Sunday, July 7, 2013

Horse Slaughter Approved

Writing and posting articles like this wins me no friends.  From my ranching friends who think wild horses and burros need to be treated as varmints and destroyed, to other friends who think wild horses and unwanted domestic horses should be cared for until a natrual death, matter what the cost.  I think the solution is in the middle.  We need a way to humanely put horses down - that means kind and gentle to yet another group of my friends who don't read nor write very well.   I wish all horses could have a fair life and a natural death, but that is just too unrealistic.  Especially in a battle for dwindling resources - land and money.  

The Associated Press is reporting that Federal officials have cleared the way for horse slaughter plants to begin operations once more by granting a Roswell, New Mexico company's application to convert it's cattle processing facility into a horse processing plant. The next step is for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to send inspectors to the plant.

While the U.S.D.A. has granted this request and have requests from other proposed horse slaughter plants in Iowa and Missouri, the U.S.D.A. is moving forward with a a push for an outright ban on horse slaughter, and the Obama administration's budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year eliminates funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses, which would effectively reinstate a prohibition on the industry puting us right back where we started seven years ago when funding for inspectors was removed therefore shutting these plants down.

The slaughter of horses to produce meat for human consumption and dog foods is an emotional issue on both sides.

Supporters of horse slaughter stand by a Federal GAO report from 2011 that contend that horse abuse and abandonment since horse slaughter was banned have increased. Mainly from people who have a increasingly hard time with the financial burdens of horse care and management and simply have no recourse to euthanize their horses. Most people won't shoot their horses and the costs for a Veternarian call and euthanasis begin around $200.

I wrote about a big case of horse neglect here in the El Paso area some time ago. It was an atypical case where I believe a few grubby, unsrupulous people tried to turn a profit on shipping a large number of unwanted horse to Mexico for slaughter and once they ran afoul of government and animal health regulations and delays which cost them unanticipated fees for holding pens, they just turned these horses out to fend for themselves in desert areas without feed nor water. Without a horse salughter option in the U.S. we'll see more of these dirt bags in the future.

And while it would also be honest to say that people who can't afford to provide a fair life to a horse shouldn't own one, most of these horse owners don't set out mistreat horses they just get into a financial position where they can't afford to provide a fair life to a horse.

Opponents to horse slaughter point to the often inhumane treament for horse bound for domestic horse slaughter, from the sale barn, through transport to euthanizing these horses. Furthermore they point to drug laden and other wise tainted meat from these slaughtered horses. Among the opponents are the Humane Society of America, Front Range Equine Rescue and the America Wild Horse Preservation Campaign.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a self described horse lover, who I highly respect, said "creating a horse slaughter industry in New Mexico is wrong and I am strongly opposed." As much as I love horses there simply has to be a method to dispose of unwanted, unmarketable and older horses. This process has to have the priority of treating these horss fairly and humanely from sale to transport to slaughter. It is not feasible to provide natural end of life care to all these horses.

I am more so in the camp of New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell, a veterinarian, who is calling on local, state and federal leaders to "work together to create solutions and provide sustainable funding to care for or humanely euthanize these unwanted horses. Continuing to ignore the plight of starving horses, creating a new horse slaughter plant, or exporting unwanted horses to Mexico won't solve this problem."

If you have seen the current situation like I have, horses jammed into stock trailers heading to Mexico for an inhumane death but not before they are starved and mal-treated, then you may start to think about horse slaughter being necessary, albeit in a humane process from start to finish.

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