State legislation prohibiting the sale of racehorses and breeding stock for slaughter is pending a decision from the governor’s office.
Senate Bill S1442-B and accompanying Assembly legislation A4154B would amend New York State Agriculture and Markets Act to prohibit the slaughter of these animals for commercial purposes, including human and animal consumption.
“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure the prohibition of the inhumane slaughter of racehorses and retired breeders,” according to the Senate bill. “The legislation also increases access to funding for the proper care of retired racehorses.”
The bill also provides a process for individuals and businesses to make voluntary contributions through tax returns to fund horse tracking programs.
The law would also require animals to be equipped with microchips.
The legislation was passed unanimously on June 1 in the State Senate and on June 9 in the Assembly.
“Our neighbors to the north still practice the barbaric act of slaughtering horses for human consumption,” Bill’s sponsor Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon said Wednesday. “It has been banned in the United States for years, but Canada and Mexico still do. When horses survive their “useful life”, they are sold to kill in pens in Canada where they are brutally slaughtered and minced and sold in Europe and Asia for human consumption. I don’t think horses should be treated that way.
Horse slaughter and euthanasia are not the same thing, according to the New York State Humane Association.
“Euthanasia means death without pain. Horse slaughter involves hitting a horse repeatedly with a “captive bolt,” according to the organization’s website. “Although they are struck by the captive lock, sometimes horses are not properly stunned, but rather remain conscious, requiring several hits before losing consciousness.”
Horses sold for slaughter frequently face other forms of inhumane treatment, including abuse while being shipped to slaughterhouses, according to the group.
The legislation also provides for tracking of what happens to racehorses after their racing careers are over.
“These horses, especially the thoroughbreds, which have a short racing career, if they are not fit for stud, they are not very useful,” said Pretlow. “This legislation provides for the recycling of these horses for other careers – we demand that the owners of the horses be responsible for the horses and we are monitoring what happens to them.”
The Coxsackie-based Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation has applauded the state’s legislation and is urging Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign the bill.
The group has advocated for horse protection legislation since its inception in 2004, said Susan Kayne, president of Unbridled.
“I have spent a lot of time talking about legislative initiatives to reveal the reality of thoroughbred slaughter, and especially in this bill, to include the protection of breeding animals,” Kayne said.
If passed, the law would prohibit purebred and breeding horses from knowingly sold or transported for slaughter for human or animal consumption. The ban does not apply to other types of horses because it has encountered resistance from farmer advocacy groups, Pretlow said.
Horse meat is banned in the United States for human consumption, but the animals are sold and shipped to Canada for slaughter.
“New York’s Northway has long served as the main artery to transport thousands of thoroughbreds to brutal deaths in Canadian slaughterhouses,” said Kayne.
She urged the governor to sign the legislation, but said action needed to be taken at the federal level as well.
“Until the horses are federally protected from transit to slaughter, they all remain in serious danger,” Kayne said.
Maureen Gannon, an unbridled volunteer and animal advocate, said the legislation is a step in the right direction.
“I’m just looking at the horses that we have here and there are a lot, a lot more, and seeing what these animals face if they get caught up in the whole slaughter / slaughter pipeline, that’s a blessing, ”Gannon said.
She hopes the bill will also help educate people about treating horses.
“I didn’t know that when I became a volunteer. I just wanted to be around the horses, ”Gannon said. “I had no idea what their fate was, but once you know it, you can’t ignore it. Realizing that these beautiful beings that I love to be with and that I consider friends at this point – to think that they are in this situation is horrible for me.