Today, March 28, 2007, the courts finally follow the law and put a stop to the killing of horses in the U.S. for human consumption overseas!


Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2007 1:00 PM PDT) - In a 51-page opinion issued just hours ago, United States District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly held that the slaughter of horses in America violates federal law. In her opinion, issued in response to a lawsuit filed in February 2006 by the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL) and other humane organizations and individuals, Judge Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to conduct an environmental impact review of its decision to allow the continuation of horse slaughter.

"Tonight, after years of legislation and litigation, America's three horse slaughterhouses can no longer kill horses for human consumption,"� states Chris Heyde, deputy legislative director for the Society for Animal Protective Legislation. "We call on Illinois-based Cavel International to work with the humane and rescue communities to find permanent safe homes for the hundreds of horses who were slated for slaughter, to give them a second chance at life."

The rule that was vacated by the court, was promulgated by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service to create a fee-for-service inspection process for horses slaughtered for human consumption. The rule circumvented a Congressionally approved amendment to the FY 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Act that cut federal funding for the required inspections. Because of continuing resolutions approved by Congress to fund the government, today's ruling is effective immediately.

There are three horse slaughterhouses in America, one in Illinois and two in Texas. Though the Texas plants were recently forced to stop slaughtering horses for human consumption when an appellate court upheld a Texas law making it illegal to sell, possess and transport horsemeat for sale for human consumption, the Illinois plant has been killing approximately 1,000 horses per week.

"The American public has overwhelmingly opposed the slaughter of America's horses for human consumption and now the courts have declared horse slaughter to be illegal,"� adds Heyde. "While horses will no longer be butchered in the U.S. they can be hauled under appalling conditions to a similarly brutal death in plants across the U.S. border. Congress must pass federal legislation to extend the protections to all horses and to send a clear message to those few who profit from this barbaric trade."

Currently pending in Congress are H.R. 503 and its Senate companion measure, S. 311, which would ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses outside of the United States for slaughter.

The Society for Animal Protective Legislation, the Animal Welfare Institute's legislative arm, is the unsurpassed leader in obtaining laws to benefit animals in need, including the protection of domestic and wild horses.

More information is available at
For More Information Contact:
Chris Heyde (703) 836-4300

It was a long time coming, and the foreign horsemeat industry is certainly not going to take this laying down, but at least for now, the Federal Government is following the laws of the land. Perhaps now the politicians will pay attention to the will of the American people, and ban any activities in the U.S. that facilitate this industry.

American horses are not just a cheap source of meat for European tables. Aside from the fact that our horses are generally considered companion animals here in the U.S., and that we do not eat our companions, there is the additional issue of these auction horses not having been raised (or even sold) as meat animals. There are no regulations or controls in place to ensure that America horsemeat is safe to eat. The horses are not inspected and there are no controls over what drugs, supplements, etc., these horses are given prior to slaughter. Often there is no history whatsoever on these horses. Their background prior to arriving at auction is completely unknown. The American people have said they do not wish to support this industry, some because they feel this industry is cruel, some because they do not want the pollution associated with the slaughterhouses, and some because they feel there are clear problems with the way this industry is run. Horses are the only unregulated meat animals in the U.S. In order to ensure the safety of the horsemeat produced here in the U.S. we would need to put in place the same controls and safeguards that we require with any other meat animal. But the American people have made it clear they do not want to support this industry.

If people in other countries want to eat horsemeat, then they should be free to do so. And they are, no one is stopping them from raising and slaughtering horses in in their own countries, or anywhere else they want as long as it is not here in the U.S. These are foreign corporations serving foreign markets. Why do the need to buy and butcher American horses here in the U.S.? Do foreign consumers even know what the sources are for their horsemeat? Do they know they are eating meat from unregulated animals? Do they know that the safety of that meat can not be verified, and that the animals and meat are not even inspected? Many have started eating horsemeat in response to mad cow disease. How would they feel if they knew their horsemeat suppliers are selling them meat from animals whose health and history is unknown? Who will they blame if someone dies from eating contaminated American horsemeat?

We have stopped the slaughter here in the US (at least for now), but there is nothing to prevent the transporting of American horses on American roads to foreign countries for the purpose of slaughtering for human consumption. American tax dollars pay for American roads, and Americans have made it clear they do not want to subsidize the transport of American horses on American roads for slaughter for foreign tables. Let's put a stop to this.