Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wyoming Governor Signs Bill That Will Feed Bute Tainted Horse Meat to Inmates, Meat Europeans Won't Accept, No USDA Inspectors

Horseback Magazine

CHEYENNE, (UOH) - Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal has signed HB 122-Disposal of livestock into law which provides the Wyoming Board of Livestock three options to deal with abandoned, estray (animals whose ownership cannot be determined), feral, or abused animals which come under their control. The first option is taking the animal to a public sale, which was the only alternative before passage of this legislation. Additional options provided are sending the animal to slaughter, or destroying the animal. 

While the legislation applies to all classes of livestock, the need arose because of the current lack of a market for low-end horses that are small or are in poor condition. Since the closure of the last US horse slaughter plant in 2007, the only unusable horses that have any value whatsoever are those that are big enough, or healthy enough, to be worth the transportation costs to Canada or Mexico. This has resulted in a huge increase in abandoned and neglected horse cases in Wyoming, and across the nation. Wyoming has seen more than a tripling every year in these numbers, which has required emergency funding through the Governor since they are unable to recoup the cost of care and feeding by selling the horses. 

If the Board of Livestock chooses the slaughter option they are required to provide the meat to Wyoming state institutions or nonprofit organizations at their cost. They are authorized to sell the meat to profit entities at market price. Meat intended for human use will be state inspected and used in Wyoming. 

The United Organizations of the Horse is coordinating a working group that includes state agencies, private meat processing businesses, nonprofit relief organizations, Dr. Temple Grandin, veterinarians, and other experts to design a system for the processing of horses, and the efficient and practical use of valuable meat and byproducts. The product of this working group will be a pilot Equine Assurance Program which will be a model for other states to utilize to address animal welfare concerns, and ensure the humane handling, transportation, and processing of horses. 

To the editor, Horseback magazine-

I get the feeling that you may have some bias against horse processing, and I too have a 32 year old QH that has a home for life, but recently I have been suckered into also caring for a half dozen walking horses of all ages that were part of 75 that were abandoned to the county animal shelter (which barely can feed their dogs/cats) so I am wondering what we will be doing with all these unwanted horses – and then I see your headline -

Wyoming Governor Signs Bill That Will Feed Bute Tainted Horse Meat to Inmates, Meat Europeans Won't Accept, No USDA Inspectors

If you read the legislation, it only includes strays or feral horses…can you explain to me how strays and feral horses would ever get access to bute or any drugs? The horses that have ended up as neglected and abandoned obviously have not had feed, let alone any bute or other drugs. As I read it, these are the only animals involved and it requires significant holding period for the animals while their owners are looked for… so how could there possibly be any drugs in their systems? I would really appreciate honest open discussion on these issues – not attempts to fire up emotions… and do you really think the average Wyoming resident cares what prisoners eat?

Carolyn Orr, Ph.D.
6181 West SR 28
West Lebanon, IN 47991
(765) 893-8209
Cell (859) 265-0658
Thanks so much for writing to us regarding your concerns about the headline we ran with the United Organization of the Horse press release from Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette. I'm happy to acknowledge our firm opposition to the captive bolt method of killing horses. We have discussed that at length with pro-slaughter leaders up to and including former Sen. Conrad Burns who happens to agree with us that the method is cruel and needs to be replaced. We are not anti slaughter, we are anti captive bolt.
Regarding the header, the three elements of it are all true. I strongly disagree with you in your belief that all strays are bute free - how on earth would you know since we have no idea where stray horses came from. We don't accept the term feral horses if you are referring to America's national treasure, the Wild Mustang. Yes, these horses are free of drugs other than the ones put in them by the Bureau of Land Management after their capture. As you know, the BLM staff vets treat these horses the same as domestic horses. There is no assurance they are bute free. Moreover, we don't approve of sending even wild horses to slaughter.
The second element, that the prisoners will be exposed to tainted meat is true, and we don't for a second believe these people, no matter what their crime, should be exposed to known carcinogens. I don't think the majority of the people of Wyoming would like to see this either.
Regarding the third element of the headline - Congress at least two years ago cut off funding of federal inspectors in equine slaughter houses. It has never been restored, so the operation of abattoir would be illegal in the United States.
Thank you so much for your note. We will be happy to post it in our letters to the editor section.
Steven Long, Editor
Horseback Magazine

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