About 100 animal rights advocates spent Thursday at the state Capitol trying to persuade legislators that authorizing horse slaughterhouses would be a bad deal for Oklahoma.
The event was organized by the Humane Society, ASPCA and Oklahoma Alliance for Animals.
A slaughterhouse would be a “community killer,” said Cynthia Armstrong, the Humane Society's state director. The stigma of a horse slaughtering plant would hamper economic development of any town where it's located, she said.
Citing the experience of Kaufman, Texas, southeast of Dallas, she said neighbors could expect increased crime, environmental problems from plant waste and declining property values.
Slaughterhouses provide low-paying, dangerous jobs that often go to undocumented workers, Armstrong said.
“It took them 20 years to run that plant out of town,” she said.
She called horse slaughtering a “predatory” business geared to meeting demands of foreign markets and asked why Americans would spend millions of federal dollars inspecting a meat processing plant turning out products for overseas consumers.
Armstrong said the United States has 9 million horses. The 160,000 sent to slaughter each year in Mexico and Canada could easily be absorbed within the horse community, she said.
Overbreeding and unintentional breeding, and demand created by “kill buyers” who truck horses out of the country for slaughter, largely are responsible for overpopulation of horses, she said.
Owners should take responsibility for the cost of euthanizing horses when the time comes so that they can die “quietly, peacefully and with some dignity,” said Armstrong, a horse owner herself.
“The solution to the problem lies with the people who are creating the problem,” she said.
Two bills before the Legislature would open the way for horse slaughterhouses — HB1999 authored by Republican Rep. Skye McNiel, of Bristow, and SB375 authored by Republican Sen. Mark Allen, of Spiro.
Proponents of the legislation say conditions at domestic horse slaughter facilities would be better than those present in Mexican slaughterhouses that often process U.S. horses.
Oklahoma banned the sale of horse meat, putting an end to horse slaughtering, in 1963.