Horse slaughter ‘banned’ in US

Horse slaughter has been effectively banned in the US though two bills are still pending before the US Congress to make it permanently illegal.

According to IANS, the federal budget passed by the Democratic government under Barack Obama prohibits the agriculture department from spending money on inspecting horse slaughter houses. Without inspection, these houses cannot function legally, effectively closing the door on horse slaughter.

In April, 20 Republicans and 50 Democrats jointly introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives calling for an outright ban on horse slaughter and its export to foreign countries. Then, 2 Democrats and Republicans each introduced bills in the US Senate. The bills are pending in the US Congress.

The reasons for banning horse slaughter range from religious considerations to humane ones. The Humane Society and Equine Advocates have been lobbying for ending the killing of horses for food for a long time. On the other hand, conservatives claim things like, “Our forefathers honoured The Horse as a ‘favoured’ animal like dogs and cats when this country was founded. Dog, cat and horse slaughter are not part of our culture or heritage. We should no more be slaughtering our horses for export than we should slaughter our dogs or cats for export to countries where their meat is eaten.”

Interestingly, horses have been labeled ‘unclean’ in the Old Testament books like Duetronomy and Leviticus, providing additional ammunition to anti-horse slaughter advocates on the Right. On the Left, anti-horse slaughter advocates present it as a health issue claiming that the medications given to horses can be harmful to humans. The legislators, who call call their measure Safeguard American Food Exports or SAFE Act.

IANS says that a federal horse slaughter ban bill was passed by the House of Representatives in 2006, but was blocked in the Senate by a group of lawmakers representing horse butcher interests. Several businesses have been trying to revive the horse slaughter houses but have been stopped by the budget measure.