Horse Slaughter… Why?
February 22, 2011 § 36 Comments
Every now and again… ok, actually every time I read anything about horse slaughter… I get frustrated with the arguments I keep seeing for horse slaughter, and it makes me wonder “Why are people pushing horse slaughter so hard?”. It frustrates me because I see the same “arguments” over and over again, and many points are completely unfounded or disproven! So I decided to add “reasons” and “arguments” to this page, and see where it takes me…
I will note that (a) there is a difference between an argument and a reason, and (b) this is a very emotional topic for many people on both sides of the debate – I’ve tried to take emotion out of the equation as much as possible.
Common of “Reasons” pro-Slaughter (and Rebuttal)
I have rebutted each “reason” for slaughter in italics.
- The closure of the slaughter plants in the United States has caused an increase in neglect and dumping of horses.
Close to the same number of horses are being slaughtered each year – the only difference is they’re being transported to Canada and Mexico. Since this remains fact, how did the closure affect anything? It obviously did not.
- Without horse slaughter (still available in Canada and Mexico) many more horses would starve and be neglected.
See answer above. Also, it has been shown that there is not a significant increase in actual cases of abandonment, but rather an increase in reporting the cases that do occur. As for neglect, there are many reasons that factor into these cases; many having to to with the current economy (which not one single pro-slaughter proponent seems to ever admit).
- People need a place to take their horses when they’re lame, no longer useful, etc. and get money for them.
Like any other animal that people acquire and keep for long periods of time – people should take responsibility for that animal. That responsibility includes standards of care throughout the life of the animal including veterinary care, and should include humane euthanization when the animal is in pain or otherwise debilitated. The same goes for if you can not find a suitable new home for the animal when you are no longer capable of caring for it.
- Many parts of the horse are useful for things other than human consumption (glue, hair, etc.).
There are many other substitutions for any product made from horses. I defy to you name one single product that comes from the horses carcass that can not be made synthetically or from cow.
- Horse slaughter is humane.
Horse slaughter is not humane, and is impossible to make it humane when the horse is slaughtered like cattle. Horses have been equated to deer in their fear/flight response and therefore slaughter is inhumane.
- Transportation of horses to slaughter is regulated and enforced.
Just because there are regulations in place does not equate humane handling. Horses are still transported on double-decker trucks that are too short for them. Sometimes those trucks are unloaded just before arrival at the Canadian border and they’re reloaded into appropriate trailers for Canada. The regulations state that horses can not be transported longer than 36 hours without food, water or rest. After 36 hours a five hour rest break is mandatory. In my (and many others) opinion, 36 hours without a break, food or water is entirely too long to transport a horse – for many reasons. Add to that the fact many horses are not fed or watered once being dropped off at auction, and they end up going for significantly longer than 36 hours without food or water.
- Since there are no more slaughter houses in the States, horses are forced to endure longer transportation to Canada and Mexico (reason to reopen horse slaughter houses in the States).
This is technically correct. While they are being made to travel further, that does not mean slaughter houses should reopen in the States. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
- The price of horses has dropped because of the lack of slaughter in the United States.
The price of horses has dropped globally for horses. This includes in Canada, where horse slaughter is readily available. It also includes other countries who slaughter horses. Therefore the closure of the American slaughter houses has not had any affect on the price of horses. Also note that well-bred, skilled and proven horses are still at a premium price. From those two facts you can surmise that (a) slaughter does not affect price and (b) only ‘average’ or worse horses (poorly bred, unskilled, unproven) are dropping in price.
- Slaughter houses bring money to a community through taxes, jobs, etc.
It has been proven time and again that the companies that run slaughter houses are routinely foreign-owned, and pay little in taxes. That money is leaving the country. It has also been proven time and again that those slaughter houses mainly hire immigrant workers at low wages, and create ecological messes that cost already taxed communities a great deal of money in clean-up, enforcement, etc. ALL you have to do is read this letter, and see the conditions, completely disgusting.
Common “Arguments” pro-Slaughter (and Rebuttal)
I have rebutted each “reason” for slaughter in italics.
- If you eat meat but are anti-slaughter you are a hypocrite.
There is a difference between the way food-chain animals and horses are treated. Horses are commonly treated more as pets, and are much more attached to people. It seems to be more of a betrayal to kill animals who are so attached to humans.
- Hindus revere the cow but don’t come here and try to shut down our cattle slaughter plants.
People in India are not slaughtering their cows and shipping the meat to other countries for human consumption!
Common “Reasons” anti-Slaughter
- Bute is a drug commonly given horses, and there are no regulations enforcing a “paper trail” for its administration. Bute is banned in meat destined for human consumption, and there is no “withdrawal” period. No animal destined for the food chain is supposed to ever have had Bute. Testing for Bute is done incorrectly, as it remains in the bones, not muscle or blood.
- Ecological issues surrounding horse slaughter plants are extensive and expensive to deal with (odor and wastewater effluence violations, violations to industrial waste permits, transport of offal and fresh hides conducted in leaking containers without covers, blood flowing in the ditches, adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant, clogged sewer lines, and both spilled and pumped blood into nearby creeks).
- Horses are more akin to deer than cattle in their flight responses, therefore making it extremely difficult to kill them by captive bolt or bullet to the head in slaughter-house conditions.
- The cattle slaughter houses, which were retrofitted to accommodate horses, are still not designed properly to manage horses size and fear reactions – specifically the concrete floors make it impossible for the horse to achieve proper footing, amongst other things.
Common “Arguments” anti-Slaughter
- Horses are pets, they are not raised in North America for their meat. They are treated as pets in the majority of cases, and/or are used in jobs, sports, competitions, etc.
- People don’t eat horse meat in North America, and therefore horses should not be slaughtered and sent overseas for other people. (Edit in: there are small pockets of people who do eat horse meat in North America, but it accounts for less than 2-3% of the market – should we allow a maximum of 3% of the population to dictate the slaughter of horses for human consumption?)
There are several solutions to the over-population of horses that have nothing to do with slaughter. Why are people not investigating solutions other than slaughter for these issues they deem so important as to bring back, or increase, the amount of horses being slaughtered? This is the real question, in my eyes. The fact that pro-slaughter proponents continually push the slaughter agenda, supposedly for the “good of the horse”, while never once putting forth a single other option as a solution, makes me wonder what the reasoning really is as to why they push so hard for slaughter.
Reasons People are Actually pro-Slaughter
- Money – Registries:
Some breed registries promote slaughter; more horses slaughtered makes more room for breeding more horses, which then are registered and that brings money to the registry.
- Accountability – Market:
Merriam Websters dictionary defines the word accountability as follows: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
Breeders do not have accountability for the horses they breed, whether for racing or any other industry or reason, for the horses they produce.
- Money – Costs:
Merriam Websters dictionary defines the word “cull” as follows: to select from a group : choose – and – to reduce or control the size of (as a herd) by removal (as by hunting) of especially weaker animals; also : to hunt or kill (animals) as a means of population control
Instead of being accountable for the horses they breed, breeders “cull” and take the “unwanted” horses to slaughter (often without even a chance of sale to a good home), thereby reducing the number of horses to feed and care for, and receiving at least a nominal amount of money for them.
- Responsibility – Costs:
Merriam Websters dictionary defines the word “responsibility” as follows: moral, legal, or mental accountability (edit in: I would like to add “financial” to the list, which would actually be covered under “legal”)
It is an expensive proposition to breed horses on a large scale if you want to make money. Since breeders are legally responsible to pay to feed all the animals in their care, the expense rises exponentially.
- Responsibility – Market:
If a breeder has a place to “dump” horses that don’t make the cut (cull), they will never have to take responsibility for those horses, and in fact they receive compensation for doing so. See item #4 in this list.
- Accountability – Abuse and Neglect:
Slaughter allows an owner to abuse and neglect their horses without being held accountable. What better way to hide their crimes than to ship the victim off to slaughter?
- And finally, MONEY $$$ MONEY $$$ MONEY
“An estimated $5 million in Federal funding was being spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants! And when the Dallas Crown tax records were exposed in the city’s legal struggle, we found that they had paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12,000,000”
This is why “elected officials” are pushing the slaughter agenda – they want a piece of the $5 million dollar pie.
My next post will be about some possible solutions or ideas that may help with the reasons there are more horses than homes. Fix the reasons, and you fix the problem.
If you had a very expensive car, and it was leaking an average of a litre of oil every hour, what would you do? Would you put a pan under the car in the driveway and call it a day? That wouldn’t work well. Maybe dig a trench so the oil runs to a collection area and then work out a plan to contain and dispose of it? Would you carry a case of oil in the trunk so while driving you could stop every hour and top up the oil? Or would you take it to a mechanic and fix the problem so the car stops leaking oil?
Please feel free to add any arguments or reasons you know of both for and against slaughter in the comments. I will discuss them in the comments section, then possibly add them to the lists above.