A horse slaughter bill was passed in Oklahoma, ending a ban on the commercial killing and processing of horses for food in the state.
Known official as House Bill 1999, the horse slaughter bill was signed by Governor Mary Fallin on Friday. The provision was passed with little discussion from either side of the aisle, granting easy passage in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives and Senate.
In the public it was a much different story. The horse slaughter bill was met with widespread outcry and opposition that stretched outside of Oklahoma.
“Horse slaughter is inhuman and the methods used to kill horses result in … repeated stuns or blows to the head and (horses) sometimes remaining conscious during dismemberment,” the Humane Society of the United States said in a press release.
The bill was especially sensitive given Oklahoma’s special connection to horses. Once part of the western frontier, Oklahoma was synonymous with cowboys and horses.
“The horse holds a special place in Oklahomans’ hearts and history,” said Cynthia Armstrong, Humane Society state director. “It is not in keeping with our values to slaughter them for food for a foreign market.”
Fallin said the horse slaughter bill actually had the best interest of horses in mind.
“Abuse is tragically common among horses that are reaching the end of their natural lives,” Fallin said in a statement. “Many horses are abandoned or left to starve to death. Others are shipped out of the country, many to Mexico, where they are processed in potentially inhumane conditions that are not regulated by the U.S. government.”
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau agreed, supporting the bill as many farmers called for an end to the seven-year ban on horse slaughter. They said the inability to send older horses to slaughter led to overstocked herds.
“Oklahoma livestock and wildlife producers respect and care for animals,” said Oklahoma Farm Bureau president Mike Spradling. “This legislation provides a humane solution to the challenge of abandoned, abused and otherwise neglected horses.”
The horse slaughter bill will take effect November 1.