Tuesday, April 3, 2012

They Shoot (and Stab) Horses, Don't They - But They Shouldn't

One of my blog-buddies told me about a blog that was in favor of horse slaughter and the reopening of slaughterhouses in the US. I tried to leave this post but it was too long, so I am posting it here. It is a long one and I apologize for that, but it is a long and complicated -- and important -- issue.

I hope you don’t mind hearing a dissenting opinion on your blog from a stranger. I see that you have researched this issue. But as you yourself admit, there is a vast difference between animals raised for human consumption and companion animals. As you stated, horses have been loyal and constant companion animals to humans for hundreds of years, helping develop and settle this nation, riding into battle, and used for farming, work, therapy, show, racing, hobby, trail riding, competition, etc. They are featured on license plates. Cars are named after them. They’re a symbol of the American West – of strength, independence, and freedom. And they deserve better. They deserve our protection and our care. The key to solving this problem lies in responsible ownership and breeding. People must realize they have a responsibility to animals that can live up to 30 years. And if they become unwilling or unable to care for their horse, there are far better options than slaughter, which I will elaborate upon.

Seventy percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Horsemeat has never been popular in the country and it never will. Horses are considered livestock, but are in a gray area, because they are primarily considered companion animals.

But the arguments that I feel you will respond to most are the following: Horses have a total impact on the U.S. GDP of $112.1 BILLION (American Horse Council). If slaughterhouses close, the rendering industry will have a strong economic reason to start processing horses again, providing more jobs throughout the US than just the few horse slaughter centers that would be reopened. The positive national economic impact of retaining live horses is far greater than the negative impact of closing a few slaughterhouses.

Horses will not starve to death. The horses slaughtered only represent 1 percent of the current population. Horses will be reabsorped into the current population. Equine rescues, riding associations, therapy facilities, retirement homes, and sanctuaries will absorb them into the current population. Overflow can be handled. Horsemeat is not the preferred meat for big cats in zoos and wild animal parks – beef, pig, and sheep meat is.

Of more importance to your argument, horses are not raised as food for humans. Horses receive medicines that the FDA and EU ban – meds for worming, fly repellant, aspirins and for illness, etc., and there is no system in place for monitoring this – no way to remove horses from the food chain once they have been given routine medicines for a variety of reasons.

Finally, 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in sound health and good condition and can be absorbed into the population if people weren’t outbid by killer buyers at auction, who operate out of greed. Horse slaughter has declined in the past 20 years and the horse industry has absorbed the horses that would have gone to slaughter. (From 413,786 in 1990 to 66,400 in 2002 – just 1 to 2 percent of the population).

There is a long history of horrific abuse and neglect with slaughterhouses, including the three that were operating in the US. They were all in violation of environmental laws related to the disposal and death of the horses and other materials. Ending slaughterhouses won’t impact the federal government. If a horse needs to be killed, there are humane ways of euthanasia – which costs much less than the cost of a month’s care..

In slaughter houses, horses are typically not fed, watered, taken care of, are abused and whipped, and the typical way they are killed is to sever their spinal cord that leaves them paralyzed and unable to move or breathe, but still conscious as they are hoisted, bled out, and dismembered. Most are not killed by the contained shot method.

There are far better options for ‘unwanted’ horses that because of financial hardship, or horses that are too old or infirm, or injured to be wanted, or too dangerous, or just that people no longer want them, than slaughtering. As I said earlier – horses deserve better, and horse slaughter isn’t the viable option. I know this post is a long one, but the issue is complicated and involved. Thanks for letting me air this side.


Ms. A said...

Wonderfully stated! I totally agree with you!

Peruby said...

I am mortified. Sick to my stomach.

Lois said...

That made me weep, how horrific.

ReformingGeek said...

Well said, Amy. I am not in favor of slaughtering horses. I did read somewhere, though, that just because slaughterhouses are being closed doesn't mean that horses are not being slaughtered. They are being sent to Mexico. I can't remember where I read this but my thought was that it's still "all about the money" to some people. Sigh.

I Wonder Wye said...

thanks to A for calling the blog to my attention, and yes P. and L., is IS horrific and very disturbing. Sign the act going before Congress to stop this. Google horse slaughter and it will get you there. RG., yes this is true - right now, they are being shipped to Mexico and Canada and whereas there are rules and regs to ensure humane treatment while they are in the US (though hardly enforced due to not enough manpower), once they cross to those countries, all bets are off and they are typically lead a miserable inhuman existence through the end...

Chris said...

Wonderful post. Just wonderful

injaynesworld said...

This shipping of horses outside the country for slaughter should have been outlawed. The whole business stinks, and it is a business, one that thrives on cruelty. The whole issue enrages me. You wrote a very intelligent piece here. I would have been screaming all in capital letters. Good job, Amy.