An editorial published in the Tulsa World commented, in noting the quickness with which the bills have cleared committees and houses—House Bill 1999, for instance, has already cleared the House and Senate committee and is expected to be heard on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow—that: “There is something about the rush to pass this misconceived legislation that doesn’t smell right. The measure passed a Senate committee last week on a unanimous vote, with no discussion or debate. It is ludicrous to think that an issue as controversial as this would not prompt debate, or at least a few questions raised.”
Debate is happening—it’s just not happening in the state legislature. But citizens of Oklahoma are voicing their opinions on the slaughter and consumption of horses. Auction house CEO and rancher Pam McKissick hosted a radio show recently, available on PRX, with guests Vickery Echoff, a journalist who’s published exposes on the horsemeat trade for Newsweek, The Daily Beast, Forbes, and The Huffington Post; Mayor Paula Bacon of Kaufman, Texas, who experienced having the horse slaughter industry in her town; and Stephanie Graham, Oklahoma City-based horse advocate, all of whom weighed in on the “dirty truth about horse slaughter.”
McKissick speculated that the issue stems from overbreeding of horses for the racing industry and that the bills, which have been pitched by their authors as a humane solution to ending the problem of starved, abandoned horses roaming the Oklahoma countryside, is actually a means to disposing of extra, unwanted horses—most of them young and healthy.
The World also noted: “The idea that humane care for old, feeble and sick horses is the primary motivation for permitting a practice that as of now is not permitted by any other state is laughable. There is no way that there are enough such animals to profitably operate a slaughterhouse. Healthy animals will have to be imported from other states and ultimately horses will have to be bred and raised for slaughter.”
McKissick goes into detail, describing the way horses are slaughtered—the condition the arrive at the slaughterhouse in and the way they’re killed once they get there—and Bacon described the side effects of horse slaughter in her city—like blood bubbling up from the sewer. She said it made her city into something of a third-world country.
Eckhoff explained the recent U.K. horsemeat scandal and how horsemeat could end up in the U.S. food supply—whether it’s legal or not—and the health hazards that could accompany it.
McKissick also pointed out that, despite legislators’ determination to legalize horse slaughter in Oklahoma, most of the state’s citizens are opposed to the idea. According to SoonerPoll (http://soonerpoll.com/poll-oklahoma-voters-strongly-oppose-horse-slaughter/), “a strong majority (66 percent) of Oklahoma likely voters opposes passage of proposed legislation allowing for the slaughter of horses here in Oklahoma, and of those that oppose, 88 percent strongly oppose the legislation.”
The report continued:
A strong majority, 65.1 percent, of respondents in rural counties opposes the legislation, despite claims by the horse slaughter proponents that rural communities support it. Counties within the Tulsa MSA, 69.6 percent, and counties within the Oklahoma City MSA, 64.3 percent, also have high levels of opposition to horse slaughter. …
When asked about having a horse slaughter operation in their community, an overwhelming majority, 72.3 percent, of likely voters is opposed, with 91.9 percent of these likely voters in strong opposition. Sixty-eight percent of rural likely voters oppose having a horse slaughter facility in their local community, followed by 74.6 percent of likely voters in the Tulsa metro area and 75.8 percent in the Oklahoma City metro.
According to the World, Fallin, when announcing her support of horse slaughter, said it’s “certainly an issue I know is very important to people in the agricultural sector and one that’s had a lot of debate in the state of Oklahoma” and that she’s “glad we’ve been able to see some legislation going through that will help address that issue.”