Animal welfare activists are pushing the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban "the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption." Ken Silverstein parses the problems with the bill:
Are French horse eaters worse than American cow, pig, or chicken eaters? Keep in mind that unlike the last three animals, horses aren't raised for food. Animals raised on factory farms live in infinitely more squalid circumstances than horses destined for the dinner plate. [The law's supporters] say that transport conditions to Mexico are appalling, with, in the words of the American Welfare Institute, horses "typically hauled for more than 24 hours without rest, water, or food in trailers that provide little protection from weather extremes. They are often forced onto cattle trailers with ceilings so low they injure their heads." That may well be true, but shutting down the domestic slaughterhouses has increased exports. So now more horses are being sent off to Mexico.
But, runs the counterargument, if the AHSPA passes and the export trade is banned, American horses will roam free and live happy lives. There are hundreds of horse rescue operations in existence, they say, and unwanted horses that would otherwise be slaughtered would be adopted and cared for.
But is that really the case? Most horses sent to slaughter are past their prime and unwanted by the farmers or ranchers who own them. Patricia Evans, of Utah State University's Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences Department, says that more horses are being abandoned now that domestic slaughterhouses have been closed. The advocates "predicted that shutting down domestic slaughterhouses wouldn't increase neglect and abuse, but we're in the real world," she said. "Unfortunately, kids get abused and so do animals."