U.S. House committee advances legislation to ban horse slaughter and the cruel practice of soring

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2022) —Today the nation’s leading wild horse advocacy organization, the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC), applauds the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce for advancing two important equine protection bills, the Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAFE) Act, H.R. 3355, and the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 5441

The SAFE Act, which currently has 218 cosponsors, was introduced by U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and would put an end to the exportation of equines for slaughter and permanently prevent horse slaughter plants from operating in the U.S. The PAST Act, which has 257 cosponsors, was introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and would crack down on the cruel practice of soring–the intentional infliction of pain to cause a horse to exhibit an exaggerated gait–and strengthen the Horse Protection Act (HPA) of 1970.

“The advancement of both the SAFE and the PAST Acts is an important step for the protection of America’s equines. Until the valve is shut off permanently, horses, both domestic and wild, will remain in danger of being exported to slaughter for foreign consumption,” said Holly Gann Bice, Director of Government Relations for the AWHC. “We thank Chair Frank Pallone of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Chair Jan Schakowsky of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce for their leadership in advancing these important pieces of legislation.”

The slaughter of both domestic and wild horses is a cruel practice that 83% of Americans oppose. An ongoing AWHC investigation shows that wild horses are at a heightened risk of entering the slaughter pipeline due to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Adoption Incentive Program (AIP). The AWHC’s work led to a New York Times report that exposed the AIP as a pipeline to slaughter for “truckloads” of BLM wild horses and burros. The cash incentive program was implemented in 2019 to increase the number of wild horses and burros adopted out by the BLM as a mechanism to make room for the thousands of these animals targeted for removal from public lands under the previous administration’s accelerated roundup plan. 

AWHC’s investigation has uncovered an alarming number of instances in which BLM horses and burros have been subjected to cruel conditions and sold at kill pens where horses are regularly purchased for slaughter. To date, the investigation has uncovered nearly 300 AIP horses and burros in slaughter auctions, sold by adopters shortly after they pocketed the BLM incentive payments of $1,000 per horse. AWHC has further documented over 370 additional BLM animals at kill pens, in imminent threat of slaughter. AWHC’s findings have sparked outrage among members of Congress, including Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who have called for a suspension and thorough investigation into the program.

Both pieces of legislation must move forward to the full House and Senate before becoming law.

About the American Wild Horse Campaign 

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is the nation’s leading wild horse protection organization, with more than 700,000 supporters and followers nationwide. AWHC is dedicated to preserving the American wild horse and burros in viable, free-roaming herds for generations to come, as part of our national heritage.