Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Leads Effort to Stop Horse Slaughter

Apr 22, 2015
Press Release
Horses Often Dismembered Live to be Sold Overseas as Delicacy

WASHINGTON – On the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, joined forces with three other Congressmen to introduce legislation that permanently bans the killing of horses for human consumption in America.  It also bans the export of live horses to Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses where the animals are killed and then shipped overseas.

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

The SAFE Act, sponsored by Buchanan and Reps. Guinta, R-NH, Schakowsky, D-IL, and Lujan Grisham, D-NM, has already received the endorsement of 28 animal advocacy organizations in Florida, including the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy located in Buchanan’s congressional district. 

Although the sale of horsemeat for human consumption is banned in the United States, the prohibition is subject to annual Congressional review.  Currently, there is no federal law prohibiting the transport of horses across American borders for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.  The majority of horses killed for export are young, healthy animals that suffer incredible 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.  The horses often survive this process and are sometimes alive and kicking during their dismemberment.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is an absolute travesty that must be stopped,” said Buchanan, noting that horsemeat can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses.  “This bipartisan measure will help put an end to this barbaric practice once and for all.”

A 2012 national poll conducted on behalf the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) revealed that 80% of Americans favor a ban on horse slaughter and want to protect these animals from abuse.

“Until the SAFE Act is passed, every horse is just one bad sale away from slaughter,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “We thank Rep. Buchanan and the other leaders of the SAFE Act for their efforts to protect not only public health, but also safeguard our nation’s equines.”

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.

  • Humane Euthanasia.

“Horses are intelligent, sentient beings who do NOT deserve to be sent frightened and all-knowing into the kill box and horrifically slaughtered,” said Gail Clifton, Program Coordinator at the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy. “That is such a betrayal on our part when that happens.   There is NO animal that has had a greater impact on this country and its progress.  We must do the right thing and protect them by passing the Horse Slaughter Ban bill.”

On April 28th (next Tuesday), the U.S. Humane Society will honor Buchanan with its Legislative Leader award for his record in Congress on behalf of animal welfare issues.