Groups push to restart horse slaughter in US

Author:
Updated:
Original:

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Several groups are pushing to renew the slaughter of horses in the U.S., possibly starting in Oregon.

Proponents are pushing Congress to introduce a bill to allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resume inspecting horse meat for human consumption.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs also are considering building a slaughter and processing facility – possibly for pet food – on their reservation north of Madras.

The project was recommended last spring by a coalition of Northwest tribes.

The success of either idea is far from a done deal, however.

A congressional spokesman says bills that favor the slaughtering of horses face a chilly reception.

And a tribal spokesman says it’s too early to say much about a reservation slaughter facility.

Supporters of horse slaughters say it’s a way to deal with tens of thousands of unwanted horses. Factors in the glut include uncontrolled breeding, closure of the last U.S. horse-processing plants and an economy that left many owners unable to pay for feed and care.

“We think it is very fair and accurate to say there are probably 100,000 horses that would go to processing today” if a plant were available, said Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis, a rancher in favor if reinstating horse slaughtering.

Animal-rights advocates say slaughters are inhumane and repugnant.

“This is a predatory business,” said Chris Heyde, spokesman for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C., who called reports of horse abandonment exaggerated. “It is making a political game out of a serious issue.”

Until two years ago, as many as 100,000 horses were killed annually in the U.S. for meat for foreign markets.

A federal court ruling in 2007 closed the nation’s last horse-processing plant – Cavel International in DeKalb, Ill. – on the heels of two Texas closures resulting from a state decision to enforce a 1949 ban on horse-meat facilities.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.