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Area legislators want end to horse slaughter

"Last year, over 122,000 U.S.-bred equines were slaughtered for export to Europe and Japan for human consumption, with thousands of them transported live from New York State over the Canadian border for slaughter. It is time for this to stop. With the successful passage in the New York State Senate of S.1462, it is now time for the New York State Assembly to pass this legislation quickly so that Gov. (Eliot) Spitzer can sign it into law."

While the offense is subject to up to one year in prison, a civil penalty of up to $1,000 may be imposed on an individual and $5,000 on a corporation for the first violation in lieu of criminal prosecution. Subsequent violations would be punishable by fines of up to $25,000.

Some proponents of horse slaughter say that eliminating this option would create a large surplus of unwanted, neglected horses.

Last year, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, told the House Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection Subcommittee, that U.S. horse rescue facilities have a maximum capacity of about 6,000 horses.

"It would be a daunting, and probably impossible, task to create facilities that could house an additional 10 times that number of horses every year," she said.

This argument doesn't hold water for some area farmers and horse-owners.

"Owning a horse is a lifetime commitment," said Sharon Rogner who, along with her husband, Fred, owns Windridge Farm in Burnt Hills, where they maintain and board up to 10 horses. "If you need to establish a retirement plan, then that's what you do. But these animals are not disposable."

Barbara Lee Jensen agrees. At her After Hours Farm in Clifton Park she boards 24 horses " some of which are rescue horses in their retirement.

"I'm absolutely for this bill and we have a number of rescue horses here," she said. She says horse-slaughter is not a subject that is broached between her and other stable owners.

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