The horribly misguided and misleadingly named Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 6598), a bill which would criminalize the sale and transportation of horses for the purposes of slaughter, was approved and recommended to the House of Representatives by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill passed by a voice vote. The Committee is finalizing its report for submission to the Rules Committee.
Multiple amendments intended to lessen the frightful negative impact the bill would have on horse welfare were defeated along largely partisan lines. H.R. 6598 was introduced by Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) under the guise of protecting horse welfare, but it will produce unintended and inhumane consequences. Since legislative and legal maneuvers at the state level have created a de facto ban on horse processing in our nation, the number of abandoned, neglected, and starving horses has drastically increased. H.R. 6598 will exacerbate the already growing problem of neglected and unwanted horses in America.
The majority of horses processed for slaughter in the United States were no longer viable for their intended use, unmanageable, or simply unwanted by their owners. These horses were sold at auction with some going to horse processing plants. The plants, when in operation, provided humane euthanasia as dictated by the Humane Slaughter Act.
This bill would severely limit the rights of owners to manage their private property and subject horse owners to criminal prosecution should they sell or transport their horses for processing for human consumption, even if that is not their intention.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), among many others, oppose this fatally flawed bill. House Agriculture Committee members continue to argue that this bill is within that committee's jurisdiction. The Judiciary Committee has two days to report the bill out, so the bill could potentially reach the House floor on Friday, or it could be attached to any bill moving through for a vote.