Proposed bill in Colorado would prevent horse slaughter for human consumption

Lawmakers are hoping to stop the sale of Colorado horses to be killed for human consumption
Colorado lawmakers want to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:02 PM MST
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DENVER (KKTV) - Colorado lawmakers are putting forth a bill that would protect the state’s equine -- horses, burros and mules -- from being slaughtered for human consumption.

The Prohibit Equine Slaughter for Human Consumption bill would criminalize any involvement in a horse becoming food for people. This includes slaughtering or exporting horses for slaughter.

Colorado Voters for Animals, a nonpartisan nonprofit that helped develop the bill, tells 11 News that horses are often exported to foreign countries, most often Canada and Mexico, for slaughter and consumption.

While it’s not necessarily illegal to kill horses for consumption here in the U.S., all meat sold commercially must first be inspected by the Food Safety Inspection Service agency under the USDA. There’s no such federal inspection process for equine.

11 News spoke with Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis (D) and Representative Lorena Garcia (D), co-sponsors of the bill.

“Horses are an icon of the American West,” Jaquez Lewis explained. “We cherish our horses, we don’t eat them.

These lawmakers say they hope horses can be rescued and sent to a “second market.”

“Our surveys have showed, over 90 percent of these horses are still adoptable,” Jaquez Lewis said. “Just because they can no longer herd cattle doesn’t mean they can’t have other duties.”

”Horses that can no longer carry riders, horses that are now too old to be active on farms and ranches, can also serve in mental health areas,” Garcia added. “They can be service equine in assisted therapy.”

But the law may not benefit all. Some Coloradans rely on the export of horses and worry the proposed bill could affect business.

“Honestly, if this bill passes, it’ll be the worst thing ever happened,” said Jason Fabrizius, owner of Fabrizius Livestock, a northern Colorado kill pen.

Under this legislation, Coloradans such as Fabrizius could be fined at least $1,000 and charged a class one misdemeanor. Legal punishments increase with each offense, and people eventually may no longer be able to own or care for equine.

Exporters such as Fabrizius say livestock are livestock.

“We’ve been in this business our whole entire life,” Fabrizius said. “It was business. It always been business.”

Lawmakers say they don’t know how many horses in Colorado this bill would impact. According to the USDA, in the past month, more than 800 horses across the country have been exported to Mexico for slaughter.

The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Thursday afternoon. If passed, Colorado would join California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas as the fifth state with this ban.

11 News will track the bill’s progress and provide updates.