The tragedy of killing horses

More on the Equus article about NorCal Equine Rescue. The article regarding the first Free Euthanasia Clinic goes on to say that it was to save horses from slaughter. This organization did this because people could not afford to have their unwanted horses put down, even the ones that were “overdue” for humane death. Typically, the article on p. 63 said, was that it costs $300 or more to euthanize a horse, including a veterinary call and the renderer’s pickup fee.

Tawnee Preisner, NCER vice president said, “Horses even get left unsold at auction yards. No one wants to buy them; the price of hay is going up.” California state laws prohibiting the sale or transport of horses to slaugshter are not being enforced.

I commend the work of NCER, but I reflect on the issue of horse slaughter. There are many websites to visit to learn the pro and con sides of the issue. There are many videos and pictures that show how a horse is slaughtered for food. It really isn’t that much different that how cattle are slaughtered. Yes as I watched, I imagined Scooter or Hannah being in the line, but then I thought that if, for any reason, I could not keep a disabled horse, one that NorCal could not adopt out, instead of wasting a carcass poisoned with euthanasia solution, why shouldn’t it be humanely slaughtered and be used to feed people and animals? The horse owner would be paid for the animal, and not keep it alive because the owner couldn’t afford euthanasia.

A problem is that many slaughter transporters and facilities broke the rules of humane treatment, which lead to a ban on horse slaughter. I assure you, it still goes on.

No life should be wasted. In a situation where a sick or unwanted horse will die, which is the more useful option: Euthanasia, which costs money and ruins the carcass for anything except inedible meat products (rendering), or slaughter for food where the owners realize a little money?

Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University, has a paper on horse transport and slaughter. Read it here. She is renowned for her work on designing facilities for lessening stress of food supply animals going to slaughter. There is much work yet to be done for horses if they are to be slaughtered for food. I have read her books and heard her speak. She is one of the true geniuses of the animal science world.

This is a difficult post for me. Please research this online yourself. See the pictures and videos. Read the positions of organizations such as the Humane Society for the United States and the American Veterinary Medical Association, both of which I am a member. Decide for yourself. If you are a horse owner, see if there are other ways to hold onto money so you can afford care for your beloved equine friends.

3 thoughts on “The tragedy of killing horses”

  1. Just to note there was waaaaay more to the closing of slaughterhouses than just public outcry. They were inhumane, failed employee safety and environmental safety rules and laws and the out of country owners opted for cheaper labor and less restrictions rather than clean up their act. As a vet you know that horses in this country are treated with medicine making them unsafe for human consumption anyway. One type of medicine (name escapes me) is incredibly dangerous for some humans. Sorry wish I could remember the exact details. None the less even horses who have had wormer are considered unsafe for human consumption.

  2. Maureen, you are right that there are many, many reasons why slaughterhouses were closed. Yet, illegal trafficking of horses goes on. I wish there was a solution to unwanted horses. NorCal seems to have one option. Horse slaughter evokes much emotion from people, even meat eaters.

    Regarding the medication usage and danger to consumers, in other food production, there are withdrawal times that must be adhered to before an animal is deemed fit for consumption. If horses are slaughtered illegally, I’m sure the killers overlook this safety issue.

    Please note that I neither advocate nor promote horse slaughter. I read and hear of abuse of unwanted horses and wonder what the solution is. First and foremost, if people would just understand that owning a pet is a lifetime commitment, that would help so much.

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