Yesterday I learned that our lawmakers recently passed Bill H2112, which re-legalizes the commercial slaughter of horses in the U.S. Horse lovers are rising up in outrage. How do you feel about it?
Being close to the "unwanted horse problem" (intensified by banning horses from U.S. slaughter houses), I know too much to have the luxury of a knee-jerk reaction. My husband is an equine veterinarian; he sees the good, the bad, and the ugly of horse ownership. We can testify to the horror stories that abound when people can no longer afford to care for their horses. Rescue facilities are full to overflowing and short on resources. Most vets will not euthanize healthy horses, and even if they were willing, often owners can't afford to pay for a backhoe to bury them or a rendering company to haul the body away if they live in an area with these options, or have them cremated if they do not. So horses too often suffer neglect and slow starvation or are turned loose to "fend for themselves" (in other words, starve, or get hit by vehicles, often killing people in the process). No one likes to think of horses hauled off to slaughter, but there ARE fates worse than death, and untold numbers have been suffering those fates with the closure of all U.S. slaughter houses to horses. The horses that are shipped to Mexico are enduring far more inhumane handling than they would receive here in the U.S. (as per undercover reporting), and even Canada is a long, exhausting haul that could be shortened by having slaughter houses open to horses within the U.S.
Personally, I'm a vegetarian in part because I can't stomach the thought of subjecting ANY animal to a slaughter house when I can be nourished less expensively and more healthfully on a plant-based diet. I've had pet cows, pet goats, and have pet sheep; horses aren't any more (or less) friendly, beautiful, or useful, so why do people get so much more up in arms over their slaughter? As long as people eat meat, animals will die at the hand of man, and as long as people have the freedom to breed animals indiscriminately, there will be more dogs, cats, horses and other animals than there are people with resources (owners, rescue facilities) to adequately care for them. As a result, many - too many - have to be destroyed.
One solution is for the government, in Big Brother fashion, to ban all animal breeding except for those with licenses to do so, and requiring the rest of us to spay/neuter everything, including horses, sheep, etc. Would you be for such legislation?
The bottom line for me is that opening U.S. slaughter houses to horses is a necessary evil given all other current realities.