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February 12, 2013

Message to Oklahoma Lawmakers: No Future in Horse Slaughter Business

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Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS/FFA

Oklahoma was one of the last states to outlaw cockfighting (a feat finally accomplished thanks to an HSUS ballot initiative there about a decade ago), but it was one of the first states to outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption. It is one of more than half a dozen states that forbid the operation of commercial enterprises that gather up horses and then butcher them for human consumption. Given that our nation was settled on the back of a horse, and there’s never been a tradition of eating horse meat in this country, the state’s no-slaughter policy was a quintessentially patriotic act, and one that didn’t require much sacrifice.

Now, there are Oklahoma lawmakers who want to upend this policy and use a captive-bolt gun on the descendants of Trigger. Yesterday, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bill to allow horse slaughter plants to operate, but to continue the ban on eating horse meat in Oklahoma. That’s a strange sort of dichotomy – with state leaders saying it’s okay to engage in this activity, but we don’t want our people participating in the consumption of the end product of the enterprise. The Tulsa World condemned the legislation in an editorial today.

Ironically, there is a firestorm of protest in the main economic market for North American horse meat: Europe. There, it has come to light that horse meat has been commingled with beef products without proper labeling. Most Europeans have no interest in eating horses, and they don’t like the duplicity of the people behind these developments.

It is my hope that Europeans will shut down the pipeline of horse meat coming from North America. In addition to the transport and killing being inhumane and horse meat purveyors piggybacking on demand for other animal products, the end product is unsafe. Horses are not raised for food, so throughout their lifetimes – whether on the track, in the show ring or even in a pasture – they are injected with all manner of drugs not suited for human consumption.

If Oklahoma lawmakers want economic development, opening up a horse slaughter business is not the way to go. The American public has turned against it, and right now, the European Union is mired in a horse meat scandal causing questions about the entire industry. You cannot have slaughterhouses without food safety standards compliance or a viable market for the product.

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