FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 23, 2015
Contact: Jane Seigler (301-774-3756; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Maryland Horse Council Adopts Position on Horse Slaughter
At its annual meeting on November 19th in Annapolis, the Maryland Horse Council (MHC) voted to support a federal bill that would outlaw the sale and transport of American horses to Canadian and Mexican slaughter facilities. The bill is called the Safeguard American Food Exports, or SAFE Act, H.R. 1942.
The resolution before the council identified issues justifying what is not only a shift in the organization’s decades-old position but also a divergence from the stance of the American Horse Council and other state horse councils. [Update 12/7: the American Horse Council has not taken a position on the SAFE act and has been neutral on the slaughter issue in general.] The resolution’s preamble notes that 1) Maryland horses are bred and raised as livestock but not as a food product, 2) Maryland slaughter-bound horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico, 3) Maryland horses are fed and medicated in a manner inconsistent with food safety standards, 4) too many Marylanders have had their horses slaughtered after being told by unscrupulous dealers that they will be placed or sold into good homes, and 5) polls show that a large majority of the public, horse owners, and Maryland Horse Council members oppose slaughter of horses for human consumption.
The 28-to-3 vote, with one abstention, was taken by the Board of Directors over a three-month period to allow Directors time to poll the members of the organizations and constituencies that they represent.
“The Maryland Horse Council is an umbrella organization that includes associations, businesses, farms, charities and foundations, and individuals from all parts of the Maryland horse industry,” said MHC President Jane Seigler. “Few issues are more important to our members than how we confront the problem of unwanted horses. The passage of this resolution sends a clear message that the pipeline to slaughter as it currently exists is unacceptable within the horse industry. The challenge that we now face is how to create humane alternatives for horses that have no market value and whose owners no longer want or are able to care for them”
The resolution includes a section pledging that the Maryland Horse Council will address this challenge, and a motion was passed to create a committee to get started. Specifically MHC will “1) undertake an effort to encourage horse owners to take responsibility for placement or euthanasia of their unwanted horses, and 2) seek to create a system to evaluate and place or humanely euthanize horses that are unwanted, abandoned or neglected.”
The Maryland Horse Council created a charitable organization called Maryland Fund For Horses in 2011 to raise funds for horse welfare projects. The two organizations will work together in the coming months on a plan to implement both the legislative and the program components of this resolution with input and resources from throughout the Maryland horse industry.