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Jun 2, 2010 11:28 AM by Elaine Sheridan

Horse slaughter legislation a hot topic

Horse slaughter... Bring it up around horse people and an argument is sure to start, but the issue has long left arenas and stables and is now an issue in many state legislatures and even Congress.

It usually boils down to a cruelty versus commerce stance. Many claim the slaughter process is cruel and that horses shouldn't be killed when they are no longer considered useful and that mustangs are at great risk of ending up in a slaughter house.  Others say that not allowing slaughter has hurt the horse market and increased the number of horses that have been left to starve when an owner no longer can afford to feed them.  Regardless of one's beliefs, the "un-wanted" horse problem is a complicated issue that has serious economic consequences and even crosses international borders.

The Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act H.R. 503/S. 727, is still pending in Congress. It would prevent any horse slaughter facility from operating in the United States as well as prohibit the shipment of horses to other countries for processing.

As of mid-April, three states, Idaho, Wyoming, and South Dakota, have adopted bills or resolutions relating to this issue while six other states continued to consider their own pro-or anti-horse-slaughter legislation. 

According to a report by the American Veterinary Medical Association, The number of U.S. horses slaughtered in North America has dropped nearly 40 percent since its peak in 2007, the last year horses were processed in the United States after a federal district court ordered the Department of Agriculture to stop inspecting horse slaughter facilities.  During that year over 140-thousand horses were slaughtered.    The USDA says 88,276 horses were slaughtered during 2009 in Mexico and Canada who are making up for the lack of production in the United States.

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