Monday, April 5, 2010

The ultimate betrayal of the horse

Horsetalk Guest Blog

The ultimate betrayal of the horse

April 5th, 2010 by George McDonald I felt nauseated as I read a story this morning on this site about the “equine house of horrors” at two Canadian horse slaughter plants.
The whole issue of horse slaughter nauseates me, full stop. I find it unfathomable that people who supposedly care for and about an animal would betray it by sending it to slaughter.
A butcher shop specializing in horse meat in Pezenas, Languedoc, 
France. (Wikipedia)
A butcher shop specializing in horse meat in Pezenas, Languedoc, France. (Wikipedia)
But then not all horse lovers care about horses.
As I read through the Canadian story, I felt saddened for the horses involved, and anger at the people who had sent them to their deaths.
I also felt anger at the idiots in the world (yes, there are plenty) who seem to think that horse slaughter is a convenient form of euthanasia – not only do they get the ‘problem’ out of sight and out of mind – but – bonus – they make a few bucks, too.
Now, the devil’s-advocate types out there jump up and say they see no difference between eating a cow, sheep, or deer, than eating a horse.
Well, there are two main differences that these people fail to consider.
One is that there are rigorously inspected facilities for cattle, sheep and deer where they are treated humanely when they are slaughtered.
As outlined in the Canadian story, the facilities that horses end up in are generally not like that:
“Problems include failure to restrain each animal’s head properly before shooting, shooting from too great a distance, shooting in the wrong part of the head or body, failure to follow up with an immediate second shot in animals that were not killed by the first, hoisting apparently conscious animals, and – in the case of [one] plant – cruel handling and treatment of the horses, including excessive whipping and overuse of an electric prod, as well as an apparent callous disregard for the animals’ suffering.
“An additional cause of very major concern is the presence of what appear to be either plant supervisors or inspectors who observe the employees’ actions and yet do nothing.”
Two, is that horses have been selectively bred for hundreds of years for many things, and slaughter isn’t one of them. They have been bred to carry a soldier to war, or to plough a field, to pull a cart as transport, or to be gentle enough for a child to ride, or to run fast for entertainment and as a money-earner, or to jump high or look pretty, and so on.
Most also have names.
In simple terms, there are (to me) two main types of people who send horses to slaughter.
1 – those who breed or buy them just for the purpose. [known as kill buyers or breeders]
2 – those who have used the horse until it has outlived its usefulness to them and they don’t care about providing another home or providing another option for the horse. It’s all about the money.
Type 2 can be split further:
a. those who have the horse disposed of by someone else – think of a racehorse owner whose trainer says the horse is no good, but they’ll find them another one. The owner doesn’t know where the old one went, and doesn’t care because he has another ‘prospect’.
b. those who sell a horse (usually cheap or at auction) for whatever reason yet fail to properly place the horse in a new suitable home, or check the buyer out.
c. those who knowingly send their horse to slaughter as a form of euthanasia.

Fast food shop selling horse Leberkäse (Pferdeleberkäse) in 
Vienna. (Wikipedia)
Fast food shop selling horse Leberkäse (Pferdeleberkäse) in Vienna. (Wikipedia)
How any of these people could have missed the unpalatable facts in the media about horse slaughter in the past few years is another question. Heads buried in the sand? Which leads me to type c – the worst kind of traitors to the equine. They say they are horse lovers and make their money from or get pleasure from the horse, yet betray them at the very end.
These “c” people keep telling themselves and anyone else misguided enough to listen that slaughter plants are necessary because it is so expensive to have a horse killed when they don’t want it any more. If they don’t exist, these people argue, horses will be mistreated and neglected. Sad to say that horses were being mistreated and neglected long before slaughter plants in the US closed. I’ve read a lot about this  on this website over the past few years.
The misinformation being spread knows no limits.
Don’t get me started on the silly people who think it is great that the meat of horses is used to feed the poor. It isn’t. Horse meat sells as a delicacy  so it takes a special kind of ignorance to consider sophisticated diners in Belgium, France and Japan as paupers.
Never mind the fact that many horses are pumped full of toxic (to humans) chemicals. This proves that people will eat anything they can shove down their throats, and believe what is shoved down their throats by those promoting it.

A horse at a livestock auction in Pennsylvania.
A horse at a livestock auction in Pennsylvania.
The biggie drug here is phenylbutzone, or Bute, which is a carcinogen (that means cancer causing) and causes bone marrow toxicity in humans. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set no safe levels of the drug and bans its use food-producing animals, including horses. Yet still horses are killed for their meat and people eat it. ‘It’s safe’, say the kill buyers, and the European Union believes them when they say the horses are free of key drugs.
Reading through the Canadian story I felt so bad for the horses who ended up being sold down the road, only to find a lonely, painful, and frightening end.
We have bred horses for many generations to be easy to handle and put their trust in us. They have been pampered and loved, groomed and shown, and handled with care.
Slaughter is the ultimate betrayal.

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