The Equine Protection Network (EPN) kicked off a national horse slaughter awareness campaign in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana with billboards proclaiming, "Keep America's Horses in the Stable and off the Table!" The EPN also has launched a new website, SaveAmericasHorses.com to educate Americans about horse slaughter.
"Research polls show that most Americans are not aware that horses are slaughtered for people to eat, but if given the chance they would overwhelmingly vote to outlaw horse slaughter", said Christine Berry, founder of the Equine Protection Network, a Schuylkill County, Penn., based horse welfare organization. "It is our intent to raise awareness of horse slaughter through our billboard campaign. There are horses going to slaughter right now that could have been saved simply if their owners made the responsible decision to humanely euthanize them instead of selling or giving away their unwanted horse," says Berry.
The issue is one of culture, not animal rights (as Americans do not eat horsemeat), but no horse is immune from the horrors of the collection, transport, and actual slaughter; this was demonstrated by the fate of 1986 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Ferdinand, who died in 2002.
So far this year, 35,000 horses have been slaughtered in the two remaining U.S. horse slaughterhouses (located in Texas) with thousands more exported to Canada for slaughter.
In February 2003, New York legislature John Sweeney introduced legislation to prohibit the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. H.R. 857 currently has 94 co-sponsors (five from PA. and six from IL.) but has languished in the House Subcommittee on Trade since March. "As drafted, H.R. 857 is a good bill worthy of our support," said Berry.