Senator John Ensign (R-NV) has introduced the Virgie S. Arden American Horse
Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 1915) in the Senate to prohibit the slaughter
of horses for human consumption. Co-sponsors include Senators Mary Landrieu
(D-LA), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Trent Lott (R-MS), Joseph
Lieberman (D-CT), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jim DeMint
(R-SC). The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science
and Transportation.

Bill Amends the Horse Protection Act

The legislation is a companion bill to the House bill (H.R. 503). Like the
House measure, the bill would amend the Horse Protection Act (HPA), which
was enacted in 1970 to prohibit the showing, sale, or transporting for show
or sale, of horses that have been subjected to a painful process known as
³soring² to accentuate their gait. The Animal & Plant Inspection Service
(APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforces the HPA.

The legislation provides that Congress finds, among other things, that:

*    Horses play a vital role in the collective experience of the U.S. and
deserve protection and compassion;
*    Horses are domestic animals that are used primarily for recreation,
pleasure, and sport;
*    Individuals selling horses or other equines at auctions are seldom
aware that the animals may be bought for the purpose of being slaughtered
for human consumption.

Prohibitions and Penalties in the Bill

The bill would amend the HPA to prohibit ³the shipping, transporting,
moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation
of any horse or other equines to be for slaughter for human consumption.²
Such activities would be made a violation of the HPA and subject individuals
to penalties of up to $3,000 and/or one year in jail for the first offense
and up to $5,000 and/or two years in jail for a second offense. An offender
may also be subject to civil penalties of $2,000 for each violation.

The legislation also gives the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to
³detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence² any horse which
the Secretary has ³probable cause to believe is being shipped, transported,
moved, delivered, received, possessed, purchased, sold, or donated in
violation of² the prohibitions.

The bill authorizes $5 million for enforcement of the Act.