Friedensburg, PA On October 15, 2003 the Equine Protection Network (EPN) kicked off a national horse slaughter awareness campaign in both Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana with billboards proclaiming, “Keep America’s Horses in the Stable and off the Table!” The EPN also has launched a new website, SaveAmericasHorses.com to educate Americans about horse slaughter and to tell Americans how they can Save America’s Horses from becoming an expensive steak dinner for the French, Belgians, and Japanese.
"Research polls show that most Americans are not aware that horses are slaughtered for people to eat, but if given the chance they would overwhelmingly vote to outlaw horse slaughter”, states Christine Berry, founder of the Equine Protection Network, a Schuylkill County, PA based horse welfare organization. “It is our intent to raise awareness of horse slaughter through our billboard campaign. There are horses going to slaughter right now that could have been saved simply if their owners made the responsible decision to humanely euthanise them instead of selling or giving away their unwanted horse," says Berry. The issue is one of culture, not animal rights (as Americans do not eat horsemeat), but no horse is immune from the horrors of the collection, transport, and actual slaughter; this was demonstrated by the fate of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who faced the ultimate betrayal in a Japanese slaughterhouse in 2002.
Since 1980 over 4 million American companion and wild horses have been cruelly slaughtered to meet the gourmet demand for horsemeat that sells for $15.00 a pound in France, Belgium and Japan. In 2003, 35,000 horses have been slaughtered in the two remaining U.S. horse slaughterhouses (located in Texas) with thousands more exported to Canada for slaughter. Cavel (a slaughter house destroyed by fire in 2002) is in the process of rebuilding in DeKalb, Illinois; in 1999 citizen groups in McHenry County, IL Just Said Neigh to Cavel's plans to relocate to Big Foot, IL.
In February 2003, John Sweeney (R-NY) introduced legislation to prohibit the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. H.R. 857 currently has 94 co-sponsors (five from PA. and six from IL.) but has languished in the House Subcommittee on Trade since March. "As drafted, H.R. 857 is a good bill worthy of our support," states Berry, "but we all know what can happen when a bill gets to committee, as demonstrated by the infamous Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter Act of 1996. This resulted in the legalization of every inhumane practice identified in the transport of horses to slaughter, and put the very people identified as the abusers in charge of the horses! The fox is guarding the hen house, and the final regulations are nothing more than a paper tiger."
The Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter Act was supported both by animal welfare organizations, who were willing to regulate inhumane transport instead of securing an outright prohibition, and by pro-slaughter horse industry organizations intent on slaughtering American horses. The final regulations fly in the face of every accepted horse industry transport method for horses yet at the time, animal welfare organizations claimed it as a victory. "We cannot entrust the future of our beloved horses into the hands of animal welfare organizations who have demonstrated their willingness to regulate the very practice that we are attempting to end. Our goal is to end the slaughter of America's horses, not regulate it", emphasizes Berry.
HoofPAC is the political action committee founded by Cathleen Doyle, who led the successful Save The Horses campaign in California in 1998 that resulted in the passage of Proposition 6 making it a felony to slaughter a California horse. According to HoofPAC, "To date the effort to ban horse slaughter has been limited to an unorganized collection of satellite rescue groups and individuals with no real strategy in place to achieve its goal. It is important that we never lose sight that rescue without advocacy will not change people's thinking, set social policy, pass laws or abolish equine cruelty."
Pennsylvania and New York have the strongest laws in the United States, banning the use of the inhumane double deck cattle trailers to transport any horse no matter what its final destination. PA passed the Horse Transport Law in 2001 under then Governor Tom Ridge while New York's law has been in effect since 1980, with amendments in 1998 and 2002 that closed two loopholes and raised the fines. EPN was there, helping to create and then amend this legislation; we have testified at both legislative and criminal hearings. EPN has been on the front lines; we have a proven track record. But we are not a lobbying group nor are we a rescue organizationwe are people dedicated to horse welfare; we invest our time and your money where it is needed, not in one specific area.
You can stop the slaughter of America’s horses-- you can join EPN’s national billboard campaign and bring a Save America's Horses billboard to your area by making a tax-deductible donation to the EPN National Billboard Campaign.