Poll Finds Most Americans Against Horse Slaughter
by Amanda Duckworth
Date Posted: 9/4/2006 10:34:19 AM
Last Updated: 9/5/2006 7:29:58 AM

A national public opinion survey found that 69% of Americans are against killing horses for human consumption. The findings come just a week before the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a bill that would end horse slaughter for human consumption.

The poll was conducted among 800 likely voters Aug. 9-13 by Public Opinion Strategies, and has a margin error of plus or minus 3.46%. It also found that 71% of Americans believe that horses are part of America's culture and deserve better treatment, but that 64% felt it was important not to pass judgment on the eating habits of other cultures.

Horse slaughter has been a topic of interest lately as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act makes its way through Congress. The House is set to vote on the bill Sept. 7, which was introduced by New York Rep. John Sweeney and Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield. A rally to show support for the bill is scheduled for Sept. 5.

Two major supporters of the bill are T. Boone and Madeleine Pickens. On Aug. 30, they began running full-page ads in USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express-News, and San Diego Union Tribune asking the public to contact their lawmakers about the bill.

"I was so ashamed of the fact that I didn't know about horse slaughter," Madeleine Pickens said. "I wish somebody had exposed me to this before, and this was a way to let people know about what is going on and to voice their opinions either way."

Pickens has been in the horse industry since 1983 and, along with her late husband, Allen Paulson, campaigned the champion racehorse Cigar.

"I felt like I really needed to stand for something that I believe in. I'm not trying to hurt anybody, she said. "I have had a tremendous life in the horse business, and I've reached every high that you can achieve. I've had a full life with the horse, and I do have a responsibility to share the information that I have now with people."

One of the major concerns for those who are against the bill is what will happen to horses previously destined for slaughter.

"Welfare is the biggest concern for those horses that would be impacted by a ban on slaughter," Dr. Bonnie Beaver said during testimony at the Committee on Agriculture's hearing in July. "It does not address financial support required for the support of these horses. Watching a horse slowly die from starvation or disease is not only distressing, it is cruel."

Both sides agreed that the legislation elicits emotions because the horse is viewed differently in America than other livestock due to its place in history and the bond many people form with their horses.

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