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Slaughterhouse opponents argue for options

Protesters criticized proposals in the Oklahoma Legislature to allow horses to be slaughtered in the state, several years after the last U.S. slaughterhouses closed.
by William Crum Published: March 4, 2013

Sabrina Hayes has seen horses live, she's seen them die, she's seen them rescued, she's seen them sold.

Monday, the Randlett horsewoman was in Oklahoma City supporting advocates who said they won't tolerate seeing horses slaughtered for meat.

At a news conference timed to coincide with a federal advisory panel's meeting, leaders of three national organizations said they had evidence that wild horses protected under federal law were sold to “kill buyers,” who pay small sums for horses that are then shipped for slaughter to Mexico and Canada.

They criticized proposals in the Oklahoma Legislature to allow horses to be slaughtered in the state, several years after the last U.S. slaughterhouses closed.

“There's no limit to the number of our American horses they will prey upon,” said Simone Netherlands, a horse trainer and president of Respect4Horses.

About 22,000 federally protected wild horses removed from Western rangelands are kept on Oklahoma ranches under contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is charged by Congress with managing the herds.

Noting the U.S. Senate has scheduled a hearing Thursday for Sally Jewell, President Barack Obama's nominee to be Interior secretary, the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign said it was time to turn the wild horse program around “by stopping the roundups and prohibiting the slaughter of these national icons.”

Bills shock woman

Hayes said she was dumbfounded to hear two weeks ago on the morning news that the Legislature was considering lifting Oklahoma's ban on horse slaughterhouses. She said she went right to work learning more.

“It's all I've done since that morning,” she said.

A bill passed in the Senate, SB 375, would revoke a 1963 law banning sale of horse meat. HB 1999, passed by the House, would keep that prohibition for consumption within the state but would allow horse slaughter.

Hayes, 51, who lives a few miles from the Texas border in southwest Oklahoma and owns five horses, said she's been around horses since “before I could walk.”

She paid $450 for her first horse, Joker, and all his tack, at age 16.

Seven or eight years later, she said, she had to sell him.

Authorities should offer cheap gelding solutions, crack down on breeders who produce too many horses and support inexpensive euthanasia before allowing slaughterhouses to return, Hayes said.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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