Horse News

U.S. House Subcommittee Hears Testimony on Federal Legislation to Ban Horse Slaughter

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and end the export of horses for slaughter abroad

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing today on “Improving Safety and Transparency in America’s Food and Drugs.” Included on the agenda was the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961), federal legislation that would permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States and end the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.

Introduced by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) in 2019, the SAFE Act currently has 225 House cosponsors and is supported by a multitude of animal welfare groups.

“I am grateful to Chairwoman Eshoo for including the SAFE Act in today’s hearing,” stated Schakowsky. “The SAFE Act is vital for the health of consumers and well-being of horses. Horses are ingrained in our national story and deserve far better than being exported in inhumane conditions for slaughter. Many of the substances used to treat horses are banned by the FDA, making horse meat dangerous for human consumption. As a lifelong advocate for consumer protection and animal welfare, I welcome the focus on this legislation.”

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in American society,” said Buchanan, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus. “I will continue to lead the charge with Representative Schakowsky to eradicate this cruelty.”

The Subcommittee heard testimony from Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the ASPCA, who said: “The ASPCA is working resolutely in concert with other organizations across the country to solve equine welfare issues on the ground, but we cannot fully succeed while the slaughter pipeline remains open. With the strong support of the American public and a clear FDA mandate to regulate and ban toxic substances routinely given to horses that threaten public health, it is time to end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. We thank the committee for hearing this legislation, and we urge Congress to pass the SAFE Act to protect our horses as well as public health.”

According to Cathy Liss, president of AWI, “The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a very serious animal welfare issue and public health risk. The Animal Welfare Institute has long worked to expose the rampant cruelty and dishonesty inherent in this industry—from the kill-buyers who mislead horse owners in order to obtain animals, to the brutality inside the slaughterhouse.”

Liss added: “In addition to the terrible abuse that goes hand in hand with horse slaughter, the food safety threats that plague the industry as a result of the drugs administered to horses cannot be ignored. For these reasons, the Animal Welfare Institute strongly supports the SAFE Act and is grateful for the attention of the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

“Walk into any stable in this country and you’ll find ointments, medications, and other products that are clearly labeled ‘Not to be used on animals intended for human consumption.’ Yet thousands of horses with these toxic chemicals coursing through their veins are shipped to slaughter for that very purpose,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “The process is a terrifying and gruesome end for these companions, as it cannot be done humanely due to their anatomy and flight response. The fact is American horses should not be on anyone’s dinner menu—here or overseas.”

In recent years, the number of American horses shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries has dropped, making this an opportune time for Congress to close this legal loophole that causes so much suffering.

These horses are not raised for food but are purchased by contract kill-buyers at auctions, even when other owners and horse rescues stand ready to take them. The horses then endure grueling journeys to slaughter plants, packed into large trailers in unfamiliar groups. Due to these fearful, stressful conditions, they can be injured or even trampled to death en route. Once at the slaughterhouse, horses are driven into a “kill box” where they are shot in the head with a captive bolt gun—a process that can be imprecise due to the biology and fight-or-flight nature of equines and the high-stress environment of the slaughter facility. As a result, some horses endure repeated excruciating blows or may remain conscious during the kill process.

The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from dangerous American horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the commonplace, unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Horses are not raised for food, and over the course of their lifetimes, are routinely given hundreds of drugs and chemical treatments that are appropriate for horses but potentially toxic to humans if consumed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the use of more than 100 chemicals in animals intended for human consumption. Products as seemingly harmless as fly spray, pain relief, and de-wormers—all considered important for good horse care—contain banned, toxic ingredients.

The public is encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives and senators and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act, H.R. 961/S. 2006, and to do all they can to secure its swift passage in order to protect America’s horses and overall consumer health from horse slaughter.

8 replies »

    • It would appear from this that it was left up to the rep from the ASPCA (one of the organizations that is assisting the BLM) to come up with arguments in favor of the SAFE Act. Wonder why that was?


  1. Slaughtering wild horses was brought up in this hearing. We don’t need them in holding, we don’t need slaughter, and we don’t need ignormamuses like Rep.Griffith of Virginia involved in wild horse management:

    I haven’t reviewed it yet but will pass along a comment and link from yesterday:

    “Rep. Griffith brought up the number of horses in holding as the reason why horse slaughter is needed. (And of course, the ASPCA plan adds to the number of horses in holding).”

    It’s around the 4:19:00 mark


    • Couldnt watch this on my computer – no speakers. Found it on UTube – and hung in there until the gal from ASPCA spoke & I have to say she did do a good job – then the veterinarian who I didnt think was very effective. Then someone from the dairy industry complaining about the different types of non-dairy milk etc. At that point I hit pause & it went back to the beginning. There is NO way to back up or fast forward on UTube on my Roku! And youre right – the part about the SAFE Ace was about 4 HOUR in.


  2. Chris DeRose was recently interviewed by George Knapp on a radio program…hard to listen to some of the things that happen behind closed doors, but the animals don’t have the option of turning away/


    For almost four decades, Chris DeRose has been a leader in the animal rights movement. In 1984, he founded Last Chance for Animals (LCA), an international, nonprofit animal advocacy organization focused on investigating, exposing, and ending animal exploitation. In the second half, DeRose discussed how he investigated and finally busted some of the most heartless and corrupt pet-theft rings in the nation and what happens on the front lines of the fight on behalf of animals. On the heels of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, happening now in China, DeRose discussed the conditions for animals in that country and how domestic pets such as dogs and cats are boiled alive for food.
    He recounted one of his earliest investigations and the eventual conviction of members of a pet theft ring in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. A couple he was following looked for protection from the police and were told that if they were smuggling animals, that

    DeRose had a right follow them. He said that the people involved were eventually caught and sentenced to 14 years in state prison. Many who say they are adopting pets are simply reselling them to others or even worse, he said, to facilities that conduct medical experiments. He described breaking into a classroom of medical students instructed to dissect cats while they were still alive.

    Liked by 1 person

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