Former Congressman Stenholm Warns Americans of Dire Consequences for Horse Welfare if HR 503 Passes

Nearly 200 Organizations Agree: Eliminating the Only Federally Supervised

Program of Humane Euthanasia for Horses Threatens the Welfare of America's

Horses



Aug 30, 2006, 01:00 ET from www.commonhorsesense.com

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Congressman and ranking
 Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee Charlie Stenholm dismissed
 today's poll released by The National Horse Protection Coalition (NHPC) as
 a shallow attempt by someone with deep pockets who has never stepped foot
 inside a horse processing facility yet purports to be an expert to
 influence public opinion.
     The poll, issued in preparation of a vote in the U.S. House of
 Representatives, claims that "71 percent of Americans believe that horses
 are part of America's culture and deserve better treatment."
 Representatives of www.commonhorsesense.com, and the nation's horse
 processing facilities couldn't agree more, which is why they're urging
 Congress to vote against H.R. 503 "The American Horse Slaughter Prevention
 Act." The legislation would eliminate the three remaining U.S. horse
 processing plants, currently the only means of federally regulated and
 supervised humane euthanasia for horses.
     Nearly 200 organizations concerned about the welfare of horses of
 horses have joined www.commonhorsesense.com in urging Congress to vote
 against H.R. 503.
     "These organizations represent people that care for and own horses,
 unlike some shortsighted animal rights groups such as NHPC, PeTA, and the
 Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that are only concerned with
 furthering their anti-animal agriculture legislative agenda. They know that
 the passage of HR 503 will result in more harm than good for the welfare of
 America's horses, leaving many to neglect or abandonment," said Stenholm.
     Stenholm says, "What I care about is horses and horse owners -- the
 animals and people who will be affected by this bill. How can PeTA, HSUS
 and NHPC claim to care about horses? Horses would be better cared for if
 the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on polls and advertising by Mr.
 Pickens and the HSUS and other like-minded groups were instead invested in
 strengthening the virtually non-existent infrastructure of horse rescue
 facilities."
     Stenholm suspects those who were polled were ill-informed.
     "On its face, many Americans might think that the bill seems designed
 to help horses. However, the consequences of this bill, if passed, will be
 disastrous for horse welfare. Why else would the nation's largest
 veterinary association oppose it? This is a complicated and emotional issue
 that the public needs to understand fully. It's not something we like to
 think about, but it's a reality. Anyone with the means to do so, especially
 on an emotional issue such as this, can organize a poll to favor their
 views. But if Americans are told the facts behind this process -- that it's
 the only way we have federal supervision for each and every horse to assure
 that the horses are euthanized humanely -- I know that Americans would feel
 quite differently. That's why www.commonhorsesense.com has just released a
 paper, "Horse Slaughter Myths and Facts," to better inform Americans
 concerned about the issue."
     "I'm sure if we polled Americans asking if they want abandoned and
 starving horses running around their cities, they'd say 'no.' Or how about
 a poll asking if the American people would like for horse owners to shoot
 their horses and leave them on public land for taxpayer money to deal with
 getting them to the landfill? Does the public want horses sent to foreign
 slaughterhouses, where the horses are not governed by humane slaughter
 laws? I doubt it."
     Just like there are 9.6 million unwanted cats and dogs that must be
 humanely put down every year, there are 60,000 to 90,000 unwanted horses.
 The horse processing plants provide the only federally supervised and
 inspected way to assure humane euthanasia for these unwanted horses.
 Banning horse processing will not solve the problem associated with
 unwanted horses. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association
 (AVMA) and other supporters believe that banning the only federally
 supervised program of humane euthanasia for horses would cause tens of
 thousands of horses to potentially become abandoned and neglected.
     "If you get rid of federally supervised humane euthanasia for horses,
 which HR 503 will do, unwanted horses will simply end up in landfills.
 That's hardly a ceremonious ending for these majestic animals," said former
 Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block.
     Both Stenholm and Block stress that horse processing nothing more than
 an option. If a horse owner wants to keep his or her horse until its final
 days, they always have that right. Owners can pay for a vet to put it down
 and then pay a rendering company to pick up the animal. But some owners
 can't afford or don't prefer that option. Horse disposal is much more
 complicated and costly than putting down a household pet. If HR 503 passes,
 animal owners would lose personal property rights in choosing how to
 dispose of unwanted horses and horse owners would lose the only option that
 provides them value for their unwanted livestock.
     www.commonhorsesense.com has prepared a Myth Vs. Fact document in order
 to better inform people concerned about the issue. Nearly 200 organizations
 concerned for the welfare of America's horses, including the nation's
 largest veterinary association, oppose HR 503 "The American Horse Slaughter
 Prevention Act." The full list of organizations is available at
 www.commonhorsesense.com.
                        HORSE SLAUGHTER MYTHS AND FACTS
 
     MYTH: Horse slaughter must be stopped because it is inhumane.
     FACT: The euthanasia method used at the plants occurs before
 processing, and this method is humane, according to the American Veterinary
 Medical Association (AVMA) and the USDA, which regulates the practice. The
 method meets specific humane requirements set forth by AVMA's Panel on
 Euthanasia, the U.S. Congress,(1) the American Association of Equine
 Practitioners, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Statement
 on Euthanasia because it results in instantaneous brain death.
     The plants are required to have USDA veterinarians on site supervising
 the euthanasia of each horse during the entire time the plant is in
 operation. The veterinarian is bound by law to stop the process and close
 the plant immediately if any evidence of inhumane treatment is witnessed.
 Retired USDA veterinarians who fulfilled this role are available for
 interviews.
     MYTH: Banning U.S. horse slaughter will not affect our economy since
 the plants are foreign-owned.
     FACT: Hundreds of employees in the United States who work for horse
 owners, trucking companies, auction houses, shipping companies and other
 suppliers will lose their jobs. The plant communities of DeKalb, Illinois,
 and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, will be especially hard-hit, with each of the
 local economies taking a predicted hit of $41 million. The value of each
 horse will decrease by approximately $300, according to an independent
 report on the unintended consequences of a horse slaughter ban -- the
 ripple effect of which is predicted to cripple the $40 billion U.S. horse
 industry.(2) The negative impact will be significant, just as it is when a
 Toyota plant or other foreign-owned business is closed in any other
 community.
     MYTH: If horse slaughter for human consumption is banned, the
 processing plants will still accept horses and process them for other
 important purposes.
     FACT: H.R. 503's ban on processing horses for human consumption will
 close down the three processing plants, according to plant owners, and
 result in:
     * Elimination of the only option that provides salvage value to the horse
       owner for an animal that is no longer serviceable, useful or desired.
 
     * Elimination of the only USDA-inspected source of equine protein, an
       essential element in the diet of U.S. zoo animals.
 
     * Elimination of the only large-scale equine research venue for leading
       schools of veterinary medicine.
 
     * Elimination of the only U.S. source of equine pericardium sacs used in
       human heart surgeries.
 
     * Elimination of the service plants provide to horse owners by preparing
       the horse carcasses for acceptance by rendering plants -- a time
       consuming procedure that the slaughter plants now provide at no cost to
       the owner.
     MYTH: The only way to prevent the inhumane treatment of horses is to
 BAN the private property right to choose horse processing.
     FACT: Congress has already performed its duty by passing laws that
 govern the humane treatment of horses during transportation to the plants
 and onsite. Enforcement of these laws is the role of the USDA and local and
 state officials, so if there is ever a compliance problem, these officials
 will report it.
     However, if the right to send a horse to slaughter is taken away from
 horse owners, the Unintended Consequences paper predicts serious problems.
 Nearly half of all horse owners earn between $25,000 and $75,000 per
 year.(3) If these owners are forced to pay $300-$2,000 to dispose of a
 horse, instead of being able to receive value for their property ($300-400
 for processing), the report says that some owners will have no other option
 but to abandon the animal, slaughter it themselves and prepare the carcass
 for rendering, or simply neglect it by not adequately feeding the horse.
 Concerns regarding the effects of BSE and other diseases on rendered
 products have resulted in a decreasing number of rendering facilities in
 the U.S., so horse owners are finding it increasingly difficult to find a
 renderer. Horse burial is illegal in many areas.
     MYTH: The horse industry supports HR 503.
     FACT: The American Quarter Horse Association (largest U.S. horse
 organization), the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture (which has
 jurisdiction over the legislation), and 190 other horse, veterinary,
 cattle, and agriculture organizations OPPOSE this horse slaughter ban based
 on fundamental economic, humane and public health issues. Many horse owners
 support keeping the horse processing option, even if some choose not to use
 it.
     MYTH: If U.S. horse slaughter is banned, Kentucky Derby champions like
 Ferdinand will be saved from slaughter in the future.
     FACT: Ferdinand was slaughtered in Japan, and this ban will not prevent
 the foreign slaughter of any future unwanted horses. After horses leave
 this country -- whether they go to Mexico, Latin America, or Japan --
 passage of HR 503 would not prevent them from being slaughtered in one of
 many foreign slaughterhouses, where seven million horses are slaughtered
 each year for human consumption. The legislation would simply eliminate the
 U.S. plants: the most stringently regulated and humane animal processing
 plants in the world.
     MYTH: "Some horses...are improperly stunned and are conscious when they
 are hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut," states the HSUS horse
 slaughter fact sheet posted at http://www.hsus.org.
     FACT: Each and every horse is humanely euthanized before any processing
 activities occur and the three plants have a documented track record of
 humane treatment. In fact, USDA veterinarian inspectors are present for the
 humane euthanasia of every horse, and are mandated by law to stop the
 process if the horses aren't rendered brain dead before they are moved and
 processed. Not only is humane treatment the law, it is good business
 practice. Treating the horses well and minimizing their pain and stress
 keeps the plants operating smoothly and efficiently.
     MYTH: Horse neglect did not increase in the past when the number
 slaughtered horses declined, so if HR 503 passes and the number of horses
 slaughtered drops from 90,000 to zero, there will be no increase in
 neglect, according to bill sponsor Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky).(4)
     FACT: An increase in neglect is likely, according to university
 experts, because the ban will take away the only option that provides
 salvage value for disposing of the nation's unwanted horses. According to
 the Unintended Consequences report, "Tens of thousands of horses could be
 neglected or abandoned if a processing ban were imposed.....Local and state
 governments will be adversely impacted by increased costs of regulation and
 care of unwanted or neglected horses."(5)
     Market forces, not slaughter plants, determine how many horses go to
 slaughter. Since there is no national system for recording and tracking
 horse neglect, there is no way to identify trends or compare trends to
 slaughter numbers. Each year, a variety of factors dictate the number of
 unwanted horses: the number of horses with insurmountable behavior
 problems, the disposable income of horse owners, and the market value of
 horses. The plants are the repository for the unwanted horses that no one
 else will take.
     MYTH:  If horse slaughter is banned, people will adopt or buy the unwanted
 horses.
     FACT: The horses that go to slaughter are the unwanted of the unwanted
 -- often because they can't be ridden, or are dangerous. Their market value
 is so low, no one else bought them. A few of the influx of 60,000 to 90,000
 unwanted horses may be adopted. However, if there were such a demand to
 adopt and care for this type of horse, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
 would have been able to find homes for the thousands of unwanted wild
 horses that taxpayers paid nearly $40 million to feed and shelter in 2005.
 The average yearly cost of caring for a horse is $2,300 and many horses
 live to be 30 years old.
     According to a memo from the Congressional Research Service, "A key
 concern expressed by a number of equine groups is whether the existing U.S.
 horse sanctuaries have adequate resources to absorb the large number of
 animals that could be confiscated or otherwise diverted from slaughter if
 this law were to pass ... AHPA agrees that no nationwide standard-setting
 or oversight system is in place and also that no rescue organizations may
 have the resources or business capabilities to take in large numbers of
 horses."(6)
     MYTH: Slaughter plants should be closed because that's where stolen
 horses end up.
     FACT: There is no evidence of a stolen horse problem at the plants, so
 banning horse slaughter can't be a solution. The three horse slaughter
 plants document every horse that arrives, and very few, if any, stolen
 horses have been found. In Texas, as of 1997, a law enforcement official
 onsite inspects each horse and checks it against reports of stolen horses.
 In Illinois, horses arriving are also checked against records of stolen
 horses. Why would someone steal a horse worth $3,000 or $800 to sell it for
 $300 to a processing plant?
     MYTH: Horses are treated poorly during transport to slaughter.
     FACT: The treatment of horses to slaughter is stringently regulated. No
 other animal has humane treatment laws governing its transportation to
 slaughter, so horses are already protected more than any other livestock
 animal.
     USDA reports that the regulations are being enforced. In fact, an
 analysis published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical
 Association in 1999, conducted by renowned animal welfare expert Temple
 Grandin, PhD, stated "...owner abuse or neglect (before transportation) is
 the primary cause of severe welfare problems in horses arriving at
 slaughter plants." Although USDA has increased the number of inspections of
 horse transportation to slaughter, inspectors have found no evidence of a
 systemic problem, according to a recent USDA letter to the House Committee
 on Agriculture.(7)
     MYTH: Video on anti-slaughter Web sites proves that horse slaughter is
 not humane.
     FACT: The footage of horses being mistreated may have been shot in
 Mexico or Latin America, but it was NOT filmed in any of the three U.S.
 plants operating today, nor does it reflect the humane euthanasia process
 mandated by current federal laws and regulations. To the plants' and their
 regulators' knowledge, there is no evidence that demonstrates a systemic
 problem of horses being mistreated in the three U.S. processing plants.
 Therefore, there is no defendable reason to ban horse processing for human
 consumption.
     MYTH: Americans should support HR 503 because animal rights groups say
 it will improve horse welfare.
     FACT: The Humane Society of the United States also said it would
 improve the welfare of animals saved after Hurricane Katrina, but HSUS is
 currently under investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General, who is
 questioning exactly how they improved animal welfare, especially since they
 raised $30 million to pursue this end.(8)
     The Animal Liberation Front supports a ban on horse slaughter so
 strongly that one of their members burned down a horse slaughter plant in
 1997, putting animals at risk. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
 (PeTA) employees were also charged with animal cruelty last year for
 killing cats and dogs and throwing them into dumpsters after stating they
 were going to take them to shelters and put them up for adoption.(9)
     (1) The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1904, The Humane Methods of
         Slaughter Act of 1977, and USDA Food Safety Inspection Service
         Regulations on Humane Handling and Slaughter of Livestock (1978 -
         2003) and 1996 Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter
         (updated 2002)
 
     (2) Ahearn J, Anderson D, Bailey D, et al. "The Unintended Consequences
         of a Ban on the Humane Slaughter (Processing) of Horses in the United
         States," available at http://www.animalwelfarecouncil.org.  Accessed
         July 29, 2006.
 
     (3) American Horse Council, 2005
 
     (4) U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on
         H.R. 503, 25 July 2006
 
     (5) Ahearn J, Anderson D, Bailey D, et al.  "The Unintended Consequences
         of a Ban on the Humane Slaughter (Processing) of Horses in the United
         States," available at http://www.animalwelfarecouncil.org.  Accessed
         July 29, 2006.
 
     (6) Memo from Congressional Research Service to House Agriculture
         Committee, "Equine Rescue Organizations," May 7, 2004
 
     (7) Letter from USDA to Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on
         Agriculture.
 
     (8) Salmon, Jacqueline, "Red Cross, Humane Society Under Investigation"
         Sunday, March 26, 2006, p. A10, available at
         http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
     dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032501002_2.html. Retrieved
         August 14, 2006.
 
     (9) "PeTA Employees Face Felony Cruelty Animal Charges," available at
         http://www.petakillsanimals.com/petaTrial.cfm.  Retrieved August
         21,2006.
 
 

SOURCE www.commonhorsesense.com
    WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Former Congressman and ranking
 Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee Charlie Stenholm dismissed
 today's poll released by The National Horse Protection Coalition (NHPC) as
 a shallow attempt by someone with deep pockets who has never stepped foot
 inside a horse processing facility yet purports to be an expert to
 influence public opinion.
     The poll, issued in preparation of a vote in the U.S. House of
 Representatives, claims that "71 percent of Americans believe that horses
 are part of America's culture and deserve better treatment."
 Representatives of www.commonhorsesense.com, and the nation's horse
 processing facilities couldn't agree more, which is why they're urging
 Congress to vote against H.R. 503 "The American Horse Slaughter Prevention
 Act." The legislation would eliminate the three remaining U.S. horse
 processing plants, currently the only means of federally regulated and
 supervised humane euthanasia for horses.
     Nearly 200 organizations concerned about the welfare of horses of
 horses have joined www.commonhorsesense.com in urging Congress to vote
 against H.R. 503.
     "These organizations represent people that care for and own horses,
 unlike some shortsighted animal rights groups such as NHPC, PeTA, and the
 Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that are only concerned with
 furthering their anti-animal agriculture legislative agenda. They know that
 the passage of HR 503 will result in more harm than good for the welfare of
 America's horses, leaving many to neglect or abandonment," said Stenholm.
     Stenholm says, "What I care about is horses and horse owners -- the
 animals and people who will be affected by this bill. How can PeTA, HSUS
 and NHPC claim to care about horses? Horses would be better cared for if
 the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on polls and advertising by Mr.
 Pickens and the HSUS and other like-minded groups were instead invested in
 strengthening the virtually non-existent infrastructure of horse rescue
 facilities."
     Stenholm suspects those who were polled were ill-informed.
     "On its face, many Americans might think that the bill seems designed
 to help horses. However, the consequences of this bill, if passed, will be
 disastrous for horse welfare. Why else would the nation's largest
 veterinary association oppose it? This is a complicated and emotional issue
 that the public needs to understand fully. It's not something we like to
 think about, but it's a reality. Anyone with the means to do so, especially
 on an emotional issue such as this, can organize a poll to favor their
 views. But if Americans are told the facts behind this process -- that it's
 the only way we have federal supervision for each and every horse to assure
 that the horses are euthanized humanely -- I know that Americans would feel
 quite differently. That's why www.commonhorsesense.com has just released a
 paper, "Horse Slaughter Myths and Facts," to better inform Americans
 concerned about the issue."
     "I'm sure if we polled Americans asking if they want abandoned and
 starving horses running around their cities, they'd say 'no.' Or how about
 a poll asking if the American people would like for horse owners to shoot
 their horses and leave them on public land for taxpayer money to deal with
 getting them to the landfill? Does the public want horses sent to foreign
 slaughterhouses, where the horses are not governed by humane slaughter
 laws? I doubt it."
     Just like there are 9.6 million unwanted cats and dogs that must be
 humanely put down every year, there are 60,000 to 90,000 unwanted horses.
 The horse processing plants provide the only federally supervised and
 inspected way to assure humane euthanasia for these unwanted horses.
 Banning horse processing will not solve the problem associated with
 unwanted horses. In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association
 (AVMA) and other supporters believe that banning the only federally
 supervised program of humane euthanasia for horses would cause tens of
 thousands of horses to potentially become abandoned and neglected.
     "If you get rid of federally supervised humane euthanasia for horses,
 which HR 503 will do, unwanted horses will simply end up in landfills.
 That's hardly a ceremonious ending for these majestic animals," said former
 Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block.
     Both Stenholm and Block stress that horse processing nothing more than
 an option. If a horse owner wants to keep his or her horse until its final
 days, they always have that right. Owners can pay for a vet to put it down
 and then pay a rendering company to pick up the animal. But some owners
 can't afford or don't prefer that option. Horse disposal is much more
 complicated and costly than putting down a household pet. If HR 503 passes,
 animal owners would lose personal property rights in choosing how to
 dispose of unwanted horses and horse owners would lose the only option that
 provides them value for their unwanted livestock.
     www.commonhorsesense.com has prepared a Myth Vs. Fact document in order
 to better inform people concerned about the issue. Nearly 200 organizations
 concerned for the welfare of America's horses, including the nation's
 largest veterinary association, oppose HR 503 "The American Horse Slaughter
 Prevention Act." The full list of organizations is available at
 www.commonhorsesense.com.
                        HORSE SLAUGHTER MYTHS AND FACTS
 
     MYTH: Horse slaughter must be stopped because it is inhumane.
     FACT: The euthanasia method used at the plants occurs before
 processing, and this method is humane, according to the American Veterinary
 Medical Association (AVMA) and the USDA, which regulates the practice. The
 method meets specific humane requirements set forth by AVMA's Panel on
 Euthanasia, the U.S. Congress,(1) the American Association of Equine
 Practitioners, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) Statement
 on Euthanasia because it results in instantaneous brain death.
     The plants are required to have USDA veterinarians on site supervising
 the euthanasia of each horse during the entire time the plant is in
 operation. The veterinarian is bound by law to stop the process and close
 the plant immediately if any evidence of inhumane treatment is witnessed.
 Retired USDA veterinarians who fulfilled this role are available for
 interviews.
     MYTH: Banning U.S. horse slaughter will not affect our economy since
 the plants are foreign-owned.
     FACT: Hundreds of employees in the United States who work for horse
 owners, trucking companies, auction houses, shipping companies and other
 suppliers will lose their jobs. The plant communities of DeKalb, Illinois,
 and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, will be especially hard-hit, with each of the
 local economies taking a predicted hit of $41 million. The value of each
 horse will decrease by approximately $300, according to an independent
 report on the unintended consequences of a horse slaughter ban -- the
 ripple effect of which is predicted to cripple the $40 billion U.S. horse
 industry.(2) The negative impact will be significant, just as it is when a
 Toyota plant or other foreign-owned business is closed in any other
 community.
     MYTH: If horse slaughter for human consumption is banned, the
 processing plants will still accept horses and process them for other
 important purposes.
     FACT: H.R. 503's ban on processing horses for human consumption will
 close down the three processing plants, according to plant owners, and
 result in:
     * Elimination of the only option that provides salvage value to the horse
       owner for an animal that is no longer serviceable, useful or desired.
 
     * Elimination of the only USDA-inspected source of equine protein, an
       essential element in the diet of U.S. zoo animals.
 
     * Elimination of the only large-scale equine research venue for leading
       schools of veterinary medicine.
 
     * Elimination of the only U.S. source of equine pericardium sacs used in
       human heart surgeries.
 
     * Elimination of the service plants provide to horse owners by preparing
       the horse carcasses for acceptance by rendering plants -- a time
       consuming procedure that the slaughter plants now provide at no cost to
       the owner.
     MYTH: The only way to prevent the inhumane treatment of horses is to
 BAN the private property right to choose horse processing.
     FACT: Congress has already performed its duty by passing laws that
 govern the humane treatment of horses during transportation to the plants
 and onsite. Enforcement of these laws is the role of the USDA and local and
 state officials, so if there is ever a compliance problem, these officials
 will report it.
     However, if the right to send a horse to slaughter is taken away from
 horse owners, the Unintended Consequences paper predicts serious problems.
 Nearly half of all horse owners earn between $25,000 and $75,000 per
 year.(3) If these owners are forced to pay $300-$2,000 to dispose of a
 horse, instead of being able to receive value for their property ($300-400
 for processing), the report says that some owners will have no other option
 but to abandon the animal, slaughter it themselves and prepare the carcass
 for rendering, or simply neglect it by not adequately feeding the horse.
 Concerns regarding the effects of BSE and other diseases on rendered
 products have resulted in a decreasing number of rendering facilities in
 the U.S., so horse owners are finding it increasingly difficult to find a
 renderer. Horse burial is illegal in many areas.
     MYTH: The horse industry supports HR 503.
     FACT: The American Quarter Horse Association (largest U.S. horse
 organization), the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture (which has
 jurisdiction over the legislation), and 190 other horse, veterinary,
 cattle, and agriculture organizations OPPOSE this horse slaughter ban based
 on fundamental economic, humane and public health issues. Many horse owners
 support keeping the horse processing option, even if some choose not to use
 it.
     MYTH: If U.S. horse slaughter is banned, Kentucky Derby champions like
 Ferdinand will be saved from slaughter in the future.
     FACT: Ferdinand was slaughtered in Japan, and this ban will not prevent
 the foreign slaughter of any future unwanted horses. After horses leave
 this country -- whether they go to Mexico, Latin America, or Japan --
 passage of HR 503 would not prevent them from being slaughtered in one of
 many foreign slaughterhouses, where seven million horses are slaughtered
 each year for human consumption. The legislation would simply eliminate the
 U.S. plants: the most stringently regulated and humane animal processing
 plants in the world.
     MYTH: "Some horses...are improperly stunned and are conscious when they
 are hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut," states the HSUS horse
 slaughter fact sheet posted at http://www.hsus.org.
     FACT: Each and every horse is humanely euthanized before any processing
 activities occur and the three plants have a documented track record of
 humane treatment. In fact, USDA veterinarian inspectors are present for the
 humane euthanasia of every horse, and are mandated by law to stop the
 process if the horses aren't rendered brain dead before they are moved and
 processed. Not only is humane treatment the law, it is good business
 practice. Treating the horses well and minimizing their pain and stress
 keeps the plants operating smoothly and efficiently.
     MYTH: Horse neglect did not increase in the past when the number
 slaughtered horses declined, so if HR 503 passes and the number of horses
 slaughtered drops from 90,000 to zero, there will be no increase in
 neglect, according to bill sponsor Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky).(4)
     FACT: An increase in neglect is likely, according to university
 experts, because the ban will take away the only option that provides
 salvage value for disposing of the nation's unwanted horses. According to
 the Unintended Consequences report, "Tens of thousands of horses could be
 neglected or abandoned if a processing ban were imposed.....Local and state
 governments will be adversely impacted by increased costs of regulation and
 care of unwanted or neglected horses."(5)
     Market forces, not slaughter plants, determine how many horses go to
 slaughter. Since there is no national system for recording and tracking
 horse neglect, there is no way to identify trends or compare trends to
 slaughter numbers. Each year, a variety of factors dictate the number of
 unwanted horses: the number of horses with insurmountable behavior
 problems, the disposable income of horse owners, and the market value of
 horses. The plants are the repository for the unwanted horses that no one
 else will take.
     MYTH:  If horse slaughter is banned, people will adopt or buy the unwanted
 horses.
     FACT: The horses that go to slaughter are the unwanted of the unwanted
 -- often because they can't be ridden, or are dangerous. Their market value
 is so low, no one else bought them. A few of the influx of 60,000 to 90,000
 unwanted horses may be adopted. However, if there were such a demand to
 adopt and care for this type of horse, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management
 would have been able to find homes for the thousands of unwanted wild
 horses that taxpayers paid nearly $40 million to feed and shelter in 2005.
 The average yearly cost of caring for a horse is $2,300 and many horses
 live to be 30 years old.
     According to a memo from the Congressional Research Service, "A key
 concern expressed by a number of equine groups is whether the existing U.S.
 horse sanctuaries have adequate resources to absorb the large number of
 animals that could be confiscated or otherwise diverted from slaughter if
 this law were to pass ... AHPA agrees that no nationwide standard-setting
 or oversight system is in place and also that no rescue organizations may
 have the resources or business capabilities to take in large numbers of
 horses."(6)
     MYTH: Slaughter plants should be closed because that's where stolen
 horses end up.
     FACT: There is no evidence of a stolen horse problem at the plants, so
 banning horse slaughter can't be a solution. The three horse slaughter
 plants document every horse that arrives, and very few, if any, stolen
 horses have been found. In Texas, as of 1997, a law enforcement official
 onsite inspects each horse and checks it against reports of stolen horses.
 In Illinois, horses arriving are also checked against records of stolen
 horses. Why would someone steal a horse worth $3,000 or $800 to sell it for
 $300 to a processing plant?
     MYTH: Horses are treated poorly during transport to slaughter.
     FACT: The treatment of horses to slaughter is stringently regulated. No
 other animal has humane treatment laws governing its transportation to
 slaughter, so horses are already protected more than any other livestock
 animal.
     USDA reports that the regulations are being enforced. In fact, an
 analysis published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical
 Association in 1999, conducted by renowned animal welfare expert Temple
 Grandin, PhD, stated "...owner abuse or neglect (before transportation) is
 the primary cause of severe welfare problems in horses arriving at
 slaughter plants." Although USDA has increased the number of inspections of
 horse transportation to slaughter, inspectors have found no evidence of a
 systemic problem, according to a recent USDA letter to the House Committee
 on Agriculture.(7)
     MYTH: Video on anti-slaughter Web sites proves that horse slaughter is
 not humane.
     FACT: The footage of horses being mistreated may have been shot in
 Mexico or Latin America, but it was NOT filmed in any of the three U.S.
 plants operating today, nor does it reflect the humane euthanasia process
 mandated by current federal laws and regulations. To the plants' and their
 regulators' knowledge, there is no evidence that demonstrates a systemic
 problem of horses being mistreated in the three U.S. processing plants.
 Therefore, there is no defendable reason to ban horse processing for human
 consumption.
     MYTH: Americans should support HR 503 because animal rights groups say
 it will improve horse welfare.
     FACT: The Humane Society of the United States also said it would
 improve the welfare of animals saved after Hurricane Katrina, but HSUS is
 currently under investigation by the Louisiana Attorney General, who is
 questioning exactly how they improved animal welfare, especially since they
 raised $30 million to pursue this end.(8)
     The Animal Liberation Front supports a ban on horse slaughter so
 strongly that one of their members burned down a horse slaughter plant in
 1997, putting animals at risk. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
 (PeTA) employees were also charged with animal cruelty last year for
 killing cats and dogs and throwing them into dumpsters after stating they
 were going to take them to shelters and put them up for adoption.(9)
     (1) The Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1904, The Humane Methods of
         Slaughter Act of 1977, and USDA Food Safety Inspection Service
         Regulations on Humane Handling and Slaughter of Livestock (1978 -
         2003) and 1996 Commercial Transportation of Horses to Slaughter
         (updated 2002)
 
     (2) Ahearn J, Anderson D, Bailey D, et al. "The Unintended Consequences
         of a Ban on the Humane Slaughter (Processing) of Horses in the United
         States," available at http://www.animalwelfarecouncil.org.  Accessed
         July 29, 2006.
 
     (3) American Horse Council, 2005
 
     (4) U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on
         H.R. 503, 25 July 2006
 
     (5) Ahearn J, Anderson D, Bailey D, et al.  "The Unintended Consequences
         of a Ban on the Humane Slaughter (Processing) of Horses in the United
         States," available at http://www.animalwelfarecouncil.org.  Accessed
         July 29, 2006.
 
     (6) Memo from Congressional Research Service to House Agriculture
         Committee, "Equine Rescue Organizations," May 7, 2004
 
     (7) Letter from USDA to Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, U.S. House Committee on
         Agriculture.
 
     (8) Salmon, Jacqueline, "Red Cross, Humane Society Under Investigation"
         Sunday, March 26, 2006, p. A10, available at
         http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
     dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032501002_2.html. Retrieved
         August 14, 2006.
 
     (9) "PeTA Employees Face Felony Cruelty Animal Charges," available at
         http://www.petakillsanimals.com/petaTrial.cfm.  Retrieved August
         21,2006.
 
 SOURCE www.commonhorsesense.com