Controversial Bill Aimed At Saving Horses

Monday, January 19th 2009, 10:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, News On 6

UNDATED -- Congress will take up the issue of horse slaughter this session with a controversial bill aimed at saving horses lives.

The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act would make it illegal to transport horses for slaughter in other countries where slaughter is legal.

At Mid America Stockyards in Bristow, hundreds of horses are auctioned off every month.

It's estimated that more than 80,000 American horses are shipped to Mexico every year to be slaughtered and then eaten in foreign countries.

Many people there believe slaughterhouses are a necessary evil, a way to get rid of unwanted horses.

They believe a bill that would stop Americans from shipping horses to other countries for slaughter would actually be more hurtful to horses in the long run than slaughter is now.

"Well it looks to us like it's the wrong thing to do. And we'll have a lot of people that don't agree with us, but they really don't see a lot of what's happening and what has happened to the horse market," said Helen Varner with Mid America Stockyards.

The horse market has hit rock bottom. Many believe it's due, in part, to previous legislation that outlawed American slaughterhouses.

Some horses now sell for pennies a pound because it's so expensive to ship them to Mexico or Canada.

Many people fear outlawing the transport of horses for slaughter will devastate the market and force people to leave unwanted horses out in fields to starve.

"If you're a horse owner, you should care enough about the horse to find a way to euthanize that horse," said Steve Eberle with Oklahoma Animal Protection Association.

Supporters of the bill in question say it's about protecting horses from inhumane deaths in Mexico where slaughterhouses are not regulated.

"What they'll do is put multiple knife wounds into the horse until the horse passes out and then they'll strap them up, lift them up and then slit their neck," said Eberle.

If it passes, Eberle does not believe the bill will create a glut of unwanted horses. He believes it will force horse owners to be more responsible.

"You know if you have a conscience, if you care about horses, you want horse slaughter to end. There's no question about that," said Eberle.

The News On 6 contacted all five congressmen and women from Oklahoma.

Congressman John Sullivan's office was the only one to respond with an answer. Sullivan opposes the bill.