Federal lawmakers reintroducing bill to ban horse slaughter 

The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act would permanently ban horse slaughter in the U.S. and end the export of horses for slaughter abroad.

On May 19, 2021, federal lawmakers reintroduced legislation to permanently ban horse slaughter in the United States and end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad. Sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act is supported by leading animal welfare groups, including the ASPCA®, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the Humane Society of the United States.

“For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride,” says Congresswoman Schakowsky. “They are our companions, work partners, entertainers, and athletes. With such a special place in our nation’s history it’s beyond time that we end the brutal practice of slaughtering these majestic creatures as food for humans.”

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in America,” says Congressman Buchanan. “I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for the same purpose.”

“Each year, a huge number of American horses are shipped to foreign slaughterhouses to be butchered under shockingly inhumane conditions,” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Some are former racehorses who have been recently dosed with drugs considered unsafe for human consumption. The SAFE Act would ensure that both horses and people are protected. We are grateful to Congresswoman Schakowsky and Congressman Buchanan for their dedication to ending the slaughter of horses for human consumption.”

In recent years, the number of American horses shipped to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries has dropped, making this an opportune time for Congress to close this legal loophole that causes so much suffering. Last year, over 35,000 horses were exported for slaughter, and research published in 2017 found that 2.3 million Americans have the interest and resources to adopt a horse. This means that every horse who might have been sent to slaughter could have a home waiting, if given the opportunity to find it.

The SAFE Act would also protect the public from dangerous American horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the common, unregulated administration of drugs given to horses. Horses are not raised for food and are routinely given drugs and chemical treatments that are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in food items because of their toxicity to humans if consumed. Products routinely used to care for horses, such as fly repellent, pain medications, and wormers, contain banned, toxic ingredients that are dangerous to humans.

The ASPCA encourages the public to contact their U.S. representatives to urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act, and secure its swift passage, to protect horses, their caregivers, and consumers.