Groups call for legislation to end horse slaughter in U.S.


This morning the nation's leading animal welfare groups, along with members of Congress, including Pennsylvania's Pat Meehan, gather on Capitol Hill to announce introduction of a bill to end horse slaughter in the U.S.

The press conference this morning comes amid a widening horse meat scandal in Europe and as the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it is processing an application for a new horse slaughter facility in New Mexico.

The last horse slaughter plant in the U.S. closed in Illinois in 2007. Roughly 160,000 American horses were shipped to plants in Canada and Mexico last year to be butchered to satisfy diners' demand in France and Japan.

The discovery of horse meat in beef supplies in a number of European countries over the past several months has prompted a world outcry by those who are against killing horses for meat and amid concerns of the toxicity in meat from animals who during their lives received large quantities of drugs.

The new legislation would ban the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses outside the U.S. for slaughter. Similar bills have been introduced in the past.

Among the participants today: the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA and the Animal Welfare Institute.

Not to be outdone, pro-slaughter supporters are holding a rally today at the Oklahoma state Capitol calling for support of a state bill to allow horse processing. The supporters, who never use the word slaughter in their emails, instead contend the plants would "revive the horse industry"and "build a better future for horses" - at the killing end of a bolt gun.

(Photos of horse slaughter on the Horse Fund website and video of scenes in the kill pens at Lancaster auctions on Animal Angels website. Caution graphic content.)