Kari NIienstedt, Commentary
In response to the Dec. 19 commentary, “Horse slaughter a humane option” by Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers:
It is true that the last two U.S. plants that butchered horses for foreign consumption have closed and that the slaughter industry continues to ship horses on a long, miserable journey to be killed in Canada and Mexico. The U.S. plants were rife with animal abuse and recent disclosures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture document those cruelties quite graphically.
Being a horse owner is a choice — one that comes with the responsibility of providing humane, competent care for the horse at all stages of his life. There are many alternatives to sending these iconic animals to the horrors of slaughter. If an owner can no longer care for their horse, they can sell or lease their horse to another competent caretaker; relinquish the horse to a rescue or sanctuary, or if no other option exists, have the horse humanely euthanized by a licensed veterinarian. In most parts of the country, the cost of humane euthanasia is equal to or less than the cost of one month’s care.
Both backyard and large scale breeders have relied on the killer buyers to snatch up their “excess” horses and turn a profit on their deaths. This creates little incentive to breed horses responsibly, or to put any time or training into their animals. The result?
Thousands of horses needlessly trucked thousands of miles with no food, water or rest, to a gruesome death in foreign slaughter plants.
It is only a matter of time before legislation passes to finally end horse slaughter. The horse industry must take steps now to encourage more responsible breeding and stop hiding behind a foreign-owned industry that preys upon our companion animals.
Kari Nienstedt of Queen Creek is Arizona state director of the Humane Society of the United States.