Poet and author Pam Brown once said, “A horse is the projection of people’s dreams about themselves – strong, powerful, and beautiful – and it has the capability of giving us an escape from our mundane existence.” Ms. Brown’s words, I believe, are an accurate assessment of why so many Americans revere the Equus caballus.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for many other horses in the U.S., due to the lucrative overseas market for horse meat. Horses are being sold at livestock auctions with no restrictions on how the horses purchased can be used. Additionally, wild horses, a symbol of our American west, are being rounded up and sold under the guise of population control. Already the population of wild horses has decreased by 25,000 in the last thirty-five yeas.
Each year in the three foreign-owned U.S. horse-slaughter houses, 90,000 horses are slaughtered and processed as food for use in markets throughout Europe and Asia. Yet, Americans do not eat horse meat. After all, the horse is more than just an animal to our country. It is a beloved literary figure, a character in a movie and a symbol of adventure. Why then, do we allow the slaughter of our horses for overseas consumption?
The answer is that economic interests are trumping public attitudes. But there are ways to change the current status quo. Legislation is working its way through Congress with support and guidance from the Humane Society of the U.S. that would prevent horses from being sold for use as food. Known as the “American Horse Slaughter Protection Act” (H.R. 503), this legislation would ban the sale or transfer of horses for consumption and also prevent the round up of wild horses for slaughter.
As an original cosponsor of this bill, I am a strong supporter of the effort to protect horses throughout our country. Currently 194 Congress members have cosponsored the legislation, building expectations that the House of Representatives may consider H.R. 503 this summer.
It will take significant public pressure to ensure that these majestic creatures are not killed and sold for food. If you care about horses, I urge you to tell your friends or relatives throughout Virginia and the country to contact their representative to support an end to horse slaughter.