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OK Legislature Approves Horse Slaughter Bills

LAWTON Okla_ The Oklahoma House and Senate have overwhelmingly passed two separate bills to end the state's ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption.

Read the House and Senate Bills.

If the bills are signed into law, horse meat could eventually be processed and packaged once again in Oklahoma, with three stipulations. The horses would have to be sold through a livestock auction, purchased by a livestock dealer, and the meat would have to be sent overseas.

At first thought, this seems wrong and disgusting to a lot of people. Actually, the bills were designed with the intention of cutting the number of abused and neglected horses across the state.

Everyone 7News spoke to agreed on one thing when it comes to neglected horses: we have to fix the problem. Fixing the problem has caused quite a problem itself. Representative Don Armes voted in favor of the horse meat inspection bill.

"When a horse outlives its usefulness, you have very few options unless there is a market," Armes said.

He said that "market" is misunderstood, and that the idea of a horse slaughterhouse isn't a new one.

Many dog foods contain meat byproducts. So, that means there is a good chance horse meat is in them. Even though we aren't doing it in Oklahoma, horses are being slaughtered overseas. Representative Armes said the way they are doing it is inhumane.

"A man will get up on a catwalk and just slice their spine with a butcher knife," Armes said. "I mean, they just repeatedly slice their spinal cord."

We send over 20,000 horses, just from the state of Oklahoma, to suffer that fate. Armes said there would be many more regulations here if the market was opened back up. Opponents say there is still no reason to sell and kill a horse. They say there is a better way to fix the problem.

James Pennington owns a horse rescue in Lawton.

He said, "I am against it, because it's a way for people to make money on neglected horses. We need more responsible owners to do their part in gelding studs to help with the population."

Armes said there will always be a demand for horse meat, even if that demand isn't necessarily here.

"Are we going to dispatch and process these horses in a humane manner like we've done here for generations, or are we going to send them to a terrible end in Mexico, just because we can push it across the border and don't have to look at it?" Armes asked.

Another rescue owner in Temple, Oklahoma said it would be a case-by-case situation, but a horse meat manufacturer could be beneficial at times.  She said as long as horses can live a normal life they should be alive, but suffering horses probably should be put down.

Comanche County Sheriff Ken Stradley said they have gotten several calls about neglected horses.

"I really don't like that, disposing of a horse," Stradley said," "But if this horse is completely in bad shape and can't make it, the humane thing is to go ahead and put it down."

He said if the county does take a horse in, tax dollars pay for its care.

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