Why Banning Horse Slaughter is Such a Terrible Idea

Author’s Note: This post is purely editorial in nature. The views expressed in this post are 100% mine. I have not canvassed my clients or the other members of my firm to get their take on horse slaughter, nor do I intend to do so. My views are not necessarily the views of my clients, my firm, or the other lawyers who practice at my firm.

First off, I cannot express in words how much I detest the word “ban.” I dislike it so much that I wish Merriam-Webster would take it out of the dictionary. Why? Because “it ought to be banned!” has become the battle cry of the self-righteous busybodies, some of whom are multi-million dollar concerns, and others who are just individuals who have far too much spare time on their hands. The do-gooders who relish the phrase “it ought to be banned!” are known to meddle in other people’s business, usually with the goal of using our government to force their will upon us, their fellow citizens. 

Photo:  A horsemeat sandwich, as served by street vendors in Venice, Italy

Let’s for a moment put the word “ban” in perspective. Killing people is not “banned” in the United States. Our citizens may kill another person in self-defense. Police officers and members of our Armed Forces may kill people, and do so regularly. Similarly, the use and distribution of powerful, addictive narcotics is not “banned” in this country. Doctors administer and prescribe opioids and other powerful drugs daily. Yet some people think there out to be an outright “ban” on horse slaughter in this country. 

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That's about where we’re headed if our federal government kowtows to the radical powerful anti-horse-slaughter lobby, and enacts an outright prohibition of horse slaughter.

Unintended Consequences of the Closure of the U.S. Plants

To generally summarize this June 2011 Government Accountability Office report, the horse market tanked after the closure of the U.S. horse slaughter plants in 2007. The GAO gave multiple reasons for the decline—including the drought and the economy, but the cessation of domestic slaughter was clearly indicated as a factor in the report. Veterinarians surveyed by the GAO reported that horse welfare declined across the board, with a 50% or greater increase in abandonment and neglect cases in some states. The nationwide capacity of horse rescue facilities is about 6,000 head of horses, and the vast majority of these are already full. Legislative prohibitions on using federal funds for inspecting horses prior to slaughter impede USDA’s and APHIS’s ability to oversee the transport and welfare of U.S. horses intended for slaughter. The number of horses shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter increased by 660% and 148%, respectively, after the closure of the slaughter plants. This resulted in total distance travelled by slaughter horses to increase by approximately 200 miles. Once a horse crosses the border into Canada or Mexico, APHIS no longer has authority to oversee their welfare, and our laws related to the humane slaughter of animals no longer apply.

While some anti-slaughter advocates place blame on market forces and irresponsible owners, PETA generally agrees with the GAO’s conclusion that horse suffering has increased due to the closure of the slaughter plants. But what is PETA’s answer? “Let’s ban horse slaughter…and let’s also ban the export of horses to other countries for slaughter!” There is certainly a lot of banning going on with this seemingly untenable position. 

Flawed Logic

I never understood why is it suddenly inhumane to slaughter a horse, but not other mammalian livestock such as a pig, cow, or sheep.  One reason opponents give is that horses are "pampered", and are used to being treated as pets.  Even if this were true of all horses, what of the FFA and 4-H show animals that go to slaughter each year?  There is no outcry to ban the slaughter of these animals.  Further, it is also puzzling to me that the majority of people who believe horse slaughter is barbaric support abortion in humans.

Fact: there is an unwanted horse problem in this country. There are simply some horses who are not adoptable—perhaps because they are dangerous, or perhaps because the cost to “repurpose” them and care for them throughout their life far outweighs their potential usefulness to humans. Some anti-horse-slaughter advocates outright deny the unwanted horse problem. They argue that virtually every horse is adoptable, and that the ones who are not adoptable should be euthanized by a veterinarian and disposed of properly.  Some statistics on the high cost of euthanasia and proper disposal have been published here.  In general, anti-slaughter advocates are short on pragmatic or realistic solutions to the unwanted horse problem.

If virtually all horses were adoptable, there would be no need for horse slaughter. The U.S. slaughtered approximately 105,000 horses in 2006, the last full year the Texas and Illinois plants were operational. See GAO report at 8. This is a manageable number, especially when you look at the amount of money that has been poured into the “horse slaughter ban” efforts. The Humane Society of the United States, which is just one of the many animal rights advocacy groups in this country, had approximately $150 million in revenue for 2010 alone. These numbers, on their face, seem to indicate that the HSUS could have, possibly single-handedly, rehomed those horses that were adoptable, and caused those that were not adoptable to be euthanized and properly disposed of. Meanwhile, the HSUS has paid lawyers and lobbyists untold amounts to promote its political agendas such as a federal ban on horse slaughter and horse export for slaughter.  

According to this HSUS publication, horse slaughter was costly to taxpayers. But even if the slaughter companies paid all costs associated with horse slaughter through a fee-for-service program or the like, HSUS says it should still be banned. But the HSUS has not published estimated figures on what it would cost our taxpayers to enforce their proposed ban on the export of horses for slaughter. It is common knowledge that we cannot even control the movement of illegal immigrants or illegal drugs across our borders, and we’re spending millions of taxpayer dollars on those efforts. Also, the HSUS is silent on the amount of domestic revenue and jobs that were lost when the slaughterhouses shut their doors.

Obstacles to Re-Implementation of Horse Slaughter in the U.S.

If I were an investor looking to put up the capital to build a new horse slaughterhouse in this country, I would first determine solutions to the serious economic and political hurdles currently facing this industry in the United States. Namely,

·       New European Union regulations that will become effective on July 31, 2013 will require all non-EU countries to provide lifetime medication records for all horses entering the EU food chain. Furthermore, horses that have been given certain commonly-used drugs, such as phenylbutazone, must be excluded from the EU food chain.

·       The threat of domestic terrorism on the slaughter facilities by animal rights activists. If you do not believe this problem exists, a federal law was enacted to address the issue.

·       The possibility of future legislative changes that may directly or indirectly hinder operations. The federal government has already pulled the rug out from under the slaughterhouses once. There’s no telling whether they’ll do it again.

·       The ever-presence of the shrill, combative, mostly female anti-slaughter advocates who will stop at nothing to turn public opinion against the slaughterhouses, no matter where they decide to set up shop. If you do not believe these women exist, I urge you to do a Google search for “horse slaughter”, or check out some of the comments to this previous post.  While the presence of these "hecklers" is really nothing more than an annoyance, the unwitting or naive in local communities sometimes give in to them---if for no other reason than to shut them up.

Conclusion

If the European Union no longer wants our horsemeat, and the Asian or South American demand is not enough to sustain the industry, the free market economy will bring an end to horse slaughter. The anti-slaughter advocates agree—indeed, this is the only real economic issue they have latched onto. But if this is something that will go away on its own, why do we need a ban? Your guess is as good as mine. I would think that given the amount of money and time the anti-slaughter camp has spent to bring about anti-slaughter legislation, they can’t stop now. It would be unthinkable to them that they threw away millions trying to force their will upon us, instead of using their time and money to save the adoptable horses that either died of neglect or were inhumanely butchered in Mexico as a result of their efforts.

It is a myth that horse suffering has decreased now that slaughter is no longer an option. I applaud organizations such as the self-sustaining equine sanctuaries and rescues, veterinary associations, and the Unwanted Horse Coalition for doing what they can to reduce the amount of unwanted horses. If we want to improve horse welfare, we should be spending our time and money helping these organizations help horses—not on political agendas. 

And if we must regulate the industry, let’s keep regulating horse transportation and institute methods of humane slaughter such as those proposed by Temple Grandin for the cattle industry. But we can only control how horses are treated as long as we allow them to be slaughtered within our borders.

Jane Smiley, contributor to the New York Times Horse Racing Blog, may have put it best when she said:  

We must recognize that there is a market for horse meat (not only for human consumption, but also for zoo and circus-animal consumption) and that in a starving world, a source of protein should not go to waste for sentimental reasons. It is sentimentality that has resulted in profounder cruelty to our horses - because we don’t accept that they are animals and have a utilitarian purpose, we hide from what happens to them, and so what happens to them happens in secret.

Related Posts

Current Status of Federal Laws Affecting Horse Slaughter

Legal Background of Horse Slaughter in Texas

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Comments (25) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Holden Hoggatt - August 14, 2012 4:50 PM

Alison:

You are a brave woman for speaking the truth on this issue. It's sad but true, and the horse people who truly care about horses can see by the GAO report and common sense that the ban caused horses to be more abused than ever. We're proud of you for stating the facts and your ability to handle attacks by people whose ideas hurt the well-being of the horses. Carry on!

Holden Hoggatt

Michele Rowe - August 14, 2012 5:27 PM

What a writer you are! Excellent article!

Jo-Claire Corcoran - August 14, 2012 7:21 PM

where to start...

I believe you should check again just who has spent more on the horse slaughter issue... it's not the anti-slaughter side, but the pro-slaughter faction - big ag, cattlemen's association, Farm Bureau, etc. They have outspent us and do on a daily basis.

Horse slaughter didn't just suddenly become wrong, it's been wrong, but most people were unaware it existed. I still find horse people who are unaware it exits.

What I do take exception to is your portrayal of the anti slaughter movement. The majority of us are not radical, we didn't burn any horse slaughter plants down, the law was not passed because of horse slaughter advocates, it was passed because big ag doesn't want the world to know how they treat factory farm animals. Yes I do eat meat, however, I boy locally and support local farmers and producers. it's kinder, it's healthier. There are radicals in every faction of life, but they are not the mainstream, most of us do not subscribe to PETA and their tactics and or focuses. I work every day on this issue with scientists, doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, teachers, business owners, breeders, horse owners, non-horse owners who all have other lives outside of this issue, yet are all logical, rational non-radical people.

Though a woman yourself, you clearly have a problem with women standing up for what they believe in. There are plenty of men working to end horse slaughter as well, but it stands to reason there are more women than men, since women out number men in this country.

Cost to euthanise a horse? 50cent bullet is cheap, but part of the responsibility of owning a horse is being able to provide a humane ending for that horse...of which slaughter is not. Recently someone in the pro-slaughter faction sent her "beloved" 30 year old horse who had navicular and whom she had given bute to one week prior to sending it straight to the kill pen. Wow, way to treat a beloved 30 year old horse. Doesn't matter if the plant is here or in Canada or Mexico, it's still inhumane.

Fee for service inspections are not legal under FSIS and the federal courts have already ruled on this. The fox cannot guard the hen house. So scratch that idea. Zoos have been turning away from horse meat as well, and there really isn't enough profit in horse meat for zoo animals. Certain breeds of dogs cannot consume some of the medications used in horses.

Jo-Claire Corcoran - August 14, 2012 7:23 PM

The GAO report was paid for by big AG, has absolutely not one study to support it's findings, it is based on anecdotal information. What people seems to forget is there was a third recommendation on the GAO report... Ban horse slaughter and the transport of horses for slaughter. How easy it is for people to negate to include and acknowledge the third recommendation.

T.W. Youngs - August 14, 2012 9:55 PM

Well here we go again! Really, honestly where do I start. as for you Namby-pamby, far fringed, dudley do-right, tree hugging PUSSIES. Thats right, I said PUSSIES. Shut the Hell UP. And yes this is directed at you Jo-Claire Corcoran.
Alison is right on so many levels and in so many ways, it's truely sad to think that our country is marching the Prim-Rose path to hell. The sad thing is that this same tactics and logic was used to make alcohol illegal. This was the same logic used to make certain books illegal in Germany. This is the same logic being used "TODAY" to try to ban private ownership of firearms.
I tell all of you do-good, tree huggers what. The next time ya'll want to "BAN" something, Ban yourself from talking or voicing an opion on a subject. Because Miss Corcoran, You and your ilk should be BANNED!
I have a friend that I used to shoe (Farrier) for. This man, who has just lost his wife of 48 years, and so buisseness partner, had to last Sunday, put 3, very expensive saddlebred mares down. Why? Becuase he could n longer take care of them properly. One of the breeds that has been hit hardest by this "BAN" is the Saddlbreds. John Bigguns, John Champaine, Ronny Grahm, Don Shiflet, & The Lucas's have all put down brood mares becuase of the economy. Not because they are heartless, cruel money grubbers, but because they couldnt find ANY homes for these animals, and in all good conscience could bare to see these same mares waist away and be neglected. Now that being said, 10 years ago, those same animals would have been sold for saughter and wouldnt have been a total economic loss.
See the problem with folk like you Miss Corcoran, is that you live in a fantasy world. Wake the Hell UP to the real world and tell me how we as a country going to manage this issue. You cant
As for your statement about Zoo's no longer using horse meet to feed their big cats, BULL SHIT! The largest zoo in the continental U.S. is Busch Gardens in Tampa Bey, they buy approximatley 7000 lbs of horse meat a day to feed their big cats. Not to mention all the other carnivores they have on exibit.
Now if my language bothers ya'll, TOUGH! I for one am sick and tired of trying to reason with IDIOTS. This phrase has served me well over the years," I refuse to do battle of whits with UN-ARMED people!"
You have heard the facts, ya know the problems, atleast be honest with yourselves and address the real needs. Its sad to see folks lie to them selves when the trueth would suit them better.

Heather Clemenceau - August 15, 2012 9:58 AM

"The ever-presence of the shrill, combative, mostly female anti-slaughter advocates" - how much more offensive could you possibly be? Oh wait, you forgot to refer to us as "pre-menstrual."

T.W. Youngs - August 15, 2012 2:55 PM

At this juncture it has become painfully obvious to me and several others that it is the Non-professionals telling the professionals how and why horses are what they are. And how we as professionals should conduct buissiness. My question is this. Do we tell ya'll how to poop? Do we tell ya'll how to clean your house or live a moral life? No we dont! We do tell you to care for your animals a certain way, but we havent made it to where you have no other choice. Most Vets, to include my ex-wife, (with whom I hold little common ground, and trust me when I say this. There is no BIGGER Big Chief Bleeding Heart than Valerie Bixler, DVM) will tell you as a professional, the slaughter plants are the most humane and dignified end of suffering and unwanted horses to date. and can be used as a way to recover stolen horses. As a former farrier and as a Peace officer, that is an indispensible way to recover your animal. And as a peace officer that works in a border state, we can not afford to loose that resource.
As a horse owner, I personally want every chance afforded me to recover MY stolen horse.Will Rogers once said,"The best thing for the inside of a man, Is the outside of a horse!" I believe this, with all my heart, and ill go one step further. The best gift god ever gave man, is the Horse. (Arab Proverb)
I beg all you folks to listen to reason. It all boils down to Dollars and cents, not Fellings and emotions. Cause if that were the case, our feelings would feed all un-wanted animals and our emotions would shelter them. I leave you with this, We as a collective need to be responsible, and some folks need trust the ones that earn a living in that industry. Cause where the rubber meets the road, is were common ground and a common solution lies. Not on lofty notion and wishful thinking

Jo-Claire Corcoran - August 15, 2012 10:50 PM

T.W. you made my case for me.. The well known Saddlebred breeders put their broodmares down... they didn't send them to slaughter. And they could have sent them for slaughter, I know what the kill buyers are paying for healthy fat horses. They don't particularly care for saddlebreds, usually on the thinner side. They prefer fat plump healthy young quarter horses. So sad it always comes down to wringing out the last bit of blood money out of an animal who has served you well as a broodmare, performance horse, working partner, companion, etc.

The economy tanked, lack of slaughter plants in this country had nothing to do with that. And if you still want to send your horse to slaughter you can. So the crying and whining about lack of slaughter is BS. The same number of horses have still been shipping. The numbers do not support the whiners.

Bottom line is horse slaughter is for food production, nothing more, nothing less. The point you people seem to miss is we don't raise our horses for food and therefore they are not raised under food safety guidelines.

Glad your ex-wife isn't my horses vet, my vet is against horse slaughter for two reasons, as a vet she took an oath, that oath has two parts, do no harm and protect public health, well slaughter is not humane nor is the meat safe for human consumption.

Guess what T.W., a live horse generates more into the economy than a dead horse and I"m a part of the horse industry, I buy feed, hay, tack, pay a farrier, a vet, etc. Live horses generate billions of dollars into the economy, a dead horse... well dead horses don't need farriers... you wouldn't need to put shoes on a horse who's hooves don't grow, they don't need vaccinations, feed, hay, new tack, trailers, bedding, etc.

Have you ever tried to recover a stolen horse from a slaughter plant? I have, guess what, I've only known it to be successful once, and only because they were TBs with tattoos and we could prove their medication history.

Neglect and abandonment was occuring when the plants were open, some people no matter what, were always and will always be lousy people, but some people, no matter what, will never and would never send their horse to slaughter. A 6 month study conducted found out that the supposed abandon horses, weren't true, in several southwest states, where the study was conducted because they were supposed to have the highest numbers... it was found the horses were rejects from the export pens. Still had their auction tags on and the initials of their killbuyer still spray painted on their sides.

You quote Will Rogers and an Arab proverb about how good the horse is for a person oh and your Rogers quote was actually Winston Churchill. However, your quotes and your beliefs are an oxymoron.

One of your first comments about the breeders, still putting foals on the ground, when the housing market went down, they stopped building houses, when the horse market started going down hill (and it was happening before the plants closed) breeders should have stopped breeding.
I will say this... my responses have been calm, logical and fact based... now your response, was far from that.

T.W. Youngs - August 16, 2012 2:12 PM

Its obvious that You have never had to make a living from the horse industry. And it is equally obvious that you really, truely talk out of your ass. (I.e. Comment about saddlebreds and how I make your point.). You should, before you speak, atleast learn something about what you are talking about. Tell ya what, this is what most of us would like from you and those like you. You need to go somewhere, walk! Don't drive. You need to have the plumber come out and fix something, doit yourself. If you want to save something, try money. Cause you, by all appearances, can see that You have WAY TO MUCH time on your hands.
Ya know, you've been checked out. And what has been conveyed to me is that all you do is shell for the far fringed wack jobs on this issue.
Come to texas, and learn what its like to earn a living careing for livestock and some of the desission that are hard but necissary while in buissiness.
Tell me one thing, what's going to happen to the horses that can't find homes? Why don't you and your buddies put your money where your mouth is and instead of tell us how to live, lead by example.

T.W. Youngs - August 17, 2012 2:03 PM

Now that I've had a chance to fully read Miss Corcoran rebutal, I can make a more pointed counter. Sorry, I was in the doctors office when the rebutal came in and only had enough time to skim it.
First off, last I checked, saddlebred are not thinner than quarter horses. Most saddlebreds are larger in frame and build. An average saddlebred wieghs around 1250 to 1650 on the heavey side. So Miss Corcoran's comment about being thinner holds no water.
the comment that she made about recovering a stolen horse from the slaughter plant has only happened once, is in her words Bullshit. It has happened all the time in Texas. And if ya dont believe me call the Texas and southwest cattlemans association. Their cattle inspecters have a Special Ranger Commission through the Texas Department of Public Safety, in which makes them a Special Texas Ranger, (i.e., A state police officer) They have over the past several years recovered SEVERAL STOLEN Horses from the slaughter plants. Since there is the only slaughter plants that existed where in 2 states. Texas and Illinios, i dont know where Miss Corcoran is getting her information.
As for her comment that live horse brings in more revenue than a dead one does is correct, but a little mis-giving. Ya see, some one has to pay those bills, and if the "OWNER" cann't or refuses, than we are back at square one, "Abandoned and neglected".
The Six month study she refers to is way one sided and as for trying to locate it by conventional means and un-conventional has proved to be illusive. I dare say it doesn't exist. the leading authorities on this subject have all concluded that slaughter plants have a needed place in our country. only if so much as population control measures.
Her comment is that Horse flesh is harmful to consume. Another Lie. Now I for one would never consume a horse. atleast not willingly I wouldnt. But that is a personal belief. Its hard to eat something you consider more than just a tool, a piece of equipment. Ya see, yes i beleive horses have souls, and contrary to popular belief, I consider MY horses as not just my property, but as my friends. A family member if ya will. But that does not make Miss Cocorans statement that Horse flesh is harmful to consume true. Actually its leaner then beef and from what I'm told is better for heart paitents to eat. (I.e. European surgents statement in AVMA issue)
Now for Miss Corcoran, so you know, I and my ex-wife used to live in Va. Thats right, Virginia. Thats where I met her, on a vet call. and if truth be known, you probably used her at one time or another. We both are well known in that state. Her as a Vet, and me as a Farrier. Not just known, but also well respected in the Equine circles. So I have a question for you. Exactly where in VA is there an Equine slaughter plant? I have the answer,There isnt one in VA. Why might someone ask? Cause the State of Virginia is a commonwealth. And the commonwealth had years ago made a law that makes it illegal to slaughter horse for human consumption. And just for the record, all previously stated names of men I mentioned are PROFESSIONAL HORSE TRAINERS, not some fly by night lack luster jack legged horse owners. Most of the men I stated earlier are on the east coast. (i.e., Virginia, North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Maryland.)
Now I cant contests your comment about the breeders should have stopped or at the very least slowed breeding down when the economy tanked. You're right, they should have, but to say Quarterhorse people are the main purpatraitors of the over population or that the population is connected to the building decline is false. Thoroughbred, Arab, and other folks with grade horses are just as guilty if not more so.
as for my quotes, ya better check the dates on when Churchill made the same comment. it was 16 years after Will Rogers did, and almost 8 years after Will Rogers death.
Yes, your response was calm and polite. But it was far from factual. Matter of fact, Anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together can check all stated earlier comments for correctness.

Kathleen Gregory - August 21, 2012 7:13 PM

Dear Ms Rowe;

How disheartening to hear a young woman refer to those opposed to horse slaughter as "shrill, combative, mostly female anti-slaughter advocates" --

It's worth noting that it was another group of people who, during their time, were undoubtedly considered "shrill, combative, mostly female" advocates who won *your* right to vote, own property, attend higher learning institutions,benefit from gender equality legislation, etc.

Your dismissive comment is disrespectful not only to horse advocates, but to women in general.

Why is this not surprising coming from someone who defends and promotes the industrialized slaughter of American horses?

Alison - August 22, 2012 12:05 PM

In my opinion, there are two types of people who think horse slaughter is inhumane. The first group gives their own time and money to save as many horses as they can. The second group spends the majority of their time and money trying to force legislation upon the horse industry. I have no quarrel with the first group. The second group is, in my experience, an angry, holier-than-thou lot. And yes, they're mostly female.

When I was listening to the video recording of the Texas Senate Committee meeting referenced in one of my recent blog posts, I was embarassed for many of the women who (allegedly representing "themselves") showed up to express their opposition to horse slaughter. Their heckling of other speakers and general unprofessional conduct at the hearing did little to advance their cause. It was quite embarrassing.


The feminist movement has done nothing to advance my rights as a U.S. citizen. If anything, the involvement of belligerent, confrontational feminist women in various causes has greatly harmed women in this country. Condi Rice and Darla Moore were the first females inducted as members at Augusta National, just yesterday. They didn't get there by staging a protest at Augusta, they didn't try to force their way in, nor were they confrontational in any way.

Kathleen Gregory - August 23, 2012 7:45 PM

Quote Alison Rowe: "The feminist movement has done nothing to advance my rights as a U.S. citizen."

Unless you are actually a man, I'd suggest you brush up on the history of feminism and reevaluate this statement.

However it's certainly in keeping with the rest of your misguided assertions regarding horse slaughter.


T.W. Youngs - August 27, 2012 1:30 PM

Miss Gregory, maybe you are the one that should brush up on your history. And as a male, I agree with Alison. I for one are more inclined to further equal rights for ANY person if they are able to do the job. Not becuase of sex, creed or national origin.

For example, my first duty assignment was at The OLD GUARD, 3rd U.S. Infantry, Ft. Myer, Va. Now for thoose of you that dont know the significance of the Unit, they are the official escort to the President of the United States. When I was there, you had to be Infantry, 5'10" to 7' tall, no criminal record, graduate from high school, and a MALE. Since I have left the unit, the only standard that still stands is HS grad and no criminal record. The first female Tomb Sentinal (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) lost her tomb badge becuase she did a photo shoot for Playboy.

If you want that for feminist rights, then you have a bigger issue than being left out. Plus, being a cop, I have very harsh emotions when it comes to the sexes. My stance is if I have to preform at a certain standard, then so should my femail counterparts. The job does not change becuase the cop has boobs and a vagina.

Now if the way I put that is offesive, I'm sorry. Figured plain upfront talk is best.

James - September 4, 2012 6:09 PM

In my experience, most objections to slaughter, whether it is horse, pig, chicken, dog, cow or other are always based on the recently resurrected and long-ago discredited notion that animals have some sort of human-like ability to feel pain and suffer the same as humans that, they argue, entitles animals to rights. Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, discredited sentience in animals some 360 years ago. He also discredited another kooky idea of the time and did so separately from Galileo: that the earth was flat.

I've seen it stated that, "Hard science proves that animals have sentience" meaning that animals have the human-like ability to feel pain and suffer. The statement that animals have sentience is patently false because animals are nearly anything that is not a mineral or a plant. Coral is made up of animal colonies and are animals. Sponges are animals. If animals are sentient, then SpongeBob SquarePants could be real.

Fleas, ticks, spiders, bedbugs, mosquitoes, lice, wolves and feral dogs are animals that must be controlled on a wholesale basis to maintain human health.
Not only is sentience impossible to prove in animals, it has never been proven. As such, they don't think the same way we do. Animals have no provable self-awareness.
A human killing of an animal can, therefore, not be cruel just by the fact of the killing.

Did I cry when my dog died? Yes. Do I attach sentimental value to any animal I own? Yes. I am my animal's protector. Killing the barbecue goat will not be easy.
But I also understand that if I adopt the resurrected and unfounded idea that animals feel pain and suffer, that I will fall into a trap that will destroy our country and our way of life. Private ownership of animals will not be permitted. I will only be a caretaker of a being of equal value to my own life. The animal's usefulness to me and all other humans will end. In my view, heightened standards of cruelty based on the discredited notion of human-like sentience in animals will lead to the destruction of animal agriculture in the United States of America. Animal cruelty is the false dilemma that convinces some Americans to take away the God-given fundamental rights in private property from other Americans.

The false dilemma of animal cruelty can be used in such a way as to create a communal or communistic interest in others' private property that violate the US Constitution and the founding principles of our country. If a vegan wants to engage in a dangerous cult diet of malnutrition, in America, that is that person's business. If I want to buy an animal and kill if for barbecue, that is my business. No matter what they are telling you, vegetable protein is inferior to meat protein. And speaking of killing animals, the USSCT ruled that Santeria is a protected religious activity.

Thanks to our current political environment, I've studied more about Communism in the US in recent years than decades ago when I believed there was a very real possibility that I would be drafted to go fight the Communists in Vietnam.

During the time of Jimmy Carter, Khrushchev is reported to have said that, despite Detente', the Soviet Union would continue their various National liberation movements.

Even though cash-strapped, Russia spent millions shaping the thoughts and attitudes of Americans about the Vietnam War.

I recently read Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto and am struck how, in particular Chapter Two, Marx vilified the wealthy. Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals follows that pattern of vilification. Besides vilification of animal owners and ruthless intolerance, I see other similarities in the animal rights movement of which Godlessness and civil disobedience can be a part.

Animal agriculture supports a tremendous amount of America's heavy industry. Animal liberation seeks to eliminate animal agriculture. History proves repeatedly that countries that want to become or remain a world super power, including America, must maintain a present capacity to manufacture more heavy machinery in shorter time than its enemies.

I believe that we need to find out now, not decades later, which foreign interests are attempting to shape the average American's attitudes against using our own natural resources in animals, minerals and plants in this country.

French economist Bastiat wrote a 75 page book some 160 years ago entitled THE LAW that equates the threats to individual liberty by do-gooders with that of the actions of Communists. Nothing good comes from interfering with other peoples' business. The ancient parable about the man, the boy and the donkey illustrates that point.

T.W. Youngs - September 5, 2012 11:02 AM

Though I do not subscribe to James's view about animals not being sentient enough to feel pain and suffering. I for one have witnessed this very human trait first hand. Not only in Horses, but elephants, dogs, cats, and most other animals that are domesticated. And furthermore I can prove they are. But there is a limit.
but I do agree with James's train of thought and philosophy about private ownership of animals and how that fact should never be infringed upon. I also agree with him about how most, if not all that are oppossed to Horse or any other slaughter of livestock is the same people that try to place animals at the same platuae as humans and try to give them the same basic freedoms and rights that we as humans enjoy.
I for one am greatfull that an educated person has taken a stance on our individual rights. plus the notion that cruelty starts at the kill floor of a sluaghter plant.
Being a man of faith, core beleifs, and has served this nation with honor for 24+ years of my adult life. Both at home and abroad. I can honestly say I've seen cruety, suffering and the lowest humans can go in the name of their Core beliefs. And it has been my experiance that these same people while trying to support their beliefs, commit the worst sin of all. They loose sight of the forest through the trees. And in so doing commit cruel acts that get them into hot water. Point in Case, Trying to stop Horse slaughter plants, but creating an over abundance of unwanted horses, with nowhere to go. Left to starve and get sick and no means of support. That act in its self is far crueler than to slaughter them.
As for those that want to say it's the breeders and trainers fault. I say this, No breeder on a professional level nor Trainer wants to see the very animals they make their livlihood from go to slaughter. That fact goes against our very basic beliefs. We manetain, provide, and caretake for these animals. It's our very existance. And mot do it as a life's passion, and not for the money. But its harder for us to watch them be placed into situations that are detramental to their lifes and causes them to have prolonged periods of suffering.
So I say again, the Slaughter plants is the lesser of the two evils, and unfortunately one that is needed

JULIAN ST.JOHN - October 5, 2012 10:21 AM

Your article is malicious and inaccurate. Here is the EXACT REASON why U.S. horse slaughter is banned in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
IT IS THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE TO BAN U.S. HORSE SLAUGHTER.

That's it. That's all. Nothing else. Just that.

See, if We U.S. TAXPAYERS and VOTERS allow this barbaric abomination, in other words: If WE THE PEOPLE get scammed by our own GOVERNMENT, wherein we get duped into paying for U.S.D.A. EQUINE INSPECTIONS of scammed and stolen pets, sport horses and work animals and FEDERALLY PROTECTED WILDLIFE (The Wild and Free-roaming AMERICAN MUSTANG, which our taxes ALSO pay to protect, thanks to the WILD AND FREE-ROAMING HORSE Act... then we can also, by that 'double-dip' 'don't let the left hand know what the right hand is doing' sleight of hand carnival trick: then there is NOTHING....NOTHING to stop other foreign countries into opening up dog and cat slaughter plants in our own blessed country with the whine of 'it's a delicacy in our own country and it supplies the U.S. with a handful of jobs.... and we the People will also be forced to pay for those USDA INSPECTIONS of CANINES and FELINES intended for slaughter for human consumption...for foreign profit... all on our U.S. MEAL TICKET. We draw the line. EQUINES are not purposely BRED and RAISED with the intention of live slaughter for human consumption, in our country. It is the exact same thing as slaughtering a canine or feline or roadkill or any other stray, that has not been purposely bred and raised (and inocculated with proper USDA monthly shots and de-worming), with the direct intention of raising that animal for slaughter for human consumption. In other words: It is dangerous. Yes, it may be like shooting venison, quail, owl, elk, big-horn sheep, Muske, Pike, Blue-gill or any other animal not raised for human consumption. That's a different subject. But the point of all this hoopla is: WE THE PEOPLE ARE NOT BUYING LUNCH. We the People are saving over 5 million dollars PER YEAR, that can now be applied to U.S. SOUP KITCHENS, U.S. PUBLIC SCHOOL CAFETERIAS, U.S. FOOD PANTRIES, U.S. FEDERAL EQUINE RESCUES (Wherein we adopt out these animals, for U.S. PROFIT, and create more U.S. jobs regarding the opening of U.S. FEDERAL and State run EQUINE ANIMAL SHELTERS...much like our U.S. State-owned ANIMAL SHELTERS for stray and surplus dogs and cats. It is TIME to start putting our money back into our own pocket, creating ethical U.S. employment. The foreign-owned for foreign profit on the U.S. TAXPAYERS' FUNDING horse-slaughter plants were shady. FACT. They were notorious for hiring anyone that could stomach the dirty deed of killing an animal not bred or raised for eating. This includes shifty characters such as drunks, drug-addicts, felons, and people with warrants, as well as illegal aliens. WE THE PEOPLE do not support that sort of criminal activity.
“Industrial slaughter of horses should not be condoned by the United States Government,” said Rep. Moran. (D, VA) “We have to put an end once and for all to this practice. These animals are a proud symbol of the American West, treasured by all for their beauty and majesty. They deserve to be cared for, not killed for foreign consumption". I am glad that I am no longer funding this foreign scam. I now have enough money to afford a Happy Meal, complete with a MY LITTLE PONY. It is NOT called 'McNeigh nuggets'. Thanks, Congressman Moran for working for the People.

Lynne - October 25, 2012 5:17 PM

Wow, some heated comments on here. All I can add is that I have seen firsthand the damage done to horse welfare by the ban of US slaughterhouses, which inconveniently occurred in tandem with the Great Recession. Anyone who thinks it is better for a horse to slowly starve to death from neglect, rather than meet a quick end in the slaughterhouse, is living in a dream world. I have been deluged in the past 5+ years by painfully sad emails themed "find someone to take in these starving horses", including gruesome pictures of emaciated animals, plus similar news stories of the most recently discovered herds of walking skeletons in my area. The rescue agencies are full! The slaughter ban has decimated the pleasure horse industry. It is pretty much impossible to re-home a difficult animal that needs training, and if you have a good one to sell, they want it for FREE too. All I know is that I didn't see so many horses dying of neglect before the slaughter ban, and back then a good horse still had some market value. Therefore to me, slaughter was the lesser of the two evils.

brittany - October 26, 2012 9:05 AM

this post is nothing but opinion in my mind "horse owner" should not depend on slaughter houses to take there unwanted horses and yes i understand that some people find there selves in a tight money situation but if any one person can see there self with money issues you should make future plans for your horses other than a slaughter house. slaughter houses are not helping horses in any way they are transported thousands of miles in cramped hot trailers some dieing some suffering life threatening injuries then are to be slaughtered and you think that this is right u are a such a ignorant person.

Lisa - December 21, 2012 1:05 PM

I had respect for this blog until I read this editorial. I must say, I too am appalled at some of the comments you make, particulary those directed at women. I am a horse owner and our family's income is derived directly from the horse industry. I also know firsthand the effects of the economy on the horse industry. I can tell you that any "increase" in unwanted horses that occured after closure of domestic abattoirs was NOT a result of those plants' closures because horse slaughter has continued. That's right, American horses are currently being slaughtered at the exact same rate they were domestically before the "ban." So, to blame any *supposed* increase in "unwanted" horses on a lack of domestic slaughter is misguided. Any increase in unwanted horses is due to the continued production of animals when demand has shriveled (supply and demand).

I have often wondered why those who favor slaughtering our horses don't also advocate that we "process" (I love how slaughter advocates find the need to dress their words to make them more palatable) our unwanted dogs and cats too? After all, the same arguments presented for justifying horse slaughter can be made: large numbers of unwanted animals and foreign demand for the meat.

Ms. Rowe, I would also like to point out that you did not delve too deeply into the issue of food safety other than to re-iterate the fact that bute is banned in food animals. Well, how many American horses do you think receive bute? I can tell you a whole lot! Virtually ALL race horses have received bute, and they are quite prevalent in the kill pens. And those pesky regualtory hurdles you mentioned briefly, yes, it is going to get a lot harder for us to pawn our adultered horses' meat off on foreign consumers starting next year thanks to stiffer EU requirements. According to the USDA's own standards, meat from a horse that has been given bute at any point in its life is not fit for human consumption. Do you really think beef producers would be allowed to give their animals bute the same way horse owners treat their animals? I would also like to point out that a horse (or any animal really) does not magically become fit for human consumption simply because it is unwanted. Apparently slaughter advocates care very little about the people who are consuming this adulterated meat.
Finally, I have to wonder if any of the people posting here in support of horse slaughter have evered watched any of the numerous videos on the web of horses going through the slaughter process? I would guess no, based on the ridiculous assertions made here that slaughter is a humane.

JGraves - December 28, 2012 11:44 AM

This topic has been a heated debate for a long while now, however, as an Animal Agriculturist (and competitive horse owner) I will continue to stand behind horse slaughter. When domestic horse slaughter was "banned", it not only crashed the live animal selling market but it also resulted in MANY neglected animals. (which is NOT humane) I understand there are slaughter facilities (not only horse slaughter facilities) that do not implement good/humane harvesting practices and that contributes to the bad reputation that Animal Agriculture often gets. It's sad that a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch!

I believe the idea horses slaughter is looked at differently compared cattle, swine or other livestock because horses are really "companion" animals, which means owners and the general public look at horses in some ways the same way they might look at a family dog or cat. There is a certain bond that humans have with horses (especially women) and I believe that is the root of all the upset. This is contrary to most cattle, swine, or poultry producers where there is less "companionship" amongst a producers and his/her animals.

These are just my thoughts from an animal agriculturist perspective...Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Lisa - January 15, 2013 8:11 PM

JGraves - the "crash" in sales was not the result of the "ban" on horse slaughter. Quite the contrary, the economy was the primary reason for any decline in sales/prices. As I am sure you are aware, we have had one of the worst economic declines since the Great Depression. Add to this the fact that many breeders continued to flood the market with animals, and you have the real cause of any problem with supply/demand. Furthermore, U.S. horses continued to go to slaughter, despite the defacto ban on slaughter here. So any increase in neglect, decrease in prices, etc. cannot be a result of a lack of horse slaughter since it has continued at the same rate as was done here domestically before the "ban."
And of course there are the food safety concerns which are glossed over by those who favor slaughter. How do you justify using horses who have been given banned drugs throughout their lives for food? These are not "emotional" arguments against your viewpoint but rather fact-based and common sense points.

E. Gaston - February 21, 2013 3:28 PM

Interesting discussion. I take exception to being lumped in with pro-abortion groups, fanatical feminists, environmentalists and communists. Being called a shrill cackling busy-body is an affront also, but whatever.

I personally will never eat meat again, but you might be surprised that I am a right-winger from a prominent 3 generation ranching and rodeoing family, not a tree-hugging (insert insult here) fanatical left wing loon. I am just an individual who sees it this way: Horses often must be put down. Shipping them to cruelty factories in Mexico is worse than slaughtering them here. The problem is the FSIS/USDA cannot and isn't very interested in enforcing humane slaughtering violations unless it becomes a P.R. nightmare. They cite a token 2 or 3 violations a month just to appear useful and usually only if food safety is compromised as a result of the abuse. Knock box violations are mostly what they cite. Our standards here aren't good enough here so I stopped eating meat as a result. Contrary to those calling animal welfare advocates "terrorists," I am not interested in some grand conspiricy to ban meat eating or whetever preconceived notion many have about those that care deeply about animal welfare. And I have never flown a plane into the side of a building. The bottom line for me is the industry causes undue pain and suffering. UNDUE. I learned early on the effect just the smell of death has on horses. Seeing their reaction is burned into my brain. They are not equipped to handle the process the same way cows are. I am also concerned with encouraging and fomenting eating horses by slaughtering them for consumption as others have pointed out. I think this complicated issue will become more and more politicized with few actual "solutions." But from my standpoint, I would slaughter horses for no kind of consumption, design slaughterhouse for horses specifically for their unique challenges and humane needs(Temple Grandin) and clean up the USDA with respect to actually enforcing abuse violations. I don't see that happening so I personally will remain very conflicted on this issue.

To the person dismissing those that believe animals feel pain and fear shows me they.are likely guilty of inflicting a lot of pain on animals and are in a state of denial to assuage them of any guilt because... that is just stupid right there.

Tom - April 1, 2013 4:41 PM

Horse meat is unfit for humans to eat. Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 48, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1270-1274
Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk
Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau, Ann M. Marini
I have always said they don’t how many people they poison as long as they make a buck.
Here is the first warning to a horse killer from the FDA for falsified EID and the horse was positive for bute.
http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2012/ucm313462.htm
Horse Owner Survey Shows NSAID Use Trends
In a recent survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs, in a project sponsored by Merial, the maker of Equioxx (firocoxib).
http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=14073
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - prohibited as well Phenylbutazone, known as "bute," is a veterinary drug only label-approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use by veterinarians in dogs and horses. It has been associated with debilitating conditions in humans and it is absolutely not permitted for use in food-producing animals. USDA/FSIS has conducted a special project to for this drug in selected bovine slaughter plants under federal inspection. An earlier pilot project by FSIS found traces less than 3% of the livestock selected for testing, sufficient cause for this special project. There is no tolerance for this drug in food-producing livestock, and they and their by-products are condemned when it is detected. Dairy producers must not use this drug in food-producing livestock and if it is found, those producers will be subject to FDA investigation and possible prosecution.

Wendy - November 18, 2013 8:15 PM

There are some interesting people on this blog......I would rather have slaughter plants in the US than have to ship horses to Mexico or Canada and although the economy was a contributing factor to the decline of the horse industry, I wish people on this blog would at least look at the fact that after 2007 slaughter ban.......horses were more harmed than helped. If people want to eat horse meat, let them, if people want to eat dog and cat, let them. As long as all these animals are humanely raised and slaughtered........who is anyone to say what someone should or should not eat? If there is a market and it is profitable, nobody should stand in their way......especially gov't.

As far as how the author of the article makes out some of the anti-slaughter women to be.......I agree to a point. I also agree that if these same women were so passionate about ending abortion, maybe we could end abortion of human life in the US? Just think if HSUS spent their 150 million dollars a year on taking care of horses or unwanted pets or ending abortion where we would be as a society?

I am sick and tired of people trying to tell other people what they should and should not be doing, if you have the capacity to take care of 1,000 neglected horses that you don't want slaughtered and you can finance it....great! However, most people can't do that and in large barns with lots of horses, my guess is that they have to figure out how to make money........correct? A cull horse just like a cull cow is a way to help the profitability of the operation.....on farm euthanasia is not going to allow that. It isn't "blood money" as some have stated.......it is called "staying profitable".....in a cattle operation the cull animal can make up a significant portion of the operations bottom line.......just saying.

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