OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma is now a signature away from being a horse slaughter state.
House Bill 1999 was passed with a 32-14 vote in the Senate Tuesday, and now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin's approval.
SEE THE BILL (http://bit.ly/16Wp5PS)
Under the legislation, horses could be legally slaughtered in the state for human consumption. The meat still could not be sold in Oklahoma, only exported.
Supporters of the bill say its adoption would help resolve the issue of horse mal-treatment and abandonment.
READ: 'Oklahomans talk pros, cons of horse slaughter' (http://bit.ly/XaAwSa)
"Oklahoma livestock and wildlife producers respect and care for animals," said Oklahoma Farm Bureau president Mike Spradling. "This legislation provides a humane solution to the challenge of abandoned, abused and otherwise neglected horses."
State Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, authored the bill and spoke confidently in the bill's potential.
"I have said repeatedly that when all the facts regarding this issue are on the table and our lawmakers are educated on this issue, they will find that this bill is a much more humane way to treat these animals, to manage the population and to control the neglect that we are seeing when irresponsible owners decide they can no longer take care of their horses," McNiel said.
"The fact is, 46 other states currently do not ban this practice," she said. "We have a broad, bipartisan level of support for this bill, especially among rural Oklahomans who see this problem up close. I hope Gov. Fallin will support this measure when it arrives at her desk."
HB 1999 does have its detractors, namely animal rights groups, who refute the idea of slaughter as an answer to abuse.
READ: 'Animal advocates oppose horse slaughter bill' (http://bit.ly/10M8oDZ)
According to the Associated Press, Fallin is "inclined" to sign the bill.