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I recently wrote a letter to Senator Patty Murray and wanted to share her response with you. The issue of Horse Slaughter in this country is a very complicated one. I encourage all horsemen and horsewomen to become involved by studying the issue and then helping to find solutions.
Unwanted horses must either be rescued and placed with new owners, or be destroyed. Many of the unwanted horses are simply to ill or aged to be of service as either pleasure riding horses or even "pets." Many more are young, healthy animals discarded by breeders, race horse owners, or pleasure horse owners that either don't have the funds, time or knowledge to care for, train, or maintain a horse.
Although there are many caring individuals rescuing horses, the numbers of rescued horses are few compared to the number of horses enduring the cruel fate of being inhumanely transported to either Mexico or Canada in filthy cramped transport trucks without food, water or rest for up to three days. Many animals collapse and die in the transport trucks before arriving at the slaughter plant.
By turning a blind eye we are condoning the abuse of our horses. By deciding that horses cannot be slaughtered in the US, we are sending them to very cruel and inhumane deaths outside of our country.
Would it not be better to allow the HUMANE TRANSPORT and Slaughter of our beloved horses with oversight and controls IN THIS COUNTRY, rather than sending them off outside of our own borders and control because we can't deal with the topic? Would it not be better to work as a horse community to provide more education and to help new horse owners or breeders? Is our veterinarian community willing to sponsor reduced cost or "free" gelding services for owners in need due to financial hardship? Could we work as a horse community to raise awareness and funds to provide humane euthanasia for unwanted horses? We raise money to support rescued horses which cost at least $5,000 a year to feed and care for. Can we raise money for humane euthanasia for horses simply to old, injured or ill to be rescued?
As one individual, I don't know what the answers are. But I am willing to work with others to put an end to this abuse of our horses. It's a shame that we "just can't deal with the topic", so our beautiful, trusting companions end their life in horrible fear, suffering, and pain. Look into the eyes of a horse, and you see a kind, feeling soul completely dependent upon us for its care. Isn't it time that we face our responsibilities as horse lovers and provide the lost, unwanted horses with a kinder more humane end to their precious lives?
Here is Senator Murray's response to my letter;
7:21 AM (14 hours ago)
Dear Ms. Ritchie:
Thank you for contacting me regarding horse slaughter in the United States. It was good to hear from you.
As you may know, President Obama signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012into law on November 18, 2011. This law includes funding for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce,Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. Included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill were provisions that provided funding for the Food and Drug Administration, important domestic food assistance initiatives as well as watershed and conservation programs. However, for the first time since2008, the Agriculture Appropriations bill did not include provisions that would have prohibited funds to pay expenses associated with Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) personnel to inspect horses under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Without these provisions, FSIS can again inspect horse meat. USDA has stated that, although the limitation on FSIS inspection has been lifted, there are still significant regulatory obstacles to bringing back horse slaughter in the United States. For example, processing facilities would have to obtain a federal grant of inspection, conduct a hazard analysis, and develop a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan prior to the processing of any horses for human consumption.
In an attempt to address horse slaughter issues, companion legislation entitled the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of2012 (S.1176/H.R.2966) has been introduced by Senator Landrieu and Representative Burton. These bills would amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970 to prohibit shipping, transporting, possessing, purchasing,selling, or donating horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption. In the Senate,the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is currently being considered in the Commerce, Science, and transportation Committee. While I am not a member of that committee, I am closely following this legislation.Should this bill or other legislation related to horse slaughter come before the Senate for a vote during the 112th Congress, I will certainly keep your thoughts in mind.
Throughout my Senate tenure,I have consistently supported efforts to protect animals from cruel and inhumane treatment. Once again,thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue. If you would like to know more about my work in the Senate, please sign up for my weekly update at http://murray.senate.gov/updates. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any additional concerns.
United States Senator
Thank you for reading my thoughts about the treatment of our horses. I hope that many of you will somehow become involved in the "solutions".
I welcome your thoughts on this very difficult topic.