5 min read

How to be an Activist by Passing a Law such as the Federal Anti-Horse Slaughter Bill

Few animal issues have captured the national passion like theplight of America's wild and domestic horses. Over the last decade, equine welfare and the documentation of how our horses are being sent to slaughter to feed overseas diners, has consumed public interest and political intrigue. Most Americans have always opposed horse slaughter, and the American diet has never included horse-meat. We view horses as our pets and don't want to eat our pets. We have approximately 15 million animal advocates, so why is horse slaughter still legal in our country?

DC's top animal lobbyist Chris Heyde, (of "Animal Welfare Institute" https://awionline.org/ ), is the main lobbyist that's transitioning public support for the horse to a policy that will prevent their slaughter. Thankfully,S. 1214 and H.R. 1942, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act were introduced in the US House and Senate in 2015 to ban the slaughter of America's horses while also ensuring they aren't sent abroad for the same purpose. A bill lasts for an entire Congress, which is two years. The current Congress ends in December 2016. Chris Heyde has been leading the campaign to end slaughter since he took the issue to Congress in 2001 and introduced the first bill to ban slaughter in 2002.

The most successful way to help animals is to lobby laws; it is our only leverage. Very few petitions work. Worse, they can end up hurting animal laws because people don't become active in the legislation part, which is the only effective way the public can help shape policy. If people really want to help animals, they must learn how Congress (or The State Assembly) works. The path a bill takes through Congress isn't as simple or easy as shown in the classic School House Rocks video, "Just a Bill" or what many of us learn in high school civics class. Moving a bill through Congress is complex and takes a great deal of planning and work. Here is the basic path a bill takes through Congress:

We had a victory passing the annual FY2016 Omnibus Spending Bill which did not include funding for USDA inspection on horse slaughter plants. http://awionline.org/content/awi-commends-animal-protection-measures-fy2016-omnibus-spending-bill But we still need to make horse slaughter illegal.

Start today by contacting your representative by letter writing or calling. Go to your local town hall meetings, and develop a rapport with your local, state and federal representatives. It is your constitutional right to tell all of the representatives that as a taxpayer, you don't want your taxes spent on horse slaughter. Tell them to pass this anti-horse slaughter bill, the SAFE ACT. Here's an index to find your legislators: http://www.congressweb.com/awi/legislators