Saturday, November 8, 2008

Horse slaughter, fallacious reasoning and revisiting "A Modest Proposal"

I am grateful that the U.S. no longer slaughters horses. Now, the U.S. needs to stop allowing horses to be transported to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered. Katie Merwick has said it all, succinctly and well, in her 10/21/2008 post. Katie is awesome!
Anything said below comes solely from Chez Chevaux.
Chez Chevaux , along with many other established rescues operating in today's' economic climate, is currently innundated with a record number of phone calls and emails asking for stall space, placement assistance and rehoming options. We all do the best we can, but despite our best efforts, thousands of horses are indeed still going to auctions, being purchased by "kill buyers" and being shipped to Mexico and Canada suffering hideously as they go to, and endure, violent,terrifying,painful, undeserved, and horrifically brutal ends.
I do believe I have heard every argument in favor of slaughtering horses and I think that they are all, for whatever reasons, either fallacious, uniformed , in denial, or based on the flawed perceptual legal status of the domesticated horse itself: Are horses livestock or companion animals? I'd argue that a designation for equines as companion and service animals is most logical.
Regardless, there are many unwanted horses right now and many of them are truly dying by inhumane means. It's true. I have my own anti-slaughter arguments, but for all those that want to help horses in need, please do some thinking and come up with your own good anti-slaughter arguments and execute your own plans of actions.
Some points of consideration:
(1)Horses are the only animal athletes, currently and historically, included in the Olympic Games, and they've established valuable roles in Therapeutic Riding Centers.
(2) Horses are not generally eaten in the U.S., nor are cats and dogs (who are considered, generally, to be companion animals)
(3)Potentially fallacious reasoning, stats, and spin: Wikipedia offers some stats on who is munching horsemeat, and how. Yet, a caveat:A cited source: The Animal Welfare Council.Some cited "facts" just don't make empirical and logical sense to me. Both I and others I know well have spent quite a bit of time in western Europe and can identify a menu description of horsemeat., and we've not found it to be a really standard European menu item. You can probably find the familiar Golden Arches more readily .When I have seen horse hamburger or steak listed on a French menu, the price was low compared to regional specialties. So, in a country devoted to the freshest local seasonal food, daily shopping for the same, and a stratospherically elevated culinary culture, I had to ask " Is this horsemeat local or American?" In all events the response was that it was local. The French prefer fresh food from their own environs. They have plenty of horses, and I doubt they'd want the mix of chemical cocktails,adrenilan and staph infections that so many slaughter-bound U.S. horses contain. Still, one site does claim some U.S. horsemeat is imported frozen...which is, seriously, an anathema to any self-respecting French chef. If the French can get horsemeat locally or from nearby Poland, then why would they import it from America? Europe and Japan eat some horsemeat, true. But, I cannot see how they are eating it all. If someone who has the time to do the research can get the info about ACTUAL AND FACTUAL stats on export and import of processed horsemeat, and the dollars involved, then please do and share. I have no doubt U.S. horsemeat is going somewhere, for some purpose, but the logic and market dollars just don't add up and make economic sense. There is some food chain here for sure, but I have not seen any hard evidence to support the spin that tough, decrepit, chemical laden and diseased U.S. horsemeat is being clamored for as a global gourmet item .
(5)If the U.S. was slaughtering or allowing cats and dogs to be exported for slaughter as global food, I think the general public might get a little upset. So, why don't they get equally upset about horses headed off to Mexico and Canada? I'm asking here?
Maybe every child that asks Santa Claus for a pony this Christmas could get a cute limited edition Breyer model horse with a gift tag attached that says "Sorry, this pony went to slaughter, and your puppy is for Easter dinner!, Kitten has a temporary reprieve until she's a bit bigger, but if she won't quell the rodent population, then we can slash the food budget and have rat-on -a stick for our New Years' Party !!!... and then Kitten can be big enough for stew by the Epiphany (January 6, also my birthday...which I happily share with Joan of Arc and the legendary, although fictional, Sherlock Holmes)!
(6)Premarin mares and foals: Refer women in need of hormone therapy to Dr. Christiane Northrup's publications. Learn about bioidentical hormones and progressive compounding pharmacies.
(7)Promote responsible horse ownership
(8)Check out the process of slaughter.Really, do. Educate others. As with most things, it can be done as well as possible or badly. As an undergraduate I experienced, among other things, a year of accredited course work in "Meat Technology". I have been in active slaughterhouses and University facilities and while I did view the demise of cows, pigs, and sheep, I could not have watched the horses. In the 1980's I had the privilege of conversing at some length with Dr. Temple Grandin when she was in Reno ,Nevada to testify as an expert witness in a federal court case against the BLM wherein the BLM was charged with permitting the mass adoption of Mustangs to kill buyers. Dr. Grandin is a compassionate and brilliant authority on humane livestock handling methods and design. She and I may yet well disagree as to whether horses fall into that livestock designation. Nonetheless, I have never seen a species other than equine paired with humans to execute an Olympic Grand Prix Dressage test.
(9) Todays "Unwanted" domestic horse crisis is, directly or indirectly, a product of individual human production and individual current human circumstances on any given day. This "crisis" has always existed. Those that argue in favor of slaughter are either looking for cash, trying to dodge the proverbial "responsibility" bullet or feeling out of options. Pretty much the same situation, albeit with a different species, that Jonathan Swift addressed in 1729 with "A Modest Proposal". Rhetorical and analytical blame is pointless. The question is, what can you do to help?
(10) Hound your representatives relentlessly to end the export of horses for slaughter.Ask them for hard copy of where the slaughterhouse $$$ and horsemeat really go. Research how much your local livestock auctions and kill buyers have made so far this year. Raise money to help rescues you like expand sanctuary adjuncts or start a sanctuary yourself. Money buys unwanted horses TIME.