Action Alert: Time’s running out to pass horse slaughter ban!

From left: Grayson, Tata Wakan and Alexandra at RTF’s San Luis Obispo, Calif., satellite sanctuary. Photo by Meg Frederick.

Return to Freedom is working hard to move a ban on horse slaughter through Congress, but this popular legislation to protect America’s horses remains bogged down in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Time is rapidly running out for the current Congress to pass this important bill.

The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (H.R. 3355 in the House, S. 2732 in the Senate) would permanently ban slaughter inside the United States as well as the export of American horses for slaughter.

A small number of Native American tribes and business groups like the American Veterinary Medical Association continue to lobby against the bill despite overwhelming support from a growing number of veterinarians and Native American leaders from across the United States. A few of their political leaders speak neither for the majority of the country’s more than 120,000 veterinarians nor for 574 tribal nations, yet legislators who support the slaughter of America’s horses continue repeating outdated concerns.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee (and possible chairwoman should Republicans take control of the House after the Nov. 8 election), and others continue to dredge up arguments against a slaughter ban that have been refuted decades ago.

If we don’t find a way to pass the SAFE Act before the end of this year, the makeup of the committee during the next Congress and outspoken opposition by McMorris Rogers to this modest yet impactful legislation will present even greater hurdles.

She and other opponents of ending slaughter argue there is no way that the United States can absorb the tens of thousands of horses shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter each year.

In fact, since the last horse slaughterhouse in the United States closed in 2007, the number of American horses exported for slaughter peaked at 166,572 in 2012 but has since plummeted. From January to July of this year, 10,048 American horses were exported. While each such death is a needless tragedy, that total still represents a 21.8% decrease from the same period last year.

Those numbers include not just domestic horses but also an unknown number of wild horses born free on our public lands. Wild equines captured in government roundups lose their federal protections and are not tracked once title is passed to an adopter or buyer.

Broader knowledge of the horse slaughter issue has resulted in this steady decline – 83% of Americans said that they opposed horse slaughter in a recent poll – along with increased attention to equine aftercare and retirement and the growing number of quality rescues and sanctuaries, which also support the ban.

A total of 223 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of the bipartisan SAFE Act – including 29 members of McMorris Rodger’s party.

Support for imposing a slaughter ban also includes the unprecedented Final Stretch Coalition, which includes not only Return to Freedom and the nation’s largest animal welfare groups but horse industry organizations like The Jockey Club, the U.S. Trotting Association, the Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the New York Racing Association working collectively in support of a ban.

Contrary to what the dwindling number of pro-slaughter organizations contend, horse slaughter is not humane. Horses are transported long distances in overcrowded trailers without food or water, enduring terror, trauma and pain. On foreign killing floors, horses have been documented as having their throats cut while fully conscious.

Propping up the cruel business of horse slaughter is unacceptable and un-American. No one should be rewarded for irresponsible breeding and/or management or allowed to profit from the abuse and killing of these sentient social beings.


Please contact your representative at 202-225-3121 and urge him or her to push for the movement of the SAFE Act (H.R. 3355) to end horse slaughter. We don’t have much time left in this Congress — every minute counts! You can also send an electronic message to your representative and senators by clicking here.

Donate to RTF’s Wild Horse Defense Fund, which supports our lobbying, grassroots advocacy and selective litigation.