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The Horse Ban & The Law Of Unintended Consequences

The banning of horse slaughter in the U.S. was one of those emotional ideas everyone agreed with initially and that rather handily passed into law. Unfortunately, the experts were right. Since the nation’s three horse-slaughter plants were closed by the pulling of federal inspection services last year, horse prices have fallen throughout the system, and neglect has skyrocketed as people have no way of disposing of unwanted animals.

This week, the Livestock Marketing Association (LMA), as part of its legislative efforts, called on members of Congress to change the law. LMA President Jim Santomaso said the industry is seeing “more and more reports of abandoned horses, and of horses turned out and left to starve, because owners can’t afford their upkeep, or have the means to properly dispose of them.” Santomaso, the operator of a Sterling, CO market, said LMA members report that horses are being left at their facilities when they don’t sell, “because their owners don’t want them back.”

Of course, the Humane Society of the U.S. looks to take the suffering even further, seeking legislation that would also ban the transport of horses to outside countries for slaughter. I suppose a bright side to all this is that the “wild” horse population stands to get a big new infusion of genetics, as people increasingly turn horses they can’t care for out onto public lands.