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Humane Society Points to KY Case as it Tries to End Horse Slaughter

PHOTO: The Humane Society of the United States wants Congress to ban the sale and transportation of horses abroad for human consumption such as these being moved into Mexico. Photo courtesy Kathy Milani/The HSUS.
PHOTO: The Humane Society of the United States wants Congress to ban the sale and transportation of horses abroad for human consumption such as these being moved into Mexico. Photo courtesy Kathy Milani/The HSUS.
February 11, 2015

FALMOUTH, Ky. - No horse slaughter plants operate in the United States, but a leading animal-welfare organization says more than 100,000 horses a year are being shipped abroad into the horsemeat trade.

The Humane Society of the United States wants Congress to ban the sale and transportation of horses for human consumption.

"Horse slaughter doesn't help horses," said Holly Gann, who heads the society's campaign. "It only leads to more suffering. Horse slaughter enables and perpetuates over breeding, neglect and irresponsibility."

Legislation in the last Congress - the Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013 - aimed to stop the practice but did not move out of committee.

Gann said middlemen known as "kill buyers" gather the horses and ship them to slaughter in Mexico and Canada. She cited a Kentucky case from last April where an alleged middleman, Larry Browning, was charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty for horses he had on his farm in Pendleton County. Last month, Gann said, the charges were dropped in a plea deal.

"This case is just one of the latest examples showing that the entire horse-slaughter pipeline is nothing but misery for horses that become victims of this predatory enterprise," she said.

Nathan Glaza, the local veterinarian who examined the horses and evaluated the farm for the Pendleton County government, does not link the case to the bigger issue of horse slaughter.

"This is more of an issue of taking care of the animals while you have them," he said. "There wasn't adequate shelter. There wasn't adequate food. There wasn't adequate medical care."

Glaza said the case illustrates the need to improve animal welfare laws and enforcement in Pendleton County.

Horse-industry advocates maintain that having no slaughterhouses in the nation has led to more horses being abandoned. But, Gann said, most of the horses going to slaughter abroad are not old or sick.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture "documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and they're able to live out a productive life," she said. "These horses could be sold, donated or otherwise re-homed, if given a chance."

A five-year ban on horse slaughter in the United States was lifted in 2011 but was reinstated in the federal budget passed a year ago by Congress.

The text of the 2013 Safeguard American Food Exports Act is online at congress.gov.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY