Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Animal Welfare Groups Back Ban on Horse Slaughter

Jan 12, 2017
Press Release
Buchanan Bill Also Prohibits Transport of Horses to Mexican Slaughterhouses

“Barbaric Practice that Must End”

WASHINGTON – A coalition of leading animal welfare groups today endorsed bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressman Vern Buchanan to permanently ban the killing of horses for human consumption in America and end the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses.

The SAFE Act (Safeguard American Food Exports) is co-sponsored by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that must end,” Buchanan said, announcing the endorsement of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States and the Animal Welfare Institute.

Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations, said, “It is time for Congress to permanently ban horse slaughter, not only in this country but also for export to neighboring countries as well. We must prevent even one more horse from suffering from this terrible fate.”

Michael Markarian, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, said, “We don’t round up dogs and cats for slaughter, and it should be unthinkable to do that to a species that helped us settle the nation. The horse slaughter industry is a predatory, inhumane enterprise.”

Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, said his group “looks forward to working with Rep. Buchanan and the strong bipartisan leadership team in the House dedicated to ending horse slaughter.”

Although the sale of horsemeat for human consumption is banned in the United States, the prohibition is subject to annual congressional review. There is no federal law prohibiting the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. 

More than 150,000 American horses were butchered in Canada and Mexico and then transported overseas for consumption in Japan, Italy and other countries in 2015. More than 90 percent of these horses were healthy and in good condition.

These animals suffer abuse even before arriving at the slaughterhouse. They are often transported for long periods of time without food and water in overcrowded trailers. Once at the slaughterhouse, horses are forced into a “kill box” and then shot with a bolt gun in an attempt to stun the animal.

A 2012 national poll conducted on behalf of the ASPCA found that 80 percent of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter and want to protect these animals from abuse.

Many humane options are available to horse owners who can no longer care for their animals, including:

  • Selling to a vetted, private owner.
  • Leasing to another horse enthusiast.
  • Donating to a therapeutic program or a mounted police unit

Buchanan has received the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislator of the Year award for his record in support of animal welfare legislation.