Source: BDM, by Matthew Stone
The Maine House took a first step toward banning commercial horse slaughter for consumption by humans. The House voted 94-49 for a bill, LD 1286, that would make any commercial horse slaughter for human consumption illegal in the state.
The legislation also would ban the construction and operation of horse slaughtering facilities and make it illegal to transport horses through the state for the purpose of slaughtering them if the final intent is to have humans eat horse meat.
The bill faces additional votes in the Senate and House before it would head to the desk of Gov. Paul LePage.
“If not for a horse, would Alexander have been the Great? Would Paul Revere had spread the word? Can you imagine the Lone Ranger on the back of a cow?” said Rep. Lisa Villa, D-Harrison. “I would dare say they are very different from your average livestock.”
The bill would make horse slaughter a civil violation. Offenders would have to pay fines between $500 and $1,000. Rep. Donald Marean, R-Hollis, said the bill is unnecessary. There’s no evidence that horse slaughter is a problem in Maine, he said.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, who proposed a similar bill two years ago that died before it reached the House floor. During a public hearing on the bill in April, Knight said Maine has become a prime route for transporting horses into Quebec, where they’re slaughtered. From there, the horse meat is often sent to Europe and Asia, he said. If the horse slaughter ban becomes law, Maine would join California, Illinois, Texas and other states that have similar bans in place, according to the Animal Welfare Institute.
The Maine Harness Horsemen’s Association, which represents owners of standardbred horses, opposed the ban on horse slaughter during the bill’s public hearing. While the measure before the Legislature wouldn’t prohibit an owner from
euthanizing his or her horse at the end of the animal’s life, a statewide ban on slaughter could complicate owners’ efforts to end their horses’ lives humanely, said Brenda Deojay, who serves on the association’s board of directors.
“When slaughter is not allowed in a particular area and there is still a need to do something with the animals,” she said, “the conditions are sometimes worse for the horse, or they’ll end up still being taken someplace where they can be slaughtered.” Deojay said association members are also trying to address the issue by raising money for horses’ long-term care after their years on the track.
BDN Newsroom Administrator Natalie Feulner contributed to this report.
The Maine House of Representatives will soon vote on L.D. 1286, a bill that would ban the slaughter, sale and transport of horses intended for human consumption. Opponents of this measure are already contacting their representatives, so it is crucial that legislators hear from animal advocates like you loud and clear.
Horses are not raised as food animals, and Americans do not consume horse meat (it is shipped overseas for foreign diners). Horse slaughter is an utterly inhumane enterprise. It is not humane euthanasia, and the transport and butchering processes are terribly cruel--these systems were not developed for equines and never intended for use on them.
The last horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil were closed in 2007, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently began to process applications for plants that wish to begin slaughtering horses. L.D. 1286 will prevent one of these brutal, polluting slaughter plants from wreaking havoc on Maine's economy, environment and local communities.
In addition, L.D. 1286 presents a critical opportunity to block the use of Maine as an artery in the transport of horses to Canadian slaughterhouses.Maine should follow the lead of other states, including New Jersey, California, Texas and Illinois, that have already banned horse slaughter and/or the sale of horses or horse meat for human consumption.
What You Can Do
Our opposition—proponents of horse slaughter—wasted no time in rolling out campaigns to stop this bill. The only way to win is to make our voices as strong as theirs! House representative needs to hear from animal advocates in great numbers NOW, or this important equine-protection measure will not pass the House or go to the Senate for a vote.
Please take actions:
1) Please call the Maine House representatives. Calling is quick, easy and the best way to reach Maine legislators! Look up state rep’s name and number here. A polite, courteous phone call is the best way to interact directly with your representative. Your message can be as simple as “I ask you to please pass L.D. 1286 to ban horse slaughter this year."
2) If you're a Maine resident, you can use the ASPCA form to quickly email your House representative and urge him/her to pass L.D. 1286. Please personalize your message if you are able. It will mean much more to your legislator if you share your own experiences and thoughts on the issue.