Monday, July 20, 2009

Horse Slaughter May Return...in Oregon

Groups lobbying in Congress, Oregon ranchers, and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are pushing to lift the ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. You can read the article here. We all know the current state of the horse industry was created by a perfect storm; a bad economy, back yard breeders, rising cost of ownership, and skyrocketing hay and grain prices. Even before the ban on horse slaughter, the number of unwanted horses in the U.S. was estimated at 100,000 a year. The country has been "over-horsed" for some time, but it was our dirty little secret to have three U.S. plants that quietly shipped the meat to Canada, Europe, and Mexico. When the plants closed, instead of getting $600 per unwanted horse, now people had to pay $800 to euthanize. We all know that horses are still going to slaughter, they just have to be shipped to Mexico or Canada. The immediate solution for a desperate owner; drop them places, turn them loose, starve them and hope they die, or just shoot them. Every rescue agency reports cases of neglect are on the rise and the state of these horses are the worse they have ever seen. So what do we do?

My suggestions have always been two-fold. The first is a request to all horse owners to limit breeding. I drive to my barn and pass farm after farm with a couple horses. Every spring, each one has new little foals, but do you think these people do anything with their horses? Why are these people breeding their horses? All you have to do is click over to Fugly Horse of the Day to see some of the stock these people are producing. The root of this whole problem stems from unwanted horses. People are breeding horses we just don't want. There is supply, but there is no demand. Now, how do we limit? Is it a permit, is it a tax, is it a limited number of registrations? I am actually willing to pay a license fee per year for my horse, just to curb the number of horses that people breed. People need to get responsible for the number of animals they bring into this world. I am asking people to stop and think before they pay $200 to cover their mare.

My second suggestions, if we inevitably return to horse slaughter, can we at least do it humanely and with dignity? In a perfect world, I would love to see every horse live out its days in a green pasture, still loved by the ones who owned it. We need to get realistic, we have unwanted, old, or unusable horses. Where do they go? We can choose to humanely euthanize and use their by products for whatever the market demands or we can turn a blind eye and continue to have them shipped across borders to a horrific end. The bottom line, if a slaughter plant returns to the U.S., we need to demand that they put horses down humanely...don't we owe our horses that? We can't keep wishing for horse Utopia, we need to work for it. When the supply meets the demands, the doors on that proposed plant will close.

11 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

I agree with you, backyard breeders have just got to stop. Maybe there is a way to have them taxed or licensed or something to make them think twice about supply and demand.

Second if the plants do find a way to reopen, perhaps there could be a law with a stiff fine and jail time if the plants are not run humanely. They must insist the horses be put down with a little dignity and painlessly,instead of the torturous and cruel conditions they have to endure now. I would really like if they weren't shipped across the country lines for slaughter too. I've seen and read how this debacle is going and someone's got to stop it.These poor horses don't deserve the treatment they are receiving at present. It's a sin how they are slaughtered and the terror they face.

Then again people being people have no clue as to how frightened these horses are because as I've heard "they're just livestock"! And we all know livestock needs to be slaughtered for food and money now don't we? It doesn't seem to matter how they meet their end they're just stupid animals anyway.
With this way of thinking I really don't have much hope that anything will change. Education of the masses should be mandatory if they are to deal with animals. Most non-horsey people don't get it and the rest don't care.

Sorry this was so long.I just get very angry with the way things are happening these days. I know I'm just ranting on...

jennybean79 said...

How sad! I pass a farm on my way to the barn that has literally 10-15 foals. I want to say this is a Standardbred farm, so that's even more appalling - where are these horses going after their racing careers are over?

Ach - it's such a sad state of affairs the horse industry is in!

C-ingspots said...

It's a very tragic state of affairs to be sure. And there just is no easy answer. The cold, hard reality is that we do need to face reality, and that is terribly complex and emotionally-charged. There is no simple answer, but there is an answer. We probably do, unfortunately, need to resume slaughter in the U.S. This breaks my heart, but it would drastically reduce the sheer numbers of horses that now cross our borders into countries that do not have the types of laws in place that we have to ensure a humane death. And, you're right about the economy and all the other issues that have created the perfect environment for massive overpopulation. It is a tragic set of curcumstances, and the declining ethical and moral state of our world creates the perfect environment for the abuse of these majestic and worthy animals. I work for an equine veterinarian and we have been to several educational seminars through the Unwanted Horse Coalition in conjunction with the American Assoc. of Equine Practitioners and there just is no easy answer. I do wish that laws would be put into effect to force limited numbers of registrations through the various breed associations along with higher registration fees, licenses for horse ownership and control over how many horses one person/family can own. I hate to admit that I believe this way because it means a further reduction in our personal freedoms, however a lot of people are either too ignorant or lack the integrity to do the right thing on their own. It's quite sad, but a lot of people in our day and age need to have their actions dictated by laws. The only way our United States will, or can ever survive under our current method of democracy is through personal integrity and a good moral conscience. We are sliding into moral decline further each day, and I fear we are on the path to destruction, probably sooner rather than later. Just look what we do to each other, and how we treat each other. Why would people treat horses with any kind of respect?
I am sorry that this is so very long. This subject devastates me, and for the life of me; I don't know what the answer is. It is all so very, very tragic and heartwrenching. God help us, and our horses.

photogchic said...

Great feedback and good insight everyone. I think this issue will be on the forefront soon.

Grey Horse..your post could be two books long! I value and respect your insight to all things horse.

JennyBean...The pointless breeding just to breed drives me crazy! One house in particular...two foals every Spring. I have yet to see anyone on the property spend any time at all with any of them.

C-spots...we are all looking for answers in this one. It is going to be tough finding a resolution that appeases everyone.

OnTheBit said...

I just wish that people took responsibility for thier actions. If you want a horse you need to be responsible for the horse FOREVER, not just when you can ride them. And search on one of the news sights for miami horse slaughter...there are some people in FL who are sneaking into pastures at night and killing horses for their meat to sell in a black market. It is disgusting.

Drillrider said...

I've followed FHOTD regularly and have come to the conclusion that you will, unfortunately, never convince backyard breeders (BYB's) to stop. There will always be people that think if it has a uterus, it should be bred. I have 3 mares and regularly get asked if I'm going to breed. One is a 20 year old appy with horrific confirmation & unregistered, one is registered, but built downhill and the other is a mustang with a "jughead". None of them are what I would consider breeding quality and even if they were, I doubt I'd breed them considering all the unwanted horses around unless I were prepared to keep and train the foal myself (which I am not).

If they do reinstate horse slaughter, horse owners still need to do the following:
1. Stop breeding crap.
2. Support programs that provide cheap euthenasia.
3. Provide for your own horse's retirement or euthenasia(if necessary). Quit expecting someone else to make that difficult decision for you.
4. Keep humane treatment a top priority no matter what happens.
5. Educate people regarding horse care. Some neglect is due to a lack of knowledge, especially when it comes to aging horses (old does not automatically equal THIN).

OnTheBit: Heard that story, and saw the pictures, about horses being slaughtered in people's own backyards in Florida (shudder)!

Drillrider said...

Also, was told that in Europe they have slaughter, but they have small facilities where owner can bring the horse in and stay with the horse up until the end. That is humane and is taking responsibility for the horse's welfare, even if it would rip my heart out!!!

gtyyup said...

It really bothers me that the Warm Springs Reservation can, within all their rights, do just that...produce a slaughter facility. The horses on the reservation have no structured breeding program and now that the tribe sees an opportunity to make $$$ from their excess horses, they are free to do as they please.

Slaughter has it's place, but the breeding of horses for speculative sales needs to end...as does back yard breeding without lifetime responsibility of the animal.

I have a neighbor right next door to me that has 50+ horses. The herd of geldings is thin and showing signs of malnutrition (body scores of 2-3). He has a band of mares of about 10-14 that have foals on the ground and a stallion running with them...all of them are scraping by...

What's the point? He can't feed the horses he has...let alone another 10-14 next year!!

Opening slaughter plants will not fix the problem...we (Americans) do not need to raise horses for meat for European menus. If that is what European's want to eat, they can raise their own horse meat.

The indiscriminate breeding of unsellable horses in America must stop.

I do believe there is a need for plants that can use the byproducts from our horses that are old, crippled, and no longer usable...as long as it's done in a humane manner.

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

I find this issue hard to read about and even harder to write about....and so I am so glad that you were able to put out some thoughts that I could simply say "ditto" too! I wish that there was a simple answer...and it does not help that within the horse community it is impossible to find two people that can agree on a single issue, let alone something as weighty as this.

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