Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Horse Case Prompts Call For Change

KETV 7 Omaha

Some of the comments are worth reading.

Some Say Slaughter Operation Law Leads To Neglect

POSTED: 4:24 pm CST November 8, 2009
UPDATED: 9:14 am CST November 9, 2009

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Horse neglect borders on crisis across Nebraska and across the country. Many horse owners blame the problem on U.S. law, which forbids federal spending on inspections of horse meat for sale overseas.They said the ban has led to the demise of all slaughterhouses for horses in the United States and the collapse of the horse market.Horse owners contend the result is often neglect and, in some cases, abandonment of aging horses.One example is a case in Nebraska's Filmore County, where deputies confiscated 35 horses from a pasture near Shickely in July. Some of the horses were found with exposed rib cages and hipbones poking through."The horses were eating bark, trying to get nutrition," said Filmore County Deputy Bob Hester.Five of the horses have already died. Some in the horse industry said this kind of abuse is something they're seeing more and more of."It's a terrible sight for me to see a horse starving to death and there's a lot of them out there. That's what's happening," said Larry Junker, who runs the Fairbury Livestock Barn.He said he's seen the price of horses drop, allowing some people to get into the industry who shouldn't. He blames the forced closing of all the horse-kill operations in the United States. He said the operations used to provide an outlet for unwanted horses on the international meat market."I love horses more than anybody in the world, but there's a time and a place," Junker said.Horse breeder Dan Rottman has taken in his share of unwanted horses but said many rescue operations are now being overwhelmed."There's horses being dumped all over because they're not worth anything and it costs a lot to feed a horse," Rottman said.Video taken by an undercover investigator working for the Humane Society of the United States helped convince federal officials to pull USDA inspectors from domestic slaughterhouses in 2006."I don't think people in America want to see horses sent to slaughterhouses to be used for human consumption," said Humane Society lobbyist Don Wesely.He said his group is now trying to stop the transportation of horses to kill plants in Mexico and Canada."It's the slaughtering of horses we feel is inhumane and there are alternatives that are preferable to that," Wesely said.Nebraska State Sen. Cap Dierks said those alternatives are few."The only place I can take a horse to get rid of it is out in the pasture," he said. "Dig a hole and shoot him."He wants lawmakers to explore alternatives, including allowing kill operations in Nebraska."Slaughter is not pretty, but it does provide a humane economical way for an owner to relinquish an unwanted horse," said Debbie Brehm of American Quarter Horse.It's already cost Filmore County taxpayers more than $20,000 to handle the abuse case, something authorities said had to be done."This is no way to treat an animal," Hester said.On Friday, the 66-year-old man who owned the horses found in Filmore County was found incompetent to stand trial on 23 counts of abandonment or cruel neglect of animals. He voluntarily gave up the animals to private owners.

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