Holding Your Horses
©2011 Ross Williams
The last horse slaughterhouse in the US closed its doors in 2007. It was located in Illinois. It closed nominally because IL banned the slaughter of horses destined for human consumption, exclusively confined to the export market. But prior to the Illinois General Assembly making that move the USDA, by Congressional mandate, had ceased its horse slaughterhouse inspection – we can’t export meat that hasn’t been inspected by USDA; horses had already ceased being slaughtered some months earlier.
Since the ban, tens of thousands of horses per year have been abandoned or confiscated from their owners for neglect. Pardon: tens of thousands more than usual per year have been abandoned or confiscated, as horses are abandoned and neglected continually. Since 2009 when the recession hit full swing, these numbers have spiked.
As always, the issue was driven in 2007 by the soft-skulled sympathy junkies that dominate all such “enlightenment” subjects. Horses are “noble creatures” and part of the “American Culture”, goes their argument, therefore to slaughter them – least of all for food – is [to quote one of the many fops recently spotted being foppish] “depraved”. Only “depraved” cultures would stoop to eating horse.
This means, naturally, that all cultures except “American” are depraved; Canada and Mexico are also depraved, since the number of horses not slaughtered in Illinois since 2007 has been picked up in whole by live-horse exports directly to those countries’ slaughterhouses ... where, additionally, it is legal to sell horse meat for human consumption. It hasn’t been legal in the US for decades. ...to buy and sell horse meat. What one did with one’s own horse was one’s own business.
Various other arguments made by the brainless against horse slaughter are:
1] It’s inhumane. Yet the same methods used to dispatch horses in the slaughterhouse are used to dispatch steer ... for which it is not inhumane.
2] If a horse has become too old or unwanted, it is better to humanely “euthanize” the animal under direction of a veterinarian. Yet the methods used by veterinarians to “humanely” “euthanize” horses are also used in slaughterhouses to inhumanely slaughter them consisting, typically, of a gunshot to the head. A slaughterhouse will often use a bolt instead of a bullet, though, as a bullet in the confined space of a concrete-walled building can cause the euthanasia of the assistant butcher as well.
3] If horses, why not dogs and cats? Many cultures also eat them. And if there was a viable export market for dog and cat meat – considering the number of stray and feral animals we have – that would indeed be a good idea.
4] Horses are “noble” and other overly-sentimentalized rationalizations. And so are deer, which we – including those so against horse slaughter – think nothing of killing for food, not to mention sport, and even simply because they have overrun the suburbs and eaten the hedges.
5] [and this was a new one on me] Horses helped win the Battle of Gettysburg. And so did oxen. And of course we all know than an ox is an old dried-up dairy cow that has gone through the bovine version of menopause yet is not too old to pull a war wagon. It will become beef jerky and leather gloves soon enough.
Et cetera. At any rate, this comes up again because a short passage in the recent government funding law signed by our National Savior earlier this month reauthorizes USDA to resume the inspection of horse slaughter. This loosed the teary drivel above from the Usual Suspects.
The head of the American Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, promises litigation and legislative hectoring of any community which attempts to re-establish a horse slaughter in the US. He further claims that anyone who owns a horse is somehow obliged to “provide lifetime care” – thus elevating horses to a social status even greater than children ... who will one day move out of the house.
On the other hand, there seems to be a group of investors willing to front substantial amounts of money to open a horse slaughter operation; they estimate they could be up and running in 30 to 90 days. It would be interesting to see which side of the issue a rural community – and its state legislature – would come down on in the choice between a few hundred jobs and saving the life of – to quote Mr Pacelle again – “Trigger and Mr Ed.”
Some of us are aware that Mr Ed was completely fictional, just as some of us never romanticized Bambi while others live somewhere in the shadowy regions between reality and TVLand. Others learned to de-romanticize Bambi after their begonias and flowering dogwoods got chewed to ribbons. Why people have so much difficulty applying this lesson to horses is beyond me.
But until they can figure that out, maybe Mr Pacelle can put his self-righteous money where his sanctimonious mouth is and point me at a supplier of hay. All the hay in our area was sold to Texans. Apparently their horses are more important than mine.