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.
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