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May 01, 2009

Retire Slaughter of Racehorses

There’s been no stronger critic in the press of business-as-usual in the horse industry than New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden, who received a Genesis Award this year for his commentaries on the subject in 2008. Today, he tackled the issue again in his Sports section column, focusing his readers on the biggest humane issue in the horse racing world: horse slaughter.

Racehorse on track
© iStockphoto

Yesterday, I wrote about the story from the Times reporter Joe Drape about drugging issues—a corrosive practice that begs for reform. But Rhoden is correct that more horses die from being conscripted into the slaughter industry than die of breakdowns, early-age racing, or other problems with the thoroughbred industry. In another Times piece, Jillian Dunham tells of Madeleine Pickens’ departure from the sport and her championing of anti-slaughter efforts after learning about the sordid fate of outcasts from the racing world.

In past years, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association has supported federal legislation to ban slaughter. As the Congress gets ready to address this issue again—thanks to the determined leadership of Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Dan Burton (R-Ind.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) who have introduced H.R. 503 in the House and Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) who introduced S. 727—the industry’s collaboration with The HSUS and other humane groups is more important than ever. There are approximately 100,000 horses being shipped long distances to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico, and there’s just no logical defense for the inhumane treatment of these animals.

Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a separate bill, H.R. 1018, by Committee Chairman Rahall and Rep. Raul Grijavla (D-Ariz.), to provide greater protections for wild horses. That’s a critical bill and we hope the full House takes up the bill soon. But we have a two-front battle on our hands and we must also pass H.R. 503 and S. 727, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act.

Make sure you sign up at www.humanesociety.org to get our email alerts and you’ll know when Congressional action on these issues is imminent. But it’s always a good time to urge your U.S. Representative to back H.R. 1018 and H.R. 503 and to urge your Senators to cosponsor S. 727.

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