Thursday, February 5, 2009

Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding

Horse Slaughter: Not the Answer to Overbreeding
February 3, 2009 -- Loxahatchee, FL -- It hasn't even been two weeks since the inauguration of President Obama, and it seems as if some of our elected representatives have missed the forward movement of transparency and accountability regarding lobbyists and ethics. Maybe that is where the rub is: it's not a lobbyist who is attempting to steer taxpayers' dollars for a personal agenda, it is a state representative who touts an elected seat.

North Dakota State Representative Rod Froelich and State Senator Joe Miller have introduced a bill to the state's legislative assembly proposing to spend $100,000 on a study to determine the feasibility of a horse slaughter house in North Dakota. There are some startling coincidences worthy of mention. Representative Froelich's family are longtime quarterhorse breeders, and according to their website at they specialize in breeding horses of outstanding color and disposition.

Quote from the site: "Welcome to our 38th annual production sale. The five Froelich brothers, along with our mother, Barbara, and our nephew, Lance, are excited to again bring you a consistent group of foals with 'disposition, color, & conformation ranch-raised in big country'."

Whether Representative Froelich has sent horses to slaughter is a question only he can answer. Unfortunately, in our country, breeders send horses to slaughter because of their color; yes, this does exist. For example, two QH babies named Abercrombie and Fitch arrived at Pure Thoughts Horse & Foal Rescue. They came with AQHA papers so we called the previous owner, a breeder in Minnesota who selects for color: "palomino to be exact." According to the breeder, the two babies were sold to Simon Horse Company in Minnesota owned by Joe and Ryon Simon who are known killbuyers for horse slaughter. Both horses were sold because they were red in color, and Fitch's mother was sent to slaughter because that was her third red baby. This almost takes us back many years ago to a situation which was referred to as "cleansing."

How many times are we going to look into the pro-slaughter bowl of cherries and see that the pit is usually someone who stands to gain personally or financially, whether on the sale of horsemeat or the act of slaughter itself?

Here is an idea for Rep. Froelich: rather than ask the taxpayers to pay for a study on the feasibility of opening a slaughterhouse in North Dakota (creating a dumping ground for quarterhorses that do not have the most perfect conformation, sought after color or greatest disposition), ask the AQHA to designate funds for genetic studies and education. Even the horse novice understands the homozygous genes and the possibilities of perfecting color choices. Another thought would be to take that $100,000 and donate it to a rescue that saves slaughter-bound horses, and we will take all your not-so-perfect babies and mares that do not produce foals of the "right" color and place them in loving homes. It is so redundant to have yet another attempt at promoting horse slaughter stem from the AQHA arena.

How unfortunate that the AQHA is one of the wealthiest equine organizations in the US and yet continues to support horse slaughter. Even while the thoroughbred associations are stepping up to develop solutions to help our equine athletes retire safely and with dignity, the AQHA (with four times the annual foal registration of the TB industry) refuses to present and incorporate a plan for their horses. In addition, the AQHA allows for artificial insemination, embryo transplant and cloning (their latest endeavor) while the thoroughbred industry requires live cover. As stated earlier, a major consideration should be researching methods of successfully producing the most sought-after foals.

Consider these numbers related to the AQHA (2007 US data):

-Quarter horse population: 2,859,851 (Estimated 2007 all-breed population: 9.2 million)
-AQHA new foals/registrations: 117,830
-AQHA membership: 305,000
-Total owners: 902,453
-AQHA total assets: $111,154,925
-Revenues from registrations, transfers, membership, breeding fees: $19,288,000
-AQHA 2008 new foals/registrations: 140,000 (this should be 140,000, right?)

These revenues and assets are not comparable with any other breed association, The AQHA charges owners for foal registrations and annual dues. The majority of QH owners do register their horses as it adds market value to the horse, and it's required in order to enter the horse in AQHA-sanctioned racing, shows and events. More foals equal more revenue for the AQHA.

These figures show that annual breeding means huge financial gain for the AQHA. Excess stock would negatively impact market values, so unsalable quarter horses go to slaughter to make room on farms for next year's foals. The AQHA also contributed $9,000 to Senator Larry Craig, who filed a notice of intent to object on a federal bill aimed towards ending horse slaughter; subsequently, the bill saw no action in the Senate.

No other breed of horse is sent more frequently to slaughter than the American Quarterhorse, the real victims of greed in the American horse industry.

If we trace the historical path of this issue in the political arena, the continuation of horse slaughter has always stemmed from personal agendas or personal gain. This year, let's try to have humanity as the agenda, do what is right, and represent the voice of the people.

Pure Thoughts Inc.
National Horse Welfare Organization
Jennifer Swanson
Cheryl Hanna

1 comment:

  1. Also this, from Texas Horsetalk Magazine:

    Humane Society Says It Will Not Oppose Slaughter of Farm and Ranch Animals Despite Ag Interest Groups Claims

    Farmers and Rancher Target HSUS

    Equestrian Magazine Issues Stern Criticism to Breeders

    By Steven Long

    HOUSTON, (Horseback Magazine) - The nation's largest animal welfare organization has for the first time gone on the record to counter claims that it wants to end the slaughter of food animals.
    Michael Markarian, executive vice president of Washington based Humane Society of the United States, emphatically countered the charge frequently made by agriculture groups that it wants nothing less than to end the slaughter of any animal for food, not just horses.
    Asked Tuesday if HSUS is targeting the food animal industry for abolition Markarian was quick to respond.
    "The answer is no," he told Horseback Magazine through a spokeswoman. "That is not our goal."
    Agriculture groups from across the nation have zeroed in on HSUS as the bogy man in their war with animal welfare activists over horse slaughter. They say that the ultimate goal of the Society is to eliminate the killing of all food animals including cattle, sheep, goats, and swine.
    "They have a simple goal, and that is to eliminate animal agriculture in this country," said South Dakota Rancher Troy Hadrick in a story in Tuesday's Rapid City Journal.
    Such talk is sweeping the nation. Agriculture interests will soon take their battle to Congress and to state legislatures as legislation to end horse slaughter forever is brought up for debate and a vote.
    In meeting after meeting, both large and small, farmers and ranchers are pointed to the Humane Society by industry leaders as the group most well funded and determined to end their livelihood and way of life. The result has been an emotional upheaval against the group coming from across rural America.
    In the current Texas legislative session a fierce battle is expected over the issue. It will pit recreational horse owners and animal rescue operators against breeders, ranchers, and much of the horse industry itself.
    Polling has consistently shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the slaughter of horses.
    The industry is well funded and able to tap the deep pockets of the Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser's Association, AQHA and others who have a vested interest in being able to recoup the costs of raising a horse with little market value. Selling a horse for slaughter enables a breeder to recover at least part of his costs for breeding a seemingly unwanted horse. In short, it's all about money and the ability to recover the investment made to breed the animal.
    The battle could well be waged in multiple states all at once, as well as in Congress. Animal rights activists counter that there are no unwanted horses and most animals culled from breeding programs may be placed with the public if only given the chance. They say that it is a myth that old, frail, and ill horses are sold for slaughter as the slaughter advocates frequently claim. They say it's all about meat on the hoof, and there isn't much meat on a starving horse.
    Yet the agriculture industry is fiercely determined to bring back slaughter plants that were outlawed and closed in Texas and Illinois during the past two years.
    In fact, a bill has already been filed in South Dakota that would provide funding for a study to establish a horse slaughter industry in that state. Currently, there is no legal horse slaughter facility operating in the United States, although horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico to supply markets in Europe and Japan.
    While the Humane Society has now gone on record saying it will not target animal agriculture for elimination, that doesn't mean it has embraced it either.
    "Most animals raised for meat, eggs, and dairy products today suffer immensely on factory farms," said HSUS spokeswoman Heather Sullivan. "They are confined by the tens of thousands in warehouses where many of their natural instincts are frustrated and are generally treated like mere commodities as opposed to living, feeling individuals."
    Sullivan said the organization welcomes animal lovers of all dietary persuasions, from vegans to confirmed carnivores.
    "The Humane Society of the United States is a big tent organization -- we're comprised of vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. In fact, the vast majority of our members are not vegetarians," she said.
    "We accept the fact that most Americans eat animals and we support efforts by individuals, corporations, voters and lawmakers (and what they) can do to help reduce the suffering of these animals. At the same time, while most Americans eat animals, they do not want to see them treated inhumanely. The industry can only be expected to go so far as the public wants it to go, and many standard industry practices today are clearly out of step with the sentiments of most Americans. This is where HSUS focuses the bulk of our farm animal resources.
    While HSUS is not officially opposed to meat eating, it clearly isn't promoting it either, and in fact promotes alternatives.
    "We support a variety of reasonable efforts to help reduce animal suffering. If consumers want to avoid eating animals, we'll provide them with the information they need to make that decision," Sullivan said. "If they want to reduce the number of animals they eat, we'll give them recipes and other useful information. And if they want to avoid products that cause the most animal suffering (e.g., switching from battery cage eggs to cage-free eggs), we applaud that too, and give them the info they need on where they can find those products. This is the range of motion for the bulk of the American public, and we are comfortable working in all of these ways."

    Tel: 281-447-0772
    FAX: 281-893-1029