Yesterday’s post caused quite a buzz. I had several good comments and a good question by Bina. So to answer her, I figured rather than write a novel in the comments section where it would get buried, I’d just post it here.*
The original definition of Humane:
c.1450, variant of human, used interchangeably with it until early 18c., when it began to be a distinct word with sense of “having qualities befitting human beings.” But inhuman still can be the opposite of humane. The Royal Humane Society (founded 1774) was originally to rescue drowning persons.
Now that being said the definition of the word has been changed to fit agendas- more specifically to personify animals- that’s how language evolves. The issue here is that horses are horses. They’re not people. They don’t think like people, they do not react like people. They do not have the same emotions that we have. Horses only know how to be horses.
I do believe that the groups use propagandist videos to portray this to the general public as an atrocity. They also use propagandist numbers and tell untruths that people in the industry can spot, but they’re very good at wording things to pull at the heart strings of people. Most of that video is shot in Mexico or Latin America. Where, trust me, they have no qualms about being humane.
It’s true that things do go awry, but the stories of horses being afraid of blood or dead horses is just bogus. I know this, b/c I’ve been in situations where we’ve had to shoot a horse for whatever reason- broken leg, impacted and can’t pass a stool, can’t get around any more. If the horses were so afraid they’d want nothing to do with the area where the dead horse is left to lie until we can get in to move it. If the smell of blood scared them, same thing. But they’ll still mill around the dead body if there’s hay in the area where the horse was shot.
As my friend Jill said- there are plenty of screw ups by the vets when it comes to what people would deem *humane*. To me, it makes much more sense to have that big body used for glue or dog food or to feed someone that wants to eat it. Personally I wouldn’t eat it but I don’t care if someone else wants to.
I also don’t believe that the majority of people in the horse industry- the true professionals- breed horses to go to the kill pen. Unlike cattle- that are bred primarily to be made into yummy steaks. We breed horses for a purpose, and to fill a need and to provide the public with safe, trainable, ride-able horses when we’re done with them.
A horse is a huge investment. HUGE. It will cost you, if you don’t live on a ranch like we do, around $1850 to $2500 per year, per horse, just to properly care for it and feed it. When I rode horses for the public I spent between $1000 and $1200 per month on hay for 10 horses. So roughly 15k/year on hay alone. If you have a drought that number can double. If an area has too many horses and not enough feed/hay available, again, the price of hay goes up- because it has to be trucked in from surrounding states. With all the ethanol production and continued production the price of grain goes up. When diesel was $4.00/gallon feed went up from $9.50 a bag to $12.50 a bag. And I went through about $350 in feed/mo. So another $3000-$4200/year in feed. This doesn’t include your farrier bills, your vet bills, and other misc expenses. And unlike a dog or cat- a horse lives to be, on average 25-30 years old. So if you’re going to just *rescue* an otherwise unwanted horse, you’re making another big commitment.
Jill is right- there was once a place that someone had the option to use should they need to unload a horse quickly. The economy changes, people lose their jobs, and we’ve taken away a choice that they had. A horse isn’t a pet, it’s livestock. It’s also personal property. And I think people should have the choice of what to do with that personal property. Should they get to starve them, No. But should they have the option to unload it should their circumstances change?
There are roughly 9.2Million horses in the US. And you have people that have no idea what goes on in the industry, making decisions for the industry. Organizations like the Humane Society of the US which isn’t even a rescue group. They’re a political activist group. They don’t own a single shelter. They’re not taking in a single unwanted horse, yet they lobbied in favor of shutting down the slaughter facilities. Now how much sense does that make? Now they’ve forced people to keep horses- like Jill and myself, and countless others, to hold on to horses, because we are responsible and we can afford to feed them, and we know that in time we’ll have a valuable animal. Not some ill conformed, back-yard bred, Lucifer that would sooner stomp your head in than get along with you.
I love horses. More than most other horse owners in the world. To say I’m passionate about them would be an understatement. And I believe that having USDA inspected slaughter facilities is the best for the horse. I want nothing but the best for God’s most noble creature. I think that we as a society need to grow a backbone and recognize that life isn’t all flowers and rainbows. People are always going to be irresponsible. Just like people are going to get a hold of a gun if they want one, no matter how many gun laws you pass. Criminals and those with ill-intentions disregard the law. People are going to do stupid things. The right thing to do is to do what’s best for the horse.
*this should help answer some questions too.