I strongly support the humane treatment of both wild and domesticated animals and as a member of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus (CAPC), I work to raise awareness of and address animal welfare issues. Our Caucus pursues common-sense legislation to protect animal rights, increase penalties for animal cruelty and animal fighting, and ensure the fair treatment of animals at research facilities. I am also leading the effort to prevent horse slaughter in the United States.
Every year, over 100,000 American horses are exported to foreign slaughterhouses where they are slaughtered, processed, and sold for human consumption. The slaughter of horses is not only inhumane, but it creates serious food safety and health concerns. As they are shipped to Mexico and Canada, horses often endure appalling conditions and brutality. Many die or are seriously injured in transit and due to their unique biology and skittish nature, stunning is difficult and horses often receive severe injuries before they are killed.
Horse meat is not safe for human consumption because horses are raised as companion animals and are exposed to an array of unregulated substances, drugs, and chemicals which could be dangerous to humans. The United States Department of Agriculture has no system to ensure the safety of horse meat for human consumption, and I am very concerned that horse meat in foreign countries may be processed, relabeled, and sold in the United States without the knowledge of consumers.
That is why I am the lead Democratic sponsor of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which will permanently outlaw horse slaughter in the United States and the transportation of horses to slaughterhouses in other countries. At the same time, horse overpopulation and its impact on sensitive land and ecosystems is a serious issue that the federal government and states must address. However, instead of slaughtering horses for human consumption, we should control wild horse overbreeding, facilitate adoption opportunities, and when necessary, humanely euthanize injured or neglected horses.