GRAFTON -- A horse rescue organization says the five-year ban on the slaughter of horses for their meat in the United States should not have been lifted.
Another Chance Equine Rescue, or ACE, routinely attends horse auctions and buys animals which otherwise would have been purchased by brokers who send them to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada.
Right now ACE houses a dozen rescued horses at a farm in this Lorain County community. They are cared for and prepared for sale to responsible owners.
"The slaughterhouses are just not an option," says Linda Niece of ACE, who recently purchased a 12-year-old horse she named Reno.
Niece outbid a so-called "killer buyer" at the regular horse auction in Sugarcreek, Ohio.
"He came from Sugarcreek, which is basically an auction," Niece said of Reno. "He was there and he probably would have been slaughtered if we had not rescued him. And he's fine, I'm riding him now and there's nothing wrong with him at all."
Congress recently passed a bill lifting a ban that had essentially ended the practice of horse slaughter in the United States. Proponents of opening places to butcher horses in the U.S. say the first slaughterhouse could be open in a month or two.
They say allowing the butchering of horses in this country will eliminate the need to transport horses to Canada or Mexico, where inhumane methods of slaughter are said to be common.
Proponents say the move will also reduce the number of horses abandoned by their owners, or no longer cared for because owners cannot afford it any longer.
Opponents of local horse slaughter say it will have no effect.
"There will always be people who can no longer care for their horses," Niece told WKYC. "The best option if you can't afford to take care of a horse and you can't find someone to take it, is to have it humanely put down."
There is virtually no market currently for human consumption of horse meat in the United States. Most of it is destined for Japan, France, and other European countries, where parts of the horse are considered a delicacy.
Horse slaughter was estimated to be a $65 million annual business in the United States before restrictions were placed on it in 2006.