option and ask them to get onboard. They meet over this bill Tuesday and they need to wake up Monday, boot their computer and blam! We are there, I will be saying you are not helping your Association because they are banned from slaughter and you Cannot knowingly send racehorses to slaughter. So they need to hear from US! I am back in the fight, I went out and painted some many rails and fence posts I lost track of how far I had gone, I painted my entire horse barn, dog house, mailbox posts, cleaned my house, groomed horses, cleaned my shop, took in a pregnant kitty, and stained a porch (even forgot the round pen got painted and a front door.) So I had a busy two days, and I was doing a lot of thinking-my fiancé is in shock-he said just watching me take out my frustration on the fence paint made him realize how important this is to me. I could have hired someone, but then I wouldn’t have been outside with my 4 yr old son, thinking, playing with the horses, painting, trust me even the horses were getting in on the painting-they each have black or white paint depending on the project on the tips of their hairs. A lot of carrots, tea, and hard work! So I am still as furious, I just need somewhere to focus and get this pushed through! We have to save the horses. Our neighbors are nervous when any human being comes into the area that we do not know, people rush to their windows when they hear the slightest noise or when a trailer came to the shop, a couple of men including a local cop-grilled them to see who they were, where they were from. Slaughter makes horse people nervous. I am glad that Illinois is trying to enforce it. We have been scarred by the plant that was here, wounds don’t heal easily. I know, we lived it. Our support to the states considering blocking the slaughter plants will help push it through. We have killer buyer in the next town over-10 mins away, he’s back to advertising as Cattle Company to appear to be a really nice guy-but a local cop said that man makes his skin crawl-the cop even bid on a horse at an auction to keep it from the killer buyer. He said I would rather feed it than to know it went with that man. So Illinois dives in. We know that they are still in Illinois but its getting so uncomfortable for some of them they have their places up for sale including the one I just spoke of, one wants to move out west. I have a cattle prod to help him get moved quick!

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    • Dear Cynthia !!! Thank You for revealing what happened in Illinois, and the ramifications that are still being dealt with !!!! You lived it and are still living it !!!!! There is NO room for Horse Slaughter here in the US and nobody knows this better than you do and the people of Illinois, Thank You again for your post here , if Speaks Volumes ………………… I know everyday is not easy there , but everyday you fight and will not except Horse Slaughter is one day closer to abolishing it forever !!!! Please hang in there Lovely Lady , with a heart as big as the Country shes in………………………………….

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  10. I live in Missouri and we have saved quite a few horses from the kill pens in the South. It is a HUGE problem there( Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana etc. so many kill pens and kill buyers with no feelings or morals. It is big business with some being said to make millions. The horses come into the kill pens faster than our groups can rescue them. Some people believe that it is only old or sick horses that are slaughtered, not so, I just rescued a reg. Arabian with fantastic bloodlines. There are many Reg. horses, mustangs, off the track race horses and so many more good young usable horses that pass through. Our groups work hard day and night to save these horses but sadly can not save them all. People do not realize that when they sell their horses they do not always get a good home. The kill buyers have people employed to buy for them and lies are told, I am buying for my grandkids, my children etc. so people feel good about where their horse is going. Sometimes they take their kids and family with them when they buy. This whole business makes me sick! The kill buyers are thugs who usually have officials in their pocket so they can get by with anything. Cruelty is the norm. More people need to be aware of what is going on in the horse world. We need more education in schools about cruelty to animals. More education everywhere. Some of the Hollywood Stars are finally getting on board, but not enough. Until more people are educated to the problems of animal cruelty and torture, more laws are passed to protect those who have no voices this problem will continue. We need to get MAD AS HELL and stand up for animals! Each and everyone of us!!

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