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April 11, 2011 § 2 Comments
I’ve recently commented on a couple of articles published regarding slaughter. What irks me is that when these articles discuss the reasoning behind whether slaughter should be reinstated in the US, they completely miss some pretty major points.
Some articles, like this one out of Nebraska regarding legislation to deal with the unwanted horse problem are really well written. The first paragraph really had me thinking “wow, this guy really sees things clearly”!
If you think the unwanted horses issue is complicated, try breaking down the language used to talk about it. The conversation gets blurry from all the politically charged and politically correct language, not to mention all the rhetorical devices, like euphemisms, hyperboles, paradoxes and anacoluthons (deliberate changes in grammatical construction within a sentence). You can almost guess a speaker’s position by the connotation of the words he or she uses. Does he say horses are slaughtered? Or does he say they are rendered, harvested, or sent down the road?
He remains impassive and unemotional in the discussion, and seems to try to show both sides of several points. I think what surprised me most about the article was this quote from PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk:
“We realize that Nebraska has a significant problem with ranchers who cast off their used horses or leave them to starve. We also know that Sen. Larson, in some sort of chest-beating exercise designed to win him votes from people who don’t value or appreciate horses other than as a commodity, introduced two bills that are both cold-hearted and an outright assault on the idea that Nebraska’s ranchers might have a humane bone in their bodies. The problem of unwanted, cast-off horses is a problem created by the exploitation of these magnificent, long-suffering animals, and Nebraska ranchers should rightly, no matter how bitter the pill, adjust their cost of doing business to include the humane disposition of the horses they acquired and profited from but can no longer keep. Sen. Larson had the unmitigated gall to try to pass a cockamamie law to shift the burden to sanctuaries, rather than placing it where it properly lies: with ranchers who mistreat their horses. Perhaps surprisingly, given our opposition to animal exploitation generally, PETA would support the establishment of a slaughterhouse in Nebraska if the following conditions were met: (1) There would be inspections and a humane code of conduct that would prevent the horses from experiencing fear and suffering at the facility (something with which Nebraska also damaged its reputation by throwing out years ago), and (2) there would be a provision that no meat from the slaughterhouse would be used for human consumption. As long as the alternative is to truck the horses long distances over the border into Canada or even into Mexico, as has been done in the past, a slaughterhouse that meets those conditions would be preferable.”
First, good for PETA to say that ranchers should adjust their cost of doing business (and I suggest ALL OWNERS should factor this in) to include the humane disposition of the horses they acquired. But then I was shocked to see her go on to say that they would support a slaughterhouse under any condition. If you read the rants of the pro-slaughter activists, you’d never guess that! I agree that the meat should not be used for human consumption. It just leads to shady characters obtaining horses in sketchy ways to slaughter for meat – because the majority of the population of North America does not agree with horse slaughter for human consumption! It also goes with my thinking that horses, in general, are considered pets. We certainly wouldn’t accept a dog and cat slaughter house in North America where the “meat” is sent overseas for human consumption. Even those horses that have jobs are not considered food-chain animals. Therefore, they are not treated like food-chain animals. Therefore, they shouldn’t be eaten like food-chain animals.
But I digress…
The second place I commented recently was here. It’s a post about an article the writer wrote for a publication called Tack n’ Togs which apparently 12,000 retailers receive. The writer had written a vague piece that slammed Angels Acres Horse Haven Rescue for putting up billboards to educate people on horse slaughter. The author does a bit of statistics-spinning to suit her story, and and of course then gets to the point. She’s a pro-slaughter activist. She even used Slaughter-House-Sue quotes to back up her theory.
Someone wrote in to the publication (both the original article and the responses that were printed are linked on the blog post) and basically lambasted the author – but did it in a factual, logical way.
The author just had to respond under the letter, and starts with “Sometimes when the heart rules over common sense, the outcome is not ideal.” So she comes back at the letter writer – who had been logical, factual, and even came from an industry perspective! – and basically just reiterates what she’d said in the original article, coming up with very little in response to what the letter writer had said. It was a bit of ” ♬ ♬ I know you are but what am I ♬ ♬”.
For both articles, I just had to comment. I had to comment on the first one (although they haven’t posted any comments as of yet, and it has been days) because they’d just missed so many points. I had to comment on the second article because not only was the author completely wrong about some things, but she’d missed every single point the first article had missed as well!
I am including my comment to the second article, as it covers everything I wanted to say:
Since when is educating people a bad thing? All humane agencies do it, and they do it with donated money as well.
You state there should be other alternatives to the rescue effort, yet the only alternative you suggest is slaughter. You shoot down education. You ignore humane euthanasia. You don’t talk about cutting back on breeding. You don’t suggest setting up a licensing system for breeding to channel money back into the system. You gloss over gelding and euth clinics only in your response. And you go straight to “Slaughter-House Sue” for back-up.
You state (erroneously) in the beginning of your original article that the closure of horse slaughter plants caused an increase in neglected horses. What you did there was take a study that said there are 100,000 unwanted horses each year, and parlayed that into an “increase”. That was some quick talk, but it was untrue.
Also, the same numbers of horses are still being slaughtered from the US, they’re just being shipped elsewhere. Since that’s the case, how did the closure affect the unwanted horse population? Well, it didn’t.
The number of U.S. horses killed in Mexico alone in 2008 exceeded the total killed in the U.S. during the whole of 2004.
Of course you don’t touch on two huge issues with the horse slaughter plants; the ecological impact it has on the surrounding area and the drain on city finances. Jim Ridley at Nashville Scene wrote an article (well, actually mainly published a letter by a mayor) just one year ago about what having a slaughter plant did to one small town. Shortened link: http://bit.ly/dlqKq0 The letter is definitely worth the read, and these issues have also been widely documented in other horse slaughter plants, including those in Canada.
To add insult to injury, the horse meat that is being shipped out is not being tested properly for banned substances, and horses are rarely raised for the food chain. That being said, there is one drug in particular that the vast majority of horse owners use at one time or another (Phenylbutazone or “Bute”) that is perma-banned (shall NEVER enter the bloodstream of a food-chain animal). There are no records kept when administered, current testing is ineffective, and it is proven to cause many issues in humans who consume food chain animals who have had it.
Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and deaths.
Additional common medications include Clenbuterol, Ivermectin, fluphanazine, fluoxetine, methylprednisone, dipyrone, gentamycin sulfate, ketoprofen, Regumate and Lasix — all clearly labeled, “Not for use in animals intended for food”, and all commonly used in the horse world.
To tie all that up in a pretty bow for you, one of the biggest ecological issues around horse slaughter is that their blood does not break down like other animals. The reason? All the drugs they are given.
There are breeders out there who dump horses every day that they’ve made profit off of. Horses who are no longer suitable for one reason or another. I suggest if you’ve used a horse up, used it for profit or work, or got enjoyment out of it in any way – you are responsible to either find it a new suitable home, or humanely euthanize it. It is time to take responsibility for the animals we bring into our lives as owners, and into the world as breeders.
The reason I posted this comment here, is because I find I have to write it over and over again. I use the same facts and logic everywhere. Now I can just copy and paste. Feel free to do the same (please just link back to my blog). :-)