The subject of equine slaughter is an emotional one, to be sure, but it SHOULDN'T BE.
The death of any loved horse is a sad event but we need to be practical about it. Several years ago due in large part to a letter-writing campaign by schoolchildren who were brainwashed by well-meaning adults, the US Government voted to end funding for USDA inspections of horsemeat, effectively killing the horse slaughter industry in this country.
"We don't eat horses here!" was the rallying cry. People in Europe for whom horsemeat is a staple in their diets were reviled as barbaric. No, no, no, we can't let them eat Trigger or Black Beauty!
Well, let me tell you -- each horse will die exactly once. No horses' lives were saved by that well-intentioned but ignorant decision made by Congress in 2007.
But some horses suffered horribly, for days, weeks, or months because of that decision, instead of for the minute or two it would have taken in a properly-operated local slaughterhouse. Horses turned loose instead of going to slaughter have died horrible slow deaths by starvation or death by predators. Many hoarders ended up facing animal cruelty charges when they sympathetically "rescued" horses headed for slaughter, then found they couldn't afford to feed them and the animals starved to death in their care. Death by stun gun is far more humane than many of the alternatives.
After a GAO report established that just as many horses were being slaughtered since the ban as were before -- only in Mexican or Canadian plants -- and that those doomed horses instead of being trucked a few hours were being crammed into trucks and hauled for DAYS without proper food, water, or space, then slaughtered by barbaric methods (in Mexico at least), Congress finally reversed itself in November and restored funding for inspections of horsemeat.
What will this mean?
Old, unwanted, or crippled horses will be able to be sold for slaughter, returning cash to their American owners who in this economy may desperately need it. The horses will be spared the anguish and terror of long rides in a cattle trailer to another country. People who currently are turning their horses loose to starve because they can no longer afford them and can't justify spending hundreds of dollars to euthanize them and dispose of the carcass will be able to take them to a local auction and know that the horse won't end up in Mexico getting its spinal cord severed so the terrified animal can't thrash around while its throat is cut.
Money currently being funneled to horse rescues can be funneled into people rescue instead.
There is a hay crisis in this country right now. In the next few months, as the price of hay climbs to the predicted $500 a ton, more and more people will have to give up their horses. It's not just that people can't afford the hay; THE HAY ISN'T THERE TO BUY. If every horse owner won the lottery next week, the price of hay would get bid up to $10,000 a ton and horses would STILL starve because there ISN'T ENOUGH HAY.
It's a simple fact that in this rough economy there simply are more horses than there are people who can or want to have them.
What are we going to do with them? The anti-slaughter bleeding hearts never had the answer to that question. They want them humanely put to sleep instead -- and do WHAT with the carcasses? Fill up landfills with them? Why waste the meat if someone is willing to buy it?
A horse who ends his life providing food for humans or animals has never lost its usefulness.
If you're opposed to horse slaughter -- don't have YOUR horse slaughtered. But don't tell me what do do with mine.
It's about time Congress realized what knowledgeable horse owners, including myself, have been telling them for the last four years. Thanks to the GAO report, they finally have.