Horses Thank Connecticut Lawmakers
Here in Connecticut, we love our horses--UConn estimates the size of Connecticut’s horse population to be around 50,000! To honor our equine companions, we must work to end horse slaughter. Connecticut legislators at both the state and federal level are working towards the goal.
At the August 2018 National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) meeting, and as part of a large coalition, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) almost passed a resolution to overturn NCSL’s pro-horse slaughter policy statement. State Representative Gail Lavielle, who serves on a committee that deals with this policy, is a champion for horse welfare. State Representative Mary Mushinsky (Vice Chair) and State Senator Maria Moore also serve on this committee and are both horse friendly. Although we achieved 75 percent of the vote, a procedural issue precluded its passage.
Horse slaughter is opposed by 80 percent of the American public. Texas, Illinois, New Jersey and California have banned horse slaughter at the state level.
Photo Credit: Michelle Riley/The HSUS
Horse slaughter for human consumption is an inherently inhumane practice, involving hauling horses – often young, healthy, and adoptable horses – in appalling transport conditions where the animals are deprived of food, water and rest. At the slaughterhouse, workers use rods to beat the animals as they are shoved into the “kill box.” Horses are subjected to overcrowding, loud sounds and the smell of blood. Desperate horses exhibit typical fear and flight behavior, resulting in wild thrashing of their necks in an attempt to escape, thus making accurate stunning nearly impossible.
Horses are not raised as food animals in this country and, as any horse owner knows, are commonly exposed to drugs (e.g., fly sprays, dewormers) and other substances (e.g., illegal steroids) that are expressly forbidden for use in animals used for food, thus making their
meat unfit for human consumption. There is no market for horse meat in the United States: the market is foreign-owned businesses catering to select foreign consumers.
Take Action: Adopt a Horse
Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition, capable of leading productive lives. Recent research (2017) found that there are 2.3 million Americans with both the desire and the resources to rescue a horse. Each of the 80,000 horses that were exported for slaughter last year could have been rescued almost 30 times over. The Homes for Horses Coalition network alone consists of 450 horse rescue facilities in the United States.
In situations where a horse needs to be put down, there is always the option of humane euthanasia with lethal injection by a veterinarian – not unlike how a companion animal such as a dog or a cat would be put to sleep.
Although those opposing a ban on horse slaughter worry about what will happen to unwanted horses, states that have explicitly outlawed the practice have not seen a corresponding increase in the number of abandoned horses or cases of neglect.
The federal Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would ban domestic horse slaughter and stop the export of horses for slaughter abroad. All of Connecticut’s delegation supports SAFE, as do our members of Congress Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Himes and Esty, and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy: Connecticut’s horses thank you!
Annie Hornish is Connecticut State Director, The Humane Society of the United States.