Congress Can’t Decide - Honor Horses or Kill Them

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Congress honors American horses with a Â?National Day of the Horse,Â? then passes an amendment sending thousands of horses to their death.

The 108th Congress recently passed a resolution designating December 13th as the National Day of the Horse. The Senate Resolution (S. Res. 452) says that “without horses the economy, history, and character of the United States would be profoundly different, that horses are a vital part of the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion and that because of increasing pressure from modern society, wild and domestic horses rely on humans for adequate food, water, and shelter.” It also recognizes that the horse industry contributes more than $100,000,000,000 annually to the economy of the United States.

The same Congress failed to allow The American Horse Slaughter Protection Act (HB857 and S2352) to come to a vote. The bill would have closed the three existing horse slaughterhouses in the United States and prevented the killing of almost 60,000 American horses per year. These horses are now processed for their meat in the overseas markets of Japan, Italy, Belgium and France.

With the signing of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill by President Bush next week, yet another law allowing for the destruction of America’s wild horses will be passed, sending thousands of free-roaming horses to the slaughterhouses. Senator Conrad Burns (R-Montana), slipped an eleventh-hour amendment into the 3,800 page bill (Section 142) that wipes out the protection of the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

“Praising the horses of America while sending them to their death in foreign owned slaughterhouses is the ultimate hypocritical statement,” said Jerry Finch, President of Habitat for Horses, a Texas based equine rescue and education organization. “The 108th Congress tries to show compassion by honoring horses with their own “Day of the Horse” while allowing the interest of the cattle industry and the foreign meat buyers to send tens of thousands of horses to their death.”

Despite the protest of thousands of Americans, the wild horse herds of America are being decimated through continued roundups so Federal lands can be leased to the cattle industry, according to Finch. “The once free horses are now being held in pens across the United States, awaiting the passage of the new law, so they can be slaughtered for their meat.”

“Is this the best “protection and compassion” Congress can offer?” Finch asked.

The American Horse Slaughter Protection Act will be introduced to Congress again in January. Over 220 Representatives have agreed to cosponsor the bill. Finch added that an all out effort is needed by the American public to see that it is passed into law as quickly as possible. “The public should contact their Representative and Senator,” he said. “Perhaps that will assure that the next “National Day of The Horse” will be more than a hypocritical grin from those who make money off the bodies of dead horses.”

Habitat for Horses, Inc. is a nonprofit equine rescue and education center located in Hitchcock, Texas. Their website is http://www.habitatforhorses.org/

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