AAEP Clarifies Its Non-Position on Horse Slaughter Bill

In writing about a proposed ban on horse slaughter introduced into the U.S. Congress, this web site quoted from an American Veterinary Medical Association press release that said as follows,

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.

In January the AAEP clarified its position on the horse slaughter bill after it was accused of attempting to prevent or stall the bill’s passage by an anti-slaughter group.

Outgoing AAEP president Dr. Tom Lenz told veterinary magazine DVM that while his group was not “proactively opposing” the horse slaughter bill, his group didn’t necessarily have a very high opinion of it either,

Our approach is to educate the horse owner and the legislature and try to protect the health and welfare of the horse. . . . Honestly the people who propose these bills and support them don’t honestly understand the issue. They tend to look at this as an emotional issue – these are horses, our companions and we’re sending them off to slaughter.

In a prepared statement, the AAEP said of horse slaughter,

Our association believes slaughter is not the most desirable option for addressing the problem of unwanted horses. However, if a horse owner is not able or willing to provide humane care, the AAEP believes that euthanasia at a processing facility is a humane alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care and possibly abandonment.

The AEEP has concerns about a number of the provisions of the proposed ban, and might be willing to support the bill if those concerns were addressed. For example, an obvious problem with the proposed ban is that it calls for unwanted animals to receive care, but leaves no provision for funding such care. According to DVM,

Specific to the bill, H.R. 857, referred to as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, AAEP says it would consider supporting passage if specific revisions were made:

  • Funding of care for unwanted horses. As the bill stands, it does not address financial support for unwanted horses voluntarily given up by their owners. AAEP expresses concern that horse rescue and retirement groups will not have adequate resources without federal funding.

“The bill says the fed funds may be appropriated if horses are confiscated,” Lenz says. “But we don’t think that’s adequate-‘maybe.’ We definitely have to have some funds allocated to that.”

Lenz also told DVM that proponents of the bill are lying about the humaneness or cruelty of different methods of slaughter,

They’re making a judgment on what’s an acceptable humane form of euthanasia. I’ve been to the slaughter plant in Texas and it is extremely humane. Proponents of the bill are misleading people in describing the procedure. This is an issue that has to be based on scientific fact. Our goal is to be the voice of reason, because the proponents tend to push this on an emotional level.

The full text of the proposed ban on horse slaughter can be read here.


AAEP clarifies stance on horse slaughter. Stephanie Davis, DVM Newsmagazine, January 1, 2004.