Monday, January 26, 2009

Horse Slaughter - Another Piece of Journalism Loaded with Fallacies

Dear Editor,

I read the below article with a great deal of disappointment over the “journalism.” I had to pen a response, and I couldn’t hold it to 250 words. There was too much content to be dealt with.

In response to "Bear Market for Horse Sales:"

This article is full of fallacies that need to be corrected. First and foremost, there is no federal ban on horse slaughter in the US. There were two states with horse slaughter plants until recently, in Texas and Illinois. It was state legislation that closed those slaughterhouses, not federal.

Second, owning a horse has always been a luxury. Horses cost an average of $350 a month to keep – including food, farrier and veterinarian care. The poor economy has had an effect on horse owners. Hay is very expensive in many places. Families are losing their homes to job loss and foreclosure and the pets are often sacrificed as a result of it. If you check the local cat and dog shelters, you'll see they too are being inundated as a result of the economy. It's no different with horses.

The writer states "Previously, horse owners could sell their sick old animals for slaughter. Federal law now prohibits that." Again, simply not true. The horse slaughter industry is still very much alive and quite frankly, thriving in the US. Take a trip to the New Holland (Lancaster County, PA) Livestock auction. You see a large majority of horses being bought for slaughter there each and every Monday. The US Department of Agriculture reports that over 92% of the horses that go to slaughter are not old, sick, mean or untrainable. 92% are young and healthy, and could have a future. What a disturbing percentage. Yet, the "kill buyers" who buy at New Holland and livestock auctions like it have contracts in Canada and Mexico, and they want the beefiest, biggest, healthiest horses they can get to take to slaughter. It makes sense...who wants to eat meat from an old or sick animal? The kill buyers often get paid by the pound.

Over breeding is one of the biggest causes of the lucrative slaughter market. Second only to Paint horses (APHA) , The American Quarterhorse is the most killed breed of American horses. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has no ethical statement against over breeding and slaughter. Many breeders "cull" their less than satisfactory foals by sending them to the slaughter house. They get paid a couple of hundred bucks and the horse travels for thousands of miles and dies an inhumane death all in the name of breeding as many foals as possible in order to get a few good foals.

Gary Grovers of the USDA, admittedly owns 17 Belgians, and is probably a breeder as well. He says "But what if the horse can't stand and graze?” As an employee of the USDA, Mr. Grovers should know that if a horse cannot stand, it cannot be run through an auction house or transported for slaughter (horses must be able to bear weight on all four legs to be sold at auction). The humane thing to do at that point is to have the horse euthanized. It costs about $350 to have a horse humanely put to rest, and have the body removed. If you can afford to keep your horse for one month, you can also afford to have it humanely euthanized. It frightens me that this man is working for the USDA and asking this question....

The slaughter industry is thriving so thoroughly at this point that more American horses went to slaughter in 2008 than in previous years. Manny Phelps, well known kill-buyer in California, states that January will be a banner month for him. He is quite literally, making a killing. (See Jan 5th post:

Patty Demond is quoted in this article as saying This is the most expensive hobby I ever had." Yes, Patty, it is expensive. Horses are expensive. Yet many breeders continue to breed and take no responsibility for the lives they've created.

It's time to step and take responsibility for the horses. These are not animals raised to be food. They are animals we partner with, compete with, and love and enjoy just as we do our cats and dogs. If their time here on earth is coming to an end, we owe them a painless and fear-free death. Step up, America. Start taking responsibility.

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Stolen Horse International


The face of death

The face of death
#396, A kind, gentle Thoroughbred

All that is left

All that is left
I will never forget him...I promise. I am so sorry, #396...I don't even have a name for you...

Why would you take my life? Am I a food source animal?

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