In 2007 horse slaughter was banned in the U.S. Foreign owned slaughter plants in Illinois and Texas were shut down, and currently the fate of H.R. 503, which would prevent shipping of horses for human consumption, lays in wait to be decided by Congress.
Meanwhile, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Arizona and Idaho, among other states, are working furiously on plans to stop H.R. 503 from passing in addition to passing legislation that would allow for the opening of slaughter plants, claiming that the overpopulation of horses, and abandonment issues, are a direct result of the slaughterhouses being shut down in the first place, which is not true.
This is not an argument about vegetarianism. Nor is it an argument about wasting “good meat.” It’s about dealing with an issue in a responsible and compassionate manner.
Horses slaughtered for human consumption aren’t going to feed starving people. They’re going to end up on plates in Europe and Asia as a delicacy. The only reason this is profitable is because there is a demand for the product.
In a previous post I wrote about horse slaughter, I mentioned that when Cavel International was operating in Illinois, they actually imported horses from Canada to meet demands for horsemeat. It’s a simple example of supply meeting demand.
Currently, the economy is adding to the issue of unwanted horses. They’re being sent to auctions, abandoned to starve, or shipped across the border for slaughter. None of these options involve any best-case scenario and it’s nothing short of appalling to think that these so called loving owners won’t cough up the cost of euthanasia.
Equine industries also add to this problem. For every thoroughbred that makes it to the track, thousands of others are discarded as byproducts. For every mare bred in the Premarin industry, thousands of foals are discarded as byproducts. Every backyard breeder who just had to breed their mare, ending up with a foal that they have no idea what to do with, can be congratulated for adding yet another unwanted and undesirable horse to craigslist.org, or worse.
The British Horse Society, in what can only be called a brilliant move, has actually started a “Think Before You Breed Campaign” because of their concern over the lack of “experienced and knowledgeable” homes for these horses.
“Too many mare owners put their horse in foal without objectively considering her merit as a commercial broodmare. To their owners all mares are special, but there are many defects and diseases that are heritable and could be passed on to a foal, limiting its worth. Not all such traits are visible and an alarming number of people go into horse breeding on a whim without sufficient thought to the consequences.”
It’s certainly comforting to see that at least somewhere there are people who are actually willing to apply some common sense and address the root of the problem, instead of letting it go and trying to make a quick buck off the outcome.
It’s not like horses are just sprouting from seeds on the wind. We’re creating the problem.
The slaughter industry wants people to believe that this is the only solution to the problem, and a humane one at that, which simply isn’t true. Opening slaughter facilities in the U.S. is only going to provide incentive to keep breeding, and lead thousands of horses on a long journey to a gruesome death at the hands of incompetent and uncaring workers.
Julie Caramente, an animal abuse investigator, requested information from the U.S.D.A. under the Freedom of Information Act regarding violations of the “Commercial Transportation of Equines to Slaughter Act.” The results can be found here, and they certainly don’t leave any room for interpretation.
The states in question are currently trying to pass legislation that would make it legal to open new facilities. Opening horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. is going to do nothing to solve the problem of abuse, neglect and overpopulation of horses.
It’s just going to create a funnel for the unwanted ones, perpetuating the problem and allowing a few shady individuals to make a profit on the misery of these animals.
Illinois actually had the audacity to offer a $25 fee for each slaughtered horse to be placed in a fund that would eventually be distributed to rescue groups. The Illinois Equine Humane Center, C.A.N.T.E.R., Field of Dream Horse Rescue and Adoption, Hooved Animal Humane Society, Mid America Horse Rescue and the Society for Hooved Animals Rescue and Emergency all scoffed at this offer of “blood money.”
Margo Sutter, President of the Mid America Horse Rescue said, “if Illinois legislators are truly interested in equine welfare, we could think of a million ways they could help Illinois horses, none of which that would involve their suffering and slaughter. The proposed repeal of the horse slaughter ban and the blood-money amendment are as distasteful as they are disingenuous.”
While horse slaughter is admittedly an emotional topic, all these organizations involve horse people that know exactly what’s involved in the care and rescue of horses. Quite opposite to the horse slaughter industry saying that those in opposition to slaughter have no clue what they’re talking about.