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Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (Introduced in Senate)

S 1915 IS

109th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1915

To amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

October 25, 2005

Mr. ENSIGN (for himself, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. BYRD, Mr. SPECTER, Mr. LOTT, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. LEVIN, and Mr. DEMINT) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


A BILL

To amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act'.

SEC. 2. PROHIBITION ON SHIPPING, TRANSPORTING, MOVING, DELIVERING, RECEIVING, POSSESSING, PURCHASING, SELLING, OR DONATION OF HORSES AND OTHER EQUINES FOR SLAUGHTER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

    (a) Definitions- Section 2 of the Horse Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1821) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) as paragraphs (2), (3), (5), and (6), respectively;

      (2) by inserting before paragraph (2) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) the following:

      `(1) The term `human consumption' means ingestion by people as a source of food.'; and

      (3) by inserting after paragraph (3) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) the following:

      `(4) The term `slaughter' means the killing of 1 or more horses or other equines with the intent to sell or trade the flesh for human consumption.'.

    (b) Findings- Section 3 of the Horse Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1822) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraphs (1) through (5) as paragraphs (6) through (10), respectively;

      (2) by adding before paragraph (6) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) the following:

      `(1) horses and other equines play a vital role in the collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion;

      `(2) horses and other equines are domestic animals that are used primarily for recreation, pleasure, and sport;

      `(3) unlike cows, pigs, and many other animals, horses and other equines are not raised for the purpose of being slaughtered for human consumption;

      `(4) 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;

      `(5) the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture has found that horses and other equines cannot be safely and humanely transported in double deck trailers;'; and

      (3) by striking paragraph (8) (as redesignated by paragraph (1)) and inserting the following:

      `(8) the movement, showing, exhibition, or sale of sore horses in intrastate commerce, and the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation in intrastate commerce of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, adversely affect and burden interstate and foreign commerce;'.

    (c) Prohibition- Section 5 of the Horse Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1824) is amended--

      (1) by redesignating paragraphs (8) through (11) as paragraphs (9) through (12), respectively; and

      (2) by inserting after paragraph 7 the following:

      `(8) The shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of any horse or other equine to be slaughtered for human consumption.'.

    (d) Authority to Detain- Section 6(e) of the Horse Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1825(e)) is amended--

      (1) by striking the first sentence of paragraph (1);

      (2) by redesignating paragraphs (1) and (2) and as paragraphs (2) and (3), respectively; and

      (3) by inserting before paragraph (2) (as redesignated by paragraph (2)) the following:

    `(1) The Secretary may detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence--

      `(A) any horse at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction that is sore or that the Secretary has probable cause to believe is sore; and

      `(B) any horse or other equine that the Secretary has probable cause to believe is being shipped, transported, moved, delivered, received, possessed, purchased, sold, or donated in violation of section 5(8).'.

    (e) Authorization of Appropriations- Section 12 of the Horse Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1831) is amended by striking `$500,000' and inserting `$5,000,000'.

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STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - October 25, 2005)

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   By Mr. ENSIGN (for himself, Ms. Landrieu, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Specter, Mr. Lott, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Levin, and Mr. DeMint):

   S. 1915. A bill to amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

   Mr. ENSIGN. Mr. President, I rise along with my colleagues, Senators Landrieu, Byrd, Specter, Lott, Lieberman, Inouye, Levin, and DeMint, in order to introduce the Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

   As a veterinarian, I am well aware of the love that Americans have for their horses. Much of our Nation's early history and culture is associated with these animals. We think of George Washington's horses and the legend of Paul Revere's ride and the Pony Express. More recently, we were reminded of how the Depression Era race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral

[Page: S11825]  GPO's PDF

raised the spirit of our Nation during desperate times.

   While horses in the United States are not raised for food, last year alone more than 65,000 horses were slaughtered in the United States for human consumption abroad. Tens of thousands more were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter there. Work horses, race horses, and even pet horses, many of them young and healthy, are slaughtered for human consumption in Europe and Asia, where the meat is sold as a high-end delicacy. Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support an end to this practice. This sentiment was reflected in the Senate's recent 69-28 vote to prohibit the use of Federal funds to facilitate horse slaughter. The House of Representatives passed identical legislation by a similarly bipartisan vote in June.

   Often, owners who sell their horses at auction are unaware that their horses may well be on their way to one of the three remaining slaughterhouses in America where horses are killed for human consumption. These slaughterhouses are foreign-owned and the product is shipped abroad, as are the profits.

   While several States are attempting to address the concerns of citizens regarding the tens of thousands of horses going to slaughter each year, the absence of Federal law creates a loophole through which the slaughter can continue. Some States have prohibited the use of double-deck cattle trailers to move horses to slaughter. Texas, which is home to two of the three slaughter plants, has had a law in place since 1949 to effectively prohibit horse slaughter for human consumption. Yet the district attorneys with jurisdiction over the plants have been unable to prosecute these foreign companies, and horses continue to be slaughtered. To end this situation, we must have a Federal law that prohibits sending horses within States, across State lines, or over our domestic borders for the purpose of slaughtering them for human consumption. We can effectively achieve this goal by passing the Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

   Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate the horse slaughter trade--including intrastate shipment--because such trade has a substantial impact on interstate and international commerce. Horses are regularly moved across State lines to be slaughtered in the three remaining horse slaughter plants--one in Illinois--and the other two in Texas. Others are exported across the U.S. border to Canada and Mexico for slaughter there. Even the meat of slaughtered horses is eventually moved across State lines or our domestic borders for sale outside of the United States. Our bill will end this practice.

   I know that some people have expressed concerns about what will happen to horses if their slaughter is ended. Many of these horses will be sold to a new owner, kept longer by their original owner, or euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. Others will be cared for by the horse rescue community, and efforts are now underway to standardize practices in this ever-growing sector. Guidelines for these rescue organizations have been developed by the animal protection community and embraced by sanctuaries across the country.

   Some people have questioned whether this law will result in the abuse and neglect of unwanted horses. Thankfully, statistics do not support this claim at all. Recently released figures show that the number of abuse cases dropped significantly in Illinois from 2002 to 2004, the period in which the State's only horse slaughtering facility was closed due to fire. Also, since California passed a law banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption, there has been no discernible increase in cruelty and neglect cases in the state.

   Furthermore, it is currently illegal to ``turn out,'' neglect, or starve a horse, so this bill will not result in an increased number of orphaned horses in the United States. If a person attempts to turn his or her horses out, under current law, animal control agents will be able to enforce humane laws. As I stated before, this bill seeks only to end the slaughter of horses for human consumption. If a person wishes to put an animal down, it costs about $225 to have the horse euthanized by a licensed veterinarian and disposed of--a fraction of what it costs to keep a horse as a companion or a work animal. That cost is not too big a burden to bear when no other options are available.

   The time for a strong federal law ending this slaughter is now. This bill does not target other forms of slaughter, rendering, or euthanasia, rather it focuses solely on the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. The House version of this bill, H.R. 5031, currently has more than 120 cosponsors. Please join Senator Landrieu and me in cosponsoring the Virgie S. Arden American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

   Mr. President, I yield the floor.

   

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