Horse Slaughter Bill Nears Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Sept. 7 on a bill that would end horse slaughter for human consumption. With the vote drawing near, those on both sides of the issue have been trying to garner last-minute support.

A rally was held Sept. 5 by supporters of the bill, while the American Veterinary Medicine Association, Horse Welfare Coalition, and others who oppose the bill have issued an advertisement in Roll Call - a newspaper that covers the actions of Congress - asking lawmakers to defeat the bill.

If passed, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act would shut down the three horse slaughter plants in the country. The plants in Fort Worth and Kaufman, Texas, and DeKalb, Ill., slaughtered more than 90,000 horses last year. The vast majority of the meat was sold overseas, where it is considered a delicacy.

"Since our nation was founded, we have shared a special relationship with the horse," New York Rep. John Sweeney, the author of the bill, said during the rally. "The practice of horse slaughter is a contradiction to our culture, history, and economy. The time has come to end it."

One of the main concerns about the bill is what will happen to horses previously headed for slaughter.

"Taking your horse to an auction market is an option that must be protected," former congressman Charles Stenholm said during the House Agriculture Committee hearing in July. "If a horse owner does not object to processing, why should he or she be denied that right?"

The bill, which has more than 200 co-sponsors, has been a volatile issue due to the horse's place in American culture. The House is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. EDT.