The Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs met this Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the impact of to the closure of horse slaughter facilities on the agricultural sector of the Texas economy. A copy of the meeting notice can be downloaded here.
The Committee heard both invited and public testimony on the issue of whether or not horse slaughter should be resumed in Texas.
Texas Capitol Building at Austin, Texas
Included among those who gave testimony were:
- A representative of the Humane Society of the United States;
- Elizabeth Choate, Director of Government Relations / General Counsel of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association;
- Ward Stutz, Director of Breed Integrity at the American Quarter Horse Association; and
- Dr. Ben Buchanan on behalf of the Equine Practice Committee of the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, and as a representative of the Texas Equine Veterinary Medical Association.
I viewed part of the meeting from my office via the live streaming video recording (an archive of which can be viewed on this page). There was a full house in attendance. Many attendees showed up to state their opposition to horse slaughter due to their belief that the process is inherently inhumane. Their general response to the economic issues was that people should be breeding fewer horses, and that irresponsible breeders and owners are at fault for the unwanted horse problem.
The horse industry groups generally presented evidence indicating the negative economic impact that the closure of the slaughter plants has had on the industry. The horse industry groups also presented studies evidencing the increased suffering of horses caused by the closure of the slaughter plants due to neglect and transport to Mexico for slaughter.
The veterinary associations' general stance on this issue is as follows: Horse processing is not the ideal solution for addressing the large number of unwanted horses in the U.S. However, if a horse owner is unable or unwilling to provide humane care and no one is able to assume the responsibility, euthanasia at a processing facility in a manner designated as humane by the American Veterinary Medical Association is an acceptable alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care or abandonment.
I think it is a good sign that our Senate was interested in hearing testimony from knowledgeable individuals and groups on this very important issue.