BY JACOB OGLES as published on SRQ
No Americans should have resorted to eating their horses, according to Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota. The congressman on Wednesday filed bipartisan legislation with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois, that would outlaw killing horses for food.
“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” Buchanan said. “I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for the same purpose.”
It’s not just a stance against an easily reviled act. Just two years ago, a horse was stolen from a property in Palmetto and later found gutted for meat; the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office last year arresting a Pinellas County resident on charges of grand theft and animal cruelty. The Sarasota-Manatee area saw two horses killed for meat by rustlers within a month in 2015.
Buchanan’s office said there have been scattered reported around Florida for years regarding the slaughter of horses, often by thieves. But the act of killing the horse for meat isn’t itself a crime. In fact, federal agencies estimate 37,000 American were exported to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, with the meet typically shopped overseas. Buchanan, who has been honored as the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year twice, wants federal law to change. In addition to a prohibition on such killing in the U.S., the newly filed Save America’s Forgotten Equines Act (SAVE) Act would also ban such international sales. Selling horses in the United States to be slaughtered to export the meat is already a violation of the law, but it’s a regulation that has to be extended every year, and it doesn’t stop selling to buyers in Canada and Mexico.
“Only nine years ago, 160,000 American horses were exported abroad for slaughter,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Due to awareness of this inhumane and predatory industry, that number has dropped dramatically with only 37,249 shipped to slaughter in 2020. But one horse is still too many.” The Humane Society supports the bill.
So does the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “An overwhelming majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter for human consumption and with May being Adopt a Horse Month, there is no better time than now to support at-risk horses by prohibiting this unnecessary and cruel practice,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of Government Relations for the ASPCA. “We are grateful to Representatives Schakowsky and Buchanan for their steadfast commitment to protecting our horses and we urge Congress to pass the SAFE Act to finally end this abhorrent practice.”