RENO, NV - Most of the time, the president signs a bill and it doesn’t garner much attention. But contained in a spending bill is a little known measure that is sure to cause a fire storm. As of November 18th there’s no longer a ban on horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S.
Wild horses graze near Veteran's Parkway in south Reno--to some a nuisance to others a symbol of the west.
For those horse advocates the thought of slaughtering horses--much less eating their meat, turns their stomach.
But that practice is now legal in the U.S. thanks to a measure passed by Congress and signed by President Obama earlier this month.
“It’s kind of sad that politics and lobbyists, you know get their way and these horses have to suffer,” says Betsy Brownfield, a local horse advocate.
The five year ban on horse slaughter has meant the two remaining slaughter houses in this country have shut down.
But according to the president of United Horsemen, a pro-slaughter group, investors are willing and able to put money in facilities that could be up and running in no time.
It’s not that horse slaughtering for human consumption hasn't been going on up to this point, it has.
The horses have simply been shipped off to Canada or Mexico to get the job done--without U.S control and that's something local equine vet Steve Damonte wants people to think about.
“I think that we can see just from the past two years that the decisions we've made were wrong. And we've actually put the horse out there in peril because they are being neglected, and abused. And I think its important to look at this again and think about it-- probably better to have processing facilities in our country and under our control,” says Dr. Damonte with Comstock Equine.
While congress passed and the president signed the bill lifting the ban on horse slaughter, they did not allocate any money for horse meat inspectors.
Observers say that's just a small stumbling block, slaughter houses could be charged extra for the inspections or those that eat horse meat could be charge a little more.
Its estimated once those slaughter houses are up and running, as many as 200,000 horses a year could be slaughtered for human consumption.
Most of the meat will be headed to Europe and Asia, including France and Japan.