Horse Slaughter Ban Gets OK in House

Companion bill introduced in the Senate.

The House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon that would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The final House vote on bill H.R. 503 was 263-146. Passage of an identical bill, introduced in the Senate by Sen. John Ensign, R., Nev., would be required for the bill to go the President for his signature.

A bipartisan amendment to H.R. 503 offered by Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Collin Peterson, D-Minn. would have ensured sufficient certified sanctuaries to care for abandoned and neglected horses before a ban on processing them could take effect. The amendment failed on a 177-229 vote.

Wednesday, the Bush Administration opposed passage of the House bill. The bill was supported by Thoroughbred and Standardbred horse racing interests but was strongly opposed by members of the House Agriculture Committee, cattle industry groups, the American Veterinary Medical Assn. and many state horse councils.

Opponents believe its passage will prevent humane euthanasia of unwanted horses at the three federally inspected plants in the U.S. that accept horses for slaughter.

If approved by Congress, the legislation would shut down the three remaining equine processing plants in the United States, leaving thousands of American horses to be placed in unregulated horse adoption facilities or abandoned. A study conducted for the Animal Welfare Council estimated a cost of $220 million for the care of unwanted horses. About 1% of the 9.2 million U.S. horse population is marketed annually for processing for human consumption.

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