Although there are no horse slaughter plants in Kentucky, a largely symbolic bill has been introduced by Sen. Tom Buford to outlaw the practice in the state.
"It seemed contrary to be advocating what a great state we are for horses, but that it is okay to eat one," Buford said. "Maybe people in Kentucky would like to see horses given some respect in this state other than just being used for advertisement purposes."
Federal laws prevent restricting the sale of an animal once it crosses a state line, so the ban itself would have little effect. The three horse slaughter plants in the country are located in Texas and Illinois.
However, if passed, Buford's bill would create a registry that documents who knowingly sells or transports horses for human consumption.
"I know that I cannot affect interstate commerce," Buford said. "But, I thought if I could do a registry that the media and public could pick up on, it would leave a trail that might be embarrassing. Maybe then people might take their horses to another state and sell them there.
"But maybe those states might not want that notoriety, and their legislatures might change the rules. I'm just trying to do something to bring people's thoughts and awareness of the issue out."
If the bill passes, Buford indicated the Kentucky Department of Agriculture would set up the registry and decide its regulations. However, due to Kentucky's short session in 2007, the bill may not be heard.
"It is unlikely that many bills will get passed during the short session; it's tough," Buford said. "But it is a start."
Buford became interested in the topic after a meeting with Rep. Ed Whitfield, Kentucky horse breeders, and representatives of the Humane Society of the United States. In 2006, Whitfield introduced a federal bill to end horse slaughter for human consumption that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but was not taken up by the Senate.