It took all of one minute for a Senate committee Monday to approve a bill that would allow the slaughter of horses in Oklahoma.
The Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee voted 9-0 to pass House Bill 1999. The measure could be taken up by the full Senate as early as next week, said Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, the measure's Senate sponsor.
Fields said he believes HB 1999 will win Senate approval and that Gov. Mary Fallin will sign the bill into law. Fallin has a policy of not commenting on legislation until it reaches her.
Committee members asked no questions and didn't debate the bill. Several people opposed to horse slaughter attended the meeting but were not recognized to speak.
“I think it's cruel,” said Chrissie Ward, of the Newcastle-Tuttle area, after the meeting. “A second reason is the meat is very toxic.”
Fields, who is chairman of the committee, said no one asked in advance to speak.
“Nobody called,” he said. “They say that their opinion's not heard, but you've got to go to through the protocol to be able to be heard.”
Ward, who owns thoroughbreds, said most horses going to slaughter won't be old, but instead younger horses that professional breeders don't want because they have certain defects.
Proponents say the price of horses, which has dropped since slaughter was banned in 2006, would increase if horse slaughtering were permitted.
Ward is skeptical: “Does common sense tell you that a meat buyer that purchases per pound is going to purchase a nag that is a bag of bones full of worms?”
Fields, who raises horses, said horse owners who can't afford their aging horses are turning them out on roads, abandoning them on other people's pastures or simply allowing them to starve.
HB 1999 would allow horse slaughter but would continue the existing ban on the sale of horse meat for consumption in the state. The Senate earlier passed a similar measure, Senate Bill 375, which would revoke the state's 1963 law banning the sale of horse meat and would end the prohibition on horse slaughtering or the sale of horse meat.