Update March 19, 2008: Chief of Staff James Christoferson called Lucille Matte and apologized profusely for the conduct of the staff during her visit to Sen. Hutchison’s office on March 5. But the senator still has not signed on as a co-sponsor to this important bill, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.
Original report: This bill would amend the Horse Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1821 and end the "shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation in interstate or foreign commerce of any horse or other equine [for] slaughter for human consumption".
Sen. Hutchison voted against the bill last year when it was before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. But that committee passed the bill anyway by a vote of 15-7.
Curiously, Sen. Hutchison previously supported a ban on horse slaughter. Why the change? Her spokesperson, Marc Short, claims she does not think it is necessary to address the issue on a federal level.
But at this point only the federal government can stop American horses from being slaughtered. Horse slaughter for human consumption has been shut down in the U.S. by federal court decisions; it is also illegal in both Texas and Illinois, where the 3 U.S. horse slaughter houses were located.
Horses, however, can still be transported to Mexico and Canada and other countries for slaughter. This federal bill, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, H.R. 503/S.B. 311, is essential to shut down the export of American horses to Mexico, Canada and other countries for slaughter for human consumption. No state can stop the shipment of horses to other countries for slaughter.
But is this really why Sen. Hutchison refuses to support this bill? Or does it have to do more with pro-slaughter industry lobbyists?
While lobbying for passage of the bill on March 4-5, representatives of Americans Against Horse Slaughter met with Sen. Hutchison’s aide. Here is what anti-horse slaughter advocate, Lucille Matte, reported:
"I think I am ready to tell you about a very sad and aggravating experience I and several others encountered when we arrived at Sen. Hutchison’s office on Wednesday, March 5th at 1:00 pm in Washington DC. I have thought about it, cried about it …. I do believe that Sen. Hutchison herself owes us all an apology not only those of us who stood in her reception area but to all of us involved with the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.
"First, let me say that after 3 phone calls to her aide Brian Knapp, I was able to make an appointment to meet with him on the 5th. He was very nice…[but o]nce I told him [we wanted to meet with to discuss] S. 311, if silence could kill I would be dead and I truly believe had he known what I wanted to talk to him about, the meeting would not have been set.
"On that day at 1:00 p.m. …I [and several other representatives of AAHS] all appeared promptly for our appointment with Sen. Hutchison’s aide Brian Knapp. We [waited] in the reception area… for Brian to show up and take us to a meeting room so we could tell him the truth about horse slaughter. While in that reception area, I noticed on a mantle to the right of the front door a beautiful bronze statue of a quarter horse placed proudly in the center. One by one we all took a [look] and saw the plate on the bottom that displayed "The American Quarter Horse Association" engraved so prominently. … The next thing that happened was one of the people in our group pointed out to me that there was a bright green skittle (round candy) balanced on the rump of the statue.
"Needless to say, I gasp[ed] and could not believe it! I walked in circles while my mind tried to absorb what I saw until finally I grabbed the skittle and pitched it into a garbage can. Right about then Brian Knapp appeared and led us all …down the hall …[and]…we ended up at the end of the hall…. Brian …[stopped], did an about face and looked at us all with not a word. I said, ˜Do you mean to tell me that we are to meet you here in the hallway?’ and he said yes, there is no room available."
"[Another member of our group, Paula Bacon, formerly mayor of Kaufman, Texas, where one of the horse slaughterhouses had been located, joined us then and spoke with Brian.] I [then] told her about the bright green skittle and, well, Paula grabbed her belongings and marched to the office…. Paula then started asking the 2 aides in the reception area what the green skittle was about and explained that the USDA often places a round bright green sticker on the horse’s rump before it goes to slaughter. As Paula spoke, she turned and looked at the statue [of the horse from AQHA] and pointed as she explained…. I turned to look at the 2 aides who were rolling their eyes and smirking. It was quite humiliating to say the least and just plain mean."
It is not surprising a U.S. Senator from Texas could be influenced by the strong pro-slaughter lobbyists that still defend this sordid business. It is a little surprising that someone who grew up with horses and raised them, would allow her aides to ridicule constituents and joke about the brutally cruel slaughter of these beautiful animals.
Click here for more information on this bill and how you can contact Representatives and Senators and help pass it. You can also find out who’s up for re-election. No one should be elected or re-elected to Congress this year unless they support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.