The American Veterinary Medical Association announced in January its opposition to the House Bill on Transportation and Processing of Horses for Slaughter.
That bill, introduced by Rep. John Sweeney (NY), would place limits on the transportation and killing of horses that would almost certainly drastically reduce the number of horses slaughtered in the United States. Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as many as 55,000 horses are slaughtered annually in the United States.
The AVMA says it opposes the bill on the grounds that a number of its provisions will worsen, rather than improve, the treatment of horses. In a prepared statement announcing the groupÂ’s opposition to the bill, AVMA president Jack Walther said,
The welfare of animals, and in this case horses, is the primary concern of veterinarians. The proposed legislation, as written, could actually result in less humane treatment of these horses. . . . Humane slaughter may not be the most desirable option for addressing the problem of unwanted horses. However, it may be preferable to allowing these horses to face a life of inadequate care or possible abandonment.
The major problem the AVMA appears to have with the bill is that it doesnÂ’t adequately address dealing with unwanted horses who will no longer be able to be sent to slaughter. According to the AVMA,
HR 857 does not adequately address the welfare of horses for which humane slaughter will be removed as an option. The bill does not establish standards that horse rescue facilities must meet to ensure the humane care of these horses.
. . .
The number of unwanted horses presently sent for humane slaughter will be removed as an option. The bill does not establish standards that horse facilities must meet to ensure the humane care of these horses.
HR 857 estimates that approximately 55,000 horses were slaughtered in United States facilities last year. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, subsistence care for these horses would cost approximately $1825/horse/year, resulting in a potential funding requirement of $100 million/year during the first year of HR 857Â’s enactment. Adding more horses ever year to the pool of those needing care means that these costs will only increase.
The full text of the proposed bill can be read here.
AVMA Opposes Bill on Transportation & Processing of Horses for Slaughter. Press Release, American Veterinary Medical Association, January 7, 2004.