Oklahomans Discuss Lifting Ban On Horse Slaughter
SAPULPA, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma Legislature is moving forward to allow horse slaughter in the state.
The Oklahoma House and Senate passed two separate measures to address the overpopulation in the state.
Oklahoma is one of only four states that currently have bans on slaughtering horses for commercial purposes.
These bills would stop than ban, but only if the meat is exported out of the country.
"We have no place to go with our horses," Ray Enolow said.
Enlow breeds race horses for a living outside Sapulpa.
He's a strong supporter of the bills that would make it legal to open horse processing plants in Oklahoma.
"This is not a horse that's capable of going out and doing a job every day. …They can't walk around because they are crippled, or something is wrong with them," Enolow said.
Last year, Congress lifted the ban on horse slaughter houses, but it's remained illegal in Oklahoma.
"Now were finding people who are not able to feed their horses, finding them turned out in pastures... finding them being starved to death, abandoned and abused," Enolow said.
Representative Skye McNeil is one of the co-authors of House Bill 1999.
She says more than 150,000 horses are being shipped across the border, most of them to an inhumane death.
"We need to be protecting those 160,000 horses, by having regulated facilities in the U.S. that are USDA-regulated," McNeil said.
Oklahoma State Senator Brian Crain is opposed to the bill that passed in the Senate.
"I wanna make sure that food does not come back to the United States," he said. "The vast majority of people in Tulsa look at horses the way we look at dogs and cats, they are companions, they are a part of our lives."
He said while processing plants could be the eventual solution, the people of Oklahoma deserve to know why the horses would be slaughtered.
"These horses have a value as a life animal, they are very well cared for... there's not reason they shouldn't have a value after their usefulness is over," McNeil said.
Both bills will now head to the Oklahoma House and Senate. They could be approved by Gov. Mary Fallin in the next few weeks.
"When they turn [horses] loose it's a bad deal, nobody is gonna take care of them," Enolow said. "I'm not, even though I like horses so much."