KBR Wild Horse and Burro News

  Updated Commentaries on
Horse Slaughter & the Sonora Project

Story Date May 29, 2003

Continued from Texas Bill Threatens Wild Horses.
Please also see Texas Horse Slaughter Legislation Killed.

The following two updates have been recently submitted and are printed virtually in their original form.

By Chris Erlon, Red Rock, TX

Amendment #2 to Senate Bill SB 1413 is the culprit. The bill has passed in the House, and is being sent back to the Senate for final revisions. The bill's author is Bob Deuell, and I think the only thing we can do right now is call his office and voice opposition to the amendment.

(512) 463-0102 (phone)
(512) 463-7202 (fax)

Webmaster's Note:

Senator Deuell wrote the bill to which the amendment was attached. He did not write the amendment, so he's not the bad guy here. He's the person who has an interest in not having his bill damaged and his staff should be able to provide information as to whom and how the amendment can best be protested.

By Arlene Sillings, Dayton, NV

(Copy of letter to Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News.)

I realize that there are more important issues concerning the people in the United States today than the plight of domestic and wild horses being sold for slaughter for human consumption in the U.S. and abroad but I sincerely hope that there is something you can do to help eliminate this terrible practice.

In 1971, the U.S. Congress passed "The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act" for the following reason:

"That Congress finds and declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands."

The Bureau of Land Management under the Secretary of Interior and the Forest Service under the Secretary of Agriculture have the responsibility for maintaining and control of these horses.

There is an important issue concerning all horses in the U.S. This is the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

The State of Texas has the Texas Agriculture Code 149 which prohibits the sale, possession and transport of horsemeat for human consumption.

HB 1324 was introduced by Representative Betty Brown (R-Terrell) to overturn this law but, thankfully, it was defeated.

SB 1413 was introduced to ban horse slaughter but the pro-slaughter groups are introducing amendments that would repeal, in its entirety, Chapter 149 of the Agriculture Code and legalizes horse slaughter and the sale of horsemeat for human consumption in Texas and in other states in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries. This House amendment is a back door attempt not only to revive HB 1324, but even worse to allow horsemeat to be sold and consumed in Texas for the first time in over fifty years. It will also allow horsemeat to be mixed with other traditional meat food such as beef, pork, lamb, etc. with no requirements that the consumer be told they are eating horsemeat.

Texas has the only two remaining horse slaughter plants in the U.S. (Beltex and Dallas Crown) that are Belgium owned that are slaughtering horses and shipping the meat to France, Belgium, Germany and Japan for human consumption.

The vast majority of horses slaughtered in these Texas plants are not old, sick or lame but instead are young, healthy horses bought by "killer buyers" who attend horse auctions where they compete with families and other horse brokers looking for good, sound horses. Also, horse slaughter promotes horse theft - horse theft decreased by over 50% in California after California banned horse slaughter in 1998.

The transportation of horses to slaughter houses is cruel and inhumane.

The slaughter method used to kill these horses is anything but humane. The 2002 report of the American Veterinarian Medical Association states "adequate restraint is important to ensure proper placement of the penetrating captive bolt" when used for euthanasia of horses. "Adequate restraint" on a fractious, frightened horse in a slaughter plant killing 160 horses a day is virtually impossible. These horses often endure repeated stuns or blows and remain conscious during their own slaughter.

Nearly every national thoroughbred horse organization is opposed to this bill such as: the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, The Breeders Cup Limited, Fasig-Tipton Horse Sales Company, and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

The following are national organizations that have information on these issues:

Doris Day Animal League - www.ddal.org; click on Horse Protection Updated.

Society for Animal Protective Legislation - www.saplonline.org/Alerts/txslaughterbill.htm or www.saplonline.org.

American Horse Defense Fund - www.ahdf.org/slaughter.html

The Fund for Animals - www.fund.org - (212) 246-2096 phone.

On 4/22/2002, the Fund for Animals reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that 55,775 horses were slaughtered last year at American-based, Belgian-owned slaughterhouses for consumption abroad. Tens of thousands more were shipped live to Canada for slaughter there.

The Fund for Animals can also provide you with a video called "El Caballo" which is very informative about horses and briefly shows a horse being slaughtered if you can watch it.

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 857) was introduced by Congressmen John Sweeney (R-NY) and John Spratt, Jr. (D-SC) which will prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. and prohibit the export of live horses for the same purpose.

A companion bill will soon be introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA). Cosponsors are also needed for this bill so it will be introduced as soon as possible.

The second issue is that a former rancher from Montana, Merle Edsall, and his partners are promoting a sanctuary in Mexico for 10,000 of our wild horses under the management of the Bureau of Land Management. This man is looking for a way to make money as the BLM will pay him for taking and keeping the horses in his sanctuary in Sonora, Mexico.

Do you know what happens to horses in Mexico? It is too horrible to even put in print. Also, once across the border, the United States has no jurisdiction whatsoever over the fate or control of these horses.

The horses in question are "excess" animals that are removed from the public lands for various reasons i.e. drought, poor forage, too many horses in a given area. The Bureau of Land Management has an Adoption Program for these horses. The BLM adopts the horses directly to an approved adoptee who must fulfill stringent qualifications to be able to adopt a horse or these horses are then put up for adoption thru qualified non-profit adoption agencies throughout the U.S. These agencies are thoroughly investigated to ensure that they meet the standards of the BLM and that the horses are always protected.

There are literally hundreds of qualified non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. that work with finding good homes for these horses. There is no reason to send them to Mexico to whatever that fate holds.

The above mentioned organizations can also provide information regarding this man's proposal for a sanctuary in Mexico.

I thank you for any effort you and your staff may expend in helping resolve these two situations. I know in my heart that I am speaking for thousands of people who love the horses as much as I do and want them to be around for future generations to appreciate and love as well.


Arlene Sillings

Thanks Chris and Arlene for these updates.

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