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The “Economic Impact of the Horse Industry in the United States,” a study commissioned by the American Horse Council, estimates the horse industry contributes $39 billion in direct economic revenue.
A 1% luxury tax imposed on this industry would provide the federal government $39,000,000 in funds necessary to provide humane euthanization of horses when necessary. Additionally, this tax will also provide funding for the BLM to care for the wild mustang herds. Each state will receive its portion of the tax collected to provide for the horses in their state.
The BLM must control the size of the herds using birth control measures; to allow the herds to grow annually with no fiscal plan for herd maintenance is irresponsible and provides no justification for auctioning these horses to foreign horse meat consumers. Americans do not eat horses and should not provide a market for horse meat for foreign countries. Each state will contribute a portion of their tax collected to provide for the wild herds.
This tax will generate more than the $26,000,000 the United States earned in past horse meat exports.
Why horse slaughter is illegal and inappropriate:
It is important to note that in the foreign-owned equine slaughterhouses operating in the United States, no form of restraint is used when the equine is in the kill chute or ‘knock box’ waiting for the penetrating captive bolt to be applied. In some instances, it takes several attempts to effectively apply the penetrating captive bolt to the equine, if this is achieved at all. The use of the penetrating captive bolt is in violation of 7 U.S.C.A. § 1902 (a) of the Humane Slaughter Act as this methodology requires more than one blow and is inefficient at rendering equines immediately insensible.
(Sources: Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM and former Chief USDA Inspector, and (ii) Humane Farming Association video documentation at http://www.manesandtailsorganization.org/media.html)
Use of the captive bolt causes extreme pain
In a study conducted at Hanover University, EEG and ECG recordings were taken on all animals to measure the condition of the brain and heart during the course of slaughter and stunning. EEG readings showed that although the animals were apparently unconscious soon after stunning with the penetrating captive bolt, they were experiencing severe pain immediately after stunning.
Horses regain consciousness approximately 30 seconds after the captive bolt is applied.
Due to the inherent differences in skull structures of bovines and equines, each species reacts to the captive bolt differently. The brain of an equine is further back in the skull compared to a bovine. The equines regain consciousness and are not insensible to pain shortly after they are shackled and hoisted. Therefore, they are very much aware of being butchered alive.
These facts should curl the toes of any human being.
No Other Methods of Equine Slaughter Comply with the HSA of 1958
(1) Electrocution – has been defined as ‘cruel’ by the American Horse Show Association in response to owners who have electrocuted their horses for insurance money. Federal Courts have upheld the Association’s contention that electrocution is cruel. Therefore, it cannot be used as a method of humane slaughter for equines.
(2) Drug Overdose – this method saturates the tissues and leaves residues thereby making the meat inedible.
(3) Carbon Monoxide – this method saturates the tissues and leaves residues thereby making the meat inedible.
(4) 22 Caliber Gun Shot – This particular firearm is inappropriate for equines due to the thickness of the skull structure of an equine. Using the .22 caliber rifle does not achieve instantaneous insensibility of equines. Larger caliber firearms such as a 9mm or .357 are required to efficiently penetrate the skull and cause the massive brain destruction necessary to achieve instantaneous insensibility. (Source: Procedures for Humane Euthanasia of Sick, Injured and/or Debilitated Livestock – http://lacs.vetmed.ufl.edu/HumaneEuthanasia/gun.htm). Additionally, the horse cannot be restrained and this method is dangerous to workers.
Horses are very aware of the environment in which they are slaughtered; they are flight/ prey animals. There is no way to humanely euthanize a horse in the very place a carcass is rendered. Any animal smells blood and instinctually feels fear – which is in and of itself torturous.
Here are a few of the pro-slaughter positions:
1. Position: High cost of maintaining unwanted horses.
Solution: The luxury equine tax can resolve this problem. Why shouldn’t those that profit from the industry pay to keep all horses treated equally?
2. Position: Lost revenues from equine slaughter
Solution: The luxury equine tax can resolve this problem coupled with increased registration fees for breeding equines to cover humane euthanization – there will be no lost revenues.
3. Position: No place for unwanted horses
Solution: This is an over-breeding issue, not a horse slaughter issue. Breeders need to be held accountable for their actions. Breeders should pay higher breeding fees as well as high sales tax on horse sales. The sales tax should be higher than the value on horse meat; this will end the horse meat market ending the need for this never ending debate over horse slaughter.
The only way to end the debate over horse slaughter is to put an end to the need for horse slaughter. Control the breeding practices of breeders by imposing steep breeding fees and chip the wild herds for birth control.
Mange the herd size, and the breeders and you solve the problem, it is that simple.
Why must special interest groups complicate this issue, more importantly why are elected officials manipulated by these special interest groups?
Americans Do Not Eat Horse Meat, therefore there should be no horses bred in this country for horse meat.
We already know how to humanely put a horse down. It is not debatable: studies have proven lethal injection with no blood spill is the only humane method.
Please join the majority of Americans in voting to put an end to this brutal practice once and for all.
A decision has been made that the stallions rescued from 3-Strikes Mustang Ranch will not be gelded immediately, as we reported in our prior post. Apparently someone with a modicum of good sense has realized that these horses are too sick and weak to undergo such a stressful surgery at present. We are relieved that these horses have been given the time to recover that they so desperately need.
We hope, however, that they will be gelded when they are healthy enough, or that when efforts are ultimately made to re-home these horses, adoptive homes will be required to geld them before placement can occur. Zuma’s was disappointed to learn of the large number of stallions allowed to mix with the herd at 3-Strikes. Such irresponsible breeding practices can only have served to compound the problems that led to the unfortunate state of this herd, and the land on which it resided.
Henneke Body Condition Scoring System
Don Henneke, PhD, developed the Henneke Body Condition Scoring System during his graduate study at Texas A & M University . It is based on both visual appraisal and palpable fat cover of the six major points of the horse that are most responsive to changes in body fat. The Henneke Chart is a standardized scoring system, whereas the terms, “skinny”, “thin”, “emaciated” or “fat” are all subjective terms that have different meanings to different people.
The Henneke Scoring System is a scientific method of evaluating a horse’s body condition regardless of breed, body type, sex or age. It is now widely used by law enforcement agencies as an objective method of scoring a horse’s body condition in horse cruelty cases. The Chart is accepted in a court of law.
Six parts of a horse are checked in this system—the neck, withers (where the neck ends and the back begins), shoulder, ribs, loin, and tailhead. When using the Henneke system, you should always make physical contact with these parts, and the kind of touch you use is important. Simply stroking the animal lightly won’t provide an accurate idea of the horse’s condition; you have to apply pressure to each part in turn.
The pressure you apply should be much like that of a massage; if you press a horse’s side with your hand, you’ll be able to feel the fat covering his ribs, and get an idea of how much fat is present. Likewise, when checking the withers, feel all around the area, as if you were squeezing firm clay. It is possible to be firm and gentle at the same time, and both traits are necessary to properly score a horse.
After pressing each part of the horse with your hands to feel for body fat. You then assign each area of the body the numerical score that corresponds with the horse’s condition. When a horse has a long haircoat it is imperative that you use your hands to feel the horse. The horse’s long haircoat will hide the protrusion of bones, all except in the most extreme cases. The scores from each area are then totaled and divided by 6. The resulting number is the horse’s rating on the Henneke Body Scoring Condition Chart.
Conformational differences between horses may make certain criteria within each score difficult to apply to every animal. In these instances, those areas influenced by conformation should be discounted, but not ignored when determining the condition score.
Conformation also changes in pregnant mares as they approach parturition (birth). Since the weight of the conceptus tends to pull the skin and musculature tighter over the back and ribs, emphasis is placed upon fat deposition behind the shoulder, around the tailhead and along the neck and withers in these cases.
The Chart rates the horses on a scale of 1 to 9. A score of 1 is considered poor or emaciated with no body fat. A 9 is extremely fat or obese. Horse veterinarians consider a body score of between 4 and 7 as acceptable. A 5 is considered ideal.
Description of Individual Condition Score
Body Condition Score 1:
Poor — Animal extremely emaciated; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae, and ischii projecting prominently; bone structure of withers, shoulders, and neck easily noticeable; no fatty tissue can be felt.
Body Condition Score 2:
Very Thin — Animal emaciated; slight fat covering over base of spinous processes; transverse processes of lumbar vertebrae feel rounded; spinous processes, ribs, tailhead, tuber coxae, and ischii prominent; withers, shoulders, and neck structure faintly discernible.
Body Condition Score 3:
Thin — Fat buildup about halfway on spinous processes; transverse processes cannot be felt; slight fat cover over ribs; spinous processes and ribs easily discernible; tailhead prominent, but individual vertebrae cannot be identified visually; tuber coxae appear rounded but easily discernible; tuber ischii not distinguishable; withers, shoulders and neck accentuated.
Body Condition Score 4:
Moderately Thin — Slight ridge along back; faint outline of ribs discernible; tailhead prominence depends on conformation, fat can be felt around it; tuber coxae not discernible; withers, shoulders, and neck not obviously thin.
Body Condition Score 5:
Moderate — Back is flat (no crease or ridge); ribs not visually distinguishable but easily felt; fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy; withers appear rounded over spinous processes; shoulders and neck blend smoothly into body.
Body Condition Score 6:
Moderately Fleshy — May have slight crease down back; fat over ribs spongy; fat around tailhead soft; fat beginning to be deposited along the side of withers, behind shoulders, and along the sides of neck.
Body Condition Score 7:
Fleshy — May have crease down back; individual ribs can be felt, but noticeable filling between ribs with fat; fat around tailhead soft; fat deposited along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck.
Body Condition Score 8:
Fat — Crease down back; difficult to feel ribs; fat around tailhead very soft; area along withers filled with fat; area behind shoulder filled with fat; noticeable thickening of neck; fat deposited along inner thighs.
Body Condition Score 9:
Extremely Fat — Obvious crease down back; patchy fat appearing over ribs; bulging fat around tailhead, along withers, behind shoulders, and along neck; fat along inner thighs may rub together; flank filled with fat.
Source: Adapted from Henneke et al. (1983).
The following is an excerpt from the Humane Society’s Article “Get the Facts on Horse Slaughter.” Read the full article here.
How many horses are slaughtered each year?
Prior to the closure of all three foreign-owned plans in the United States, more than 100,000 horses were being slaughtered in the United States and processed for human consumption.
Now, tens of thousands of live horses are transported across the border to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. After these horses are killed, their flesh is shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Their owners are often unaware of the pain, fear, and suffering their horses endure before being slaughtered.
Who eats horse meat?
Horse meat is not eaten in the United States; it is exported to serve specialty markets overseas. The largest markets are France, Belgium, Holland, Japan, and Italy.
How do unwanted, surplus horses end up at slaughterhouses?
Most horses destined for slaughter are sold at livestock auctions or sales. The cruelty of horse slaughter is not limited to the act of killing the animals. Horses bound for slaughter are shipped, frequently for long distances, in a manner that fails to accommodate their unique temperaments. They are usually not rested, fed, or watered during travel. Economics-not humane considerations-dictate the conditions, including crowding as many horses into trucks as possible.
The above is an excerpt from the Humane Society’s Article “Get the Facts on Horse Slaughter.” Read the full article here.
(Excerpt reprinted from the Humane Society’s Website. Read the full article here.)
Frenzied hooves beat against the wet cement as horses of all colors and ages file through the line. Poked with an electric prod, they are forced down the crammed alley of the Mexican horse slaughter plant. As the chute opens, the workers whistle and holler. A gray horse slips, falling to his hind legs. Panicked, he lunges forward and takes his final steps into the “kill” box.
As the horse drops his head to smell the blood, a worker grabs his long mane and plunges a knife into his neck, Stunned, the horse throws his neck and, ten seconds later, is stabbed again. As the horse collapses to the ground, the workers break out in a cheer. A chain is wrapped around the hind leg of the horse-paralyzed, but not yet dead-who is then strung up to “bleed out,” his throat sliced open as his heart continues to beat.
Similar, grisly scenes play out day after day for the thousands of American horses exported to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption in countries such as France, Italy and Japan. Until early 2007, there were three foreign-owned plants in the U.S. killing horses for human consumption. Those plants have all closed due to action on the state level.
Despite these closures, the horse slaughter industry is still in business, and thousands of horses endure long, hazardous journeys to slaughter plants across U.S. borders to meet the foreign demand for horse meat. Legislation now pending in Congress, the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, would prevent any new horse slaughter plants from opening in the U.S. and prohibit the export of American horses for slaughter for human consumption.
Read the full article here.
by Valerie James-Patton (read the article in its original context here).
In December 2008, a resolution called the Horse Industry Policy, was submitted by Wyoming State Rep. Sue Wallis, and former South Dakota State Rep. Dave Sigdestad, to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Agriculture and Energy Committee. The NCSL is a non-governmental lobbyist organization which serves the nation’s 50 states legislators to advocate and lobby for the interests of states before Congress and federal agencies.
Rep. Sue Wallis is also the Vice Chair of NCSL’s Agriculture and Energy Committee. NCSL adopted the Horse Industry Policy resolution on December 11-13, 2008, at the NCSL’s Annual Fall Forum in Atlanta, Georgia. The passage of the policy provides the authority for NCSL staff in Washington D.C. to lobby on Capitol Hill and establish the position of the States.
Admitting her personal contempt against animal welfare organizations with this resolution, she stated that “without question, animal agriculture in the US is under siege by radical animal rights organizations-this doesn’t win us the war, but it is a significant skirmish, and we have one more valuable tool in our arsenal.”
She also publicly thanked former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (responsible for the Burns 2004 amendment removing the protection of America’s wild horses) who she said was “instrumental” in getting the resolution out of the Agriculture and Energy Committee, and onto the General Session floor for debate and the committee vote.
It was the passage of this resolution, The Horse Industry Policy, that prompted several state resolutions which are opposed to prohibiting horse slaughter, transporting or exporting horses for slaughter, and also seeking to allow the return of the U.S. horse slaughter facilities. The Horse Industry Policy “urges Congress to oppose legislation that would restrict the market, transport, processing, or export of horses, to recognize the need for humane horse processing facilities in the United States, and not to interfere with State efforts to establish facilities in the United States.”
The slaughter of horses for human consumption is no longer legal in the U.S. Sadly more than 100,000 horses each year are shipped to Canada and Mexico to satisfy the palates of “gourmands” overseas. Upwards of 90 percent of the horses sold for slaughter are healthy, sound animals, according to USDA statistics. Of that 90 percent, some are bred solely for the slaughter market, others come from farms providing horse urine to pharmaceutical companies and others are horses with cosmetic or minor conformation issues which make them valueless to the breeders, many of whom are producing a hundred or more foals yearly.
Several states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, among others, are studying or considering opening horse slaughter plants under the guise of providing a more “humane” method of disposing of “unwanted” horses than shipping them in trucks cross country for slaughter in Canada or Mexico. There is also a well-funded, but virtually unknown national movement afoot, with bills pending in Congress, to allow horse slaughter for human consumption once again.
This issue is not about treating horses humanely or dealing with “unwanted” horses. It’s about profit, pure and simple. For example, the wording of the North Dakota bill includes “… to meet overseas export markets for horsemeat…” Clearly, sponsors of this bill see a market opportunity, thinly disguised as a way to “solve” a conveniently overstated problem.
As the movie line goes, “Follow the money.” Who would profit if a horse slaughter facility were to open in any given state? We know the slaughter facility will make money; that’s a given. But so will the people who supply the horses destined to become someone’s dinner. Who is lobbying for these plants to reopen? It’s my guess that it’s the potential suppliers who see the slaughter business as a way to make money off an “unwanted” or “valueless,” product, to quote the North Dakota bill’s sponsor.
For a breeder, each year’s “crop” of foals has a percentage of colts and fillies who do not meet the breeders’ standards. The North Dakota bill is sponsored by a rancher who raises Quarter Horses, which, coincidently, is the most common breed to be sent to slaughter. His last sales catalog listed 80-plus young horses for sale. Were there any “unwanted” or “valueless” horses sent to slaughter because they didn’t make “the cut”? Horse breeders, as well as horse associations, surprisingly, are some of the most vocal supporters of horse slaughter.
Other lobbyists for the horse slaughter movement claim a slaughter facility will alleviate horse “overpopulation” by providing breeders and others with a place to send horses (for a profit) to a “humane” death rather than let them face starvation, neglect or abandonment because the owner, for whatever circumstance, is unwilling to care for the animal. Horse slaughter proponents won’t tell the public that the death of a horse in a slaughter facility is anything but humane. They also won’t share statistics that don’t support their cause. For example, cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment, not to mention horse theft, actually went down when the slaughter plants closed. Supporters also won’t tell the public that there are dozens of rescue facilities, not to mention horse-loving youths and adults, who would willingly take a breeder’s “unwanted” horse and give it a loving home.
Horse slaughter is a highly emotional subject with “facts” bandied about with little but anecdotal evidence to back them up. Factual information can be found in the USDA records, as well as from organizations that track this type of activity. If, after researching the issue for yourself, you feel moved to contact legislators and share your opinion in opposition to horse slaughter, be prepared for a fight. Too much money is on the table for breeders, ranchers, kill buyers/shippers and foreign and domestic investors in slaughter facilities to let this issue die.
Here are the links to some websites you may wish to visit:
In recent years some industry groups and other supporters of horse slaughter which consistently fight passage of federal legislation to ban horse slaughter have claimed that there exists a huge “unwanted horse” population in the United States.These organizations, which include the American Association of Equine Practitioners, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Quarter Horse Association, have been lobbying Congress to block passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (PECA) on the premise that slaughter offers a humane way to dispose of these animals, a necessary evil without which horses would be subjected to neglect, abandonment and abuse. In short, they argue that horse slaughter improves horse welfare.
Ironically, these groups were largely silent on issues of equine welfare prior to introduction of the PECA or its predecessor, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. Yet now that the horse slaughter industry is seriously threatened the coalition’s partners are citing animal welfare as the basis for their pro-slaughter stance.
The truth is that, no hard data exists on an “unwanted horse”
population. The Unwanted Horse Coalition’s own website states:
“No accurate figures document how many unwanted horses actually exist, their age and sex, the breeds represented, how many are purebred versus grade, their most recent use, their value or what happens to them in the long run. Tens of thousands of horses that could be classified as unwanted are being sent to processing facilities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico each year.”
In short, the coalition has absolutely no evidence to support its claim that horses going to slaughter are “unwanted.”
What is clear is that killer buyers working for the slaughterhouses are outbidding other buyers at auction because they have a financial incentive to do so. The market for slaughter horses is set by the international demand for their meat in other countries, not by the number of “unwanted horses.”
Here are the facts:
* Horse slaughter is a brutal, predatory business that purposely seeks out healthy, marketable horses. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study revealed that more than 92% of horses going to slaughter are in good condition.
* The notion that without horse slaughter there will be flood of abandoned horses is simply unfounded. When the number of horses slaughtered in the U.S. fell by approximately 90% between the early 1990s and the early 2000s there was no correlating increase in abandoned, neglected and abused horses. Likewise, equine cruelty investigators in Illinois report that horse abandonment and abuse cases actually dropped during the temporary closure of the Cavel slaughter plant in the early 2000s (the plant is now permanently shut under state law). In California, not only was there no increase in horse abuse and neglect cases following passage of the state’s stringent anti-horse slaughter law in 1998, but there was a 34% drop in horse theft.
* Horse slaughter actually encourages abuse and neglect.
Unscrupulous owners who tire of caring for their horses have the easy outlet of dumping their horses into slaughter. Cruelty investigators report multiple instances where owners stop feeding or providing veterinary care for their horses prior to selling them to slaughter.
Such neglect is illegal.
* There is no statistical evidence to support claims that more horses are being abandoned following closure of the domestic horse slaughter plants. Abandonment is illegal and any instances of abandoned equines (or other animals) should be reported and prosecuted.
Ultimately, those supporting horse slaughter – allegedly in the name of equine welfare – suggest that the horse slaughter industry provides a service for the humane disposal of unwanted horses. Nothing could be further truth. While there may not be a home for every horse, horse slaughter has no place in a society that cares for its horses.
Responsible breeding and ownership, coupled with veterinarian- administered euthanasia when necessary, are the answer – not slaughter.
A southeastern Idaho lawmaker wants horse slaughterhouses operating again in the United States to deal with the supposed “glut of unwanted horses resulting from the faltering economy that has led to cases of neglect and abandonment.”
WRITE TO HIM AND TELL IDAHO NO TO HORSE SLAUGHTER: http://www.idahostatesman.com
Tell Idaho this:
Please stop dealing with the perceived horse overpopulation problem after the fact and approach the subject from its root cause: irresponsible breeding.
Let us take the current Brand Inspectors and put them to work in the following areas:
License all stallions and let the fees for the licensing go to cover the brand inspectors fees.
Start charging a breeding fee for every foal born. Call it an “End-of-Life Fee.” This fee would be held by the states. The fees should be steep enough to cover end-of-life costs, along with help in replacing the lost revenue from the horsemeat sales that can no longer take place due to the closing of the slaughter plants.
Impose the “End-of-Life Fee” as a tax to all who profit from horses. This tax would be required of horse shows, horse races, equine goods, large animal veterinarians, Veterinary hospitals, and the like. The tax will replace the lost revenue from horse meat.
What this all boils down to is money. Don’t let horses suffer the human greed. The revenue stream can be replaced, so that horses maintain their dignity with a dignified end of life clause for all breeders.
Horse slaughter is no longer legal in the US, but horses are being shipped to Canada and Mexico, where slaughterhouses remain in operation. For reasons this author cannot fully understand, there are still people in this country who buy into wildly-exaggerated claims that American horse owners are trapped into a situation where they have no choice but to starve/abuse/abandon their horses because they can no longer sell them to the killers. This is sick sick sick. Horse rescues abound and will take surrendured horses if their owners truly cannot afford to feed them anymore. Stop believing the well-crafted bull**** spun by the pro-slaughter crowd. It is the product of a greed-without-conscience mentality that is the embarrassment of our generation.
Please read this excellent article: http://unnecessaryevils.blogspot.com/2009/03/legislation-for-horse-slaughter-in-us.html