19 April 2005

For Immediate Release
For more information

Jennifer Williams, Ph.D., President, Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society
Email: info@bluebonnetequine.org
Phone: (888) – 542-5163

(Washington, DC – April 19, 2005) As part of the American Horse Council’s Annual Convention in Washington, DC the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) hosted an Unwanted Horse Summit to discuss solutions to what has been dubbed “the unwanted horse problem”. A major part of the “unwanted horse problem” is the large number of equines sold throughout the United States each year to one of the three slaughterhouses that process equines for humane consumption. As many concerned with equine welfare debate The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, the horse industry has begun to address the reasons horses end up at the slaughterhouse. Earlier this year, the American Quarter Horse Association also addressed this topic at their convention during the Impact AQHA 2005 session entitled “The Unwanted Horse”.

The AAEP’s Unwanted Horse Summit was preceded by an educational session featuring five speakers who discussed various aspects of the unwanted horse problem. Dr. Jennifer Williams, President of Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, discussed Rescue and Retirement in the United States. Dr. Williams outlined current rescue statistics, noting that it is difficult to obtain an accurate number of rescues in the US since no agency oversees rescues. Currently, the IRS website lists 109 “equine rescues”, “horse rescues” and “equine humane societies” as 501(c)(3) organizations. Dr. Williams’ talk gave expert advice on how the public can select a good, reputable rescue to work with and how horse enthusiasts can help rescues. She concluded with a list of actions that rescues can initiate to alleviate the unwanted horse problem, including taking in “unwanted” horses as an alternative to slaughter and auctions, educating the public about their options, and working with law enforcement officials to remove neglected or abused horses from harmful situations.

Other speakers at the educational session included Dr. Nat Messer from the University of Missouri at Columbia whose talk on the scope of the unwanted horse problem, providing information on the number of horses slaughtered and euthanized annually as well as options for disposal of euthanized horses. Dr. Timothy Cordes of the USDA and APHIS Equine Programs began his presentation by stating, “As long as horses go to slaughter, they need to do so humanely.” He addressed the regulations governing the transportation of horses to slaughter as well as enforcement of those regulations. Dr. Carolyn Stull of the University of California-Davis discussed the effect of Proposition 6, which banned the sale of horses for slaughter in California, and its impact on California’s horses. She noted that she could find no proof that cases of neglect or abandonment of horses had risen after Proposition 6 went into effect. Dr. Temple Grandin spoke via teleconference and addressed concerns that horses will be shipped to Mexico for slaughter where the conditions are much more brutal than they are in the United States. She also stated the need to curb over-breeding in an effort to make horse slaughter obsolete.

Several members of the audience later commented that they felt the session was very informative and that the speakers presented interesting information which helped them to better understand the unwanted horse problem. Jennifer Williams said, “I believe the session was a success. It was an honor to speak to members of the horse industry and to help educate them about rescue organizations. I’m pleased that I could represent Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society at this event.”

For more information on each of the presentations given during the educational session, visit the AAEP’s website at http://www.aaep.org. To learn more about Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society, visit http://www.bluebonnetequine.org.