It is surprising to some people when they learn that horse-related organizations support horse slaughter. Why would they do that?
The short answer is, it supports their industry interests, and their membership interests. That is the case for both the AVMA (vets), and the AQHA (quarter horse association). They then try to convince themselves and everyone else that they actually take this stance for the horse, not for their own interests.
Yes, slaughter is good for you, really ?
Anyway, I digress. I thought it would be interest to parse the statement from the AQHA, in support of horse “processing” (“processing” is surely more appealing than “slaughter”).
Here is a link to the AQHA’s complete statement: AQHA News Bits: Unsafe Consequences.
There is a preamble about the SAFE Act, and its rationale, that of food safety. The statement then avoids the food safety issue completely.
They then note that the ban of horse slaughter would “mean that thousands of unwanted horses will be sentenced to a destiny of starvation, abuse and neglect. It’s a hellish demise.”
There are two problems with this emotive statement:
1. while there may be some unwanted horses, to presume all horses that are purchased by kill buyers to go to slaughter are unwanted, is not accurate.
2. “slaughter” or “abuse and neglect” is not a binary choice. The third option, cleverly left out of the entire statement, is that of humane euthanasia.
Subsequent to the above quote, the statement then goes on to tie the number of horses that are slaughtered to the number of unwanted horses. Again, there is no proof that is the case. What is known is that the number of horses slaughtered is simply based on the demand for the horse meat from the customer, via the meat packers and the slaughter houses. Horses are slaughtered because there is demand for the meat, slaughter is not just a disposal solution for horses no one else wants.
The statement then goes on to discuss the increasing number of abuse and neglect cases, which may or may not be accurate. Whether it is or not has little to do with slaughter, because we are currently slaughtering plenty of horses (same numbers in recent years, so an increase in abuse cases is more likely an economic issue, or an issue of horses no longer being employed for whatever work they were doing).
The statement then examines the cost of taking care of all the horses that are sent to slaughter. A considerable cost indeed, but neglects to consider that some of these horses would be humanely euthanized, some would be diverted to new careers, and some would find other solutions. This ignores the idea of “owner responsibility,” and each owner doing the appropriate thing for his horse. Thus the burden on the government is, at least, exaggerated.
Then they discuss the “property rights” argument that surrounds the horse. The AQHA firmly believes anyone has the right to do what they want with their horses, which includes slaughter as an end of life option. “Salvage value” is another term that I have heard being used.
There is then some preamble that ties together the AQHA, AVMA and AAEP together in wanting to slaughter our horses domestically. Well, we know that each organization is pro-slaughter, sadly not so much “pro-horse.”
The statement concludes,
“As we celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with family and friends, I am reminded that this holiday weekend is not only about picnics, parades and fireworks. July 4th celebrates the birth of American independence, and because of our freedom, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, including our horse.”
That statement seems disingenuous at best.
The SAFE Act is about food safety, which is a genuine concern given the undocumented drugs that American horses receive, before they become a “food animal”. The response from the AQHA completely ignores this, and moves the conversation to an “unwanted horse” issue. They do this in a very disingenuous manner.
For those of you who want to learn more about the horse slaughter issue, and make a truly informed decision on what is the right thing to do, I ask you to review my video series. The better informed we are, the better it will be for our horses.