Proposal would brand horses treated with Bute


Since kill buyers have been known to take horses without asking questions, I can only imagine that tattoos or microchipping might get ignored as well.  Anything to slow down or stop horse slaughter is worth looking at. ~ HfH Web Mistress
From: Off-Track Thoroughbreds
By: Susan Salk

Donna with a California-bred Yeah Me Do, age 30

Donna with a California-bred Yeah Me Do, age 30

Texas-based T’bred advocate Donna Keen recently announced an innovative idea to save horses from the slaughter pipeline, long before they’re endangered.

The CEO of Remember Me Rescue is proposing to both industry leaders and influencers alike, that identification be painlessly branded on the left, front shoulder of any horse treated with one of 17 medications routinely given to horses, which are that are banned in meat consumed by humans.

Keen argues that branding, which was an idea put forth by California-based Thoroughbred advocate Deb Jones in a conversation between the two, would prove unequivocally that a horse has been treated with substances, such as phenlybutazone (Bute), a substance that remains in the horseflesh long after it is administered, and is considered dangerous in humans.

Says Keen, “The people in Europe don’t want to eat meat that has been treated with substances like Bute, but in some cases they’ve been lied to and told that their meat is safe, when it isn’t.”

She proposes that racehorse owners place an indelible “freeze” brand on their horse the very moment the animal is treated with a substance that is banned for human consumption, and that the information be stored in a national database that would detail the horse’s name, tattoo number, provide photos of the animal, as well as the name of the attending veterinarian, the date the drug was administered, and the name of the owner at that time.

The branding process would be voluntary, and already at least one racing company has promised to brand all of its horses, she says.

Keen notes that MidWest Thoroughbreds owner Richard Papiese has already indicated his enthusiasm for a branding system.

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AUTHOR: Posted by Habitat for Horses Calaway
  • karen

    How does this stop them from becoming dog food?

    December 3, 2013
    • Daniel Cordero

      Rather than becoming dog food I would say from showing up in your next spagetti with meatballs. Horsemeat hasn’t been used for dog food in decades but has a somewhat uncanny tendency to come uninvited with ready-made foods, for what I can tell…

      December 4, 2013
      • Another Country

        Not sure if it is in dog food any more but it does go to many zoos..What it will accomplish is stopping people from buying perfectly good horses because of a brand. Bute leaves their system a brand does not…

        December 5, 2013
  • Mustangman

    HAHAHA, now just who is verifying those brands and where is this datat base that keeps track of that brand, also it is quite easy in todays tech world to alter a brand to be something it didnt start off being. I have never seen a brand inspector verify a horse brand at any of teh auctions I attend and I spend a lot of time at the check in shack with them while they are checking in horses and ignoring them.

    December 3, 2013
    • Daniel Cordero

      The actual issue is not so much of changing or modifying brands or tattoos but of legalities. It’s a good, smart idea but the problem is it is not government-sanctioned, that is, it is not an official system. Horses with the drugs brand / tattoo will continue being accepted at the border controls and at the slaughter plants since such ID system is not backed by a government and thus there is no legal obligation to take any action on them; it would be basically a meaningless mark. However, the moment you get USDA involved and you get the same data in a federal government’s database and you get inspectors trained, here and abroad (their respective governments must do so) to reject these animals as per EU or national food safety regulations then picture radically changes as there would be no excuses, no voids, no more ifs and buts… In essence, it would be a different but conceptually similar implementation of the passport system we have here.

      Of course there would be attempts to get around it just as there are here but they would be minimal in my opinion. If made voluntary, most people would choose not to participate so as to keep open the fast cash option of selling at killer auctions since all people, by nature, is selfish. But if made mandatory, well that’s a different story. The most likely outcome in that scenario would be that some high-end, mass-scale breeders would switch off to raise horses specifically for killing just like if they were beef cattle(as it is done in Europe) in order to supply the horse slaughter plants but that involves a cost and they would be a minority. Then the horsemeat industry simply adapts (and accepts reaping lower profits due to the increased cost of sourcing horses as these farms will not provide them in sufficient numbers to cover the demand) or dies –in that case meaning that they will have to relocate somewhere else where they can source equines in sufficient numbers at a sufficiently lower price to meet their profit targets). The result would be a reduction in the number of horses slaughtered.

      This also implies there is an additional, perhaps more interesting reading on all this issue and it is that both the horsemeat industry, the big names in the horse breeding one (e.g. AQHA), the EU authorities and the USDA are pretty much interested on maintaining the current, vacuous status-quo which is precisely and non-surprisingly the most propitious for their respective interests and, therefore, such status-quo will so remain indefinitely, on some sort of metastable equilibrium, until something powerful enough topples its balance, although such an event is admittedly unlikely to take place.

      December 4, 2013
  • Joan

    Well if these kill buyers gouge out eyes what’s to stop them from cutting away the brand? I wouldn’t put anything past them

    December 3, 2013
  • terri russell

    crow Now Mustang Man. Thanks For Your Input. Make Not Of This Comment Habitat. May Be Useful Later…

    December 3, 2013
  • terri russell

    correction.. Make Note..

    December 3, 2013
  • judye michaels

    I, personally, believe a brand is USELESS! I’ve seen photos of horses in kill pens with BLM brands which appear to have been obliterated; and we certainly can’t forget Backstreet Bully who was slaughtered in spite of vet records being faxed to the slaughterhouse which proved he had been administered bute.
    Pass the SAFE Act; that will help protect horses!!!!

    December 3, 2013