The Fate of the Unwanted Horse Andrea Blaskovich Sarah Khatibzadeh IwonaPopkowski Ranatta Young
Who are Horse Owners? Horses are used for pleasure, competition, business or as pets. Owners include trainers, breeders, boarding/lesson/trail ride facility operators, rescue operators as well as private owners
What is an Unwanted Horse “..a horse that has, for one or more reasons, become unwanted by its owner. It may be a healthy horse….it may be a horse that is dangerous to handle….it may be a horse with an injury, lameness or illness….Some horses are no longer able to perform at the level their owner desires….Regardless of the reason, these horses no longer have permanent homes.” -AVMA
Reasons Horses Become Unwanted From the 2009 Unwanted Horse Survey Over 27,000 respondents including Horse Owners and Stakeholders
#1 Reason a horse becomes unwanted:Economics 2008 Average unemployment rate 5.8% November 2010 unemployment rate 9.8% Cost of hay, grain, shavings rapidly increasing “In light of one of the worst economic downturns, more horses appear to be facing devastating alternatives.”
It is estimated that more than 100,000 horses become unwanted each year in the United States
Unwanted Horse = Cruelty and Abandonment “Left to starve, abandoned or shot by owners.” “Turned out in the wild or other properties, even the freeways.” “Tied to a stranger’s trailer.” “Let loose to die in the woods.” “Left to run wild or to die on the roadside.” “Just turned loose to fend for themselves.” “Starved to death.” “Abandoned.” “Just left to die without food or water.” Comments about unwanted horse neglect from the 2009 Unwanted Horse Survey
Horses abandoned on a rural road in Oregon's Willamette Valley in September 2008. “Many horse owners believe their animals, if released into the wild, will be adopted by wild herds. But the wild horse herd will reject them in the most violent manner. It ends up being a bad ending for that horse.”Ed Foster, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, Nevada
What to do with an Unwanted Horse Keep the horse Sell directly to another horse owner Sell through an auction barn Give away/adopt out Donate Retirement facility Euthanize Base cost of keeping a horse is approximately $2000/ year Retirement facilities and adoption facilities are at capacity and have waiting lists
Euthanasia or Adoption Horse Owners indicated they spend up to $1,200 for their horse to be euthanized or adopted Average between $250 and $485. Costs include: $300 to $500 for carcass removal Veterinary costs for euthanasia or health record for adoption One to three months feed for adoption Transportation to adoption site Fee for adoption*
What About Slaughter?
Until 2007 horse owners had the option of selling their horses for slaughter
It was a cost and time effective way to dispose of an unwanted horse
“In 2006 two Texas plants and one in Illinois slaughtered nearly 105,000 horses for human food, mainly for European and Asian consumers. In 2007, court action effectively closed the Texas plants, and a state ban in Illinois closed that plant.” http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RS21842.pdf http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/us/07horses.html?_r=1
Anti-horse slaughter coalition- led by HSUS “The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (to ban the slaughter and export of America's horses) was passed by the House of Representatives in September of 2006, then it went to the US Senate in December to be voted on and finally enforce it. Even though majority of the Senators supported the bill, it stalled for so long that it was dismissed and now the fight to past the newest bill begins.” http://www.aboutbillythekid.com/stophorseslaughter.htm
Before the ban, 90,000 – 100,000 horses went to slaughter annually What is happening to these unwanted horses now?
“Physical methods, including gunshot, are considered conditionally acceptable techniques for equine euthanasia. The penetrating captive bolt is acceptable with appropriate restraint.” When those slaughter plants were operating, however, those transporting horses to slaughter and the plants themselves were highly regulated
No control over the cruelty to horses in Mexican Slaughter Houses
2007 HSUS investigation: horses were being repeatedly stabbed in the spinal cord when the captive bolt gun failed to kill them.
“"The American mare swung her head frantically when the door shut to the kill box, trapping her inside. A worker jabbed her in the back with a small knife – seven, eight, nine times. Eyes wild, she lowered her head and raised it as the blade punctured her body around the withers, again and again. At the 10th jab, she fell to the floor of this Mexican slaughterhouse, bloodied and paralyzed, but not yet dead. She would lay a good two minutes before being hoisted from a chained rear leg so her throat could be slit and she could bleed to death."
In 2007, ~ 2,500 horses were slaughtered while conscious.
Image from a slaughtering plant in Mexico -two horses are jammed together in a kill box about to be stabbed in the back of the head with a spike.
2009 AAEP investigation of Mexican slaughterhouses showed no problems, but…
Were the workers putting on a front?
Were there incidences of cruelty at other Mexican slaughterhouses? The AAEP only investigated TWO slaughterhouses.
AAEP investigated municipal slaughterhouses but did not investigate procedures at unregulated/backyard slaughterhouses.
Why Slaughter was better in the US Commercial Transport of Equines to Slaughter Act Double deck trailers banned in 2006 Horses must be checked every 6 hours during transit Horses must be unloaded and allowed water, food, and rest after 28 hours of consecutive hours of travel Must be fit to travel
“During transport all horses were subject to inspection by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors, and as of December 2006, it was illegal to transport horses to slaughter in double-decked (pot-belly) trailers. Killing at the slaughter house was performed under direct veterinary supervision…….. Every federally inspected slaughter plant in the United States, including all of the now-closed equine slaughter plants, has a veterinarian and slaughter line inspectors present at all times while animals are slaughtered. The veterinarian and inspectors are required to observe, ensure correction of any errors, and report any instances of inhumane treatment of animals. Slaughter is highly regulated, and any violations of humane slaughter requirements are punished according to federal and state laws and regulations.”
2009 Horse meat production
Uses of Horse Meat Export Meat shipped to Europe and Asia Hides sent to Italy Hair sent to China to make paintbrushes Small Intestines shipped to Egypt for sausages Tendons sent to Asia for consumption Hooves rendered
Source of Lean Meat
The Problems are Not Limited to South of the Border Slaughter facilities are built for cattle, not horses. Horses are flightier more sensitive more fragile need more personal space Captive bolting a horse is easier said than done.
A Veterinarian’s Testimony “I have personally been to a horse slaughterhouse as a surgery resident while in Texas and I found it to be a disgrace…I was absolutely revolted at the way the horses were treated and the behavior of the people that were employed there. I have also been to a beef and a chicken slaughter plant too. The treatment of and reaction by the horses was very much in contrast to that of the other livestock I had observed.” Patricia Hogan, D.V.M., Dipl. ACVS
Veterinarians are NOT pro-slaughter… "It appears that the AVMA would rather support those profiting from this cruel industry than work effectively with the welfare community to protect horses. While they profess concern for the welfare of horses their action in this regard falls far short of the mark.” NenaWinand, D.V.M. "It is intolerable that our professional association continues to support horse slaughter. The abject cruelty that our horses are being exposed to in Mexican slaughterhouses is beyond imagination and anyone concerned for the welfare of our horses ought to be doing everything he or she can to support quick passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.” Nicholas Dodman, D.V.M., Founder of Veterinarians for Equine Welfare
Anti-Horse Slaughter- Economic Ramifications Horse meat is consumed abroad as a beef alternative, which hurts U.S. beef exportation. “Killer buyers”: middlemen who make a living by purchasing horses at auctions that they can sell to foreign slaughterhouses at a profit. Thus, owners may be unknowingly and unwillingly selling their horses to slaughter. Does the incidence of abuse correlate to the state of the economy?
Cruelty is NOT on the Rise! No corresponding increase in horse cruelty cases in California following slaughter ban in 1998. 34% decrease in horse theft.
Anti-Horse Slaughter- Preserving the Horse-Human Bond Horses are not, and have never been, considered a food animal by the American public and are currently considered companion animals. 80% of Americans oppose horse consumption. Owner responsibility is key. People in other nations are free to treat their own horses in accordance with their perception of the horse, and we should do the same.
Alternatives to Slaughter EDUCATION! Are you prepared to own a horse? HSUS information for owners-to-be. A Second Career From the racetrack to the show ring. Trail horse USDA study- 92 percent of horses slaughtered in good condition could lead productive lives in new homes. What about ill or geriatric horses?
Alternatives to Slaughter Humane, low-cost euthanasia. Habitat for Horses recommends for elderly and ailing, badly injured, or dangerous horses. Chemical euthanasia and disposal costs, while not insignificant, cost less than a month of basic care (average $383/horse.) Many sanctuaries and veterinarians provide low cost euthanasia services: NorCal Equine Rescue: $25/horse. Captive bolt- cheaper, but only humane if done properly! Landfill disposal allowed in some places.
Current Trends HR503/SB 727: Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act Would prohibit the transport of horses to slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada. Has been introduced every year since 2001. Has been passed in the House for the past few years but has yet to pass in the Senate. State legislation varies CA supports horse slaughter ban. SD, OK, and WY resolutions- call to reinstitute U.S. slaughter.
What Veterinarians are Doing The Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign AAEP and Intervet/Schering Plough provide free vaccines to equine rescues that find homes for unwanted horses. The Unwanted Horse Coalition Developed at 2005 AAEP summit. Veterinarians and equine industry members educate the public about responsible horse ownership and options for re-homing unwanted horses. Individual veterinarians offering reduced cost or free services to horses in need.
What Would You Do?
References Beatty, Sarah. “Horse Slaughter Legislation in Works Around the Country. The Chronicle of the Horse. 26 Mar 2010. http://www.chronofhorse.com/article/horse-slaughter-legislation-works-around-country Becker, Geoffrey S. “Horse Slaughter Prevention Bills and Issues.” Congressional Research Service. 11 Jan 2010. 1-6. http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/crs/RS21842.pdf DeLong, Jeff. “Abandoned Horses are on the Rise.” USA Today . 6 December 2008.www.stophorseslaughter.com/vets.html Hogan, Patricia L, D.V.M Testimony Before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer in support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. July 25, 2006 at 2:00 PM. http://www.vetsforequinewelfare.org/pdf/Hogan.pdf Lenz, Tom, D.V.M. “The Unwanted Horse: When Emotions and Science Collide.” Presented at the AAEP National Convention, Baltimore, MD. 5 Dec 2010. Lenz, Tom, D.V.M. “The ‘Unwanted’ Horse in the U.S.” Presented during the AAEP Summer Healthy Horses Workshop in Austin, Texas. 29 July 2008. http://www.aaep.org/health_articles_view.php?id=326 Marquez, Laura. “Horse Slaughterhouses: 'America's Dirty Little Secret'Congress Asks to Ban Sale of American Horses for Food Overseas.” ABC News. 25 July 2006. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=2235175&page=1 Osborne, Malinda. “Horse slaughter conditions in Mexico explored by AAEP group: Debate over the practice continues in Congress.” JAVMA News. 1 Mar 2009. http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/mar09/090301h.asp Pacelle, Wayne. “Abandon the Myth of the Unwanted Horse.” A Humane Nation. 15 June 2007. http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2007/06/abandon_the_myt.html Raina, Pat. “Horse Rescue Offers Low-Cost Euthanasia Clinic.” The Horse. 15 Oct 2008. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=12903 Ryder, Erin. “USDA Proposing to Change Horse Slaughter Transport Regulations.” The Horse.com. 17 Dec 2007. http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=11000
References Continued “Frequently Asked Questions about Unwanted Horses and Horse Slaughter.” AVMA. 5 Sept 2008. http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/unwanted_horses_faq.asp “AHC supports changes to horse slaughter regulations.” Thoroughbred Times. 08 Jan 2008. http://www.thoroughbredtimes.com/national-news/2008/january/08/ahc-supports-changes- to-horse-slaughter-regulations.aspx “Horse Slaughter: What Does it Say about our Nation?” Green Horn Horse Facts. http://www.greenhorn-horse-facts.com/horse-slaughter.html “A Study of Equine Slaughter/ Abuse Patterns Following Closure of Horse Slaughter Plants in US.” Animal Law Coalition. 18 June 2008. http://www.animallawcoalition.com/horse-slaughter/article/541 “Horse Slaughter- The Facts.” The Homes for Horses Coalition. 2010. http://www.homesforhorses.org/slaughter.php “Disposal.” Habitat for Horses. http://www.habitatforhorses.org/programs/disposal.html “Euthanasia Policy.” Habitat for Horses. 13 April 2007. http://www.habitatforhorses.org/forms/euthanasiaPolicy.pdf The Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign. 2010. http://www.uhvrc.org/about.html 2009 Unwanted Horse Survey www.unwantedhorsecoalition.org www.humanesociety.org www.avma.org