By Wayne Greene, Tulsa World
A state Senate committee unanimously passed a bill to allow the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the state.
Senate Bill 375 - written by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro - passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on a 9-0 vote without debate or question.
Before the bill was considered, Allen announced that he had substituted new language in the bill that would ensure that meat produced at an equine slaughterhouse would be consumed only outside the state and that animals would be allowed to come to a facility only through a livestock auction and a livestock dealer, meaning horses couldn't be sold directly to a slaughterhouse.
Cynthia Armstrong, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the changes to Allen's bill didn't make it any less horrible and unacceptable for the state.
"Oklahoma City has a reputation as the Horse Show Capital of the World," Armstrong said. "We do not need to be known as the Dead Horse Capital of the U.S."
Horse meat is toxic, and horse slaughterhouses are filthy and inhumane, she said.
No horse slaughterhouses now operate in the United States after three facilities closed amid numerous problems, including sewer overflows, she said.
American horses aren't raised to be food and are routinely injected with drugs that would make the meat's consumption dangerous, she said.
"They know very well (the) meat is toxic," Armstrong said. "The reason we won't be eating it in the United States is because the FDA would never allow it."
Armstrong said she asked to address the committee but wasn't allowed to do so.
"They had their minds made up, and that was really unfortunate," she said.
Although the committee voted overwhelmingly for the measure, she said she expected overwhelming public opinion to make it impossible for the bill - or for a similar proposal pending in the state House - to become law.
A 2012 poll conducted for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shows that 80 percent of American voters were opposed to the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption.
"I think the word is just getting out about these two pieces of legislation," Armstrong said. "When the word gets out, ... (the public will) speak out, and I'm sure the representatives will hear loud and clear."
The next step for Allen's bill is consideration by the full Senate.
A state House committee is scheduled to consider the other proposal - House Bill 1999 -Tuesday.