Anti-slaughter advocates urge horse lovers to dial in for legislation

An animal welfare coalition is asking horse lovers to dial for equines today. The coalition supporting an end to horse slaughter in the U.S. - and prevention of shipping of horses abroad for slaughter - is holding a National Call-in Day for the Horses.

The groups, among them the Animal Law Coalition, are asking horse lovers to call House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., CA) and ask her to schedule a vote on the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503), legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. There is a similar bill (SB 727), sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D, LA). Advocates are urging voters to call the Senate Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Dick Durbin (D., IL) to schedule a vote in that chamber.

Under the bill it would be illegal to "possess..., ship..., transport..., purchase.., sell... deliver..., or receive" in interstate or foreign commerce any horse "with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption". It would also be illegal under this bill to trade in horse flesh or carcass for the purpose of human consumption.

Violators face fines and jail time up to 3 years. If, however, the violator has no prior convictions and is moving 4 or fewer horses or less than 2,000 lbs of horse flesh, the jail time is only a year.

There are currently no horse slaughter plants operating in the U.S. as a result of court decisions and state legislative actions. (Though there have been several attempts by lawmakes in some states to approve legislation to reopen slaughter plants.)

Horses are still being transported to foreign countries, primarily Mexico and Canada, for slaughter. Anti-horse slaughter proponents say federal legislation is needed to stop the killing of U.S. horses for food once and for all. Pro-slaughter groups, including farming interests, argue that without slaughter as an outlet for cash-strapped horse owners more horses will suffer slow deaths from starvation or disease.

The bill has bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Neither Pennsylvania Senator is a co-sponsor. A spokesman for Sen. Casey (D., PA) said the Senator is reviewing the bill. We have not heard back from Sen. Specter's office. U.S. Reps. Charles Dent, Michael Doyle, Chakkah Fattah, Joseph Pitts, Todd Platts, William Shuster and Curt Weldon are House co-sponsors.