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HORSE SLAUGHTER IN ILLINOIS

October 29, 2003

Contact: Chris Heyde, (703) 836-4300

National Horse Protection Coalition Formed to Stop the Slaughter of American Horses for Human Consumption

Names Nick Zito -- Two-time Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer -- as National Spokesperson

Calls on Congress to pass American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act

(Louisville, KY) -- To address the growing public awareness and strong opposition to the slaughter of American horses for human consumption overseas, a national coalition of horse industry leaders and organizations, horse rescues and animal protection groups have formed the National Horse Protection Coalition and named Nick Zito, two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer and a Director of Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, its national spokesperson.

"While I'm happy to help this effort, it's a national tragedy that we've even had to form this coalition," said Zito. "Other than a few people who directly profit from horse slaughter and some pro-slaughter organizations, the majority of horse racing industry leaders and organizations want the slaughter stopped and the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act enacted."

The Coalition's primary focus will be to continue to educate the American public about this issue and work to ensure the swift passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, legislation sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY), Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) and Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY), currently before the House of Representatives.

Congressman Whitfield attended the press conference to announce his support for this legislation: "Today we are gathered at historic Churchill Downs to announce our commitment to pass legislation that would prohibit the in U.S. the slaughter of horses for human consumption."

"When people are told that horses are being slaughtered in the United States for human consumption and that there are proposals for opening more slaughterhouses, they are outraged and want it stopped immediately," says Chris Heyde, Society for Animal Protective Legislation and Coordinator for the Coalition. "This Coalition brings together a diverse collection of groups and individuals dedicated to informing the American public about this industry and ensuring the welfare of horses."

Horses are not raised for consumption in the U.S., so slaughterhouses must find other ways to acquire a reliable supply. Industry middlemen, known as "killer-buyers," travel from auction to auction buying all types of horses, often from unwitting sellers, until they have enough for a trip to Texas, where the two remaining foreign-owned plants exist, for slaughter. Last year alone over 42,000 horses were hauled from all over the U.S. to this plant in Texas. In addition to the Texas plants, plans are underway for a plant to be rebuilt in Illinois for opening in January and the possibility of new plants being opened elsewhere has been raised.

The lead sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Sweeney said, "As the co-chair of the Horse Caucus and sponsor of the Horse Slaughter legislation in Congress, I am extremely pleased that this issue is beginning to draw national attention. While there may be little we can do to stop this hideous business from going on overseas, we can certainly do something about it within our own borders. Soon, horse slaughter will be a thing of the past in the United States. I want to thank Mr. Zito and the National Horse Protection Coalition for lending their voices to this very worthy fight, and want to urge all Americans to write to their Congressman to demand they support HR 857."

"The recent death of 1986 Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand has helped to raise awareness of horse slaughter but it would be a mistake to think that Ferdinand felt any less pain and fear than the 42,000 who were killed last year," said Zito. "Horses have been and continue to be my life. I know that Ferdinand, the horses killed last year, those who will die this year and next year, deserve better treatment. I am dedicated to stopping this practice."

The Coalition, which is open to individuals and organizations interested in ending horse slaughter, has run ads in targeted Congressional Districts and is preparing a national consumer advertising campaign to help educate the public about the cruelty behind this despicable practice.

Other organizations who are opposed to the slaughter of horses include Churchill Downs Inc., Fasig-Tipton Co. Inc., Hanover Shoe Farm, The Breeder's Cup, The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, New York Racing Association, New Jersey Racing Commission, Utah Quarter Horse Association, Virginia Thoroughbred Association, Blue Horse Charities, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Society for Animal Protective Legislation to mention just a few.

For more information about horse slaughter and efforts being undertaken to save horses from this terrible fate please visit: www.saplonline.org, www.bluehorsecharities.org, www.trfinc.org, www.ddal.org.

The National Horse Protection Coalition is a non-profit Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization. The NHPC is organized to promote the legal protection of horses from inhumane slaughter, trade and transport practices.

 

 


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