On Tuesday, a diverse group of equine industry and animal welfare organizations announced the “Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter” – a collaborative effort to permanently ban the slaughter of American horses. In an open letter to congressional leaders, including U.S. Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the alliance urged federal lawmakers to pass the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act (HR3355/S.2732) to permanently ban the slaughter of horses in the United States and end the export of American horses destined for for slaughter in other countries.
Supporting members of the “Final Stretch Alliance to End Horse Slaughter” include: The Jockey Club, US Trotting Association, Stronach Group, Breeders’ Cup, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Jockey’s Guild, New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Maryland Horse Council, ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society of the United States , the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation and many other industry voices.
Despite congressional efforts that have effectively blocked the operation of horse slaughterhouses on American soil since 2007, tens of thousands of American horses continue to be shipped to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses that supply other countries with horsemeat. With the Triple Crown horse racing season underway and the public focus on equestrian sports, the equine industry and welfare groups are calling on federal lawmakers to act at this critical time by passing the SAFE Act to end to this sad chapter in American history.
In the open letter, the groups point to a recent poll indicating that an overwhelming majority of Americans (83%) oppose the slaughter of horses. The letter explains how, despite strong and innovative partnerships between the equine industry and welfare groups to help horses transition between careers, the looming threat of the horse slaughter pipeline continues to significantly harm the industry, enthusiasts and adoption organisations:
“Racing industry groups have shown real leadership by committing resources to career tracking and transition programs, instituting and enforcing anti-sale-to-kill track policies and leading state and federal policies prohibiting the slaughter of horses. These programs are essential, but until the law shuts down the slaughter pipeline itself, no horse, no matter how loved or decorated, will be truly safe.
The SAFE Act would close this legal loophole to stop the movement of American horses to slaughter for human consumption overseas. Introduced by a bipartisan group of federal legislators, the SAFE Act is currently sponsored by nearly half of the US House of Representatives.
“Despite the overwhelming desire of Americans to see horses protected from harm, tens of thousands of horses are transported out of the United States each year to be killed overseas,” said Cathy Liss, President of AWI. “Racehorses continue to fall victim to this gruesome and predatory trade, so we appreciate the leadership and collaboration of key stakeholders in the racing industry in closing the slaughter pipeline once and for all. As Trusted companions, horses enrich our lives in countless ways; passing the SAFE Act is paramount to ensuring their well-being and safety.