Monday, December 5, 2011

Just "Banning" Can't Be the End of the Line for Advocates

Last week President Obama signed a bill (passed by a bipartisan coalition that passed the bill in the first place – please don’t let your own political biases let you lose sight of the fact that this had to pass both houses of Congress before it even reached the President’s desk) that authorized the hiring of slaughterhouse inspectors effectively reopening the horse processing business in the United States after years of a defacto ban on slaughter (no inspectors = no slaughterhouses).  The outcry for animal rights advocates and horse people has been deafening.  I’ve been reading on Facebook, Twitter, newspapers and magazines what a tragedy this development is.  I don’t necessarily disagree, but there is one thing that I haven’t read beyond the outrage; the solution.

This is meant to be serious.  I’m looking for real answers here, not “It’s so awful”; “They are beautiful”; “You can’t kill Black Beauty”, etc. 

My question is:

Given the thousands of unwanted horses in this country right now, if the horses cannot be sent to slaughter – for human or animal consumption overseas – what happens to them?

I’m serious.  I’ve been to the feed lots and seen these poor animals in the midst of starvation.  Contrary to popular belief, 99.5% of them were NOT registered Thoroughbreds.  Organizations that exist to help these animals are starved for cash and assistance.  These animals are expensive to care for, even under the best of conditions.  All the hollering that I have seen online and I understand it - the thought of Tabby Lane, Fizzy Pop or any other horses being sent to slaughter is almost unbearable to think about – none of it addresses the problem of what is to be done with all these horses.

If there is not enough money, not enough volunteers and a bad economy – what happens to the thousands of horses every year that are abandoned?  By some estimates over 100,000 horses are being sent to Canada and Mexico.  How do they all get saved?

Population control?  Absolutely.  Just because a horse has a uterus doesn’t mean it needs to be a mom.

More support for after racing programs?  This is ongoing and growing.  Racing is starting – starting – to do a better job taking care of its own.  Ex-racers only account for a very small part of this 100,000.  We’re just an attractive target because of the publicity and money involved, but more attention, giving and financial programs are being put into place to support and retrain ex-racers.

But what about the rest of the population?  It’s easy to cry “STOP” but much more difficult to derive a solution.

I’m not advocating slaughter, mind you, but want to hear solutions over the clamor.  All that has happened since slaughter was defacto banned in the US were more horses were exported to Canada and Mexico and left to starve to death in fields. 

I’d like to hear some solutions along with the hand-wringing.  “Winning” by re-banning slaughter isn’t enough.  Sure, “advocates” could pat themselves on the back and talk of a job well done, but the problem of over-population didn’t disappear – only the end result. Moving the problem doesn’t solve the problem.

If you actually get lawmakers to change their collective mind on this issue, what happens to all the horses that you “saved”?  They’re still going to slaughter, only somewhere else.  Your job isn’t done; it’ll only be just beginning.

You didn’t solve the problem in the last five years, so what will you do if you get a second chance?


Nicholas said...

That's the comment I've been trying to write in response to the "Ban Slaughter" posts. Thanks for taking the time to put together such a well reasoned, intelligent post.

DHF said...

Well done Ted. Your blog addresses the REAL problem: What should we do with all the 'unwanted' horses? Banning slaughter leaves us with a very large population of neglected, unwanted and even unusable horses. Would it be possible to make the path to the slaughter less stressful, less fearful for the horse? Having 'worked' in a slaughter facility I've seen what the cattle go through up to the time of the stun gun and the slitting of their necks. How brave we think our big macs are! I have a tough time and a weak stomach thinking how a horse would handle such conditions. Hopefully, our legislators can put some time into trying to make this necessary evil a little more bareable for the chosen.