RTF calls for House Energy and Commerce vote on slaughter ban

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Photo by Tony Stromberg

LOMPOC, CALIF. — Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation on Thursday thanked the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce for advancing the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act.

No opposition was heard during Thursday’s voice vote on H.R. 3355, which would permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States as well as the sale and export of American horses for slaughter.

“We’re grateful for a strong subcommittee vote in markup,” said Neda DeMayo, president of RTF. “With 218 cosponsors and counting, as of Wednesday, a majority of House members are on record as opposing horse slaughter – a position backed by the more than 80 percent of Americans who consistently say that they oppose horse slaughter in opinion polls.

“We strongly urge Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to continue the positive momentum behind the bill by scheduling a markup before the full committee as soon as possible.”

RTF thanks the SAFE Act’s sponsors, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the subcommittee’s chair, and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), for their efforts to advance this important legislation, as well as Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), the subcommittee’s ranking member, for his comments in support of the bipartisan bill during Thursday’s markup.

RTF’s work on ending horse slaughter dates back two decades.

“More than 1.6 million American horses — including an unknown number who once roamed freely on our public lands –  have been shipped to foreign slaughterhouses since the last such plant in the United States closed in 2007,” DeMayo said. “Wild horses that once roamed freely on our public lands, pets, racehorses, workhorses — no American horse deserves to be shipped to an inhumane death in a foreign slaughterhouse.

“The national effort to end this practice began in Congress 21 years ago, so we call on everyone to join in ending this once and for all. Horse slaughter is wholly un-American and needs to end with the passage of the bipartisan SAFE Act.”

Last year, 23,431 American horses were shipped to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

Among them were an unknown number of once-federally protected wild horses and burros. Wild equines are placed at risk of being sold to slaughter after being captured and removed from their rightful rangelands by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

While Congress has repeatedly barred BLM and USFS from selling captured equines without restrictions against slaughter, wild horses and burros lose their federal protections and are no longer tracked by the government when title is passed to a buyer or adopter. A BLM incentive program created in 2019 has put more wild horses and burros at risk by giving $1,000 to adopters.

More than 90 percent of horses – domestic and wild – exported for slaughter are in good condition, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture study. Because American horses are not raised to be food, they are routinely given dozens of veterinary medications unsafe for humans.

TAKE ACTION: Please call your representative at (202) 224-3121 and urge him or her to call for a House vote on the SAFE Act (H.R. 3355) to ban horse slaughter as soon as possible. (If you’re unsure who your representative is, please click here.) Send an electronic letter to Congress.