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Horse slaughter bill gains steam in Senate


Legislation advances despite organized veterinary medicine's efforts to derail controversial measure

Washington-The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act has reached the U.S. Senate and, like its companion bill in the House, seeks to ban slaughtering horses for human consumption and prevent equine from being shipped live to slaughterhouses in other countries.

So how heated is the horse slaughter debate? Actress Bo Derek recently spoke on Capitol Hill in support of legislation banning horse slaughter for human consumption. The bill also seeks to ban the import/export of horses or horse meat for human consumption.Source: AP/Dennis Cook

Although veterinarian Sen. John Ensign introduced the bill, officials with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and American Association of Equine Practitioners are fighting to derail it.

While Ensign notes that the American public "overwhelmingly supports the ban," association leaders say language in the slaughter prevention act (H.R. 857, S. 2352) could do more harm for horses than good.

Dr. Michael Chaddock

The prohibition fails to ensure adequate funding to care for unwanted horses once humane slaughter is banned, and does not address potential environmental concerns associated with disposing of an estimated 68,000 more carcasses each year, says Dr. Michael Chaddock, director of the AVMA's Governmental Relations Division.

"We're not taking a stand one way or another as to whether horses should be slaughtered and consumed by human beings," he says. "We're trying to defeat this legislation through education, showing members of Congress that the bill does not address animal welfare. Who will take care of these unwanted animals? We're certainly disappointed that the issue has seemed to take off."

Take off it has. In fact, legislative proponents recruited actress Bo Derek to speak on Capitol Hill in support of the legislation.

If passed, the measure also would ban the import, export and sale of horses or horsemeat for human consumption.

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