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Tsunami of Horse Abuse Cases Sweeps Nation
Eliminating Horse Processing Devolves into Undeniable National Horror
ARLINGTON, VA - An undeniable tsunami of horse abuse cases has swept
across the USA since the de facto ban on horse processing - pushed by
vegan driven animal rights groups - went into effect in early 2007. In
the past few months alone, major media outlets including the Chicago
Tribune, Coeur D'Alene Press, Portland Oregonian, Austin American
Statesman, Seattle Times, UPI, Washington Post, Rockford Register Star,
Associated Press, and The Wall Street Journal chronicled cases of horse
abuse and neglect from all across the nation including Illinois, Idaho,
Oregon, Texas, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, Alabama and Florida.
Animal rights activist groups are responsible for the legal actions that
forced three horse processing facilities, two in Texas and one Illinois,
to close. As a result, the price of horses has declined markedly. Rather
than sell the horses some owners are setting them free, others are
letting them starve and, worse yet, refusing to call the veterinarian for
perfectly treatable conditions, causing an unspeakably horrible animal
''This sad state of affairs is the direct result of the anti-horse
slaughter movement, piloted by the vegan-led Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS) and other animal rights organizations,'' said Kay
Johnson-Smith, Executive Vice President of the Animal Agriculture
Alliance. ''These groups claim to care about animal welfare, but when
faced with an animal welfare disaster caused by their efforts, callously
insist that the market will sort itself out or, worse yet, coldheartedly
dispute that this crisis exists, despite the undeniable documented surge
in animal abuse cases. All the while, they leave seriously underfunded
local animal rescue operations to save animals.''
''It is time for the federal government to intervene and stop these
animals, considered by many to be American icons, from being used by
vegan groups as political pawns in their quest to impose their vegetarian
agenda on our nation,'' added Johnson-Smith. ''Additionally, it is time
for all governments-federal, state and local-to recognize these groups
for what they are, extremists attempting to use animal welfare as a tool
to advance their radical vegan agenda.''
The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, is
a broad-based coalition of individual producers, producer organizations,
suppliers, packer-processors, private industry and retailers. The
Alliance's mission is to communicate the important role of animal
agriculture to our nation's economy, productivity, vitality, security and
that animal well-being is central to producing safe, high-quality,
affordable food and other products essential to our daily lives.
"You should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will
convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would
do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered." Lyndon
Johnson, 36th President of the U.S.
This was all predicted prior to the slaughter ban. No one listened to the AEP or other horse industry groups about this. This slaughter ban is perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to horses in the US. No only that, but the high price of horse flesh in nonAmerican countries is driving a massive increase in slaughter in both Mexico and Canada.
This came out in this weeks JAVMA:
--- Quote ---U.S. horse slaughter exports to Mexico increase 312%
Despite American plant closures, slaughter continues across the border
Since all three U.S. horse slaughter operations were ordered closed last year, the number of horses exported to Mexico for slaughter has exploded. As of Dec. 20, 2007, 44,475 horses had been shipped to Mexico for processing for human consumption compared with 10,783 shipped at the same time in 2006—a 312 percent increase.
Especially troubling is the treatment of the horses once they cross the border into Mexico. In October, the Humane Society of the United States released a video showing the brutal stabbing death of a fully conscious horse at a Mexican slaughter facility. "It is time for this carnage to end," said Nancy Perry, HSUS vice president of government affairs, who called on Congress to close the border to horse slaughter exports.
In addition, American horse exports to Mexico for purposes other than slaughter, such as for breeding or recreation, have nearly doubled in the same period. This increase is raising concerns that many of these horses are actually being sent to slaughter but shipped under false pretenses to circumvent U.S. transport regulations governing the animals' welfare.
Despite the shuttering of the three U.S. horse slaughter plants, exporting horses for processing remains legal. Horse enthusiasts, however, have for years been pushing for a federal ban on what they say is an inhumane and un-American practice. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, currently pending in Congress, would prevent any horse slaughter facility from operating in the United States as well as prohibit the shipment of horses to other countries for processing.
The AVMA and other AHSPA opponents contend that the assault of the anti-horse-slaughter coalition, led by HSUS, on the federally regulated horse slaughter industry has, in fact, led to the current welfare crisis. Unwanted horses fared much better when they were transported under government supervision to U.S. regulated facilities and humanely euthanized, they say. (Cavel International Inc., the foreign-owned operator of the Illinois slaughter plant, is appealing the state ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.)
"The reality is, proponents of this legislation have done nothing to address the real issue here, and, in fact, by seeking to ban horse slaughter, they have made things significantly worse," said Dr. Mark Lutschaunig, director of the AVMA Governmental Relations Division. Opponents of the federal ban say its supporters should instead focus their energies on addressing what to do with the some 100,000 horses relinquished by their owners each year to slaughter.
The end for horses sent to one of the U.S. slaughter plants was anything but humane, according to the HSUS. The regulations meant to protect them were inadequate as the horses suffered from a lack of food and water on crowded trailers, and the euthanasia was often mishandled, the organization claims. Rather than being slaughtered, HSUS says, unwanted horses can be placed with a rescue or retirement facility or, when no other options are available, humanely euthanized.
While there is little about horse slaughter on which the AVMA and HSUS agree, they're of the same mind when it comes to the serious welfare problem posed by the skyrocketing American horse slaughter exports to Mexico.
Given the high volume of American horses slaughtered annually when the U.S. processors were open, a spike in U.S. equine exports to Mexico was expected once they closed. According to the Department of Agriculture, a total of 138,206 American horses were processed in 2006. Of those, 102,260 were sent to U.S. facilities, 24,866 to Canadian facilities, and 11,080 to Mexican facilities.
But a fourfold increase in U.S. equine exports to Mexico, fueled by a growing surplus of unwanted horses at home and a high demand for horse meat abroad, still came as a surprise to some. "These are just remarkable numbers and not something I think any of us would have anticipated, even with the closing of the plants," said Dr. Timothy Cordes, senior staff veterinarian for equine programs with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The USDA estimates that 35,000 horses were sent to Canada for slaughter in 2007—about a 41 percent increase from the year before. Horse slaughter opponents are trying to shut down the industry there with a Canadian version of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.
The Mexican horse slaughter industry is more worrisome than its Canadian counterpart, especially since more is known about the Canadian industry, which adheres to transport and euthanasia regulations similar to those in the United States. "One of the most daunting things about all of this is, once a horse crosses the border, it is no longer a U.S. horse. It becomes a Mexican horse. It loses its identity, it loses its citizenship, it loses its ownership," Dr. Cordes said.
When contacted by JAVMA News for information about their country's horse slaughter policies, Mexican officials referred to regulations stating the animals must be humanely euthanized in sanitary conditions.
Trying to get an idea of how the Mexican horse slaughter industry operates, a delegation from the American Association Equine Practitioners arranged a tour of several Mexican slaughter facilities in November 2007. But, according to Dr. Tom Lenz, chair of AAEP welfare committee, Mexican plant owners canceled the trip after recent negative media stories. The visit is being rescheduled and will most likely happen in early 2008. "The big question that's not been answered yet is how those (American) horses are handled in Mexican processing plants and euthanized," Dr. Lenz said.
Late last year, Dr. Lenz and other AAEP officials met with Mexican equine veterinarians to discuss the plants. Although he isn't positive, Dr. Lenz believes most American horses are going to facilities owned by European companies where horses are euthanized either by a captive bolt or gunshot, the same as in the United States and as required by Mexican law. Exact numbers aren't known but there may be as many as four such operations in Mexico, he said.
They might also be going to facilities that are in the process of becoming certified to export horse meat to Europe. "We're not 100 percent sure which type of plant American horses are going to, but it's one or the other," he said.
There are two other types of slaughter facilities in Mexico: municipal plants that process horses for local consumption and so-called clandestine facilities. "They're not regulated plants," Dr. Lenz said. "They're local butcher shops ... and that's where the greatest concern about how the horses are being handled and euthanized is." He believes it's this sort of operation featured in the HSUS video.
Another question is, if the slaughter ban were enacted, what would happen to all those horses whose owners no longer want them or can afford to keep them? Ban supporters say the nation's equine rescue and retirement facilities can absorb many of them. The HSUS points to groups such as the New York Racing Association that are raising money and working toward solutions for unwanted horses. Additionally, owners can opt for humane euthanasia by a veterinarian.
Ban opponents respond that this isn't realistic. Without the humane slaughter alternative, countless horses would be neglected or abandoned because there won't be enough homes for them. The AAEP estimates an additional 2,700 rescue facilities would be needed in the first year of the ban to care for the thousands of surplus horses. The costs of euthanasia and environmentally safe carcass disposal can run as much as $400 and may be more than some owners are willing to pay. Making matters worse is a hay shortage, brought on by droughts, which is making it more expensive to feed horses.
Then there's the strength of the international horse meat market, partly a result of outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in European cattle. The price of horse flesh in Belgium is at an all-time high, according to Dr. Cordes. Considering the demand for horse meat and a surplus of unwanted horses in America, even under a federal transport prohibition preventing horses from crossing into Canada and Mexico for slaughter would be a challenge.
"It's really a matter of supply and demand. These horses are going to go across the border, one way or another," Dr. Cordes said, adding that the $5 million allocated in the horse slaughter prevention legislation for enforcement purposes isn't adequate to secure the borders. "It doesn't even come close," he said.
– R. SCOTT NOLEN
--- End quote ---
So what the succeeded in doing was closing down facilities in the US that they could play a part in regulating, so that places where they can't do diddly take over. Brilliant.
Besides being cruel, isn't it pretty stupid to stab a horse to death? I would think (and hope) the horse would get in a few good kicks an possibly maim or kill someone?
I thought the $400 figure for humane euthanasia and carcass disposal would be higher (not that that isn't a good chunk of change). Tino (ferret) was cremated and ashes being returned and the total was just under $100. I'm sure the cremation is a good portion of that (it's probably on my bill but I didn't really look) and if I wanted him to go into a mass burial it would of been cheaper, but I still figure a horse would be way more.
How anyone could send there horse to Mexico is beyond me. Can you really fool yourself into thinking the animal will be treated humanely?
The HSUS should put it's money where it's mouth is and do something for the horses that are now suffering. I suppose they will try and rake in some more money from donors that think it will go to actually HELP AN ACTUAL ANIMAL and start a "Help Stop Horse Abuse and Abandonment" campaign. >:(
--- Quote from: ~flower~ on January 17, 2008, 10:58:36 AM ---So what the succeeded in doing was closing down facilities in the US that they could play a part in regulating, so that places where they can't do diddly take over. Brilliant.
--- End quote ---
--- Quote ---Besides being cruel, isn't it pretty stupid to stab a horse to death? I would think (and hope) the horse would get in a few good kicks an possibly maim or kill someone?
--- End quote ---
Its dangerous to euthanize a standing horse period. I've seen one flip over and almost crush a student. I've also seen one plunge forward and nearly kill my wife (I caught its halter and yanked it out of the way enough she could jump out of the way). I don't know if you've ever had to partake in a horse euthanasia, but typically its done with a standing sedation and then two very large syringes of Beuthanasia solution---that have to be administered very quickly because the horses will experience an excitatory phase if you just give the one syringe. At that point they loose consciousness (ideally, they are dead, but occasionally they'll take 1 or 2 breaths) and hit the floor. Its not pretty, but it is as painless as things could be considering the size of the animal. In all honesty, captive bolts or gunshot wounds probably are less frightening to the horse because there is no needle stick, no pain and discomfort, just instant death.
--- Quote --- I thought the $400 figure for humane euthanasia and carcass disposal would be higher (not that that isn't a good chunk of change). Tino (ferret) was cremated and ashes being returned and the total was just under $100. I'm sure the cremation is a good portion of that (it's probably on my bill but I didn't really look) and if I wanted him to go into a mass burial it would of been cheaper, but I still figure a horse would be way more.
--- End quote ---
It depends on where you live. The thing is after the federal case out west where the eagles ate the euthanized animal and died, law is essentially mandating that these animals (horses or cattle) have to be buried deeply in the ground or cremated or hauled off to be rendered if they have received sodium pentobarbitol--the standard euthanasia solution drug.
--- Quote ---How anyone could send there horse to Mexico is beyond me. Can you really fool yourself into thinking the animal will be treated humanely?
The HSUS should put it's money where it's mouth is and do something for the horses that are now suffering. I suppose they will try and rake in some more money from donors that think it will go to actually HELP AN ACTUAL ANIMAL and start a "Help Stop Horse Abuse and Abandonment" campaign. >:([/color]
--- End quote ---
I agree with you. They created this mess. They need to man up and realize how bad they fucked things up for the horses and fix it.
The problem is horses are viewed by many owners in the US as being on nearly the same level as cattle---which means they are going to be sold for food in Europe or what ever. The horse industry is still very much a dollar driven industry. Horses are a tool to be used for pleasure, for work, for training, etc, but the bottom line is money---if it wasn't the case, horses wouldn't go for millions at the sales in Lexington or possibly hundreds of thousands out west. A bunch of animal rights nuts isn't going to change that. They need to stop pointing fingers and actually work with the animals to make a change.
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