Despite a last-minute stampede of opponents asking her to do otherwise, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill Friday that would allow horse slaughter in Oklahoma.
Fallin vowed that her administration would work to ensure any horse slaughter plant built in Oklahoma would be run appropriately.
“It's important to note cities, counties and municipalities still have the ability to express their opposition to processing facilities by blocking their construction and operation at the local level,” Fallin said. “Should there ever be a processing facility planned, my administration will work with the Department of Agriculture to ensure it is run appropriately, follows all state and local laws, and is not a burden or hazard to the community.”
The governor signed House Bill 1999, which spurred emotion on both sides of the issue, without fanfare. She announced her decision through a news release.
Fallin said she signed the measure because it would allow “the humane, regulated processing of horses. This bill, which takes effect Nov. 1, strictly prohibits selling horse meat for human consumption in Oklahoma.”
The Republican governor said she was concerned about the abuse that is common among horses that are reaching the end of their natural lives.
“Many horses are abandoned or left to starve to death,” she said.
“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.”
Fallin said the 2006 federal ban on horse slaughter plants has made the situation worse.
After the ban, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported a 60 percent increase in abused, neglected and starved horses. The U.S. Agriculture Department reported that more than 166,000 horses were sent to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2012.
“These animals traveled long distances, in potentially inhumane circumstances, only to meet their end in foreign processing plants that do not face the same level of regulation or scrutiny that American plants would,” she said. “Those of us who care about the well-being of horses — and we all should — cannot be satisfied with a status quo that encourages abuse and neglect, or that rewards the potentially inhumane slaughter of animals in foreign countries.”