Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, ASS

December 20, 2010 § 7 Comments

I added the ASS behind his name.  It seemed that he needed another three letters to tack on there.

Tom Lenz delivered the keynote speech, entitled “Horse Welfare Wars: When Emotion and Fact Collide,” at the 56th Annual American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Convention Dec. 4-8, 2010 in Baltimore.  You can read the article on, and the original (exactly the same) article here.

This is my point by point dissection of the idiocy of the speech.

Thanks for Nothing

Lenz starts with his definition of the descriptor “Unwanted Horses”

horses that are no longer wanted by their current owners because they are old, injured, sick, unmanageable, or simply fail to meet the owners’ expectations

This description also describes millions of cats and dogs in North America, but we don’t slaughter them and send their “meat” to foreign countries for human consumption

Lenz believes the closing of American equine processing plants is one of several issues which led to the proliferation of unwanted horses and equine welfare situations. Others include the economic recession which has decreased the market for horses and irresponsible ownership which has resulted in over breeding in some segments of the industry.

What about the fact that the same number of horses have been slaughtered each year since the plants closed??  They are transported to Canada and Mexico.  Could it possibly be the fact that it is JUST economic recession and over-breeding?

…a nationwide controversy began as the American public learned that these plants processed horsemeat for human consumption…

If, nationally speaking, people do not agree with the slaughter of horses for human consumption, then maybe that business shouldn’t be operating within our boarders.

Uninformed people with few to no ties to the equine industry care for horses and want to have a voice in how they are treated…

Most people can’t afford to have horses.  Just because they are not horse owners, does this mean they shouldn’t have a say?  Also, most horse OWNERS disagree with the practice… if THEY also shouldn’t have a say, then who?  People who want to make money?  Fail.

He said that the team found that the horses awaiting processing were receiving good care, their welfare was not compromised at any time from arrival to time of slaughter, and that the veterinarians determined the horses were being euthanized in a humane manner under USDA veterinarian supervision.

If this is his opinion, and it’s actually based in fact… please explain the proliferation of videos of horses being slaughtered INhumanely.  There are also many photos of horses in poor condition arriving at the slaughter houses, as well as ones that have been housed there for a period of time.  What about the dozens of skulls and other bones found in piles around back?  Skulls with no captive bolt evidence.  What about THOSE horses?

…the average price for a mid- to low-end horse has plummeted, due to the high numbers of them now available…

Yes, and that is due to overbreeding!  Most cross-breed horses on the market are under the age of 10.  They’re not unhealthy (although maybe under-trained), there’s just too many of them.  So maybe, instead of slaughtering horses, make it more costly (licenses etc.) to breed.  Then “cheap” horses with no specific skill will not be bred in the first place.

He also said that there is a significant increase in abandoned and neglected horses because owners have few options…

People are more aware of the slaughter pipeline, and would rather abandon their horse than ensure it hits that pipeline.  The economy has also added to that factor.  What I wish is that more people would accept the responsibility for the life of their pet – and that means humane euthanasia instead of abandonment or slaughter.

The general public without a background in horses has only the knowledge that they obtain from the activist groups; the activist viewpoint is usually fairly extremist…

So the “general public” (people who don’t own horses) is too stoopid to get that stringing a live horse up by a chain around its’ leg and slitting its’ throat is maybe not the best way for ANY animal to die?  There are lots of animals I don’t own, lets take a fox for an example…  Just because I don’t own a fox, and have never owned a fox, and I’m not a wildlife expert, doesn’t make me too stupid to realize that to make that fox-fur jacket the fox probably died a fairly inhumane death at the hands of a human.

“There is no definitive answer,” Lenz said. “In a perfect world, all welfare solutions would be based on science, such as (the horses’) health and biological function (as opposed to emotion). In reality, though, science is often ignored if society believes something is wrong.” Lenz adds that he believes emotions often take over because society views animal welfare as a moral issue rather than a scientific issue, and they tend to be quick to blame when someone is caring for animals differently than they would.

…based on science… Yes, I would love to have some science involved in your “discussion”!!!  What about the science of the drugs (ie. Bute – the vast majority of horses have received Bute in their lifetimes, it’s like aspirin in the human world) that are BANNED from all meat animals?  What about the science of the environmental disaster the horse slaughter-houses are guilty of?  What about the science of the difference between cattle and horses as far as fear /flight response?  Yes, please, introduce some fucking science!

Lenz cites one of the simplest solutions to the unwanted and neglected horse problem as responsible ownership.

Finally, out of 1300 words in the article, 15 words make sense.

“We as veterinarians have to take a firm position in the middle, and be willing to make a change,…”

Um, what?  A firm position in the middle?  What I read from that is “don’t rock the boat, don’t piss off either “side” by taking a stand either way”.  Pussy.  Fucktard.  You are a veterinarian for Christ’s sake!  Why don’t you take a stand for the humane treatment of all animals?  Because it’s not “just the transportation” that is an issue.  Dumbass.


§ 7 Responses to Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, ASS

  • Suzanne says:

    That’s awesome!! :)


  • Kathy says:

    Very well done!!!


  • Lisa says:

    I just wanted to ask you a question. Do you own a horse or horses? Do you see how horses are being starved every day? Do you know how many horses are being dropped off on the side of the road or at horse rescue places? Even horse rescue places can’t get ride of them.
    If they close the horse transport to Canada and Mexico. We will have a much bigger problem than we have now. Honestly I don’t think you know what you are talking about. The horse slaughter needs to come back or we will have a serious problem in the next few years. I own 11 horses. I’ve had to rescue plenty of horses in my time. I know how expensive they are. I also see the rising horse problem. It has nothing to do with over-breeding. It has to do with stupid people like you closing the slaughters. Go shove this down some body elses throat that has no idea how big of a problem we are acutally facing!!


    • Not A Breed says:

      Oh Lisa…
      First off, if you don’t like what I have to say, feel free to LEAVE.
      Secondly, yes, I own horses. And I’ve rescued horses. So there. I love how you pro-slaughter activists just assume anyone who is anti-slaughter (a) doesn’t own a horse, (b) has no idea what they’re talking about and (c) are all PETA/HSUS converts. You couldn’t be farther from the truth.
      Read ‘about me’ and you’ll see who I am.

      Us anti-slaughter folks see the ‘rising horse problem’ as well. But the ONE fact all you pro-slaughter activists REFUSE to note is the FACT that the same number of horses are slaughtered each year. This fact alone proves that the closures in the States had NOTHING to do with this increase in neglect and abandonment. The fact is the economy has had such a huge role in all the neglect and abandonment – well, that and the fact people can get away with it. The bottom line is slaughter is NOT THE ANSWER. Responsible ownership and breeding practices is the answer. Period.


  • E.L. says:

    I know this is old… But can you please explain to me why horses should be compared to dogs and cats? I understand they can be companion animals, but they also weigh at least 10 times more than a large dog. They are technically livestock. I also understand that the public does not want equine slaughter, but should that be the reason we send horses over the borders to UNREGULATED slaughterhouses? The U.S. slaughterhouses weren’t perfect, but maybe we should be looking at minimizing their mistreatment. Do you think that Mexican slaughterhouses consider the horse’s welfare? Do you think it is humane that a horse may have to travel over 24 hours to get to a slaughter facility? Why not open one slaughterhouse in the U.S. that is highly regulated in addition to requiring breeding licenses and promoting responsible ownership? Also, I have two horses, both were rescued. I have worked at a large animal vet clinic for seven years and have seen a giant increase in unwanted horses. You’re right in saying that the economy is an issue. But we have no way to prove that is the biggest issue here because the economy and closure of equine slaughterhouses occurred around the same time. Just a few thoughts. Before you start calling me names too, know that it kind of discredits what you are saying and makes you seem childish.


    • Not A Breed says:

      Horses are primarily raised as companion animals, they are domesticated, they are loved and pampered just like dogs and cats (well, like all pets SHOULD be anyway). I don’t think there’s a single horse owner out there that cares that the horse is ten times bigger than a dog- with the exception that they can’t bring them in the house because they’re too big!
      Just because something was classified decades ago as livestock because back then they plowed our fields and pulled our carts, and helped us settle this land we call home, does not mean they should CONTINUE to be classified as livestock.
      A quick Google search for the definition (dictionary, not ‘legal’) of the word “livestock” came up with this:

      Farm animals regarded as an asset: “markets for the trading of livestock”.
      cattle – stock

      Note the first thought is of cattle, not horses! And horses are RARELY an “asset” to the average horse-owner. More like a liability!

      People really do not regard horses as farm livestock anymore. After all, livestock is something typically considered an animal you can MAKE money off of! Cattle for beef, milk, etc. Chickens for eggs, meat, etc. Horses… what do they DO? They’re rarely used for actual WORK on a farm (not when machines can do it so much better). They are used, in this day and age, for showing, jumping, trail riding, RCMP, other mounted police, search and rescue, etc. The ONLY ways people make money off these animals is (a) slaughter and (b) breeding – and those go (often) hand-in-hand. The only “business” I can think of that really makes money off of horses is racing, and that’s barely surving!! Not that people breed for the slaughter industry! Oh, no!! They breed to SELL. There’s no money in actually breeding FOR the slaughter industry!! Why? Because horses are too EXPENSIVE to feed and keep healthy until large enough to slaughter!
      So, who’s being slaughtered? Pets (and race horses). Animals who have been treated as pets, and given drugs as pets, and unfortunately they end up in the slaughter pipeline (often mistakenly).

      And BTW, Canadian slaughterhouses are not “unregulated”. Yes, the Mexican ones are (which is why the sickest and skinniest horses probably end up there – horses that even the Mexicans sometimes turn away and end up abandoned in the desert to die).

      The only way to “minimize” the mistreatment of horses during slaughter is to stop slaughtering them in cattle slaughterhouses. Cattle slaughterhouses are NOT designed for horses. Until someone builds a slaughterhouse from the ground up specifically for horses, this practice of slaughtering horses will remain inhumane – no matter WHAT country it’s done in.

      Yes it’s inhumane to ship them farther! But a shorter trip doesn’t justify opening slaughterhouses in the US.
      “Why not open one slaughterhouse in the US that is highly regulated…”??? Because there IS no highly regulated!
      And the trip would oftentimes only be a few hours shorter.
      Why not just BAN all horse slaughter EL?

      I’d love to see breeding licenses and promotion of responsible ownership. I’ve already written about that exact thing.

      I think the “giant increase” in unwanted horses IS because of the economy!!! BTW, tell me this… if the SAME NUMBER OF AMERICAN HORSES ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED EACH YEAR ANYWAY (just shipped to Canada and Mexico), how the HELL does ANYONE point to the closure of the slaughterhouses as the reason for the increase in “unwanted horses” or so-called abandonment and neglect?????? Please, tell me this. You seem intelligent and even experienced!! Please answer that ONE question.

      And I’ve just NOW read your last line… after the first few lines I started responding line by line… so I didn’t see your “don’t call me names it discredits you and makes you seem childish”. If you’ve ever read any of MY comments, I RARELY name-call. I usually only “name-call” the assholes who abuse and neglect horses (or other animals) – in my posts and then when they come on to “defend” themselves.
      Please, give me SOME credit.
      Speak to me intelligently, you’ll get an intelligent response. Speak to me like an ignorant asshole, and well, you’ll get the ignorant asshole response.


      • E.L. says:

        Sorry for the slow response. Just a precursor: My intent is not to defend myself. I am looking to develop a conversation and to explore this subject and understand each side or the argument.
        Yes, they are primarily companion animals, but the label doesn’t mean they have less mass to their bodies. I understand that we love horses just as much as dogs. But horses need more food and more space than dogs and cats do. Plus, their lives are longer. Temple Grandin has written some really interesting stuff about this. There is a brief article called
        “A Perspective on Equine Slaughter from the Field” that I would recommend. How are rescue organizations supposed to manage this if boarders are closed and over 90,000 horses are no longer exported for processing? I understand responsible ownership would play a role, but how long would it take for the number of horses in rescues to decrease?
        Your blanket statement saying “The ONLY ways people make money off these animals is (a) slaughter and (b) breeding” and saying that nobody uses their horses for work is cannot be true. How much money can you really make from slaughter? I just can’t find any legitimate proof. What about the people who buy or rescue horses, train them, and sell them for a profit? And there certainly are many places that still use their horses for working their land. And is showing, jumping, racing etc. really ethical? Are we considering the welfare of the horse then?
        Canadian slaughterhouses process horses from the United States. I would suspect that the majority of the horse population in the U.S. has been medicated with Phenylbutazone which leaves a toxic residue, right? Because paperwork is easily forged, horses from the U.S. are sent over the boarder to Canada and processed for human consumption… Not so safe. And what is your point about “Yes, the Mexican ones are (which is why the sickest and skinniest horses probably end up there – horses that even the Mexicans sometimes turn away and end up abandoned in the desert to die).” Are you saying the sickest, skinniest ones don’t also deserve a respectful end to their lives? Plus, some of the horses sent to Mexico aren’t actually slaughtered. They’re used for farming until they die from malnutrition.
        Were horses slaughtered in cattle slaughterhouses previously? And isn’t that what some people are planning to do (in New Mexico and Missouri) with the changes in legislation? And a shorter trip most definitely makes a difference to horses that travel over 18 hours packed like sardines in a trailer with other horses they don’t know.
        To your question “if the SAME NUMBER OF AMERICAN HORSES ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED EACH YEAR ANYWAY (just shipped to Canada and Mexico), how the HELL does ANYONE point to the closure of the slaughterhouses as the reason for the increase in “unwanted horses” or so-called abandonment and neglect??????” : I think the combination of the economy and increased difficulty in sending horses to slaughter has caused the increase in neglect and abandonment. This isn’t a problem with only one facet. And I don’t think that anyone in the industry believes that it is simply because of the closure of slaughterhouses. They are looking at the overall welfare of horses. Owner responsibility is a major part of this. The AAEP has created brochures and even started the Unwanted Horse Coalition, which educates owners on responsible breeding, etc. Hopefully responsible breeding legislation will come soon.

        From what I understand, anti-slaughter activists believe the horse industry is greedy… I have a hard time understanding this because I don’t see what organizations like the AVMA or AAEP have to gain from equine slaughter, yet they continue to support it. Can you explain this?
        I included the part about name-calling because of your response to Dr. Tom Lenz. He was not speaking to you in an ignorant manner. He was using legitimate facts and was explaining the issue to his peers. I can appreciate your passion- I too wish for better treatment of all horses.


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