Humane society refutes horse dumping claims

18 03 2007

Shadow of a Doubt, originally uploaded by Katford.

The Humane Society of the United States says that recent claims that thousands of horses have been abandoned in Kentucky are unfounded.

The society is calling it “a campaign of fear mongering by a foreign-owned horse slaughter industry which is on its last legs in the United States“.

“Proponents of slaughtering American horses so the French and Belgians can eat horse meat frequently alarm the public about wanton abandonment to raise false and baseless concerns about a proposed ban on horse slaughter for human consumption.”

At the annual meeting of the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Association last week, the organization’s president, Dan Evans, surveyed the membership about the situation. None reported an increase in abandoned horse reports or sightings.

“The notion that Kentucky is overrun with unwanted horses is absurd,” said Pam Rogers, Kentucky State Program Coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States, who was at the meeting.

“We are a state of horse lovers, and we want to protect our horses from being butchered and exported to foreign countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy. These claims made by the horse slaughter industry’s lobbyists have no basis. This is just plain rumor mongering.”

The reports surfaced after a federal appeals court decision closed down two horse slaughter plants in Texas. Equine welfare experts report that the horses bound for the Texas slaughter plants are now being shipped to a plant in Mexico to be killed. The only horse slaughter plant still operating in the United States – in DeKalb, Illinois – is importing horses from Canada for slaughter, underscoring the point that there is no surplus of horses available in the United States. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 92.3 percent of American horses going to slaughter are healthy and in good shape – not starving or neglected animals.

An overwhelming majority of Americans and members of Congress oppose slaughtering horses for human consumption. A bill in Congress – led by Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), Rep. John Spratt (D- S.C.), and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) in the House, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D- La.) and Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) in the Senate – would protect American horses from the industry. The House voted five times in favour of stopping horse slaughter in the last Congress, and the Senate voted to do the same by a two-thirds majority, but time ran out before the final authorizing bill could be enacted.

Claims that a ban will lead to the starvation and abandonment of thousands, however, are inaccurate. Horse slaughter was banned in California in 1998, and no corresponding rise in starvation and abandonment cases has been seen. Starving or abandoning horses is animal cruelty and subject to criminal prosecution under state cruelty laws. After California banned horse slaughter, cases of horse theft in the state dropped by 34 percent because there was no longer an incentive to steal horses for the foreign meat trade.

Many horse owners facing difficult times reject selling their animals to slaughter. Instead, they may sell or adopt them, donate them to a rescue group, or have them humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. These are viable options currently available.

A recent trade article quotes a livestock auction operator: “I thought we’d see [horse] prices so bad that people would just turn their horses out on the highway because they couldn’t feed or sell them, but it looks like that may not happen.” Link

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6 responses

19 03 2007
Arlyne Page

I love horses, mules, miniatures, donkeys, anything equine. I have personally rescued several horses and given a few years ago, I would never have supported horse killers. I have personally seen horses dumped and starved literally to death. We have suffered severe drought conditions over the past few years. Out of state hay growers are taking advantage of the situation, charging astronomical prices for small light weight bales and the large round bales are costing almost $70.00 more per bale.

I have stopped my breeding program and refuse to sell my horses for less money because I’m afraid that the new owner won’t take care of the animal. I overheard a horse owner make the comment that one of the horses he had just purchased for $250.00 had become sick. He let the horse die and purchased another horse. He was asked about the new purchase and the death of the other horse. His response was that if he can buy horses for $250.00, if they die he can just buy another one and they aren’t worth calling a vet for. The horse he was talking about was only 10 years old, had great breeding and could have been used in many different disciplines.

It is sad to say that the horse killers may be necessary. I’m not saying that I approve, but for horses that are sick beyond recovery and other horses that are too old and their quality of life has been greatly diminished, killers may be needed. I definitely don’t agree with transporting horses in overloaded tiered transports. They aren’t safe for the horses or other driver’s on the motorways.

21 08 2007
Kathryn

First, let me say that I am a horse lover. But I have to wonder why we put so much concern over eating horses or dogs here in America, but don’t blink at the consumption of chicken or beef.

I was just wondering if anyone knew the rationale.

21 08 2007
defrostindoors

Part of the rationale is here:

What never seems to occur to him [Gordon Ramsay] or anyone else, ethical and moral questions aside, is that horses are not raised and fed to be part of the food chain in the west, meaning that there is no way of knowing what sort of drugs, pathologies, chemicals etc. are actually present in the meat at the time of slaughter: wormers, Bute, antibiotics, you name it.

27 08 2007
Kathryn

Thanks defrost – I really hadn’t considered that before. You would treat animals for slaughter differently than breeding or pleasure or work animals.

9 09 2008
Equestrian Eddie

I think a big part of the rationale is, no matter how generic it sounds, is that people really bond with horses and dogs. You have to admit when you look into a dogs eyes that you love, you feel a lot more than you would if you looked into a pet chicken’s eyes. It would probably pluck out one of your eyes if you got that close.

29 01 2011
jim

People buy horses without any idea of the responsibility required to take care of them. I used to board horses for college kids at a West Texas university and I’ve paid lots of vet bills out of my own pocket never to be recovered.

Most of the kids were responsible but some weren’t and a few would just leave college and never come get their horse.

I sold a few horses on the market…I’m not proud of it, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

I can see eating horse meat if you absolutely had to, but never as a delicacy.

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