April 14: Ky. Gov. Steve Beshears has signed this bill, H.B. 398, into law. The fast tracked new law creates a board named for the openly pro-horse slaughter organization, Equine Health and Welfare Alliance.
What the Equine Health and Welfare Board will do
This Board would "[a]ssist, advise and consult" the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet "on equine health and welfare issues" and "[a]ct to maintain the health, welfare, and safety of equines". The Board would have the authority to hold public hearings, collect data and issue regulations. The board would be authorized to "develop regional centers of care for unwanted, abused, neglected, or confiscated equines", create minimum standards for rescue and retirement operations that would include a "voluntary certification" process; and advise on laws "affecting equine health, welfare, abuse, and neglect issues"; identify "critical areas of need" for veterinarians and "others". The Board would report annually to the Governor and the Cabinet and Legislative Research Commission on its work.
One of the first duties of the Board will be to assess the scope of the so-called problem of "abandoned" or "unwanted" horses. The Alliance acknowledges the information disseminated is largely hearsay. Indeed, much of it is false, planted by pro-slaughter interests in an effort to see horse slaughter return to the United States.Â Horse slaughter, of course, is not driven by numbers of so-called abandoned or unwanted horses, but instead a demand for horsemeat largely as a delicacy in some foreign countries. The USDA reports more than 92% of horses purchased and sent to slaughter are healthy. Nonetheless, horse slaughter proponents pretend slaughter is a service to dispose of "abandoned" or "unwanted" horses to get the public to support their seedy, cruel practice.
The bill is sponsored by Kentucky state Rep. Tom McKee of Cynthiana.
Makeup of the Board
It is unlikely thatÂ this Board will actually promote anti-cruelty laws and other measures to promote horse welfare. The Board is simply a front for pro-horse slaughter interests that will surely recommend slaughter as an equine "welfare" measure and at the same time control the rescues operated by horse protection advocates who oppose slaughter. All under the authority of the Kentucky state government.
Under the bill, H.B. 398, the Board will have 13 voting members including the secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet; the state veterinarian, a representative of the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center; one representative of the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program; executive director of the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, or the executive director of the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center; chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture; chairman of the House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Small Business; one representative of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation with an interest in equine issues; one veterinarian representing the Kentucky Equine Health and Welfare Alliance Inc.; one member representing the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association; and one member to be appointed by the Governor from a list of three (3) nominees submitted by Kentucky Horse Council; and two members at large appointed by the governor and who live in diverse regions of the state and who represent equine breeders and owners and agricultural interests.
An amendment to the original bill added more representatives of equine education programs in several other Kentucky colleges or universities and one, yes, one member of the equine rescue community.
The Board would not be able to interfere with the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority or the Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners.
The Kentucky legislature is also fast tracking a bill to create a Livestock Care Standards Board that would have the authority to determine standards for care and treatment of livestock including equines.