Previously we’ve looked at Arguments 1 and 2, in favor of closing the horse processing facilities. And if you missed the introduction, or the post that defined animal rights vs. animal welfare, you might want to catch up before reading this one!
Today we’ll tackle Argument 3 (from this report)- that horse owners will do the responsible thing. As we’ve already learned- the majority of horse owners make between $25 and $75k per year. The average cost to keep a horse yearly is between $2500-5000 per horse (with vet care). This is based on numbers I’ve read around the country, and my own math from what I did when I was training 5+ horses per month for others (note- I was keeping horses in town- not turned out on the range)- bringing the total amount of horses I fed/maintained yearly to about 9-10 horses per month. Do the math.
Argument 3. Horse owners will be responsible and take care of their horses so a ban on slaughter will not result in horses not being cared for.
Horse ownership has many different interpretations and levels of commitment. While many horse owners take very good care of their horses this does not hold true for everyone. While neglect may not be intentional in some instances, it happens. Educating owners to proper nutrition, dental and hoof care, can make big changes to the horse’s management.
Reports of horses being abandoned are on the increase (Associated Press, 2007). Reported through the Brownfield Ag News for American, “Closing horse processing plants in the United States has led to increased abandonment and neglect of horses in this country and the inhumane death of horses across the border” (Young, 2007). A Georgia Tifton Gazette article indicates rising neglect is evident across the state due to many factors, one of which is the closing of the slaughter houses (Cone, 2007). In Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food, Terry Menlove, Director of the Division of Animal Industry, reports a larger number than usual of abandoned horses. Because of a lack of places to send older horses, some owners are keeping these horses and the horses starve to death in the field (T. Menlove, personal communication, January 2, 2008). Reported inthe Drovers Alert “the number of owners charged with animal cruelty due to neglected horses is on the rise as the price of horse ownership increases. So, the fallout from the closure of the slaughter facilities: More horse are suffering from starvation and neglect” (Henderson, 2008). The Wall Street Journal cites “the number of horses whose owners won’t or can’t properly care for them is mushrooming” (Prada, 2008). C.J. Hadley, publisher of the magazine called Range, indicated that “animal lovers with big hearts and no idea what’s required to take care of a horse have shut down slaughterhouses that were needed” (Prada, 2008).
If you haven’t witnessed the cruelty known as Mother Nature, and you’re still in favor of keeping closed the slaughter facilities, because you LOVE horses, I recommend you reconsider. Seeing an old horse die of starvation, colic, or by freezing to death, etc. is one of the saddest things you’ll ever witness. Bottom line- my horse. My property. I have said it before and I’ll say it again- If I choose to pay a vet to euthanize it for me, so be it. If I choose to send it to the kill plant, so be it. If someone can’t afford to feed their horse, how can they afford to pay a vet to put it down? We’ve even discussed the fact that you can’t hardly give a horse away right now. Since most of the rescues are full (that is a discussion for another day) I ask you, “what on God’s green earth are they supposed to do with their horse?” Please note, I do not advocate cruelty and I certainly don’t like to read stories like the one below:
by Associated Press
Posted on November 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM
TACOMA, Wash. – The case of five emaciated horses found abandoned in a Pierce County forest has prompted the Humane Society of the United States to offer a $2,500 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions.
In a statement, the animal welfare organization says it appears the animals were afraid to leave the area where they had been dropped off, and could have been stranded as long as two weeks.
It said the horses discovered Nov. 12 on a logging road near Elbe were cold, hurt and “horribly malnourished.”
The HSUS says two of the horses are about 15 years old; another is suspected to be pregnant and a fifth was euthanized.
The group’s Washington state director, Dan Paul, says struggling horse owners can turn to rescue groups, online adoption programs or even humane euthanasia.
Abandoning animals in Washington is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum 90 days in jail and $1,000 fine.
Pierce County Animal Control is investigating.
Stories like the above are becoming all too common since the closing of horse processing facilities in the US in 2007. As has been discussed here recently, HSUS doesn’t run a single shelter or even help the animals that it “rescues”.
What many of you who, haven’t had the opportunity to see horses in the natural environments, don’t realize is that horses that have lived in a stall, or small acreage all their whole lives, really don’t know how to be a horse, like the horses we have on our ranch. Or like the horses that run wild through the deserts of Nevada, or other parts of the west. They don’t understand how to forage. How to range, or even how to drink. You think to yourself, oh, that should come naturally to the horse, but it doesn’t if they’ve been in a small acreage, or even a barn where there has been food and water in front of them 24/7. They really don’t know how to go to water once a day and drink; then travel back out several miles to graze. Horses on the range do that daily.
Horses on the range also know how to get along with and read other horses. Horses kept in captivity tend to be more aggressive and mis-read the signs that ferrel horses will give them, such as “get out of my space”. It’s not unusual for a horse previously kept in captivity and then turned out with range horses to end up getting a severe beating, in part due to the fact that they aren’t as fluent at speaking horse as a range horse. They’re also not nearly in the same physical shape as range horses. Trust me. I rode my gray mare, Nora, daily, but when it came time to turn her out with horses twice her age, she couldn’t keep up. It’s like the person that runs on the treadmill vs. the one that runs XC. They’re not even in the same league.
This above story is, I believe, the direct result of the closing of US horse processing facilities. The HSUS/ASPCA and PETA took away that option and that part of the market. Why are groups like these not more concerned with the life of the horse while it is alive? Why are they so concerned with what happens to it at death? We can’t crawl into a horse’s skin, so who are we to say that a captive bolt is any less disturbing to them, than the drug that is given to *humanely* euthanize them? And why, if these groups, are so concerned with keeping horses from being processed are they not spending a good portion of their war-chest helping struggling horse owners, and rescue groups with things like feed costs, gelding colts, and euthanization? Why do they not run a single rescue group? I ask you, “What really then, is their agenda?”
It really boils down to them putting their money where their mouth is, and as several commenters have previously pointed out- and as we discussed here- these animal rights groups want the extinction of all domesticated animals. They’re on record as saying that. Why would we not believe them? They spend their money to lobby congress and keep the public perception on their side. They don’t spend their money saving animals. And those of us that do love our animals, well, we spend our money to keep those animals healthy.
That said, though, we are going to have to do something other than opine about it. Maybe it means getting on the phone with AQHA and urge them lobby for us (which I am told they do). Maybe it means getting on the horn to the local extension agents when we see neglect cases; maybe it means we give any extra money we have to groups like the United Organization of the Horse which is working fervently to bring back “humane” processing in this country. Whatever it means, we better figure it out soon.
As always, comments and discussion are welcome. But don’t troll me, and don’t be ugly. I’m all about discussion if you can refrain from name calling.