Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Slow Racehorses Fed to the Lions at the Dublin Zoo

In the last month numerous efforts have been launched and considered to reinstitute the slaughter of horses in the United States.
Montana appeared to take the legislative lead, Tennessee is seeking to follow suit, and some Indian Tribes also may want to get on board. Admittedly and unabashedly, I am against the commercial slaughter of any horse, period. If humane veterinary euthanasia is the only answer for any horse with no other options, then I personally maintain that is the compassionate and correct option. It seems to me that there are obvious discrepancies in the pro-slaughter arguments-and the pro-slaughter bottom line must be tied to a profit motive, be it disclosed on not. At least in the Irish example (title above) it's plainly stated that some zoos like to feed lions horsemeat routinely. However, the assertion in this article that "All meats which are used are suitable for human consumption." is inherently fallacious given that racehorses would, as part of a reasonable veterinary care routine, have been wormed with ivermectin or an equivalent, vaccinated, and perhaps given other medications that one is warned not to use in any animal destined for human consumption. It's also claimed therein these Irish horses command from $200-$800 U.S.-a seeming contradiction to the information in the other above article referencing the Northwest tribes that "...for the sick, the old, and the skinny, today there is often no market at all at any price. Buyers who remember paying 70 cents a pounds at auction are today paying as little as 6 cents a pound-if the packers will even take the animal." The Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition is quoted as saying they are"exploring" "adoption and contraception" but still thinks they need a horse slaughtering facility " with a plant at Warm Springs." There just are not that many marauding Mustangs out there to necessitate the immediate opening of a slaughter plant.
I have an article in hand written by Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna for the January/February 2009 Trailhead News (Title: Solutions During Economic Hardship) that mentions that while (equine) "euthanasia by gunshot is should check with local law enforcement agencies to see if this would be considered animal cruelty or would be in violation of any local ordinance." Given the email response I finally received from the AG's office, it is not necessarily illegal at all to shoot your horse in Washington state. So, then, bullets and backhoes could quickly and legally handle the purported "glut" of horses much more cheaply than building slaughterhouses on private land for those that eschew or cannot afford the humane euthanasia option.
If in fact horsemeat prices are so low in the U.S., then why are so many people seeking to construct horse slaughter plants on U.S. private land? Building, maintaining, and staffing a horse slaughter facility on private land would require, methinks, a significant capital investment. And, if there is such a "glut" of horses, then why are so many so eager to make that investment? Where are those for-profit business plans and profitability projections for the end of the "glut"? What entities would finance these start-up slaughter plants? Much press states and restates how "tight" the lending market currently is supposed to be. To my knowledge, conventional banks and lenders have no specific grant options that directly benefit horse rescues and sanctuaries. If the dollars needed to start and man these newly proposed horse slaughter plants were distributed to existing and responsible equine rescues and sanctuaries, the positive results could well be amazing.
Some other interesting, if logic defying, sources of "glut" statistics- Wikipedia listed China as the world's largest processor of horse meat -1,700,000 horses anually. Another source claims there are no statistics available for China. Regardless, after melamine was found in pet food and baby formula, it's hard to imagine discerning global palates clamoring for horsemeat processed in China.
Even the U.K. evidently had a surprise ingredient incident with undeclared horsemeat being detected in a Safeway salami product.
Given that it's estimated just under 100,000 American horses, 1/3 of which are estimated to be thoroughbreds, are exported annually to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, and that the numbers of Americans horse so dispatched to slaughter has not exponentially increased since U.S. slaughterhouses were closed, I must ask again, why the push to build horse slaughter facilities on private U.S. land when horse meat prices are so low? Are zoos planning to hugely increase their lion populations? Seattle's own Woodland Park Zoo just had the Macy's Mom and Me at the Zoo event. I don't know what the big cats were gnawing on that day, but all zoo patrons might ask. Are canned hunts gaining popularity? Is Alistair Overeem a new diet guru?The arguments for horse slaughter in America make neither economic nor humane sense. Maybe (don't let kids do the research here) Hunter S. Thompson was right when he said "When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro".
Meanwhile, some Zoos are offering a few racehorses what I hope will prove to be good permanent retirement options.
We are continuing our Derby Dollar Challenge throughout the Triple Crown Series.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Foals, Nurse Mares,Thoroughbred Slaughter Math, and Premarin

I was recently asked how many thoroughbred foals were registered annually in the United States. According to the Jockey Club , the 2009 foal crop is projected to be 35,400, indicating an estimated 3.3% decline from the 2008 estimate of 36,600 foals. RMB's, or Reports of (Thoroughbred) Mares Bred, are referenced in these estimates. It should also be noted that there are late registration procedures and requirements detailed on the Jockey Club's website. Estimates are estimates,of course, but it is also estimated than more than 98,000 horses went to slaughterhouses in 2008 and that more than 17,000 have so been dispatched through March of 2009, and it is estimated that one-third of those slaughter-bound horses on the kill trucks to Mexico and Canada are thoroughbreds.
Thoroughbred breeders and owners are not slaughtering every years' registered foal crop. Ex-racers, broodmares and stallions who are no longer productive and or/profitable factor into these estimates along with thoroughbreds ending their performance and pleasure careers. A number of thoroughbreds that won't be directed towards the sale barns and racing may not be registered at all. It was brought to my attention that some horse owners are unaware of the role nurse mares fill in breeding and re-breeding. There are thoroughbred nurse mares who may produce unreported and often disposable progeny. It is both statistically and economically unlikely that the foal of a thoroughbred nurse mare, if considered a superfluous "orphan", will be registered. It's not easy to calculate the numbers of thoroughbred nurse mares and foals, but it is not insignificant. Some organizations focus on the plights of Premarin mares their foals of all breeds. Premarin farms in the United States and Canada are not publishing the statistics on any sites I can find.
Chez Chevaux thanks everyone who has supported our Derby Dollar Challenge to date-We are continuing this challenge throughout the Triple Crown series. Please follow Chez Chevaux on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Molly the Cow Escapes the Slaughterhouse

It's wonderful when a rescue saga for each and every animal has a happy ending. Molly showed fine form as she was lucky enough to gallop away from a New York slaughterhouse and reach a safe and caring sanctuary. Many thoroughbred horses bred to run and so doing on America's racetracks today, are not, and will not, be so lucky. Other slower thoroughbreds who are nonetheless young and sound, who don't make it into the starting gate or the daily racing program will, along with pleasure/performance horses, regrettably board the kill trucks with them bound for slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico too. Hopefully, as well written by Bonnie Erbe, the state of Montana will not continue to seek to compound equine suffering and misery. Horses ought not be considered livestock in any event. The United States of America does not have "livestock" Olympic teams-They are Equestrian, as in EQUINE, competitors. To my knowledge, the Kentucky Derby, The Triple Crown, and the Breeders Cup races, with wagering, of course, are open only to qualified thoroughbred horses-not general "livestock".

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Kentucky Derby

I want to thank everyone who has participated to date in The Derby Dollar Challenge. We are going to continue this challenge throughout the Triple Crown series towards the end of saving as many unwanted slaughter-bound thoroughbreds as we can.
This Derby Day, Chez Chevaux will be represented by volunteer Diana Martin at a fundraising table at Emerald Downs Racetrack.
I and other volunteers will be at a fundraising BBQ at the Lynwood Cycle Barn today from 10:30 until 2:30. I will find time to watch the Derby! In addition to hoping all the contenders head back to their stalls safe and sound after the race is run (the memory of Eight Belles death last year is something everyone who watched it will never forget), I hope they all stay safe, valued and happy throughout their lives after their racing careers end. Madeleine Pickens and Old Friends were able to fly Fraise and Ogygian back from Japan to a Kentucky safe haven, insuring they wouldn't end up in a slaughterhouse as did Ferdinand and Exceller. We at Chez Chevaux want to see all thoroughbred racehorses, well known or not, enjoy a deserved chance at a second career and/or a well-earned retirement.
Whoever you bet on today (I Want Revenge is one possibility), please make a bet on these horses futures by supporting the rescue of your choice.