Audio Debate: The End of the Trail for American Horses

Wayne Pacelle and Charles Stenholm on Equine Care and Slaughter

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Welcome to E/The Environmental Magazine"s first streaming audio debate. This face-off between Wayne Pacelle, chief operating officer of the Humane Society of the U.S., and Charles Stenholm, a former Democratic congressman from Texas and current lobbyist for the horse slaughter industry (as a senior policy advisor at Olsson, Frank and Weeda) was recorded live on WPKN-FM in Bridgeport, Connecticut March 14, 2006.

If you"ve been following it, you"ll know that the fight over America"s three remaining horse slaughterhouses (in Texas and Illinois) has developed into back-and-forth high-stakes brinksmanship, featuring name calling, Congressional action, outraged city halls and last-minute judicial rulings. There are three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. (read the complete story here) that export their meat to Europe, where it is considered a delicacy. The plants" status remains uncertain as Congress prepares to take up a bill that would ban horse slaughtering for food in the U.S.

The debaters are, respectively, the leader of the largest humane group opposing horse slaughter and the industry"s chief lobbyist:

Wayne Pacelle

Wayne Pacelle has been chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the U.S. since 2004. He is also a former executive director and national director of the Fund For Animals; former president of the Animal Rights Alliance; and a former editor of The Animals" Agenda magazine (co-founded by E"s Doug Moss). Pacelle also:

  • conceived or helped to direct more than a dozen successful ballot initiatives, including the first ever ban in the United States on the use of gestation crates (Florida, 2002) as well as bans on the use of leg-hold traps (Colorado, 1996; Massachusetts, 1996; California, 1998; and Washington, 2000).
  • worked with state legislatures to pass a broad range of animal-protection laws while also thwarting the advance of numerous measures to harm animals. He has, for example, helped to prevent the legalization of dove hunting in Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.
  • helped pass more than a half-dozen federal laws to protect animals, most recently working with Congress in 2002 to ban the interstate shipment or exports of fighting birds and dogs.
  • testified before Congressional committees on more than 10 occasions. His topics have included canned hunts, the Animal Welfare Act, cockfighting, the exotic pet trade, bear baiting and Chronic Wasting Disease.
  • is co-founder and former chairman of Humane USA, a non-partisan organization that works to elect humane-minded candidates to political office.

Charles Stenholm

Charles Stenholm was elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat in 1978, representing the Abilene-based 17th District. His main interests were in agriculture and budget matters. For six years, he was the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, and worked very closely with the committee’s chairman to shepherd the 2002 Farm Bill through Congress. Born in Stamford, Texas, Stenholm went on to serve the 32-county, 17th District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stenholm earned a reputation for building bipartisan alliances in areas as diverse as agriculture, resource conservation, food safety, Social Security, energy, health care and budgets.

Stenholm was co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, the Public Pension Reform Caucus, the Sound Dollar Caucus, and the U.S.-Mexico Business Caucus. He graduated from Tarleton State Junior College and Texas Tech University, and has received honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons and McMurry Universities. Former Congressman Stenholm is now a Senior Policy Advisor at Olsson, Frank and Weeda.

Audio editing and production by Bayard Russell,