I recently did an interview with renowned wildlife photographer and wild horse advocate Carol J. Walker on her wonderful podcast, Freedom for Wild Horses. You can watch the interview here or listen to the audio here.
Carol’s work in capturing the beauty of these magnificent creatures in her books, photography, and writings has helped to better educate the public about the serious plight of wild horses and burros and how their freedom has been and continues to be systematically stripped away by harmful governmental policies, special interests, and “friendly fire” (which is how we describe the hypocrisy of organizations whose leaders publicly profess to want to end slaughter, but in our view actually do not).
It was an honor to be invited by Carol to discuss the urgent matter of the newly introduced and most recent version of The SAFE Act, which we strongly believe would not be safe for all horses if passed as currently drafted. It needs to be amended now so that complete protection from slaughter becomes law for every equine – not just for some. Click here to learn how you can take action now.
I founded Equine Advocates in 1996 which was at a time when hundreds of thousands of horses were being slaughtered in the U.S. annually and their meat exported to other countries for food. Because it was such a secretive and shady business, I (like millions of other Americans) was not aware that this was even happening. That changed dramatically for me when I rescued a horse who I was told was going to “go for meat.” I was shocked and appalled. That was back in 1993. That life-altering experience led me to start Equine Advocates three years later.
For more than 30 years, advocates and horse lovers have wanted to see a federal bill passed that would prohibit the slaughter of horses entirely. Sadly, The “SAFE” Act does not do that. What I find to be most disturbing is that it is being peddled to lawmakers as something it is not.
In reality, The SAFE Act is merely a horse disposal bill masquerading as equine protection legislation. It allows for the disposal of unwanted equines as was the case back in the 1990s – except this time the horses will be slaughtered for pet and zoo food rather than for human consumption. And, if special interests have their way, wild, feral, and domestic equines can be disposed of and legally slaughtered once again on U.S. soil, only this time the butchering will take place primarily on Native American reservations.
As currently drafted, the non-legislative sponsors of The SAFE Act, “Animal Wellness Action,” are refusing to include (and in fact, removed) the vital clause that would also prohibit the slaughter of horses for animal consumption, as was recently passed in New York State. It also doesn’t include the clause pertaining to intrastate commerce. Both clauses were expertly submitted to them by Cathleen Doyle (of California’s “Save the Horses – Prop 6” fame and other successful humane equine legislation) who saw the “Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018” as a great vehicle by which to federally end horse slaughter. She did this by adding “Horse” (representing all members of the Equus family) and those other two clauses to what should have been called “The Dog, Cat, and Horse Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2023” which accurately describes what this bill would actually do. Instead, it is being called The SAFE Act after a poorly written federal bill that was introduced multiple times and failed repeatedly to pass for more than a decade.
As I mention in the podcast, we believe the removal of vitally important clauses pertaining to animal consumption and intrastate commerce was done as a trade-off/deal with industries and special interests that want to be able to slaughter horses for pet and zoo food. We saw a preview of this in the failed Colorado bill from 2022, which thankfully died but included exemptions for “safe harbors” and “secondary markets” that would allow horses to be slaughtered for animal food. By purposely omitting those important clauses, The SAFE Act basically does the same thing by legally reinstating domestic horse slaughter in the U.S. by merely transferring the ability to slaughter equines for human consumption to slaughtering many of the same “unwanted” horses for animal consumption. No Can Do!
Slaughter is Slaughter and it does not matter to a horse if he or she is eaten by a human or an animal!
Slaughter is Slaughter and it does not matter to the horse if he or she is butchered in a commercial slaughterhouse or a custom slaughterhouse!
THE GOOD NEWS is that The SAFE Act can be amended to prohibit the slaughter of all horses. Please take the time to contact the members of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees before the markups for the bill take place. Voice your concerns and ask that The SAFE Act be fixed and amended. This is an extremely time-sensitive matter as The SAFE Act was introduced as an amendment to the Farm Bill of 2023 which is expected to pass this fall. Please take action now and continue to visit our website and social media pages for important information and updates. Also, please spread the word!
Together we can pass a meaningful and effective federal horse slaughter ban that we can be proud of; One that does the job and ends this horrific and un-American practice once and for all!
Let’s get busy!
Susan Wagner, President and Founder