Many folks have thought that a USDA
overseen slaughter plant on US soil would solve any humane
issues. Many Veterinarians were given tours of the
US slaughter plants when operating to be shown how humane
and conscientiously caring they were for the animals welfare
and left feeling satisfied and impressed. Meanwhile
the USDA was compiling huge amounts of data on literal
atrocities at such plants - and doing nothing. These documents
are now recently available to the public. Information
was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request
submitted 3 years ago by equine cruelty investigator Julie
Caramante. A group called Animals Angels assisted Caramante
in obtaining the documents - their efforts being obstructed
for a full 3 years by the USDA. This is a 900 page document
with over 500 photographs chronicling mostly one year
2005 of the Beltex operations - a foreign company that
ended up with HUGE environmental fines and liabilities
and paid $5 in taxes to the IRS. Here is a summary
of the report:
Whatever purpose and however accomplished in the "good
old days", this is no longer your father's slaughter
price paid overseas for horse meat for HIGH END human
consumption has spawned an industry that is solely focused
on greed and profit with no sensibility for the animals
suffering. This kind of institutionalized behavior
affects us culturally.
Horse slaughter FUELS an irresponsible breeding of horses;
such breeding will stop when that outlet is not available.
Not the other way around. When you can
"range-breed" huge numbers of horses with no
maternal care; sell the best of the results that do sell
- and then sell the rest for meat; what you have
is a meat operation; not a riding horse operation.
When you breed 40,000 Thoroughbreds and MOST that
SURVIVE training and racing end up as horse meat eventually-
you really have a meat industry with a little wagering
practice in the interim. An end to slaughter
will reconfigure these practices. Naturally,
there are many complaints and protests from those who
do not want their practices and profit margins reconfigured
-even here in Sonoma.
Horses have fallen between the strict regulations that
control meat animal handling, and the laws that pertain
to household pets. An abused animal can simply be killed
to avoid charges of cruelty. Recent legislation governing
farm animals does NOT pertain to equines. There is little
or no protection for the horses.
Horses ARE NOT MEAT ANIMALS. They live their lives in
service to the human and are most often taught to bond
with the human from birth. They provide loving, patient
therapy to human children and adults in many venues. They
fuel a huge sport and entertainment industry. Products
to lovingly care for these animals are big business. They
are HIGHLY intelligent and as a prey animal must be -
extremely sensitive. Their ability to suffer is huge.
They are loyal to their friends and herd and fiercely
maternal in their care of the young - often including
human ones! We TEACH them to be our companions and co-workers.
This is why we do not eat horse meat here in the United
States; or dog or cat meat. When a horse can no
longer be cared for we owe it to that animal to humanely
end its life. Not make an extra few bucks from its carcass
at a terrible cost to the animal. What messages are we
giving our own young when we teach them to have a loving
relationship with an animal and then brutally dispose
of it when its care is no longer convenient. How
can we complain when juvenile humans then transpose such
values onto other humans they also happen to find inconvenient?
Please consider attending the Petaluma auction on Mondays
from 11-12. There are horses there that are selling for
very little - and some are really quite nice. Let us give
them a second chance or at the very least- a humane end.
You might also consider donating to SAFER - with cash,
goods and services, or fostering facilities. Please help
us try to see that our local horses are not boarding the
5- 9 trucks that leave Northern California every month
for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.