Barbi Twins: Why have you and your family become so active specifically in anti-horse slaughter?
Willie Nelson: I’m a little prejudiced when it comes to horses. I have always loved them. I currently have about 68; 25-30 were rescued directly from slaughter. I got involved 8 years ago when Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) first made me aware that American horses are being slaughtered and shipped overseas for human consumption. It’s a shame that horses – or any animal – be treated this way when horses are the foundation of America. Horses were a way to travel to get to where we are today, and it is our job to protect them.
BT: The wild horses have been in the news, but most people don’t understand that horse slaughter is legal. Can you explain what the government does?
WN: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency in charge of protecting wild horses, has been rounding them up at an alarming rate, supposedly for their own good. Sadly, there are more wild horses in holding pens than in the wild. Something is wrong with that, so we must act now before the BLM has managed these magnificent animals into extinction.
BT: Why should Americans be worried about horse slaughter still being legal?
WN: Americans don’t eat horses. They are not raised as food animals and they are treated with chemicals that render them unsafe for consumption. The regulations needed to change their status to “food animals” would cripple every aspect of the horse industry as we know it. Plus, it would be wrong.
BT: What benefit does horse slaughter have if most people are against horse slaughter?
WN: America’s horses and horse industry are under attack by a small group of folks out to line their pockets at the expense of our wild and domestic horses, American taxpayers, and those restaurant patrons who are ingesting toxic horse meat. However, we can pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, which will ban the slaughter of all American horses for the purpose of human consumption, while also ensuring they aren’t sent abroad to suffer the same fate. My family has been working closely with our friend Chris Heyde at AWI on the SAFE Act and other important horse welfare issues for years. I encourage everyone to join with us by visiting www.awionline.org, taking action, and signing up for eAlerts today. Together we can make a difference.
BT: What can you tell people about how they can help stop horse slaughter of domestic and wild horses?
WN: Folks, please join my family and friends at the Animal Welfare Institute to see how you can help with this important American cause.