May 04, 2007

You don’t want to export horsemeat to France? Here’s what will happen

Decay-poisoned horsemeat lying around the, High Country News says.

Here’s the problem, in a nutshell:
What do slaughter opponents advocate? Their Political Action Committee, aptly called HOOFPAC, says it all in a slogan: “Keep America’s horses in the stable and off the table.” This is a catchy phrase, but it doesn’t address whose stable, and at whose expense. Adoptive homes are not available for all unwanted horses today, and the current horse population is an estimated 9.2 million — more horses living now than in 1900, before the automobile began replacing the animals as transportation.

In the flesh-and-blood world of horse ownership, horses, whether beast of burden or beloved pet, must sometimes be put to death. The animal may be old and infirm, injured or dangerous to people. Slaughter opponents call for “humane euthanasia” by a veterinarian, at a cost of $100 to $300, which is a lot to pay for a horse that might bring as little as $300 to $500 at auction. And supporting an unwanted horse for a year can cost as much as $3,000.

Once a horse is euthanized, what then? The owner is left to dispose of a 1,200-pound carcass that has been saturated with a toxic substance. Most states require burial of euthanized animals at least two feet deep, away from water. Slaughter opponents advocate rendering — that is, boiling the animal and extracting what’s useful — but rendering is unavailable in most parts of the country and unsuitable for poisonous remains. A common solution is to pay the veterinarian to haul the carcass to the public landfill.

First, though having grown up in the West, I had no idea wild horse numbers were THAT high. The French and Belgians were just easing a bit of pressure on the pressure valve.

And, to be blunt, a horse is NOT a pet. Folks, get over “Black Beauty.” As for the money to dispose ever-more horse carcasses, our country has plenty of higher priorities.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be blunt, a horse is a pet. Horses are not livestock. They are not raised for human consumption. They have names, they perform, they are companions and they work. Many of the horses earn big bucks for their owners. They are responsible for their horses in life and death. Death means a humane death, not being tortured in transport and then having their life ended in a barbaric kill house. If these owners can't afford a horse, why do they have them and more importantly, why do they keep breeding them? I can certainly understand someone falling on hard times and having to sell their horse but to send a horse to slaughter because they're too cheap to pay $200 to have the horse humanely euthanized is despicable. Anyone in the industry knows what the cost is for the care of a horse. If you can't afford it, then don't buy one and blame your woes on the kill houses shutting down. If these owners that sent their horses to slaughter have seen but one of the videos, I question how they could sleep at night.

Heather Clemenceau said...

Veteriarians do not haul dead animals away - the "deadstock" service does that. The cost of euthanasia or any service is a relative thing.

The horse slaughter industry’s spokes-whore (the Wall Street Journal) bemoans how unfair it is that hiring a veterinarian to euthanize and dispose of a horse can cost hundreds of dollars. How expensive is that to a horse owner? The average cost to maintain a horse for a year is thousands of dollars, not including the cost of the horse, which can be significant. If you board your horse out it’s easily $400 – $600 a month (on the low end) without adding in any other services such as farrier and veterinarian, and certainly not a trailer or truck. So let’s not even entertain the notion that horse ownership is for regular people.

Unless you use your horse to plough fields, you’ve got to be hustling and making some decent change in the private or public sector in order to be able to afford that horse – or be willing to do without a lot of other expenditures. If you’re already spending that kind of coin for your horse, $200 – $500 for euthanization/disposal is already a budgeted expense for many people.

Various veterinary colleges and schools offer euthanasia and disposal/cremation starting at around $100. For anyone who lives in an area where there is truly an issue with disposal, I wonder why no enterprising individual has thought of providing a rendering service? What could the constraints be? While I’m very sympathetic to people who have fallen on hard times/lost jobs etc, for everyone else I say – if this is too much, I have to honestly say that I hope I never need $100 bucks as badly as that pro-slaughter individual apparently does.