Saturday, December 3, 2011

Out of SIght, Out of Mind

Saturday December 3 2011

Well well.

Cowboy is moving the hungry horses off the property, and Sheriff is in the driveway. (See my previous post, You Can Lead a Horse to Slaughter...)

After weeks with no real food, the horses have stripped even most of the inedible weeds that you see in this picture. (This shows a veritable oasis of weeds a week ago, compared to the ocean of dirt now.) They are gathered in a corral (with no food) and he's filling a big trailer. I'll see tomorrow if he's taken them all. He'll have to make a lot of trips.

I don't know where the herd is going, but now at least I won't have to look at them and wonder when the first one might fall from starvation.

However, that doesn't change the fact that about 50 hungry horses are moving somewhere else and they will still be hungry, and it still makes me think of the slaughter debate.

If they starve to death somewhere else, is it okay, since I won't see it?

If they are sold for slaughter and shipped to Mexico or Canada, is it okay, since I won't see it?

The facts are:

• 2 million households in the US own some of the 9.2 million horses in America.

• Over 100,000 unwanted horses are slaughtered per year in Mexico and Canada, where the US has no jurisdiction in how horses are handled or treated.

• You cannot force horse owners (recreation horse owners, sport horse owners, backyard breeders, million dollar barns, ranchers, etc) to either take care of their horses comfortably till they reach old age and die a natural death, nor to humanely put them down.

• You cannot force more households to adopt unwanted horses, and nurse them back to life, if need be.

•  Over 100,000 horses per year must be disposed of some way.

I appreciate the comments and discussions here and on Facebook from the pro-slaughter advocates (100% of them were pro-slaughter and anti-cruelty and anti-suffering, and yes, you can be both) but I would also like to hear from anti-slaughter folks.

What is your solution?


  1. Hey, Merri. Interesting post. I don't have an answer, but starving to death is NOT what I want to see. Slaughter seems preferable to a slow, agonizing death.

    I shared your post to Facebook.


  2. I've been involved with horse rescues for years, and I can honestly say I have seen animals put through things far worse than death, most frequently by people who claim to love them.

    A few awful days to the processing plant is nothing compared to the six months it took one horse's conformation to warp around an untended injury, or the midwestern winter where one emaciated mare froze to the ground. Even if those two had gone to the nastiest, least-regulated slaughterhouse, their suffering would have been brief by comparison.

    The real "slaughter issue" people should address is not whether it should be allowed, but why there are enough horses to keep filling the plants, if we don't breed them for meat.

    I don't have a solution, either, but you're right -- they have to go somewhere.

  3. What I know is that prior to horse slaughter being banned... I knew several first hand accounts of people attempting (and some were successful) to steal people well fed, much loved horses straight from their pastures because a fat horse would fetch $500-600 bucks. People would drive up in the middle of the night, cut the fence and pull your wonderful dressage horse out to be sold by the pound to a slaughter house.

    What I know is people will steal, lie, cheat, and kill to put food in their bellies. And if that means they have to pull a few compliant show ponies out of pastures that aren't locked, then they will. Frankly, I would rather deal with the abuse/neglect issue than have to go back to locking my horse in with padlocks and motion sensor lights. I hated it. and no one, and I mean No One, has proven (scientifically) that there is any correlation between abuse/neglect rates and horse meat production. There are strong correlations between unemployment rates and horse neglect. What I fear is that lobbyist who work for meat producers will attribute decreases in neglect to slaughter houses, and overahadow the truth that any decrease was actually caused by economic turn around.

    Additionally, why would Europeans pay us for old decrepit horse meat (only horses over 25, or the too starved, or the sick)? These slaughter houses are run by money. They want good meat. Why does everyone assume they would accept the abused/neglected horses in enough numbers to even make a significant impact on the problem?

  4. I am posting on behalf of Mia Johnson ...

    "I live in michigan with the highest unemployment rate. What I know is people will steal, lie, cheat, and kill to put food in their bellies. And if that means they have to pull a few compliant show ponies out of pastures while owners are away, then they will. when you meet someone who's had their much loved dressage horse stolen and sold as meat, then you'll understand how vile the whole horse meat trade is.

    No one, has proven (statistically) that there is any correlation between abuse/neglect rates and horse slaughter rates. There are strong correlations between unemployment rates and horse neglect. And strong correlations between feed prices and horse neglect. The numbers between horses slaughtered and abuse rates do not jive. Texas had the largest slaughter house, and the highest rate of neglect/abuse in 2007.

    Additionally, why would Europeans pay us for old, tough, sinewy horse meat (only horses over 25, or the too starved, or the sick)? These slaughter houses are run by money. They want good meat. The argument that slaughter houses would pick up the majority of the old or sick horses, is flawed. That is not profitable to them, and money drives business. Not some "greater good" for the welfare of horses. Just money, plain and simple.

    Also, since we raise horses as pets, we inject or feed them drugs that were never intended for human consumption. Bute is one of those."

  5. Wayward raises some good issues regarding the theft potential. When the price of copper went up, thieves would do thousands of dollars of damage to get a hundred dollars's worth of copper pipe out of a building. There will always be opportunists.

    There was a time when horse thieves met their demise at the end of a rope. I'd be glad to see that brought back for anyone who steals anyone's dog, cat, horse, or any other pet that someone might love, ESPECIALLY if the theft resulted in the death or injury of the animal (such as people who steal pet dogs to train pitbulls to fight).

    Microchipping horses and requiring slaughterhouses to scan for chips before executing any animal would help. Requiring a scan of any animal crossing the border would be a good deterrent to continued hauling of stolen horses to Mexico for slaughter.

    There was a time in Arizona (not that many years ago) when a hauling permit was required to transport a horse, and a brand inspection required on change of ownership. I was in California when that stopped, so I don't know the reason for it. But nobody should be allowed to sell a horse for slaughter unless they can prove they own it.

    We can't let slaughter houses become "fences" for stolen animals.

    I think I'm going to call the vet and get my three microchipped. I'm in favor of the slaughter option, but disturbed that animals might be stolen for a quick payoff once it comes back. Regulation of slaughterhouses needs to provide a three day hold (as happens with dog pounds for stray dogs) to give an owner a chance to find a lost or stolen animal before it is too late.

  6. This whole issue is a double edged sword. Wayward Programmer makes a valid point, that slaughterhouses focusing on horsemeat for human consumption probably would not want to take the starving, old horses. So what happens to them?

    I do not object to truly humane euthanasia, but can a slaughterhouse be regulated and controlled well enough to actually provide that?

    And will slaughter just provide and excuse and justification for over breeding, and more "throwaway horses" in the mix. If Little Mary decides she no longer wants her pony, why try to rehome it if there is an easier option? Does it mean Mr. Racehorse breeder can create an extra ten or twenty foals a year knowing full well there is an easy way to get rid of the ones that never make it to the track? If Star just doesn't make it as a show hunter, can we cast her off to the kill buyer so we can find something that uses its knees better over a fence?

    The over population of dogs and cats is not under control with all the kill shelters around. So I suspect horse slaughter will not do too much to control the over population of horses.

    We do need a kind, compassionate solution to unwanted horses. Or we need to do a whole lot more to assure that there are not so many unwanted horses about.

    I have two adopted horses here and will adopt again when the time comes. Wish I had all the acres, accommodations, and money to take in hundreds more, but that just isn't in the cards.

    Until then, I am honestly just not sure at all what the best solution is....

  7. i may not of researched every fact of this but this is 1 subject that makes my blood boil ..all i know is what obama did to our wild mustangs & slaughters just a stepping stone for the government.....if the horse market goes sky high ... i feel people will be stealing our horses out of pastures to sell for blood money next..& this causes both fear& nausea for me at the thought of it!!!!!! ugh....where does it end??? Ty DI& TREASURE (my horse)

  8. Slaughter is not and cannot be made humane. Overbreeding is the cause of the problem. I run a sanctuary. Rescues could handle the "unwanted" horses if greedy breeders stopped overbreeding. People should be prosecuted for abuse & neglect.

  9. Well, my solution is at the personal level, no horse goes to slaughter from our home. We have seven horses, two are aged and lame and we will take good care of them.