The Binders Full of Horses

Please Stay
Please Stay

Drug free? Seriously?

The recent discovery by the European Union that horses from the US might possibly have been exposed to drugs that are forbidden in meat meant for human consumption led to a temporary closing of Canadian equine slaughter facilities and a slow down in the Mexican facilities. Although equine advocates have been screaming about it for years, it appears that someone, somewhere, looked at some test results and became shocked (“I’m shocked! Do you hear me! Shocked!”) that such tainted meat was being accepted.

Naturally, the more intelligent among those in the horse slaughter industry decided that more testing needed to be done and issued directives designed to eventually assure themselves that this was a false assumption. (Translated – “Sit down and shut up!”) Certainly no one, least of all those outstanding humans who purchase and transport equine to the borders, would dare falsify documents and all the horses presented for slaughter have been held in large, grass-filled pastures for a minimum of six months without receiving any medications. After all, that is the requirement and this is the way upstanding American’s do business, right?

For a little more than 48 hours America’s equine were not in danger of being slaughtered. There were a few hours of celebration, then even more panicked hours as we discussed those equine caught in the slaughter pipeline.

While the pro-slaughter voices want you to believe that 150,000 horses are “unwanted” each and every year, that piece of propaganda has been proven completely false. Killer-buyers are under contract to supply X number of horses a month, so they search far and wide for their supply. The first stop is the mass breeding farms, then the racetracks, auction houses, Craigslist ads, summer riding camps, Mounted Patrols and a thousand other places that don’t mind sacrificing a family pet for a few hundred dollars. Throw in a few thousand horses from the BLM and they are able to gather truckload after truckload to feed the slaughter machine.

While the total number of slaughtered horses adds up to 135,000 a year, the weekly totals are those generally considered “in the pipeline.”

Those not yet in the pipeline are still in the hands of those who, by law, must care for them. The breeding farms must deal with their over abundance of horses, the racetrack will need to set up programs dealing with retired racehorses (and many already have), those that Uncle Bob hauled to the auction house will either be bought by someone else or will be hauled back to Uncle Bob’s. Even more shocking is that the BLM might actually have to take full responsibility for the 48,000 horses they captured and made to act in compliance with the Wild Horse and Burro Act.

At immediate risk in the case of a sudden and unexpected slaughter halt are those 3,000 to 5,000 that are either being transported or are in storage waiting their turn. That number is an estimate. While EU regulations state that all slaughter gathering sites in the US where horses are suppose to be kept for a minimum of 180 days are to be recorded and available for EU inspectors, it simply isn’t done.

In other words – binders full of horses must be provided. Were the rules followed, we’d know where all the horses are kept, but those binders don’t exist.

There is a logical path that would supposedly say to any business person that should one be given notice that the demand for your product is coming to an end, one should reduce inventory. In other words, if you make money buying and selling horses, and you know that slaughter will stop on a certain date, you don’t buy more horses. Sadly, no one ever accused the pro-slaughter industry of following a logical conclusion when it comes to anything other than the scent of money.

There is a very strong point to be made about any industry taking full and complete responsibility for their actions as well as their failure to act. Our country is filled with shining examples of industry cleaning up after themselves without demanding that others step in to assist. For example…. uh… the automobile industry that, no wait … the oil industry that.. oh, never mind.

Point being, and very rightfully so, that those who having promoted horse slaughter for so long and so strongly, knowing full well that the meat they were sending overseas is in direct violation of every kind of food safety standard around the world, should take full responsibility for every horse, donkey and mule in the pipeline when slaughter comes to an end.

They won’t.

They will blame the equine advocates, the government, religion, poets, Starbucks and the New York Times. They will thump their white shirts and bolo ties while declaring that slaughter is necessary and humane and in the end they will not offer a single penny to clean up the mess they made.

Instead they will look at the equine rescue organizations as we scramble to do everything we can and they will proudly announce, “See? Told you so! They can’t handle it!” Then they will make asinine statements about 150,000 unwanted horses every year and pay lobbyist hundreds of thousands of dollars to get slaughter houses open again, despite the fact that the market for America’s drugged horses is gone forever.

I can hear the spokesperson for the slaughter industry now. “So what if the horsemeat has a few carcinogenic drugs in it. A little cancer never hurt anyone.”

Meanwhile, the equine rescues are left to clean up their mess. And we will look to the American public – you – to donate to our efforts.

You paid to clean up the banking mess, the Wall Street mess, the automobile industry mess and now the horse industry mess. It gets a little tiring, doesn’t it? You’ll do it, not through taxes but through your heart, because lives are at stake, the lives of horses that did nothing wrong other than place their trust and devotion into the hands of humans.

Horse advocates don’t see binders full of horses, we see 5,000 individual equine caught in a trap by uncaring and selfish killers. We see a wild mustang full of fear who has been ripped away from his family and lives in constant terror, we see the old carriage horse who spent his life walking the streets of New York, we see a young thoroughbred who didn’t have what it takes to run races.

At the Habitat for Horses ranch, we currently house 160 individual such stories, and we feed, care for and love each and every one of them as they wait for their forever owner to walk through the gates and take them home. Those in the pipeline are no different. True equine people from all over will step forward, open their hearts and bring as many as they can to safety.

Non-profit equine rescues from across the nation will play a big part in the recovery, not because we should but because we can. While the bail-out should be funded by those who caused the problem, I will be shocked if any of them offer a penny. They’ve made their blood money through their continual lies and deceit. They’ll leave it to others to clean up the mess.

Are we prepared? No. Do we have the resources? No. Is the recovery organized? No. Is there a central command for such a task? No. Are there plans in place? No.

Are we, as a group of devoted equine advocates across the nation and into Canada, capable of coming together at a moment’s notice and organizing to save as many as we can?

Yes, and we will. We could do nothing less.

But we will also look at our government and ask why they sat on the “American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act” for years on end and did nothing. We’ll look at the AQHA and all their brother organizations, the AVMA, the Farm Bureaus, and all those promoters of horse slaughter who knew, beyond any doubt, that what they were selling was tainted meat and ask why.

There has to be an accounting, a time when they are collectively forced to face the anger of 80% of the population of this country. They knew and did nothing, all for the sake of money.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
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