A bill that would outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption was introduced Tuesday in the U.S. Senate by Sen. John Ensign of Nevada.
Titled the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, the bill would bar U.S. slaughterhouses from processing horses to be sold as human food in Europe and Asia. The bill would also ban the exportation of live horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
The Senate bill has been sent to the committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry for review. A similar bill introduced in the House of Representatives remains in committee.
Trina Bellak, a lawyer for the American Horse Defense Fund, said it is expected the bills will go before the full House and Senate before the current session ends. "We're really starting to see strong support in ending horse slaughter," said Bellak, referencing the fact the House bill has 202 co-sponsors.
Seven states currently have laws prohibiting horse slaughter. However, Ensign, who was a practicing veterinarian before joining the Senate, said it has not been enough.
"State laws aimed at ending this barbaric practice have fallen short, allowing foreign companies to destroy horses for food in plants located within the United States," Ensign told the Associated Press.
Currently, the only two active horse slaughter facilities in the United States are located in Texas, which some say has increased the number of live horses being exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture, 19,061 horses were exported for slaughter to Canada in 2003.