Anti-Slaughter Bill Still Awaits Vote in House

by Chad Mendell

Horse slaughter opponents will have to start from scratch next Congressional session despite last-minute efforts asking for a Senate vote on the issue. The 109th Congressional session adjourned for the holidays Dec. 8 without taking action on the bill.

With newly elected officials taking their seats for the 110th Congressional session (scheduled to convene Jan. 4, 2007), the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act will once again have to be voted on by the House before making its way back to the Senate.

Bill supporters said not all was lost this year. Cathy Liss, legislative director for the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, said the bill gained public and legislative support because of the increased attention that it received. She was optimistic about the bill's fate in the House next year.

"The U.S. House of Representatives has affirmed its strong support through its vote in favor of the legislation this summer," she wrote in a letter to SAPL members. Earlier this year, the House passed the bill with a vote of 263-146.

More than 90,000 horses were sent to U.S. slaughter plants in 2005, and another 20,000 were shipped to Canada and Mexico. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would "prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes."

The bill's language and potential unintended consequences left some organizations wary of it. One of those organizations, the American Association of Equine Practitioners, stated: "While (the bill) and its supporters are well-intentioned, the passage of this legislation, without adequate funding or an infrastructure in place to care for unwanted horses, will create a series of unintended consequences that negatively impact the health and welfare of the horse."