“Until They Are Safe”
It’s been weeks since I brought up the equine slaughter issue, although not a single day has passed that it hasn’t been on my mind. I cringe at what happened today, knowing that hundreds of horses, donkeys and mules passed through the kill pens of the slaughterhouses and were the object of a brutal death. This was the last day of their life.
I feel powerless. After the long, hard fight in Texas, we took on the Federal Government and they, in turned, ignored us. We closed down the slaughterhouse in Illinois, only to watch Mexico and Canada welcome the butchers. Now Congress is so divided that they can’t speak civilly to one another and they can’t wait until the election is over and they can go home for the year. The fight for the lives of the horses, for right now, is over.
Although we obtained the attention of millions, the scream of the masses didn’t occur. There are probably a lot of reasons for our inability to attract the vocal attention of the general public and a number of us have pondered for months about what we did wrong, and what we should do next. To draw our conclusions, we didn’t focus on the population at large. Instead, we consulted a microcosm of that world, a very small minority of concerned horse people, and asked why the majority didn’t respond as strongly as we asked them to, and what we can offer to keep the problem in the forefront of their thoughts. Something is in the works, something very powerful, that will finally make a difference. More on that later….
It hurts to know that the horses at the ranch are exactly like those in the kill pens. It hurts to think about the stupidity, the needless waste, the cries of pain, the suffering and, worst of all, the brutal death of even one single horse. When the deaths involved over 2,600 a week, the mind shuts it down. The face becomes a number when the numbers become too great. Yet that face should always be fore us – until they are safe.
Eight years ago today, a 15 hh bay gelding was slaughtered at Dallas Crown in Kaufman. That’s all that was written about him on a sheet of paper that resides deep in the recesses of the Kaufman County Courthouse. There is no record of a child that loved him or a trainer that held him close or a lady who walked out on a cold winter morning to feed him. We’ll never know how or why he ended up at the slaughterhouse. All we know is that his precious life ended when he walked into the kill box and the captive bolt slammed into his brain.
Was there a reason for his death? Was there any meaning to his life?
Mary Nash, whom I consider the mother of the anti-slaughter movement, held my hand very tightly when she said, “Don’t ever give up, Jerry. Keep fighting until they are safe.” She passed on a few days later. Those words bore deep into all that I am. The horses must win this battle, be they wild or domestic, and all I am must keep up the fight until they are safe.
That’s what is printed on our bracelets – “Until They Are Safe” – and underneath is the description of that single horse that was slaughtered.
“Bay QH gelding – 15 hands – Branded – Slaughtered on 10-11-04”
I’ve worn the bracelet almost every day since that time as a constant reminder of the battle to bring horse slaughter to an end, and in memory of both Mary Nash and a horse that died needlessly so a few people could have a couple of extra dollars in their pocket and someone in Europe could have a horse hamburger.
Eight years later and it feels like we’re no closer now than we were back then. Of course that’s a negative attitude, but despite all the hype of small footsteps towards an eventual goal, even as you are reading this horses are still being slaughtered for the same reason and by the same people. For those of us who have made the commitment, there is no giving up or giving in. Literally thousands of people continue to wear the bracelet to proudly show that we are a collective voice for those horses who have given their life so needlessly.
The cost? The bracelets are fifteen dollars each for those picking them up from the ranch or when shipped by mail. If you want to order one or a dozen, just call the office – 409-935-0277.
They should be worn until the slaughter of horses for human consumption is stopped. When someone asks you about the bracelet, you can tell them about the horror, then ask them to wear one if they agree with you that it must end. The word will keep spreading as more and more people stand with us.
“Until they are safe” should ring through this country until the lawmakers can no longer ignore the cry, until the voice of the horse can finally be heard.
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Habitat for Horses is always on the lookout for a few great people at our ranches. The work is unique, the animals are special and we want folks who both know and understand the special connection our animals need.