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July 14, 2009 03:40 PM ET | Bonnie Erbe
By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Today is Save the Horses Day (my phrase) on Capitol Hill for equine enthusiasts nationwide. The Humane Society and Animal Welfare Institute have invited horse lovers and rescue operations from across the country to convene at the U.S. Capitol to lobby their House members and Senators to support a bill that would ban the transport of U.S. horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
I covered the group's breakfast session in the Russell Senate Office Building where Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) addressed the crowd. She explained her life-long love of horses and why she's one of four co-authors (along with Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.)) of a bill, S-727/H.R. 503, to ban transport for horse slaughter.
Several years ago the last horse slaughterhouse in the U.S. was shuttered. But the bloody doors flew wide open at Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses, waiting for the outflow of horses shipped from the United States. Transport of these mostly healthy, mostly young (average age: 7) horses in crowded, open trailers for days, almost always without food or water, is horrible enough. Then, they are lined up where untrained low-wage workers shoot bolts into their brains. The horses can take hours to die and the bolts frequently miss. You could not imagine a more inhumane fate.
Both groups discussed the "myth" of the unwanted horse. So-called killer buyers are making so much money off of horses' misery, they now outbid rescue groups trying to save the horses.
The bill, by the way, encourages as an alternative to transport, humane euthanization here in the U.S. by gunshot or sedation. I don't agree with that portion of the bill, but gun crazed horse killers can't complain the bill robs them of the power to kill their own horses. Unfortunately, it does not. What they lose by killing the horses themselves is the $400 fee the horse would bring at auction. And if they kill the horse legally, they usually have to pay something to dispose of the remains.