Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signs horse slaughter bill

Oklahoma's governor vows to make sure any horse slaughter plant that would be in the state would be run appropriately.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 29, 2013

HB 1999 won wide support in both chambers of the Republican-controlled Legislature. It passed 82-14 in the House last month and was approved 32-14 Monday in the Senate.

Opponents outnumbered proponents in contacting the governor's office during the past month, but most of the opponents were from out of state, the governor said. Some encouraged Fallin to follow the lead of New Mexico's GOP governor, who signed a measure this week that created a horse shelter rescue fund.

“I appreciate and support the efforts of those who have expressed a desire to donate land, money and resources to provide for abandoned horses,” Fallin said. “I believe the direction pursued by the Oklahoma Legislature, in a bill supported by both Democrats and Republicans and passed by large margins, is both practical and humane.”

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director for the Humane Society of the United States, on Friday again urged Fallin to veto the measure, which overturns a 50-year ban on horse slaughter in Oklahoma.

“We really regret that she didn't veto this poor legislation, but we will continue to work toward banning the practice of horse slaughter nationwide through federal legislation,” Armstrong said. “We will continue to educate communities about the serious environmental and economic damage that these horse slaughter plants do when they locate in a city or town.

“We're looking at every option we can to prevent a slaughter plant from opening in Oklahoma.”

Mike Spradling, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, said his group supported the measure because it was a personal property issue. A plant would give horse owners another option of what to do with their animals, he said.

“The people that really care for these animals each and every day all stood in line and said the same thing,” he said. “Most of the opposition came from animal rights activists and a lot of people that actually had absolutely no understanding of the issue — didn't own a horse.

“The thing we really appreciate about Governor Fallin is she understands agriculture in the state of Oklahoma,” said Spradling, of Tulsa. “She understood this issue from the very beginning. She saw the problem, recognized the problem and knows that this is an option, not a mandate.”