Congress recently allowed a ban on slaughtering horses in the US to expire.
It needed to go away.
I am a horse lover, and always have been. I am also a biologist, and a realist.
There needs to be an exit for unwanted horses.
The anti-slaughter people are frothing at the mouth about the possible resumption of slaughtering horses in the US. They are saying that it won’t create jobs, that Americans don’t eat horse meat, and that it will cost the taxpayer money.
These are all true statements. But, as always, they are tiptoeing around the WHOLE truth.
They make it sound as if currently, unwanted horses are not costing the US taxpayer a cent.
They are so very wrong. They don’t want to admit it.
How much is it costing the taxpayer today to keep thousands of mustangs in captivity today? I don’t approve of the government taking wild horses off the range. Horses evolved here and should be regarded as a native species, unlike donkeys, dogs, and humans. But the ranching industry insists that the mustangs (already marginalized and pushed into habitat that the rancher’s cows starve in) are ‘eating up the range’. (and the ranchers destroy their predators: wolves, cougars, and bears)
So the BLM chases innocent, autonomous horses: mustangs who never thought of a human as being anything else but a predator, mustangs that don’t cost a cent in upkeep, and do keep grasses down, preventing range fires. The BLM chases these horses with helicopters, machines that aren’t known for their fuel efficiency. It transports them in trucks to huge gulags, where the horses stand in giant, treeless pens, on hard packed soil or in mud, with hundreds of other mustangs, and do nothing. They aren’t released, most cannot be sold, and so they merely exist. They eat government hay, they drink government water, they live on government forbearance. They aren’t slaughtered. They just live. When they die, the bodies are removed and replaced by more mustangs. The concentration camps are way out in the middle of where the hell am I rangeland USA. They aren’t in Washington DC, or a city, where the populace can see them. They’re hidden away. This isn’t costing the taxpayer an arm and a leg? My eye. They are far more expensive as kept horses than if they were just allowed to roam free and die free.
The anti-slaughter people are turning a blind eye to the suffering that many domesticated horses are going through right now. You cannot pick up a paper in this country without reading of a horse or horses found in someone’s backyard, starving to death. The anti-slaughter people are ignoring the fact that many horseowners can no longer feed a horse, or afford veterinary care for it, but are no longer allowed to dispose of the horse at a slaughter house. People who keep horses generally do so because they like horses. If the owner hasn’t enough pasture, or the horse becomes unrideable, or cannot be sold, what do they do?
They either ignore it, hoping it dies, or they dump it somewhere. They drop the horse off in a National Park, or on someone’s farm, or on Indian reservations, or just somewhere else than here. They may believe that the horse will ‘revert’ to it’s ‘wild instincts’ and turn into a mustang.
But the fools do not want to believe that the horse that was foaled in a barn, handled, trained, ridden, fed, watered, groomed, and kept by a human, can suddenly turn into Fury the Wild Mustang simply by being released by a human into ‘the wild’.
In all cases, the horse suffers. He had a problem before that is now compounded: he hasn’t the instincts the human ascribes to him. He will stay in the spot where the owner dropped him, to starve, to die of dehydration, to be hurt by human monsters, or attacked by feral dogs. In every case, the taxpayer ends up paying for the horse, in the way of a law enforcement or park ranger must find a way to get the horse off the park, range, or reservation. Something has to be done with the horse. That something is not death by slaughtering.
Or he will stay in a forgotten corner of the owner’s property, his hooves growing up and over his own legs, surviving on the weed that dares raise its head, his hide rotted by rain, snow, and wind, no feed, no water, nothing.
Or the animal will be dropped off on some other horse owner, one who daily illustrates his care for his animals. That person calls the authorities, who must come and take the horse away, because he’s been abandoned. I have no idea where these horses go, but I do know it costs taxpayers money.
The anti-slaughter people insist “someone will want that horse”…but it won’t be THEM. Not a single one of the Congressmen who signed the ban into law made any sort of effort to delegate funds for the inevitable flood of unwanted and now unslaughterable horses. They didn’t offer to take any and all of them. That was ‘someone else’s’ job.
Then there’s the excuse that Americans don’t eat horsemeat. We never claimed to. The horse meat market arose from the governments ‘cleansing the ranges’ in the 50’s, when it bent to the rancher’s demands to clear BLM land for cows, not wildlife. While this was reprehensible, at least the horses weren’t wasted: the people in this world who eat horses found a good market in American horses and purchased the meat. No one in this country purposefully raised a horse solely for consumption. None of the anti-slaughter people said a word about the millions of cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens that are slaughtered every day for consumption. The anti-slaughter people pushed this ban through based on emotions, not practicality.
They personally didn’t like that horses were being slaughtered and by god, rather than deal with far more pressing issues in this country, they focused on one issue that was unneeded but was a ‘feel good’ one. They made people who eat horsemeat sound like monsters, yet not a word is said about people who eat dogs, for instance.
The anti-slaughter people haven’t said one damned thing about the millions of dogs and cats that are slaughtered in every city in the country. We don’t eat them, either. There is not now, nor has there ever been a market in this country for dog or cat meat. But they’re not bitching about that. Oh, no. Not a word about the ”euthanizing’ of dogs, puppies, kittens, cats, rabbits, you name it escapes their lips. Do they complain when a ferocious pitbull bites the face off a person and is then taken to the pound for euthanizing? Oh, no. Yet the horse that is so broken down he cannot move, or one that is intractable, or has a disease that will never get better: no, can’t send that animal to the pound. They aren’t equipped to handle livestock.
A month ago I was in Austin, TX with a friend who rescues Labrador Retrievers. We went to a ‘no kill’ facility, one that takes in unwanted dogs and cats and attempts to find homes for them. There must have been 120 dogs in the facility. She found two Labs that she was going to foster, until their owners claimed them. They were merely strays. Of all the dogs in that facility, about ten of them were mutts or purebreds, mostly Labs or Labrador crosses.
The rest of the dogs in the facility-about 110 dogs-were pitbulls. The vast majority of them had been turned over to the facility as ‘unmanagable’ or unwanted.
That’s right. Almost all the dogs were pitbulls. The pitbulls ‘adoption rate’ was almost nil. They were in the facility because of the image of a pitbull being a four legged automatic weapon has fostered a huge breeding pitbull breeding market. They aren’t pets. Judging by their reactions to a human walking past their kennel, the vast majority of the pitbulls were completely intractable. Untrainable, dangerous, angry pitbulls. What was the facility going to do with them all? Beats the shit out of me, although one of the staff told me the Mexicans ‘buy them all the time’. What happens to them? Wellllllll,” they don’t come back”. I know and he knew what happens. The dogs die in a dog fight.
Where are the anti-slaughter people in the cause for dogs and cats? They aren’t.
The people who scream that horses shouldn’t be slaughtered are so far removed from reality that they are the cause of the problem.
When slaughtering horses was legal, it was a means to dispose of (and that is the word, harsh as it is, but we are a cruel animal) a horse that for one or more reasons, was no longer wanted.
I remember going to horse auctions. Auctions were the second to last step for an unwanted horse. One took a horse to the auction for many reasons, but all of them were the same: a way to get rid of a horse. Many were no longer usable. I saw horses so badly foundered that they could not stand upright. I saw horses that were so dangerous one could not approach one without a hayfork. I saw horses with diseases such as Cushings or cancer. And then, I saw horses that were perfectly fine. They almost always were purchased, sometimes for ten bucks. That kind of horse was often a blessing, and I can say this for a fact. My last horse, Jordan, was purchased at an auction. There was nothing wrong with him. He was a purebred Arabian, papered (I still have his registration papers), a perfectly trained, well behaved horse. The only reason he was sent to auction was that his owner could no longer afford to keep him. When I got him, two or three years later, he had developed Cushings disease, but otherwise he was great. I gave him the last six years of his life before I had to have him put down due to terminal Cushings.
Auctions were a way of finding an inexpensive horse.
Let’s also discuss horse breeding. When there was a legal way to dispose of horses, people did so. This allowed horse breeders to breed more horses. The horse breeding industry was a money maker in so many ways: not only did the horses make them money, but the breeding fees, horse care, taxes from the property, hay sales, horse shows, equipment, trucks, trailers, advertising, magazines, you name it. The horse industry was a money making one.
When the exit for unwanted horses was locked by the anti-slaughter people, suddenly there was a surplus of horses. Horses that were unwanted, unshowable, unraceable, unrideable, for whatever reason, horses weren’t selling any more. The upshot of that is: racetracks have shut down, race horse breeders (who always were the big money/tax producers of the breeding industry) are no longer breeding horses because no one can get rid of the horses they already have. Pleasure horses are no longer being bred. Tell me, when was the last time you saw a new foal in a pasture with its mother? In the last five years…since the ban took effect, I have seen two. TWO!!!
Let’s look at another consequence the ban on slaughtering has had on horses. Horses are still being slaughtered, but only in Canada or Mexico.
Now let’s think of it. Do the anti-slaughter people think that a person who seriously wants to have his horse slaughtered buys a one way ticket on an aircraft for the horse?
Oh, no. The horse is shoved onto a stock trailer with perhaps a hundred other horses. They are taken to Mexico or Canada. This means that a horse in, say, Kansas, must endure a twenty five hundred mile trip to Mexico or Canada. The horses are not fed. They are not watered. They’re not allowed out of the trailer to pee, to stretch their legs, to sleep laying down. They are crammed in to the truck with no room to turn around or even avoid another horse’s attack. The driver, being human,can only drive eight hours, then must take a long break and have at least eight hours of rest. The horse does not ever, ever get off the truck. The journey to the slaughterhouse may take up to a week. If a horse dies on the truck, it is held up by its neighbors. The horse’s last week of life is spent crushed into a truck, a four legged sardine. The anti-slaughter people do not see this as cruel. No, they see it as ‘criminals’ skirting the ban by sending the horse out of country.
The anti-slaughter people are now attempting to make it a crime to send horses to Canada or Mexico.
The anti-slaughter people do not want to address the reasons why people want to slaughter horses.
They are vociferous in their ‘defense’ of the horse, but only in the parts that are charismatic. They refuse to face the facts of neglect, abuse, disease, crowding, you name it, all the reasons why a horse needs to be slaughtered. They possibly believe that horses should be euthanized by a veterinarian. But a veterinarian doesn’t want to be the murderer. Many vets refuse to put down a horse that is not actively suffering or dying. Veterinarians do not put down a horse because they like to. They do it because it makes them a living. It costs a lot of money to euthanize a horse, and in many cases, the carcass must be taken to the landfill because it wasn’t slaughtered in a slaughterhouse. Many counties won’t allow you to bury a horse. So what do the anti-slaughterers say we must do with a horse that needs to die?
They don’t. They ignore it. Like any narrow minded, unwilling to be reasoned with fool, they keep their eye on ONE aspect, one and only one, and like Pollyanna, ignore the rest. They are worse than any ostrich with its head in the sand.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand what their reasoning is.
But I know it is wrong. They are wrong. They are responsible for hundreds of thousands of horses suffering needlessly. They are responsible for the destruction of a money making industry, from the breeding of horses to the sale of horsemeat.
Do I like the fact that horses need to be slaughtered? No, but then, I don’t like the idea that millions of other pet animals need to be euthanized, either. But I know it is necessary.
Rescind the ban on slaughtering horses in the US. Govern it, regulate it, make it as transparent as possible, but make it legal. Millions of horses will be the better for it.