Oklahoma is on track to become the first state in the U.S. to lift its own ban on horse slaughter since Congress legalized it.
In 2007, horse slaughter came to an end in the U.S. when the last slaughterhouses in Texas and Illinois that processed horse meat were shut down. Since then, the ban on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections for horse slaughter facilities was lifted and there have been numerous attempts to open slaughterhouses for horses in the U.S.
Now, despite the scandal surrounding horse meat in the EU, and the fact that the majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter, two bills in Oklahoma to repeal the state’s ban on horse slaughter are successfully making their way through the legislature.
Senate Bill (SB) 375 revokes a 1963 flat ban on the sale of horse meat in the state by allowing it to be “exported internationally” and was passed by a vote of by a vote of 38-6. House Bill (HB) 1999 would allow horses to be slaughtered in Oklahoma, but will uphold the existing domestic ban on sales of horse meat for human consumption, which was passed by a vote of 82-14. Both will be moving on for further consideration by both the House and Senate.
This isn’t the first time since the ban that Oklahoma has pushed for horse slaughter to resume. In 2010, the Legislature passed HCR1045 opposing federal bills banning the transport or processing of horses for human consumption.
Equine advocates are now fighting to stop the legislation from proceeding to protect both domestic and wild horses from being sent to slaughter in the state.
“These bills have been pushed through so fast that Oklahomans have had no chance whatsoever to let their legislators know how they really feel,” said Simone Netherlands of Respect4Horses. “It’s going to take Oklahoma’s and Americans to stand up for what they believe in, and they are not happy right now, with Oklahoma legislation.”
Proponents like to make it out like they’re doing these horses a favor. The idea of slaughter may invoke images of horses too old, sick or injured to have another life. Sadly, the USDA estimates that “92.3 percent of the horses going to slaughter are healthy and in ‘good’ condition.” They’re also sold by the pound, which means the big healthy ones are worth more to kill buyers than the thin and neglected.
The number of horses being sent to slaughter also hasn’t really changes since we stopped killing them domestically. According to USDA statistics, the slaughter of US horses actually went up by 32 percent in 2012 to over 176,000 – a twenty year high. Like any other business, horse slaughter is driven by supply and demand.
The number of horses exported to Mexico increased from 68,429 in 2011 to 110,202 in 2012, a 61 percent increase while exports to Canada actually decreased slightly (7.5 percent) to 59,812, reports the Equine Welfare Alliance.
Not only are the transport and slaughter procedures used for horses considered inhumane by citizens, industry professionals, animal protection groups and a number of professional organizations, but allocating taxpayer dollars for USDA inspections of horse meat to perpetuate this cruelty only to benefit foreign owned businesses is reprehensible – as is exposing local communities to the economic and environmental problems associated with horse slaughter.
“The more I learn about horse slaughter, the more certain I am: There is no justification for horse slaughter in this country. My city was little more than a doormat for the foreign-owned business that drained our resources, thwarted economic development and stigmatized our community. … There is no justification for spending American tax dollars to support this industry at the expense of Americans and our horses,” wrote Paula Bacon, former mayor of Kaufman, Texas, who continues to crusade against this insidious business after seeing the effects in her own community.
Please sign and share the petition asking lawmakers not to allow horse slaughter in Oklahoma.
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