Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Horse Slaughter

Horses surrendered by ranch owners

After reading the article above and talking to a friend on a message board, I got to thinking about this situation that we find ourselves in. My friend told me that it is getting hard to sell big dog breeds because of the cost of dog food, it is getting ridiculously high. Yet, the value of horses in this country continues to drop, due to the closing of slaughter houses, drought and rising grain and hay prices. Anyone can afford a horse now but few can afford to feed and care for that horse.

We have been offered some of the free horses out there, the ones that no one wants, these usually include the old, the impaired, or the young untrained horse. We have to face the facts that there are some horses that are unwanted, just like there are unwanted dogs or cats. However, you never see an unwanted cow or pig, I wonder why?

In the article that I posted above, the comment was made that they were taking these horses out of one rescue with no resources and putting them back into another rescue with no resources. Horse rescues are overwhelmed with a glut of horses and have no money to feed these animals. They are becoming like the animal shelters, who routinely euthanize or send their animals away to be euthanized. Our local shelter became a kill-free shelter for awhile, they quickly became overrun and full of disease.

I know this is an emotional issue but the cycle of life is just the cycle of life. Why do humans think that they are so smart that they can change the normal pattern of nature. All animals have a survival instinct, I believe God put it there so that they wouldn't quickly become extinct. But how do we know that animals really fear death? They may be like me and fear injury but death should just be another part of life. All animals go to heaven anyway, right? How do we know that they don't welcome death when it comes?

I don't think that anyone should have a voice in this debate that doesn't own horses, period. People tend to live in a dreamworld where all horses are majestic, beautiful animals that are the picture of health, running through open pastures and that just isn't reality.

We do run our horses on open pasture and they are fed very well, even our unwanted and useless horses are given the same treatment as our valued horses. But many people have horses that are stuck in small stalls most of the time and don't know how to properly feed them. All horses aren't healthy, many have arthritis or other crippling diseases. Some are just old and very skinny, we have had good horses here that once they reach a certain age and their teeth get bad, we just cannot keep weight on them even though they are eating twice or three times the amount that the other horses are eating. They are the ones that stay close to the road where people passing by can see them.

Another thing that is funny to me and I am as guilty of this as anyone else, but we think that a horse is not healthy unless it is rolling fat, but to be a healthy person we must be bone thin.

I just read another article about a man shooting his two horses and burning their carcasses, it made national news. They were trying to decide if he could be charged with anything. This was in Illinois where the last U.S horse packing company was closed down. What was he suppose to do? I don't know his situation but there are some people who don't have very many options.

You can't take your unwanted horses to a sale barn because they won't get a bid and you will have to pay a fee and take them back home (some are just leaving them at the auction barns). You can't afford to keep them anymore for the rest of there days, because you still have to feed your family. Rescues are turning them away or you just don't trust the rescues to take proper care of them. You are expected to euthanize your old or impaired horses but then what do you do with them? Rendering companies will no longer pick them up without a large fee, so unless you have a backhoe or are good with a shovel, I think burning is a reasonable alternative.

Feeding wildlife is another idea, it is the circle of life. We lost a wonderful old mare a couple of years ago, she just dropped dead going up a steep, rocky, wooded hillside. There was no way for us to get to her with a tractor and there was no way to dig a hole. So we had no options other than leaving her where she fell. It was amazing how fast she disappeared, even her bones and hooves were utilized. However, if she had been euthanized by injection this would not have been an option, they have to be burnt or buried very deeply. Many people live in states where they are not allowed to bury, burn or leave them lay.

Our Vet recently faced this dilemma, the rendering company that had always picked up the animals that he had euthanized at his office, would no longer pick them up. We haven't seen him for awhile, so I don't know what he has done about this.

I do love horses, I also love other animals, but I eat beef, pork, chicken and fish. The last time I checked these were animals with a survival instinct also. Whether you believe it or not the meat that you eat didn't just come from a grocery store, it was once a living creature.

Dogs, cats, tigers, lions, bears, humans, and other members of the animal kingdom have to eat, so why is this resource being wasted and this burden being placed on horse owners and rescues?

I am totally against horses being transported into Mexico or Canada to be processed. I think that processing plants should be regulated in this country but not just the horse processors, the standard should be the same for all animals.

Sometimes it is all in the terms we use, we don't mind eating beef that has been processed at a packing plant but we would never eat horse meat from a slaughter house. It is alright to euthanize an old horse with a needle but we mustn't kill them with a gun. I have heard and I don't know if it is true, that some Veterinarian's in other countries carry guns to euthanize with because they feel that the injection is cruel.

One more thing that I firmly believe, the Humane Society as a whole, I am not talking about our local shelter, is a money making organization that takes advantage of and uses big hearted people.

More articles:
Death Across the Border Awaits Horses Spared It in the U.S. - New York Times
Drought is a hard time for horses - Los Angeles Times
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