Source: ABQ Journal. OpEd By Keith Dane, Humane Society of the United StatesKeith Dane, Director of Equine Protection, HSUS
New Mexico has long been a place where horses run free in the high desert,
work on ranches, demonstrate their athleticism in the show ring and serve as our
trusted companions. These horses are a source of joy and inspiration and pride.
Now, we are dangerously close to seeing New Mexico become a place where
horses come from all over the United States to be killed for food. That’s
nothing to be proud of.
For their part, political and animal welfare leaders in New Mexico have been
vocal against the possibility of horses being slaughtered in their state. Gov.
Susana Martinez stated her opposition. The attorney general warned of the
serious food safety concerns associated with consuming meat from American
Advocates with Animal Protection New Mexico have voiced their strong
opposition to horse slaughter, and they have worked tirelessly to support the
many humane alternatives that are available in New Mexico for horse owners who are no longer willing or able to care for their animals. Yet, the only guarantee we have to prevent the horrors of horse slaughter from resuming on U.S. soil is for Congress to ban the practice or prohibit the use of federal funds for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect facilities that slaughter horses.
We have strong New Mexican allies on that front, as well. Sen. Martin Heinrich, and Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan have signed-on as co-sponsors of the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, federal legislation with strong bipartisan support that would prohibit the slaughter of American horses for human consumption and their export abroad for that purpose.
The American people’s abiding love for horses means that the business of inhumanely slaughtering them for their meat will always be greeted with disgust. From the auction to the kill box, the slaughter pipeline is inherently inhumane. When plants previously operated in the U.S., horses suffered severe injuries or death during transport. Inside the slaughterhouse, horses often endured the torture of repeated attempts to render them unconscious.
Aside from the animal welfare concerns, horse slaughter in the U.S. is a non-starter. Take the potentially toxic properties of the meat of American horses. Horses in the U.S. are neither raised nor generally regarded as food-producing animals. Throughout their lives, they consistently receive various drugs, such as Phenylbutazone (i.e. “bute”), which are banned by the Food and Drug Administration from use in food-producing animals because of known dangers to humans.
The Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue filed a legal petition with the New Mexicp Environmental Improvement Board requesting that it adopt a rule that renders all horses that were formerly companion
animals, wild horses or work and sport horses, and any other horses without a proven lifetime medical history, as “unqualified” for use as food for human consumption.
Furthermore, these facilities are far from desirable neighbors. When the last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. closed, the
communities that had hosted them cheered. These plants had a history of polluting local water supplies, lowering property values and draining local economies. They employed no more than a few dozen people in low-paying, highly
dangerous jobs. The negative image created by these operations caused other businesses to look elsewhere for a place to set up shop.
The overwhelming majority of Americans oppose horse slaughter. New Mexicans are among those leading the chorus. We must urge Congress to pass the SAFE Act and outlaw the practice before the predatory horse slaughter industry starts snatching up our former racehorses, children’s lesson horses and ranch horses from all across the country and trucking them into New Mexico to be killed.