By Kathleen Adams
A newly formed organization that hopes to garner public support for an eventual ban on horse slaughter in the United States, announced on Oct. 28 two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito (Strike the Gold 1991, Go for Gin 1994) would be the group's national spokesperson.
Gathered underneath the umbrella of the National Horse Protection Coalition are horse industry leaders, organizations, and equine and animal protection groups.
During a press conference at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs, Zito said he was astounded to learn that each year roughly 42,000 horses are killed in U.S. slaughterhouses.
"It's not a Democratic or Republican issue," Zito said. "It's an American issue. Think if some of those horses could have been saved. How useful would that be?"
Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky), co-sponsor of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, was also at the press conference.
He said the recent death of 1986 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Ferdinand at a slaughterhouse in Japan had helped put horse slaughter in the public view. But he warned more needs to be done to protect equines.
"Due to lax federal regulations, foals and pregnant mares can spend up to twenty-eight hours in transport trucks without food or water," said Whitfield. "All of us must channel our outrage at horse slaughter in America and call for the passage of this legislation."
Whitfield said he hoped Kentuckians, whose state is home to some of the world's most famous horse farms and equine stars, would be particularly repulsed by the idea of horse slaughter.
Not willing to speculate on the likelihood of H.R. 857 being passed by his colleagues, Whitfield smiled and said, "I learned a long time ago not to say you're to get anything quickly through Congress. But we're trying to do a good thing."