Op-Ed: ERBE: Horse slaughter should remain banned
Here we go again. The soulless, heartless humans who make their living by slaughtering horses have managed to convince Congress and this supposedly liberal president to open up horse slaughterhouses once more.
The plants were banned in 2007 and blissfully became a thing of the past. They should still be in the past, but for the work of Montana’s Democratic Sen. Max Baucus and other pro-slaughter lawmakers. Baucus was able to hang an amendment onto an omnibus spending bill that put horse slaughterhouses back in our future. He routinely receives thousands of dollars in contributions from the meat industry and brags on his website, “Baucus Awarded ‘Meat Exporter of the Year.’” There’s no better example of blood money, and it’s a sorry development.
The New York Times reported this month that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months. Oklahoma’s governor is also taking comments from the public on whether to open up such a plant in that state. This will be terrible for our great nation and for the communities where horse slaughter plants will do business.
Do horse slaughter plants create jobs? Yes, but they’re not the kind of jobs anyone would want nearby. They pay minimum wage and warp the minds of people assigned to shoot bolts into the horses’ heads (which doesn’t result in immediate, but rather a lingering death). Research by the University of Windsor’s Amy J. Fitzgerald and Michigan State University’s Linda Kalof and Thomas Dietz has shown that this type of work produces higher rates of violent crime and sexual crime in communities where plants are opened.
Paula Bacon, the mayor of Kaufman, Texas, spent years trying to close down equine slaughterhouses near her small town. She found they polluted the town’s water system with horse blood and left offal all over the place. They did not create jobs worth having nor did they pay their fair share in taxes. In fact, she told Forbes publishing that many plants were tax scofflaws:
“Five million dollars in federal funding was spent annually to support three foreign-owned horse slaughter plants,” Bacon told Forbes, naming the nearby Dallas Crown plant, plus Beltex in Fort Worth and Cavel in DeKalb, Ill. “When Dallas Crown’s tax records came to light in the city’s legal struggle, we found they’d paid only $5 in federal taxes on a gross income of over $12 million. They liked to say they were good corporate citizens. But it is my belief they were more like corporate thugs.”
So the next time someone tries to convince you that horse slaughter plants are good for the economy and for business, educate that person.
Oh, and the claim that the U.S. has too many unwanted horses and something needs to be done with them is bogus, too. Some 64,000 horses were shipped to Canada and another 68,000 were trucked to Mexico in 2011, according to Examiner.com. That amounts to approximately 1 percent of all U.S. horses at the time.
Even if there were too many unwanted horses, that could be easily resolved by limiting breeders on how many horses they could breed each year.
The reviling truth about why people sell horses to slaughter buyers is, in two words, money and greed. If you pay a veterinarian to humanely euthanize a horse and have its carcass properly disposed of, it costs about $750.
But you can earn several hundred dollars by selling a horse at a killer-buyer auction.
This is not an industry that should be raised from the dead.
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