National Horse Day Makes Impression
'Horse Day' on Capitol Hill deemed a success...Fauquier Times-Democrat
"The American Horse Defense Fund, a horse protection, education and advocacy organization, held its annual National Capitol Hill Week For Horses last week in Washington.
Horse owners and enthusiasts from across the country weighed in with their representatives in the House and Senate on two pieces of legislation that affect the horse industry.
The AHDF officials said that the most important legislation in front of Congress now is a bill penned by Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va. The bill, S.576, is a companion bill to HR 297, introduced recently by Reps. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky. Both reinstate the 34-year-old protection from slaughter for wild horses that was destroyed by a rider Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., attached to an appropriations bill late last year.
Under the Burns rider, all captured wild horses over the age of 10, or those offered but not adopted after three attempts, must be sold 'without limitation.'
This, AHDF officials fear, opens the mustang 'adoption' market to slaughterhouse buyers.
Horse slaughter was the other hot topic on the Hill. A house bill, HR 503, was introduced by Rep. Ron Sweeney, R-N.Y. The bill would effectively end all horse slaughter.
Trina Bellak, president of the AHDF, said that 'in our many meetings we kept hearing about the volume of mail' for the proposed total ban on horse slaughter.
HR 503 has been assigned to the Energy and Commerce Committee rather than the Agriculture Committee, where it stalled last year.
Byrd noted that just a few months ago, the Senate passed a resolution designating Dec. 13, 2004, as the 'National Day of the Horse.' Language in the bill stated that "horses are a vital part of our collective experience of the United States and deserve protection and compassion."
Byd said, 'Surely there are actions that can be taken by the Bureau of Land Management (which handles mustang adoption events nationwide) to ensure the proper operation of the wild horse and burro program without resorting to the slaughter of these animals.'
The AHDF is among a number of so-called 'humane' organizations that support the mustang bill and the bill to end horse slaughter. Included are the ASPCA, American Humane Association, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign, the Wild Horse & Burro Freedom Alliance and the Humane Society of the U.S.
Many in the horse industry fear that the ban of horse slaughter for export for human consumption overseas or for use in pet foods will overextend the already critical horse rescue organizations and adoption agencies. Such groups are burdened with finding homes for abandoned and injured horses, and the fear is that an end of legal slaughter will only increase the number of horses left to starve abandoned by their owners.
Supporters of the ban argue that transportation to the slaughterhouses is frightening to horses, and that the captive bolt used to kill a horse is barbaric. There are already a number of bills that control horse transport in all cases, opposition members say."