"The lone cowboy riding his horse on a Texas trail is a cinematic icon. Not once in memory did the cowboy eat his horse," wrote Judge FortunatoBenavides, one of three judges in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana who ruled on Friday in favor of enforcement of a 1949 Texas state law outlawing horse slaughter in the state. The ruling had been declared invalid because a federal law permits horse slaughter but the judges upheld the decision. How and when it will be enforced is not known at this time, but if the Texas law does shut down the two horsemeat plants in the state, only one slaughterhouse, in Illinois, will operate in the USA.
Meanwhile, slaughter plant owners claim they do not have to shut down and that the judgment may not be final.
To learn more: the web is lit up today with this story. Here are some links:
HSUS news report (HSUS filed a friend-of-the-court brief in this hearing)
More on this story: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100,800 American horses were slaughtered in three foreign-owned slaughter houses operating in the USA in 2006. Opponents of the slaughter ban argue the practice constitutes a humane way to kill old animals, but USDA statistics show that more than 92 percent of horses slaughtered in the U.S. are not old and infirm but in good condition.
There is currently no legislation in the USA to prohibit the export of horses for slaughter. Thousands of US horses are slaughtered in Mexico, Canada, and Japan each year.
Legislation to ban the slaughter of American horses nationwide was introduced this week in the 110th Congress, and Friday's Texas court ruling will give further momentum to the federal legislative effort.
In the U.S. Senate, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S. 311, was launched Jan. 17 by Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.), with 12 original cosponsors. In the U.S. House, Reps. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), and Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) introduced a companion bill, H.R. 503, the same day with 62 original cosponsors.
The measure received tremendous bipartisan support in the 109th Congress, winning a vote of 263 to 146 in the House. It stalled in the Senate in late 2006, however, and was not brought up for a vote before Congress adjourned, even though a similar effort had been overwhelmingly approved by the Senate in 2005.
This is a complex issue that goes far beyond the fact that more horses will be slaughtered for meat this week. Banning horse slaughter would necessitate a cultural revolution in the American horse industry and the launch of a euthanasia/disposal-for-profit industry.
In England, ads for horse crematoriums dot the classified pages of horse magazines. Still, the International Fund for Horses reports that 35,000 horses a year are slaughtered in that country, which would be a higher per-capita ratio of horses than in the USA.
Horse slaughter politics that started in the USA are now spreading around the world. There are no easy answers and this is an important issue for all to consider. Read everything you can, from both sides of the killer pens. The horses deserve solutions and options, not more arguments about simply "yes" or "no" to the slaughter debate.
? 2006-2007 The Jurga Report: Horse Health Headlines. All rights reserved.
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