|Updated: 3/25/2013 10:08 am
||Published: 3/24/2013 9:38 pm
A House Bill to allow horse slaughter in Oklahoma is going to the State Senate for a vote this week.
HB 1999 was authored by Bristow representative Skye McNiel. Local reports quote her saying, “there are 160,000 horses (annually) shipped to Mexico for processing with no standard of care. People who really understand this problem know that these horses should be processed here in the states under USDA regulation and guidelines.”
Local horse rescue volunteers, Terry Way and Mendy Smallwood, have worked for years to save horses from going to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.
“This bill goes against everything I have been fighting for,” said Mendy Smallwood.
Smallwood works with local non-profit horse rescue groups all over the country.
“If you have them and you can’t feed them, or are neglecting them because you cannot afford to take care of them, find a place where they can get help; ask for help, find a place where those horses can go!”
Way and Smallwood believe the House Bill will encourage backyard breeding. They believe the slaughterhouses will only want the young and healthy horses because the meat will be exported from the U.S. to other countries for meat consumption.
“So why would slaughterhouses only want the sick and old horses?” questioned Terry Way. “They want the young and healthy because they don’t need to be on medication and the meat is lean and tenderer.”
Supporters of the bill claim it will also help with horse over population.
“Currently, horses are being sold for cheap because people cannot afford to take of them properly,” said Smallwood. But the slaughterhouses will pay for the bigger horses. Some pay 78 cents a pound. That’s a big profit for a bunch of big healthy horses.”
Terry and Mendy have saved many horses from going to directly to slaughterhouses.
“If I can’t take them from people who neglect them and then give up and need to send them to slaughter then I will take them to another rescue group either here or my friends in Arizona who have a rescue or to Terry’s rescue to make sure these beautiful creatures are cared for. They deserve to be cared for, they don’t deserve this abuse,” said Smallwood.
“The answer is education,” said Way. “We need to get the state officials to do their research and education the public about how to care for horses and what to do when you can no longer care for them. We need to regulate backyard breeding. If the representatives are saying this bill is the answer to over population, then that is not true. This bill will only encourage more breeding and make the problem worse.”
Way also said more problems will arise from this issue like the USDA inspecting meat.
“Right now the USDA does not inspect horse meat, so that law will also have to be re-visited if this bill passes,” said Way. “I wish the public would have had a say in this bill and the other horse slaughtering Senate Bill 375. It’s not right that the public has not been involved.”
If the house bill passes the senate it will go to the governor’s desk to sign this week.