Horse Slaughter/Animal Cruelty


By Janet Patton - HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER (Kentucky) - Sept. 4, 2006

WASHINGTON - One meat you'll probably never find on the American grill: horse.

And most people here would rather not ship it overseas to European or Japanese "equivores" either. According to a national poll released last week, 68 percent of Americans oppose, at least somewhat, "the slaughtering of horses for people to eat."

Three foreign-owned plants in the U.S. slaughtered about 90,000 horses last year and shipped 39.5 million pounds to France, Belgium and Japan. Thousands more horses were exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter there.

The poll of 800 likely voters was conducted Aug. 9-10 and 12-13 by Alexandria, Va., firm Public Opinion Strategies. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.46 percent.

The survey was paid for by Texas billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens. His wife, Madeleine, was the widow of prominent thoroughbred breeder and owner Allen Paulson.

Pickens will be in Washington on Tuesday for a rally in support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which is co-sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Hopkinsville. The House will vote on the proposed ban Thursday.

The bill has 202 co-sponsors and is expected to pass the House despite acrimonious opposition from members of the House Agriculture Committee. That committee is attempting to attach several "poison pill" amendments to the bill, which was sent to the floor by the Commerce Committee, on which Whitfield sits.

Supporters say the ban will end cruel slaughter and transport methods and protect animals that are more friend than food.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Churchill Downs and auction houses such as Fasig-Tipton oppose slaughter, which many claim happens without sellers' knowledge.

Opponents argue that without an economical way for horse owners to dispose of their property, they will abandon tens of thousands of horses to cruelly starve to death.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, based in Lexington, the American Quarter Horse Association and other opponents of the bill say the killing is humane as regulated by the USDA.

The poll indicates widespread support across all demographic lines for the ban.

But 64 percent agreed that "we should not pass judgment on the eating habits of different cultures," and half agreed that owners should be allowed to sell horses "for people to eat just like other farm animals."

Almost half of respondents said they would be less likely to vote for lawmakers who support slaughter; 42 percent said it would make no difference.

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