Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trying to Understand True Compassion? Where do you draw the line?

I read the latest issue of dvm360, as I always do, but I had had to put it down, let my emotions settle and resume reading at least three times. After taking an inordinate amount of time to read, I had to walk away, let my inner frustrations settle, and then decide what I was going to do with the burden of my conscious screaming at me.

So, my answer? Throw it out for the world to share my burden, help me understand my frustrations, and hope that with all things that the discussion will open and awaken our collective sense of responsibility and desire to live in a more peaceful and compassionate world.

The headline that has me unloading on all of you was titled, "Oklahoma OKs bill allowing horse slaughter for human consumption."

I know, take a deep breath, its not so easy as to just want to vomit and protest, "well, I'm not eating horse!"

Oklahoma decided on March 26, 2013 by a vote of 32-14 to allow for slaughter of horses for export to countries like Italy, France and Belgium for human consumption. Sounds pretty appalling, doesn't it? But as recently as 2007 there were two facilities in the U.S. that slaughtered horses, Illinois and Texas. They closed because federal funding was eliminated for them. After they closed horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for processing and then exported.

The atrocity of this whole dilemma? Well, after the government banned or assisted in the shut down of the slaughter houses almost everyone agreed that the state of the horses fate worsened significantly. Without a place to send horses many were left or abandoned to starve to death. So the state of OK put HB 1999 before the Senate. To "allow the humane, regulated processing of horses."

My internal struggle is as follows;
Question 1. Do I think it is better to kill an animal then to let it suffer? Answer, Yes. (Do I think the same for people?, I'm not sure anymore. If it is myself, then yes.)
Question 2. Do I think that the horse has a different place in society than a dog or cat? No.
Question 3. Would I ever ponder killing cats or dogs for consumption, No, Horses?, No. Cows? Pigs? Rabbits? Guinea Pigs? (Did you know that all of these species are eaten in many parts of the world?)

The statistics are a good way to put the argument into perspective.

In 2006, the last full year the horse processing plants were open, 102,260 horses were euthanized for processing in the U.S.

The state of OK sent 160,000 to Mexico for processing.

The Association of American Equine Practitioners (AAEP) though it stresses it is not pro-slaughter, does not support current proposed federal legislation to ban horse slaughter for human consumption. The association regards itself as "pro-welfare" of the horse and believes that without long term placement for affected horses and the placement for affected horses and solutions to the core issues that contribute to the unwanted horse population, humane euthanasia and processing for human consumption may be an undesirable necessity. "If a horse owner is not able or willing to provide humane care, the AAEP believes that euthanasia at a processing facility is a humane alternative to a life of suffering, inadequate care and possibly abandonment."

To thicken the plot, many states - Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska among others - are trying to introduce legislation to promote the opening of plants in their own states because the horse slaughter industry reports in 2006 the industry grossed an estimated $65 million.

Animal welfare advocates dispute many of the claims of horses being treated better when the horse slaughtering plants were open, and feel the reason so many horses are sent to slaughter is because of economic hardships, and that the argument that horses are better of being killed is ridiculous. Wayne Pacelle, the president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States stated that "horse owners should commit to providing lifetime care for the animals."

It is my firm opinion that any life that you chose to take responsibility for is a life long choice. How do we have over 3 million dogs and cats euthanized every year in the US? Is it better to bury them? If we can't find homes for our unwanted pets what do we do with them?

For the complete dvm360 May 2013 article please see;

For the New York Times article from October 11, 2011, please see;

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