Here in Texas, we know a thing or two about horses. These loyal animals have been a part of the fabric of our state from the very beginning, and Texas continues to be a place where horses work on ranches, demonstrate their athleticism in the show ring, and serve as our trusted companions. Never have horses been considered dinner.
Our love of horses is the primary reason the idea of slaughtering them for human consumption is so abhorrent to the vast majority of us. A 2012 national poll found 81 percent of Texans disapprove of horse slaughter.
The transport process is hardly better. When horse slaughter plants previously operated in the U.S., the USDA documented injuries to horses during the long-distance journey to slaughter plants, some of them severe.
U.S. plants have since been closed. But Texas serves as host to several border pens, where U.S. horses await transport to slaughterhouses in Mexico, which exports the meat to Europe and Asia. The USDA has documented dead and severely injured horses in these border pens. Worse, horses that are rejected for slaughter by Mexican authorities can be left in pens to suffer and die.
The horse slaughter industry is a predatory enterprise. It doesn’t “euthanize” old, sick horses — but precisely the opposite: young and healthy horses are purchased at auction, often by people misrepresenting their intentions. The USDA reports 92 percent of horses going to slaughter are in good condition and able to live healthy and productive lives. The existence of horse slaughter actually hinders rescue efforts, as rescuers are routinely outbid at auctions by kill buyers seeking healthy animals that bring the best price per pound.
In addition to opposing the cruelty of horse slaughter, The Humane Society of the United States is concerned about the risk to human health associated with consuming meat from these animals. Horses in the U.S. are not raised as food animals, so they are routinely treated with dozens of drugs over the course of their lives that have not been approved for use in animals raised for food. One example, phenylbutazone or “bute,” is as common to horses as aspirin is to humans, and is banned for use in any animal intended for human consumption. Racehorses are known to be administered a variety of dangerous substances, including cocaine, cobra venom or frog juice, sometimes just days before being shipped to slaughter.
— Katie Jarl is Texas state director of the Humane Society of the United States.
(Note – While we love to read your comments, please know that commenting here is like preaching to the choir. To have an impact, your comments need to be on the New-Journal website where they can be absorbed by those who might have a tendency to think that slaughter is perfectly okay. – Jerry)