The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) have launched a national partnership aimed at helping American horses in need by finding them homes on farms operated by NBFA members. The announcement of the Project Wanted Horse partnership comes as Congress considers the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, and essentially disproves bill opponents’ arguments that the campaign to end horse slaughter has resulted in a glut of unwanted horses in the U.S. and that slaughter is therefore necessary.
While horse slaughter no longer occurs in the U.S., in 2007, more than 130,000 American horses were exported to Canada and Mexico where they were killed, their meat processed and exported for human consumption in Europe and Asia. In many cases, the animals are acquired under false pretense and killed by brutal methods that are outlawed in the U.S.
“One of the horse slaughter industry’s main arguments is that these horses are unwanted and have no homes to go to. Today, we’re standing up and standing together to demonstrate that this is simply untrue,” said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute. “The coming together of our national organizations sends a significant message that these horses are valued and wanted. In making this announcement, we call on others, like the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners and National Farm Bureau, to join our cause.”
“Having seen the recent HBO ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ segment on horse slaughtering, I had no choice but to act,” said Dr. John Boyd, founder and president of the NBFA. “Horse slaughter, in all circumstances, is a violent, brutal process. Horses play an important role in our members’ lives, not just because of their role on the farm, but because they are often part of our families. By joining the Animal Welfare Institute, we hope to end, once and for all, the transportation and brutal killing of these animals for human consumption.”
More specifically, Project Wanted Horse will ensure that horses rescued by equine protection organizations from the slaughter pipeline, or those saved from an abusive situation, are placed on the farms operated by NBFA’s 94,000 members across the country. The Animal Welfare Institute will oversee the placement of horses with NBFA members. Each placed animal will be accompanied by a legally binding contract ensuring quality lifetime care and that they will not be resold only to end up in the slaughter pipeline. Project Wanted Horse is not intended to be a dumping ground for irresponsible owners or those wanting to thin their herds, but instead, provides a place for those horses truly in need of a home. Owning a horse is a significant responsibility that must not be entered into lightly.
Congress is currently considering the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (S. 311/ H.R. 503), which would outlaw the transportation of horses either domestically or internationally for slaughter. The legislation is sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The Senate bill, S.311 has 38 cosponsors including presidential contenders John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) while the House bill, H.R. 503, has 204 cosponsors.