It's about time.
Slaughtering horses is a touchy subject. But as a horse owner and lifetime horse lover, I feel like I can comment on the subject with both my heart and my head. For the record, I am morally opposed to slaughter, but I can afford to be. I am a responsible horse owner. I don't own more horses than I can afford to take care of. My male horses are gelded, and I have no plans to breed my mare.
Horses have a shared history with man, working alongside him in the capacity of machine before there were steam or diesel engines. Horses were the early day embodiment of tanks, the tractor to pull the plow, the ATV for rounding up the cattle, the tug boats for pulling barges along rivers, the train for moving people west in stagecoach, the fed-ex airplanes of their day in the clothes of the Pony Express, and even today they serve as the police vehicle for crowd control in many cities. Wherever you find the history of man, you find beside him the horse and the dog.
Horses aren't house pets. They aren't even backyard companion pets. There are city ordinances against keeping a horse in your backyard in most residential neighborhoods. Horses are classified as livestock, the same designation as cattle, pigs, goats, and chickens. True that their role as livestock is very different from that of the animals we Americans eat, but that's because their historical and emotional value to us goes beyond their value as a meat animal. Regardless - they are livestock just the same.
At the same time, I love my horses and I am horrified by the problem that closing the plants in the United States 6 years ago created. There is a huge problem with unwanted horses in this country. They went from being a champion cause for PETA during the debates for closing the plants to a complete nightmare for local equine rescue organizations, who haven't got the resources to house the huge increase in unwanted horses that now have no bottom dollar value.
Do a google search for equine rescue. They'll have "before" pictures of their current adoption animals. Those photos are graphic and you'd best have a strong stomach before you look. Here's the link to my own local rescue - Blazes Equine Rescue - who are doing an amazing job in the face of overwhelming odds.
The problem is currently the same one as the one we face with abandoned kittens and puppies, with the exception that horses are usually contained and more visible, and owners who can't support them just leave them to fend for themselves. The number of cruelty cases has skyrocketed. The number of neglect cases is unbelievable. The number of horses living unseen miserable, invisible existences is beyond my ability to even comprehend. At that's just in my own state. Multiply that by 50.
The anti-slaughter coalition's solution, "just don't breed," was about as successful as the current campaign for "new gun legislation." You can't tell free Americans what they can and cannot do with their property and their civil rights.
The tragedy is this. American horses are still going to slaughter. The original legislation simply removed the provision for federal inspections of the American processing plants. Without inspection, the meat could not be sold. But that did not eliminate the market demand. So horses in the northern parts of the United States have been transported to Canada. Those living in the southern part of the United States have been transported to Mexico.
Transport is a euphanistic word for "traveling long distances in overcroweded trailers packed in like sardines with no rest stops and no water for the duration of the journey. Animals lucky enough to arrive alive are met with crowded conditions and minimal if any humane care for injuries sustained during the long journey to their last stop.
What has been happening to American horses in most of the Mexican processing plants is cruel and inhumane. There is no "captive bolt" or "quick death." There is a butcher knife shoved through the top of the neck and into the spinal cord, then the animal is strung up, still conscious, to bleed out. There's video available on You-Tube if you have the stomach for it. I couldn't watch it. The first images are still giving me nausea and nightmares.
Mexican Equine Slaughter Plant Footage
I'm not a crusader. You won't find me sending money to PETA. I don't make a difference in the lives of any horses but the ones that come in contact with me. But now that you know, you need to think about where you stand on this issue. And my stand is this:
By making it possible for the processing plants to reopen in America, we are at least providing the opportunity for our unwanted horses to meet a dignified and humane end, with a continued usefulness and service to us after their lives are over. And that's infinitely better than a miserable life.
I'm going outside now and give Java, Charlie, and Buddy a hug.
Reference Links :
Idaho Horse Council