Thursday, January 22, 2009
I hope that everyone finds the guide helpful and useful as the new session of Congress begins. It is written for equine welfare advocates, but others may find it useful if they are interested in any type of legislation. Obviously I couldn't write something that will answer every single question, but I hope that it will answer most and I stand ready to answer any questions that the guide doesn't address. Within reason of course!
The Guide is only available right now in PDF format, but should be available in other formats soon. I just wanted to get it out as soon as possible for the new session. You can download it by going to the AHDF website or to get it quicker download it directly by clicking here.
Please don't forget to support the AHDF when you visit our site. Much of our efforts are limited by our budget, even though we are 100% staffed by volunteers and have limited overhead. All donations are tax deductible as we are a recognized 501(c) 3 organization. If you make a donation and need a receipt for your donation please let us know when you make the donation as we only provide receipts on request.
First is HR 503 which would prohibit the transport of equine for the purpose of slaughter or the possession of horse flesh for the purpose of human consumption. It currently has 60 cosponsors with Rep Conyers as the sponsor. It has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
The AHDF fully supports this bill and its humane agenda as we have since the first horse slaughter ban bill. It would protect horses from going to an inhumane death in Canada and Mexico and would prevent the opening of horse slaughter plants in the United States.
Second, is HR 305 which would prohibit the use of double decker trailers in transporting equine. It does NOT prohibit the use of these trailers for other animals, just horses, hence the title Horse Transportation Safety Act. The bill currently has 2 cosponsors and has been assigned to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
The USDA has ruled that Double Decker (DD) trailers cannot be modified or made humane for the use in transporting horses and have regulations prohibiting the use of them in transporting horses. I'm sure that everyone can agree that this agency can’t be considered overly humane, so their decision can be viewed as fair. The USDA has tried to enforce this but have been hindered by a loophole that they have been attempting to correct. Even those supporting the slaughter of horses agree that they are unsafe for horses.
The reasons these trailers are bad for horse is simple. Horses hold their heads upright and these trailers, designed for shorter necked animals, do no allow them to raise their heads properly. Horses transported with their heads lowered experience respiratory difficulties and tend to develop shipping fever. For the trailer to be modified to carry horses on multiple levels it would exceed height restrictions.
These trailers, when involved in accidents, cause more damage and take MUCH longer to “clean up” than other trailer accidents. Usually it runs into 6-10 hours where the roadway is blocked, and the use of hundreds of man hours and that is if they have the proper training. That is because of the number of animals involved. The documented accidents (which do appear, at least to rational folks, to happen far too frequently) have a death rate of 80% compared to 25% of the horses hauled in trailers designed for horses. These trailers are more top heavy than other trailers on the road. Also, most hauling to slaughter are usually also overweight and avoid weigh stations and DOT inspections making them even more dangerous to EVERY driver on the road with them. All accidents involving these trailers have resulted in multiple citations.
The AHDF does support the bill, but it isn’t the answer to all the problems that we have with horse slaughter. It wouldn’t change the fact that horses going to slaughter can be transported more than 24 hours without food or water. It wouldn’t stop the transport of horses into Canada and Mexico where the horses are treated inhumanely both before and during slaughter. This bill ONLY stops the use of these trailers which are inhumane for the transport of horses.
Third, soon a bill will be introduced to protect our nation's wild horses and burros. The text of the bill and what it proposes is not yet available. However, we expect it to restore the protections stripped away by the infamous "Burns Amendment". The AHDF has provided commentary on the bill and are anxiously awaiting the final text the sponsor chooses. As soon as a bill number and text are available we will post it. We fully expect to support the bill.
If you would like to see if your Representative is a cosponsor you can go to Thomas and enter the bill number and then click on Cosponsors. We will provide updates on the bills as they become available. If you are reading this post online at Hooflinks please subscribe to the blog to get the updates.
January 14, 2009
Mr. CONYERS (for himself, Mr. BURTON of Indiana, Mr. ACKERMAN, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. BILBRAY, Mrs. BONO MACK, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. BROWN of South Carolina, Mr. CAPUANO, Mr. CASTLE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. CUMMINGS, Mr. DEFAZIO, Mr. DELAHUNT, Ms. DELAURO, Mr. GALLEGLY, Mr. GERLACH, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. INGLIS, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. JONES, Mr. KING of New York, Mr. KIRK, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. LOBIONDO, Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California, Mrs. MALONEY, Mrs. MCCARTHY of New York, Mr. MCCOTTER, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Mr. MITCHELL, Ms. MOORE of Wisconsin, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania, Mr. NADLER of New York, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. PLATTS, Mr. RAHALL, Mr. RANGEL, Mr. ROTHMAN of New Jersey, Mr. RUPPERSBERGER, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. SHERMAN, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Ms. SUTTON, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Ms. WATSON, Mr. WEXLER, Mr. WHITFIELD, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. WU, and Mr. YOUNG of Florida) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
- 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 `Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009'.
SEC. 2. SLAUGHTER OF HORSES FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.
- (a) In General- Chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`Sec. 50. Slaughter of horses for human consumption
- `(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly--
- `(1) possesses, ships, transports, purchases, sells, delivers, or receives, in or affecting interstate commerce or foreign commerce, any horse with the intent that it is to be slaughtered for human consumption; or
- `(2) possesses, ships, transports, purchases, sells, delivers, or receives, in or affecting interstate commerce or foreign commerce, any horse flesh or carcass or part of a carcass, with the intent that it is to be used for human consumption;
- shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years or both.
- `(b) If--
- `(1) the defendant engages in conduct that would otherwise constitute an offense under subsection (a);
- `(2) the defendant has no prior conviction under this section; and
- `(3) the conduct involves less than five horses or less than 2000 pounds of horse flesh or carcass or part of a carcass;
- the defendant shall, instead of being punished under that subsection, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
- `(c) As used in this section, the term `horse' means any member of the family Equidae.'.
- (b) Clerical Amendment- The table of sections for chapter 3 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:
January 8, 2009
Mr. KIRK (for himself, Mr. COHEN, and Mr. WHITFIELD) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
- 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 `Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009'.
SEC. 2. TRANSPORTATION OF HORSES.
- (a) In General- Chapter 805 of title 49, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`Sec. 80505. Transportation of horses
- `(a) Prohibition- No person may transport, or cause to be transported, a horse from a place in a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States through or to a place in another State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.
- `(b) Civil Penalty- A person that knowingly violates this section is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of at least $100 but not more than $500 for each violation. A separate violation occurs under this section for each horse that is transported, or caused to be transported, in violation of this section. On learning of a violation, the Attorney General shall bring a civil action to collect the penalty in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which the violation occurred or the defendant resides or does business.
- `(c) Motor Vehicle Defined- In this section, the term `motor vehicle' means a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public highways, but does not include a vehicle operated exclusively on a rail or rails.
- `(d) Relationship to Other Laws- The penalty provided under this section shall be in addition to a penalty or remedy available under any other law or common law.'.
- (b) Conforming Amendment- The analysis for such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following:
- `80505. Transportation of horses.'.
One of the major stumbling blocks for most humane organizations is a misconception about the difference between animal rights advocates and animal welfare organizations. While one group enjoys a good reputation, the other has a shady and somewhat sordid past and sometimes employ fanatical means to accomplish their goal(s).
The largest and best-known animal rights group is PETA. In its past history, PETA has employed tactics that are not within social norms and at times border on illegal. Other groups have employed tactics that are illegal and are damaging to society and property and even ultimately their cause. PETA and other animal rights groups believe that animals, like humans, have certain rights. Conversely, animal welfare organizations have a solid and reputable history, but may not be as well known because of their moderate modus operandi. The ASPCA began when a group of socially conscious people gathered to improve life for working horses and children. Many other similar groups as well as local chapters, mimicked ASPCA’s way of doing business. These groups believe that there are humane ways to treat animals while they are doing their jobs (e.g., movie production, law enforcement, Army support, racing, and ranching and farm production support). Most of their membership are animal owners, who believe that animals are a useful part of our lives, enjoy animal events and believe that humans are the caretakers of animals.
The majority of people who support a ban on horse slaughter are animal welfare advocates and horse owners. While those involved with animal rights groups may be aware of the issue of horse slaughter, they are not actively involved in the fight to end horse slaughter. They are not interested in working with those who race horses, train horses or even own them. Animal rights groups believe that horses should all be “returned” to the wild, while animal welfare advocates believe that certain animals are companion and work animals and that they serve a useful, intended and respected place in society. Specifically, they, along with the American public, admire and revere horses as special to our heritage and culture.
There is a subset of animal welfare groups, those that specifically deal with horses. The majority of these groups supports a ban on slaughter and includes the American Horse Defense Fund, equine rescues nationwide, and numerous other equine interest groups. These groups are specifically interested in the welfare and care of horses and most have day-to-day interactions with horses and are staffed by horse owners. These groups are trained in spotting and protecting equine from abuse and see horse slaughter as a form of equine abuse. They support a ban as a way to end the abuse. Many of these groups are not political and don’t usually get involved with political debate, but they have stepped forward and are active in the fight to ban horse slaughter.
While Congress often gets letters and calls from members of the Humane Society of the US and are often contacted by livestock producers, there is a segment of the population that Congress is hearing from on this issue that don’t fit the normal mode. These people are the average person who has weighed the facts and determined that horse slaughter is inhumane and should be illegal. Classifying them all as animal rights activists is not accurate or fair. This issue is about the few speaking for the silent majority on an issue that is neither well known or sexy, in fact the brutality of the methods used to slaughter horses (different and less humane than that of livestock) is not fit for the evening news nor something that parents want to share with their children about our present society, the one that has a long history of protecting and held in the highest regard.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
That doesn't mean the Obama administration won't hear your voice. It just means that the issues won't get the added support from change.org. The Obama administration does have their own site where questions can be proposed, voted on and answered. Currently, there are about 75-80 horse related questions posted that could use votes. Some are supportive of protecting the wild horses and banning horse slaughter and some are opposed. I think that everyone is smart enough to read and decide for themselves how to vote. I can say that on some topics, specifically the horse slaughter issue, the votes are running evenly between supporting and opposing.
If you are interested in voting or even proposing your own question you should go to http://change.gov/page/content/openforquestions20081229/ put "horse" into the Search Questions box and you will see every question that mentions horses. Of course, you can also read and vote on other very interesting questions facing the administration as well, so it is a great tool to be heard.
The administration will answer the questions soon, so votes are needed. You will need to register to vote. This is a great opportunity to have your voice heard by an incoming administration and a way to advance our causes as a new president takes office.