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Keith Dane, director of equine protection for the group, disputed claims that no slaughter will lead to more unwanted horses, saying the market is controlled by demand, not supply.

“We contend that the number of horses going to slaughter is not a function of the number of horses needing homes, it’s a reflection of the demand for horse meat abroad,” he said.

He said the economy has been the key factor in spurring horse neglect, not an oversupply of horses.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, has introduced legislation for an outright ban on both horse slaughter here and export for slaughter elsewhere.

“There is almost no market for horse meat in the United States, and the majority of Americans oppose the practice of horse slaughter,” she said.

The report also recommends that the Agriculture Department issue long-delayed rules that would better protect horses during transport, and Mrs. Landrieu said she’ll work to get those rules put into place.