HR 857 — The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (Introduced in House)

HR 857 IH


1st Session

H. R. 857

To prevent the slaughter of horses in and from the United States for human consumption by prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption and by prohibiting the trade and transport of horseflesh and live horses intended for human consumption, and for other purposes.


February 13, 2003

Mr. SWEENEY (for himself, Mr. SPRATT, Mr. SHAYS, Mr. FORD, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Mr. COSTELLO, Mr. ISAKSON, Mr. VITTER, Mr. CALVERT, Mr. GALLEGLY, and Mr. GREENWOOD) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture, and in addition to the Committees on International Relations and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To prevent the slaughter of horses in and from the United States for human consumption by prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption and by prohibiting the trade and transport of horseflesh and live horses intended for human consumption, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as `The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act’.


Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Horses have played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States.

(2) Horses in the United States are not raised for food or fiber.

(3) As a non-food and recreational animal, horses should be protected from slaughter.

(4) The foreign-owned horse slaughter industry has slaughtered and exported for human consumption over 3 million American horses in the last 2 decades.

(5) Approximately 55,000 American horses are slaughtered for human consumption annually in the United States by foreign-owned slaughterhouses. Tens of thousands of live horses are exported from the United States annually for slaughter.

(6) Horses slaughtered in these foreign-owned plants in the United States have often been hauled several thousand miles over several days, contrary to acceptable non-slaughter standards for water, food, and rest.

(7) Many horses shipped to slaughter are young, healthy animals. Others are old, sick, blind, crippled and in otherwise poor condition and are unfit to withstand the rigors of long travel. Horses sent to be slaughtered are often shipped on crowded double deck trucks designed for shorter necked species such as pigs, cattle and sheep, and are forced to travel in a bent position which can result in suffering, injury and death.

(8) Killing of horses by foreign-owned slaughterhouses in the United States contrasts with the preferable method of killing by chemical euthanasia.

(9) Horses endure repeated blows to the head with stunning equipment that often does not render the animals unconscious. Some horses proceed still conscious through the remaining stages of slaughter being bled out and dismembered.

(10) Because horses in America are not food animals, veterinarians commonly prescribe and treat horses with potent drugs that may reside in the horseflesh and be dangerous when consumed by humans.

(11) Because of the lack of disclosure on the part of the agents and dealers for the slaughter plants people’s horses are many times acquired and slaughtered through fraud and misrepresentation. Slaughter also provides a quick and evidence-free outlet for stolen horses.

(12) The imposition of a ban on the sale of horseflesh for human consumption, regardless of its source, is consistent with the international obligations of the United States because it applies equally to domestic and foreign producers and avoids any discrimination among foreign sources of competing products. Such a ban is also consistent with provisions of international agreements to which the United States is a party that expressly allow for measures designed to protect the health and welfare of animals and to enjoin the use of deceptive trade practices in international or domestic commerce.


The purpose of this Act is —

(1) to prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption;

(2) to prohibit the sale, possession, and trade of horseflesh for human consumption;

(3) to prohibit the sale, possession, and trade of live horses for slaughter for human consumption.


For the purposes of this Act, the following definitions apply:

(1) EUTHANASIA- The term `euthanasia’ means to kill an animal humanely by means that immediately renders the animal unconscious, with this state remaining until the animal’s swift death.

(2) EXPORT- The term `export’ means to take from any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to a place not subject to such jurisdiction, whether or not the taking constitutes an exportation within the meaning of the customs laws of the United States.

(3) HORSE- The term `horse’ means all members of the equid family, including horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, asses, and burros.

(4) HORSEFLESH- The term `horseflesh’ means the flesh of a dead horse, including the animal’s viscera, skin, hair, hide, hooves, and bones.

(5) HUMAN CONSUMPTION- The term `human consumption’ means ingestion by people as a source of food.

(6) IMPORT- The term `import’ means to bring into any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States from a place not subject to such jurisdiction, whether or not the bringing constitutes an importation within the meaning of the customs laws of the United States.

(7) PERSON- The term `person’ means–

(A) an individual, corporation, partnership, trust, association, or other private entity;

(B) an officer, employee, agent, department, or instrumentality of–

(i) the Federal Government; or

(ii) any State, municipality, or political subdivision of State; or

(C) any other entity subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.

(8) SECRETARY- The term `Secretary’ means the Secretary of Agriculture.

(9) SLAUGHTER- The term `slaughter’ means the commercial slaughter of one or more horses with the intent to sell, barter, or trade the flesh for human consumption.

(10) STATE- The term `State’ means the several States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and any other territory, or possession of the United States.

(11) TRANSPORT- The term `transport’ means to move by any means, or to receive or load onto a vehicle for the purpose of movement.

(12) UNITED STATES- The term `United States’ means the customs territory of the United States, as defined in general note 2 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.


(a) IN GENERAL- A person shall not–

(1) slaughter a horse for human consumption;

(2) import into, or export from, the United States horseflesh for human consumption or live horses intended for slaughter for human consumption;

(3) sell or barter, offer to sell or barter, purchase, possess, transport, deliver, or receive horseflesh for human consumption or live horses intended for slaughter for human consumption; or

(4) solicit, request, or otherwise knowingly cause any act prohibited under paragraph (1), (2), or (3).


(a) CRIMINAL PENALTIES- A person who violates section 5 shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.


(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who violates any provision of section 5 shall, in addition to any other civil or criminal penalty that may be imposed under title 18, United States Code, or any other provision of law, be assessed, by the Secretary, a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 but not less than $2,500, and shall have confiscated all horses in that person’s physical or legal possession at the time of arrest, if said horses are intended for slaughter.

(2) DEBARMENT- The Secretary shall prohibit a person from importing, exporting, transporting, trading, or selling horses in the United States, if the Secretary finds that the person has engaged in a pattern or practice of actions that has resulted in a final judicial or administrative determination with respect to the assessment of criminal or civil penalties for violations of any provision of this Act

(c) NOTICE; HEARING- No monetary penalty may be assessed under this subsection against a person unless the person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to such violation in accordance with section 554 of title 5, United States Code.


(1) USE OF PERSONNEL- The Secretary shall enforce this Act, and may use, by agreement, the personnel, services, and facilities of any other Federal, State, or local agency for the purposes of enforcing this Act. For good cause shown, the Secretary may remit or mitigate any civil penalty.

(2) EXECUTION OF PROCESS; ARREST; SEARCH; SEIZURE- Any person authorized by the Secretary to enforce this Act may execute any warrant or process issued by any officer or court of competent jurisdiction to enforce this Act. Such a person so authorized may, in addition to any other authority conferred by law–

(A) with or without warrant or other process, arrest any person committing in his presence or view a violation of this Act or the regulations issued thereunder;

(B) seize the cargo of any truck or other conveyance used or employed to violate this Act or the regulations issued hereunder or which reasonably appears to have been so used or employed; and

(C) seize, whenever and wherever found, all horses and horseflesh possessed in violation of this Act or the regulations issued thereunder and dispose of them, in accordance with this section and regulations prescribed by the Secretary.


(A) TEMPORARY PLACEMENT- After confiscation of a live horse pursuant to this Act, the arresting authorities shall work with animal welfare societies and animal control departments to ensure the temporary placement of the horse with an animal rescue facility that is an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and is exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code, while the person charged with violating this Act is prosecuted. If placement at such a facility is not possible, the arresting authorities shall work with animal welfare societies and animal control departments to temporarily place the horse with a facility that has as its primary purpose the humane treatment of animals, or another suitable location.


(i) POSTING OF BOND- The owner of a horse confiscated pursuant to this Act may prevent permanent placement of the horse by the facility that has temporary custody of the horse by posting a bond with the court in an amount the court determines is sufficient to provide for the necessary care and keeping of the horse for at least 60 days, including the day on which the horse was taken into custody. Such bond shall be filed with the court within 10 days after the horse is confiscated. If a bond is not so posted, the custodial facility shall determine permanent placement of the horse in accordance with reasonable practices for the humane treatment of animals. If the animal has not yet been returned to the owner at the end of the time for which expenses are covered by the bond, and if the owner desires to prevent permanent placement of the animal by the custodial facility, the owner shall post a new bond with the court within ten days following the prior bond’s expiration. If a new bond is not so posted, the custodial facility shall determine permanent placement of the horse in accordance with reasonable practices for the humane treatment of animals.

(ii) COSTS FOR PROVIDING CARE FOR HORSE DEDUCTED FROM BOND- If a bond has been posted in accordance with clause (i), the custodial facility may draw from the bond the actual reasonable costs incurred by the facility in providing the necessary care and keeping of the confiscated horse from the date of the initial confiscation to the date of final disposition of the horse in the criminal action charging a violation of this Act.

(C) PERMANENT PLACEMENT- Any horse confiscated pursuant to this Act and not returned to the owner thereafter (except where otherwise provided in paragraph (4)) shall be placed permanently with an animal rescue facility or other suitable facility as described in this section upon–

(i) the conviction of the horse’s owner pursuant to this Act;

(ii) the owner’s surrender of the horse;

(iii) the failure of the horse’s owner to post a bond as required in accordance with subparagraph (B); or

(iv) the Secretary’s inability to identify the owner.


(A) EMERGENCY CIRCUMSTANCES- The Secretary or any law enforcement individual charged with enforcing this Act may order or perform the immediate euthanasia of any horse in the field when such horse is injured beyond recovery and suffering irreversibly. Methods used shall be in accordance with the most recent Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Panel on Euthanasia (2000) and State and local laws and may include gunshot, but shall not include electrocution or penetrating captive bolt.

(B) HORSES BEYOND RECOVERY AND UNPLACEABLE- The Secretary or any individual charged with enforcing this Act may order the euthanasia of any confiscated horse when injured, disabled, or diseased beyond recovery or when placement at an animal rescue facility or other suitable facility, as described in this section, is not possible within 90 days of any circumstance as described in section 6(d)(3)(C). An equine or large-animal veterinarian shall perform the euthanasia rated `Acceptable’ for horses in the most recent Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Panel on Euthanasia (2000), but shall not include penetrating captive bolt, electrocution, gunshot, or other non-chemical means.


(1) GRANTS- To the extent that funds are made available for this purpose by Acts of appropriation, the Secretary shall make grants to animal rescue facilities described in this section that have given adequate assurances to the Secretary that they are willing to accept horses confiscated pursuant to this Act.

(2) PENALTIES, FINES, AND FORFEITED PROPERTY- Amounts received as penalties, fines, or forfeited property under this Act shall be used for the care of any live horses seized from violators of this Act and taken into the possession of the United States or placed with an animal rescue facility as described in this section.

(f) CALCULATION OF VIOLATIONS- For purposes of this section, a separate offense shall be calculated as follows:

(1) Each live horse transported, traded, slaughtered, or possessed in violation of this Act shall constitute a separate offense.

(2) Every four hundred pounds or less of confiscated horseflesh shall constitute a separate offense.


Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and on an annual basis thereafter, the Secretary shall submit a report to Congress on the efforts of the United States Government to enforce the provisions of this Act and the adequacy of the resources to do so.


(a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in section 5, nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the regulation by any State of its horse population.

(b) EXCEPTION FOR DESIGNATED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL PURPOSES- A person described in section 4(7)(B) may engage in activities described in paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of section 5 solely for purposes of enforcing this Act.


This Act shall take effect one year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Horses Go on the Auction Block After Premarin Sales Decline

Animal rights activists have for years been trying to cajole Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to stop using mares to produce hormone replacement therapy Premarin. Following a decline in sales of Premarin, Wyeth is cutting its ties with hundreds of horse breeders leading animal rights groups to change their tune and lament Wyeth’s sudden abandonment of the farms it relied on.

Following the 2002 report by the Women’s Health Initiative that found relatively modest increases in risk for some health problems among those who took Premarin, sales of the drug dropped like a stone. The WHI study found that women taking the drugs had a 41 percent increased risk of strokes, a 29 percent increased risk of heart attacks, and a 26 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

Orders for Prempro fell from 3.4 million to just 1 million and for Premarin from 6 million to 3.5 million after the study results were announced. Sales of the drugs dropped by 33 percent in the first three quarters of 2003.

As a result, Wyeth cut its business ties with about 100 horse ranchers that account for about 20,000 of the estimated 75,000 horses used in production of the drug. Animal rights groups are now complaining that most the horses will likely end up being slaughtered.

Susan Wagner, president of horse rescue group Equine Associates, told The Saratogian,

What you have in Canada is one big bloodbath. I have never seen anything like this — the cruelty of the pharmacies and the farmers — if you want to call them farmers. Thank God this industry is going down.

Wagner’s group plans to buy as many of the horses as it can and adopt them out in the United States. Wagner said,

We plan to rescue as many of these animals as possible and hope other caring organizations and individuals will do the same. I believe the PMU industry is going down fast. Tragically, as that happens, thousands of mares, foals and stallions will die.

Wyeth’s stock has been hit hard both by the Premarin problems as well as dismal sales for its FluMist influenza vaccine (projected at $140 million in sales, but actual sales end up being in the $9 million range). Regardless, Premarin is unlikely to disappear — Wyeth forecasts that while it will see further erosion in 2004, by the end of the year Premarin sales will still constitute a $1 billion/year market.

Grant Rice, previously associated with EarthSave; Sinikka Crosland of The Responsible Animal Care Society; and others created a group in September called the Women’s Health and Ethics Coalition apparently to start a campaign, “Why, Oh Why, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals . . .?”, to pressure Wyeth to, as a sample letter the group was distributing suggested,

. . . call upon Wyeth Pharmaceuticals to take full and immediate responsibility for the lives of industry horses at risk. I expect your company to purchase and remove all PMU horses from slaughter [sic] plant and other feedlots, and to place them in equine sanctuaries. Furthermore, Wyeth must show accountability by covering all of their maintenance costs until they are relocated to good homes.


HRT decline raises meat-sale fears. Marilyn McCall, Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia), November 29, 2003.

“Why, Oh Why, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals . . . ?” Campaign is Launched. Press Release, Women’s Health and Ethics Coalition, December 28, 2003.

The Last Roundup. Michael Korb, The Saratogian, January 3, 2003.

Effort to Rebuild Horse Slaughterhouse Attracts Controversy in Illinois

In September, Cavel International finalized plans to rebuild a horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois. The slaughterhouse burned down in 2002 in a fire whose cause has never been determined.

The slaughterhouse killed horses both for meat which was exported to Europe, as well as for rendering by-products.

Animal rights groups asked DeKalb to revoke the permit to rebuild the slaughterhouse, but that seemed unlikely. Both of the DeKalb area’s representatives to the Illinois state house, for example, said they would oppose proposed state legislation that would ban horse slaughter in Illinois.

Rep. Brad Burzynski (R) told The DeKalb Chronicle that, “It’s a job issue. It’s an issue of keeping a company viable in this district.” Once rebuilt, the slaughterhouse would create about 40 jobs.


Plans finalized to rebuild Illinois slaughterhouse. BloodHorse.Com, September 15, 2003.

Horse-slaughter bill won’t affect Cavel’s decision. Chris Rickert, DeKalb Daily Chronicle, November 1, 2003.

Horse Slaughterhouse, Candelight Vigil. United Animal Nations, September 17, 2003.

Vigil in Protest of Slaughterhouse Rebuilding. Habitat for Horses, September 2003.

Man Sues ASPCA, Animal Planet Over Cruelty Allegations

Newsday reports that New Yorker Rossano Case-Irwin has filed a $46 million lawsuit against the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Planet, and the show Animal Precinct over allegations Animal Precinct broadcast accusing Case-Irwin of cruelty to animals.

Animal Precinct showed ASPCA investigator Annemarie Lucas arresting Case-Irwin on animal cruelty charges as well as featuring video documenting Lucas’ investigation leading up to the arrest.

The case involve a horse that Case-Irwin owned which had a wound on its belly. According to Case-Irwin it was a minor friction wound that a veterinarian informed Lucas was healing properly. Case-Irwin maintains Lucas ignored this to make a case for the cameras.

Case-Irwin was found not guilty of animal cruelty by a jury, but claims he lost his job as a result of the publicity over the case. Case-Irwin says the show featuring his arrest continued to air after his exoneration.


Cowboy’s arrest spurs $46M lawsuit. Rocco Parascandola, Newsday, April 23, 2003.

Rodeo Exonerated in Case Based on SHARK Videotape

The Whittier Daily reported recently that a California Court Commissioner exonerated the a rodeo that had been accused of cruelty charges based on video taken by Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK).

Shark took the video at a San Dimas Rodeo in October 2002 and turned it over to the Inland Valley Humane Society. The Humane Society then charged the Growney Brothers Rodeo C. with four counts of misusing a cattle prod.

California has a law that went into effect in 2001 that makes it a crime to use a cattle prod during a rodeo except to protect the participants or audience at a rodeo. SHARK and the Humane Society argued that the videotape showed workers at the rodeo using the cattle prods on four horses to force them out of the chute during a bucking bronco contest.

Pomono Court Commissioner Martin Goetsch ruled in favor of the rodeo, however, saying that he agreed with expert testimony provided by the defense that the use of the cattle prods was designed to protect the rider when horses failed to leave the chute on their own. The Whittier Daily News quoted Goetsch as ruling,

It appears clear to me everybody involved at the chute understands that . . . in each of these cases there was never an attempt to prod any of the horses while the gate was closed.

Goetsch’s decision cannot be appealed.


Rodeo provider cleared by judge. Diana L. Roemer, The Whittier Daily News, April 25, 2003.

PRCA rodeo company running from cruelty citations? Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, Press Release, 2002.

Indian Researchers Working on Egg-Derived Snake Antivenin

National Geographic News reported in February that Indian scientists have found a method to use poultry eggs to produce an inexpensive snake bite antidote that could potentially save thousands of lives each year.

Snake bites are a serious problem in India, with National Geographic reporting that there are 300,000 such cases each year with as many as ten percent of victims dying because they do not receive anti-venom in time.

The current method of producing the treatment is to immunize horses against the venom of the cobra, common krait, saw-scaled viper and Russell’s viper. The horse antibodies are then used as an antidote in humans (of course, PETA will likely soon have a “Snake Antivenin is Horse’s Blood” campaign any day now). This is a very slow process.

National Geographic describes the new process that Indian researchers are attempting to perfect,

Very young chickens are immunized with small doses of the target-snake venom and as these animals grow older they develop in their blood special proteins which act as antidotes against the toxin, according to the researchers.

As the chickens become hens and start egg production, it has been found that the antivenin proteins are passed on, accumulating in the yolk. The eggs are then harvested for extraction of the proteins used to make the antidote.

The research has even garnered the endorsement of India’s most prominent animal rights activist, Maneka Gandhi,

Production of diagnostic and therapeutic products in chicken represent a refinement and reduction in animal use, and the collection of blood is replaced by extraction of antibody from egg yolk. As chickens produce larger amounts of antibodies, there is a reduction in the number of animals we need to use.


Poultry eggs may yield snake antivenin, experts say. Pallava Bagla, National Geographic News, February 11, 2003.