There is a bill being considered on Capitol Hill right now that would outlaw what many animal rights advocates call a "dirty little secret."
Denise Koch reports it's estimated more than 100,000 American horses were slaughtered for their meat in 2007. The torture for many of those horses begins long before they reach the slaughterhouse.
That's why dozens of celebrities, like actor Paul Sorvino, are fighting for national legislation to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption and the transport of horses for slaughter.
Sorvino and his daughter Amanda rescue horses and keep them on their farm in Pennsylvania.
"I just don't think you should, after you humanize a creature...I don't think you should kill it," said Sorvino.
It's an issue that's also close to the hearts of many Marylanders, including Senator Barbara Mikulski, one of the bill's co-sponsors.
After all, horses generate $1.6 billion of the state economy. Maryland's horse industry involves more than 65,000 Marylanders and 150,000 horses.
So what happens when all of those horses are no longer wanted?
Right now, with no slaughter plants in the U.S. many times so-called 'killer buyers' buy the horses at auctions and drive them to Mexico or Canada. Some die on the way, crammed in trailers with no food or water. The ones that make it often face an inhumane death in the slaughterhouse.
But not everyone thinks this legislation is the answer.
The American Veterinary Medical Association believes the animals will still be shipped across the borders illegally, and with the legislation the USDA will lose its power to regulate the horses' treatment.
"The United States Department of Agriculture can only regulate the transportation of those horses that are going to slaughter," said Dr. Angela Demaree. "They (the buyers) would be saying they're transporting them for breeding purposes or performance purposes, when in reality, they are still transporting them for the purpose of slaughter, under false pretenses."
But no mater what side of the legislation people fall on, most everyone agrees horse owners need to own responsibly to decrease the number of unwanted horses in this country.
"Horses have given us so much over the years," said Amanda Sorvino. "We've used them for our glory and now I think it's time for us as Americans to give back to horses."
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