By Brenda B. Tyrrell / Albuquerque resident
Advocating horse slaughter as the answer to the “unwanted” horse problem is like closing the barn door after the horse has been gone for days!
Many horse slaughter supporters cite the GAO Horse Welfare Report in their quest for reopening horse slaughter plants in the United States. … The GAO failed to address the issue of food safety concerns raised by the consumption of American horses.
Horses in the United States are not raised or regulated as food animals and are given drugs and chemicals during their lifetime that are permanently banned substances in food animals.
In December 2010, the European Union released a report on how well slaughter plants were implementing the recommendations of a 2008 audit. They found several banned substances in U.S. horses – and they also discovered that the accompanying paperwork was falsified.
A major omission in the GAO report is a failure to mention the substantial costs to local communities from environmental devastation, potential loss of tourism, businesses choosing to relocate to other areas and the use of government and other resources with virtually no tax revenues from the plants. The GAO claimed that the U.S. economy lost $65 million as a result of the 2007 closures of slaughter plants when all revenue from overseas sales went to the foreign plant owners.
There is abundant, well-documented evidence that violations have occurred for decades as a result of transporting horses to slaughter, at auction houses, at feedlots and at slaughter plants when plants were open in the United States, and they are still occurring as horses are shipped over the borders to slaughter.
It is a convenient lapse of memory for horse slaughter proponents to claim that horses would be more humanely slaughtered in U.S. slaughter plants because they are better regulated. Horse slaughter is inhumane and laxly regulated no matter where it occurs.
As for Caren Cowan’s allegations that the closing of horse slaughter plants in the United States has resulted in many “unwanted” horses along the borders, one only has to look at the six-month investigation by Equine Welfare Alliance, which determined that the source of the 5,000 or more abandoned horses per year in the Southwest is the result of being rejected for slaughter at the Mexican border.
The abandoned horses along the border were rejected for slaughter because of health problems, advanced pregnancy and injuries and were left to die in the desert. The horse slaughter lobby had suggested that these horses were abandoned because individuals no longer had a slaughter option. In fact, just the opposite is true; they were abandoned because slaughter is still an option.
The GAO report did state that Congress may wish to consider a permanent ban on horse slaughter. This statement is largely ignored by horse slaughter proponents because it would mean they would have to take a proactive approach rather than just disposing of horses or expecting horse rescues to pick up their slack.
Advocating horse slaughter as the answer to the “unwanted” horse problem is like closing the barn door after the horse has been gone for days. The horse industry makes their money off live horses; maybe it is time for them to step up to the plate and start acting like they matter.
An analysis of the GAO report on horse welfare can be read at www.equinewelfarealliance.org.
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