Thursday, January 29, 2009

Animal Welfare Institute Establishes Abandoned Horse Reward Fund

Washington, DC (January 29, 2009) – The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) announced today the establishment of the “Animal Welfare Institute Abandoned Horse Reward Fund.” Under the program, individuals providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone who abandons a horse in violation of state law will be rewarded with up to $1,000 by AWI. “We’ve heard time and time again from those defending horse slaughter that the fight to end this cruel practice has led to an increase in abandoned horses. The truth is that the number of American horses going to slaughter now is the same or higher as before the domestic plants closed under state law. In fact, killer buyers seem to be buying more horses than when the plants were open,” said Chris Heyde, AWI’s Deputy Director of Government and Legal Affairs.

Under the program, individuals with evidence should first contact their local police department, provide as many details as possible about the horse abandonment situation and let the department know about the Animal Welfare Institute Abandoned Horse Reward Fund. In such cases, eligibility for rewards and specific reward amounts will be determined by AWI. For complete terms and conditions of this reward fund, please go to

“If horses are being neglected or abandoned and the law is being violated, individuals need to be held accountable. Caring for a horse or any animal is a lifelong responsibility and not something you toss aside when inconvenient. We hope our reward fund will assist in bringing criminals to justice,” said Chris Heyde.

The Animal Welfare Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to pass a federal law to end horse slaughter. While the few remaining horse slaughter plants operating in the US were shut down in 2007 under state law, the absence of a federal law means that American horses are still at risk of being slaughtered for human consumption, and more than 100,000 horses were exported to Mexico and Canada in 2008 for that purpose. In Canada, horses are often shot to death while in Mexico some plants still use the “puntilla” knife to stab the horse into a state of paralysis prior to being slaughtered while still fully conscious. The meat is then sold to high-end consumers in Europe and Asia. Congress is currently considering the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503), which will protect American horses from this brutal trade.

Rancher Horrified to Learn Her Pregnant Mares Were Slaughtered

Though there are no US horse slaughter plants currently in operation, killer-buyers continue to purchase horses at auction—transporting them across the border to Canada or Mexico to face an even more brutal death. Recently, a horse owner in northwest Oklahoma contacted the Animal Welfare Institute to report that her two pregnant mares were purchased, by someone who sold them for slaughter.
The owner—a rancher—had encountered financial problems due to recent droughts, as well as family health issues. After much debate, she regretfully agreed to sell her horses to earn some much-needed money. However, she never thought that her beloved animals would be sent to slaughter.
Until Congress passes the federal American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, horses risk being sent to slaughter outside of the United States.
“Nobody that works at the auction barn let me know who was buying,” she said. “I found out when I went to the office to ask how to notify the buyers so I could send them the breeding certificates.” When the staff hinted that no certificates would be needed, the owner suspected something might be wrong. Though she obtained the phone numbers of the buyers, no one would return her calls.
“I just want my mares back with me, so they can have their babies and be cared for,” she said. Sadly, it was too late. The owner sought to repurchase her horses, despite her financial woes, but by the time she located the buyers, the mares had already been sent to Mexico to be slaughtered.
“I read how the horses were killed in Mexico,” the owner said. “I just don’t understand how the United States would let this happen. I’m just baffled by it all.” The public must be baffled as well, considering that a recent national poll found that almost 70 percent of Americans support a federal ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act must be passed to ensure that US slaughter plants stay closed—and to stop our horses from being transported elsewhere for slaughter. The bill is pending in both chambers of Congress; please contact your legislators to ask for their support today.
-courtesy Animal Welfare Institute