A few days ago, July 4, we celebrated our ability to live independently and pursue happiness. No image better symbolizes that idea than a horse running across the open plains, or even in her own pasture at home. As we watch a horse run, something magical happens inside us. We feel their joy as they buck and frolic, and we sense their majestic spirits in the flare of their nostrils and their manes whipping in the wind.
The ASPCA has been protecting our nation’s horses for over 150 years, but with this new administration we are in uncharted territory. Both our domestic and wild horses are in serious danger. The next two weeks will be pivotal in determining the future of horses in this country.
Most Americans are shocked to find out that commercial horse slaughter is not illegal in the United States. The reason that we don’t have operating horse slaughterhouses is because Congress has, for most of the past decade, kept them at bay by barring the use of tax dollars to inspect horse meat or horse slaughter facilities. The time for Congress to renew that action is upon us once more, and the outcome is far from certain.
Many members of Congress understand that it is fiscally irresponsible to spend tax dollars to inspect a food product that Americans do not consume. But there is extreme pressure to re-open slaughter facilities for horses—a few greedy individuals stand to profit from it, and they want Congress to open the corral for the kill buyers. Celebrities are speaking out against slaughter, but we also need your help to keep the slaughterhouses closed. The vote may hang on a single legislator, so it is crucial that they hear that equine welfare is a priority for constituents.
Domestic horses are not the only ones who must fear for their lives. The new administration’s budget proposal includes the directive to kill our federally protected wild horses, saying they want every tool available to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), including shooting healthy horses and selling horses to slaughter. The Department of the Interior is planning to make $4 million from selling our wild horses and burros to kill buyers. If they can’t be slaughtered here, they’ll be shipped to Mexico and Canada. If this senseless plan goes into effect, thousands of these icons of the American West will end up on foreign dinner plates. Other scientifically backed methods of herd management are available, effective and would save the BLM millions of dollars. Congress is being pressured from slaughter proponents, and needs to hear from their constituents that this grisly plan is not acceptable to the American people.
In the years to come, we’ll look back on July 2017 as the month that determined the fate of our horses. We must hold our representatives accountable for their decisions and must not let our horses, who built this country and who provide us with service and companionship to this day, fall between the cracks. Every U.S. citizen must raise their voice now. You can influence this process, and all it takes is sending a quick message to your legislators saying that horse slaughter is un-American and we will not stand for it.
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