Watch CBS News

Prohibit Equine Slaughter for Human Consumption bill would criminalize horses being slaughtered for human consumption in Colorado

Prohibit Equine Slaughter for Human Consumption bill would criminalize horses becoming food for peop
Prohibit Equine Slaughter for Human Consumption bill would criminalize horses becoming food for peop 02:16

Colorado lawmakers will discuss a bill on Thursday aimed at protecting horses, burrows and mules from being slaughtered for human consumption. While it is not illegal to slaughter horses in the United States, it is not illegal to transport them out of the country for that reason. 

The Prohibit Equine Slaughter for Human Consumption bill would criminalize any involvement in a horse becoming food for people, including exporting the animals.


"It's really, really, really horrible what's happening to them. They're suffering immensely," said Bree Thompson, president of the nonprofit Wild Hearts Haven.

Thompson has dedicated her life to protecting horses, and part of her work is going to livestock auctions around the state. There she tries to outbid kill buyers to prevent horses – young and old – from being shipped off to foreign countries for slaughter.

"When they're sent off to Mexico, it's like a few days on a trailer without food and water, some of them fall and get trampled… it's all so horrible," she told CBS News Colorado.

Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis wants to stop the transport of Colorado horses to slaughterhouses. She is a co-sponsor of the bill.

"It's brutal, it's tragic, it's so cruel and many of these horses are adoptable," she told CBS Colorado's Kelly Werthmann. "Americans cherish horses. They're the symbol of freedom in the West, and we want to cherish them that way."

Jaquez Lewis said a recent survey showed about 90% of horses sent to slaughterhouses are still adoptable. She wants to see the animals given a second chance at a better life.

"Just because they can no longer herd cattle, doesn't mean they can't have other duties. They are still able to be companions. We can help create the secondary market so that those horses could go on and be adopted and have another life."


She likened the bill to a consumer protection law of sorts. It would be an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable with fines reaching upwards of $10,000.

"You cannot transport these horses for human consumption, and if you are caught you will have an initial fine and then if you continue to do it, the fine will get steeper and steeper, as high as several thousand dollars," said Jaquez Lewis.

However, owners of some of Colorado's kill pens say if this bill passes, it would crush their way of life.

"It's part of my life. I grew up in it," Jason Frabrizius, owner Fabrizius Livestock, a kill pen in northern Colorado, told KKTV. "It's a business. It's always been a business."

But for horse lovers like Thompson, the business of killing horses is killing a symbol of freedom.

"It's just sad that they've helped us build our country, win wars," Thompson said of horses. "I just want to protect them."


The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill for the first time on Thursday. If it does become law, Colorado will be only the fifth state in the country with a ban on the sale of horse meat for human consumption – along with California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.