National Council of State Legislatures Adopts Pro-Horse Slaughter Resolution

Update Dec. 16, 2008: Sadly, the National Council of State Legislatures has adopted a resolution supporting a revival of horse slaughter in the U.S.

Rep. Sue Wallis (R-WY) and Rep. Dave Sigdestad (R-SD) pushed for the resolution. Former U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) was described as "instrumental" in passing this resolution.  

In 2004 then Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) buried an amendment to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971, 16 U.S.C. §1331, et seq. in a 3,300 page appropriations bill. That infamous amendment opened the door to the slaughter of thousands of horses. Basically under the Act there are certain horses and burros defined as excess animals. These are animals the [Bureau of Land Management] "BLM" has removed from an area "to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area" or for some other legal reason. See 16 USC §1332(f).

Under Burns Amendment, these "excess" horses "shall be sold…if the excess animal is more than 10 years of age; or … has been offered unsuccessfully for adoption at least 3 times." 16 U.S.C. §1333. Any horse sold under this provision is no longer subject to the protections of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 16 U.S.C.§1333. Since this amendment became effective, thousands of horses have been slaughtered for human consumption.

Click here and here for a look at the pro-slaughter arguments repeated again in this resolution and why they are wrong. Also check out the white paper by Veterinarians for Equine Welfare.

Original report: At its December 10-13 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) will once again consider a resolution designed to promote the cruel and foreign-driven horse slaughter industry.  Similar to the resolution considered – and defeated by Agriculture, Environment & Energy Committee- at the NCSL summer meeting, this resolution paints horse slaughter as a humane and necessary industry and calls on Congress to oppose the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

Here are the facts:

  • Horse slaughter is a cruel, predatory and profit-driven industry – not a humane service for ‘unwanted’ horses.
  • Unlike humane euthanasia, horse slaughter causes enormous animal suffering and results in a brutal death.
  • Most Americans oppose horse slaughter and the public has called on the United States Congress to ban the practice.
  • States that have played unwilling host to the foreign-owned slaughterhouses (Illinois and Texas) have made their opposition to the industry clear by passing laws to ban horse slaughter.
  • In addition, California voters passed a ballot measure against horse slaughter while Delaware passed a resolution in support of a federal ban. Last year, an attempt to promote horse slaughter in South Dakota was defeated in the state legislature. Should NCSL approve the pro-slaughter resolution it would be acting entirely out of step with current state actions.
  • Conditions in Mexican and Canadian horse slaughter houses, where American horses are still slaughtered, are horrific with some facilities stabbing horses in the spine multiple times to induce paralysis prior to slaughter.
  • The US-based plants, while still operational, were hardly better. Recent information obtained by Animals’ Angels (WARNING: GRAPHIC) through FOIA show that horses at US plants regularly suffered horrific injuries and conditions including:

o   Bloody, battered faces

o   Legs missing or hanging off

o   Eye balls dangling from their sockets

o   Mares giving birth to their foals at the slaughterhouse

o   Horses dead on arrival

  • A federal ban on horse slaughter will end this cruelty and NCSL is out of step with the majority of American voters in opposing the measure.
  • Wild horses are not unwanted or in need of a home, there is more than enough public land for all wild horses to roam free. In addition, Madeleine Pickens has been working with the Bureau of Land Management to provide a home for every horse currently in BLM holding facilities.

What You Can Do:

If you are from a state listed below please take a moment to call or email your legislator and urge them to oppose and speak out against this misguided resolution during the conference.  Be sure to share the above mentioned facts with them so they are aware of how cruel this industry is and out of step the resolution is with current public opinion and legislative actions.

Agriculture, Environment & Energy Committee

Chair: Senator Harris B. McDowell III, Delaware
Main office:  302-744-4147
District office:  302-577-8744
Chair: Senator Stephen R. Morris, Kansas
Main office: (785) 296-2419
Vice Chair: Senator Brian Bingman, Oklahoma
Main office: (405) 521-5528
District office: (918) 227-1856
Vice Chair: Representative John A. Heaton, New Mexico
Main office:  (575) 887-5983
Vice Chair: Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi
Main office:  (601)359-3246
Vice Chair: Representative Thomas E. Jackson, Alabama
Main office:  (334) 242-7738
Office:  (334) 246-3597
Immediate Past Chair: Senator Beverly Gard, Indiana
Main office:  (800) 832-9467

For more information on horse slaughter and how you can help make a difference please visit

by Christopher J. Heyde
Deputy Director, Government and Legal Affairs
Animal Welfare Institute 
PO Box 3650
Washington, DC  20027
Tel:  (202) 337-2332 ~ Fax: (888) 260-2271

For over 57 years, AWI has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill.  Please join us in our ongoing campaigns to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. Sign up for AWI eAlerts to receive the latest news on what you can do to help us protect all animals: