Talk about the practice of selling horses for slaughter: Part 5

I found an excellent article here, reblogging from “Straight from the Horse’s Heart.”

For Horse Lovers Everywhere: The Truth About Horse Slaughter

By Kim Sheppard, courtesy of Animal’s Angels

slaughterThere is no such thing as humane horse slaughter at this time. What is stated below can be backed up with absolute evidence or extensive documentation of what actually happens. Please know that as awfully horrific as horse slaughter actually is, the untold suffering many horses go through from point of sale to slaughter is horrific. At the point at which the Kill Buyer owns the horse that is loaded on a large crowded tractor semi trailer, his biggest expense is fuel for the truck not food (or water) for the horses; which often are injured by the time they arrive at their first US feedlot stop many hours later. DOT and USDA Laws are often broken by driving too many hours; as well as drivers not providing horses rest, food and water at required intervals that are set forth in the Transport to Slaughter Act. Since laws are not enforced, Animals that are supposed to be protected suffer *before* the horrific death with the act of slaughter itself, regardless of the country where the horse is slaughtered.

Whether the slaughter house is in the United States of America, Canada or Mexico: intentionally the captive bolt, nor 22, nor knives are used to kill the horse. The heart MUST be pumping in order to pump the blood out of the horse that is hung upside down prior to slaughter. The problem with using captive bolt, 22, or knives in horse slaughter is that unlike with other species of livestock, often several attempts (multiple strikes) are required to render the horse unconscious, resulting in immense suffering of each horse prior to slaughter. This is not only due to the anatomy of the horse’s skull and long neck, but also the natural animal behavior including (flight instinct) in a horse. When a horse is in this extreme fear state, not only does he have explosive strength; but his head continually moves with a range of motion during the multiple captive bolt, 22, or knife strike attempts used to render him unconscious. As many as 4 minutes have been documented that the horse was conscious during and after these injuries. Film has also evidenced a horse on its side, still flailing in the kill box; after regaining consciousness after the injury and horrific pain of a captive bolt or 22 it had already experienced. Once the chains are applied to the back legs of the horse on its side in the kill box, and the horse’s throat is slit: the horse then goes down the production line (now unconscious) hanging upside by its hind legs, behind the horses he saw and heard screaming before him as he smelled their blood before his own death experience. There is NO humane horse slaughter, nor was there when it was legal in the US for the purpose of human consumption. No designs or processes have changed.

On top of that, for a visual, put fly spray, wormer, bute, tranquilizer or other chemicals banned for use in animals for human consumption on a dinner plate. That is what is in tainted horse meat being shipped off to foreign countries and eaten off of their dinner plates by virtue of what the horse has been exposed to in its life~***unlike other slaughter livestock intended for human consumption from point of birth***. It is important to understand that only a minute percentage** of the >100,000 annually slaughtered American horses, mules and donkeys (equines) have *not been exposed to these chemicals (some are BANNED for use in food animals, while others have a 6 month residual period by law). The Phrase “From Stable to Table in Seven Days” says it all. If slaughter were to be legalized in US for human consumption, those poisons still are there, except more tainted meat might possibly stay in the US, instead of ship to European countries.. In some pro slaughter circles, reportedly it has been suggested that our school children eat it (if it were to be legalized for human consumption in the United States).

Just like the environmentally dangerous act of dumping tankers of slaughter house blood onto soils and into water tables, disposal is simply disposal. But it is *not* a solution to a bigger problem~nor are events leading up to slaughter and the slaughter act itself of unwanted living breathing horses people have given away, sold cheaply or dumped at an auction a solution for poor choices and horse management by those in the horse industry~regardless of the country it occurs in. What about USDA inspections? Well currently, just as with law enforcement, there are holes and complacency with regard to enforcing USDA regulations and enforcing prosecution for USDA violations to begin with. Even if there were no USDA violations, a huge problem remains because: what do you then do with a large percentage of >100,000 horses per year that end up in the slaughter pipeline, that also have chemicals in their bodies that are BANNED for use in animals for human consumption? Lastly, Humane Euthanasia is Sedated Euthanasia (as many including myself have sought out and experienced) with their beloved companion animals. Even in this “throw away” society, they would not think of putting a beloved animal into the slaughter pipeline. There IS NO HUMANE horse slaughter. These statements are not based on supposition, but derived from fact and extensive documentation surrounding this issue.

On and above that, many from the public sector, as well as experts are not comfortable with others (regardless of the country) eating meat tainted with chemicals that cause health problems including cancer. Chemical warfare itself is designed on that very premise and therefore morally there are repercussions for a nation to knowingly ship off tainted meat intended for others to eat, regardless of whether or not we choose to eat it. The humanity that a society has can be seen in how it treats its animals; its actions show the potential for cruelty or mercy on its very people.

Talk about the practice of selling horses for slaughter: Part 4

I have not written in a while, and I apologize for that.  My computer does not work the greatest.  I have had quite a few things happening in the month of June.  I had three shows, and one day I helped a group of visually impaired kids — giving them the experience of smelling and touching horses if they couldn’t actually see them.  It was very rewarding to have these kids ride my beautiful Gypsy.

Now a little more information on my series on horse slaughter and why I want it to stop.

Alex Brown — Broker Programs: A Complicated Issue

slaughterBroker programs are perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of the horse slaughter system that we have in the United States.

A program is typically run by a rescue organization which has a relationship with a kill buyer. The rescue organization will promote the horses that have been acquired by the kill buyer, to help those horses find a home, before they would be shipped to slaughter if no home is discovered. This all occurs in a compressed timeframe.

This is the last chance for these horses. For that reason, many people will support these programs to try to help place these horses, either by supporting fundraisers, sharing the fundraisers, or offering homes.

Some of these horses were purchased by the kill buyer at a kill auction. Some were surrendered by owners who determined that they had no other option, due to a variety of circumstances. Some were culls from a variety of situations, some of which went directly to the kill buyer.

The kill buyer is the option of last resort.

So why the controversy ?

There are five broad reasons why some people consider the broker program bad for horses and the anti slaughter movement.

1. The number of horses slaughtered remains constant
A kill buyer, that enables a broker program, now has access to a new market for his horses. Thus, the kill buyer can purchase more horses, knowing that some will now be purchased through the broker program. The broker program is not reducing the number of horses that enter the slaughter pipeline, but is increasing the business opportunity for the kill buyer.

Because the broker program is not reducing the number of horses that the kill buyer is shipping to slaughter (that number is determined by the contract the kill buyer has with the slaughterhouse to which he is contracted), the broker program is essentially determining which horses go to slaughter. For each horse saved, another horse is swapped into his place.

2. Emotional buy
The broker program typically operates in a compressed timeframe with a certain outcome. The kill buyer purchases the bulk of his horses at a kill auction (New Holland, PA or Sugarcreek, OH for example) and will ship those horses to a slaughterhouse, or the slaughterhouse’s feedlot, a week or so later. It is within that timeframe that the broker program needs to take pictures, and promote the horses through social media and other outlets.

The sense of urgency is real, the images are real, the “kill truck is coming” is a popular refrain. This creates a situation of drama, that inspires people to do things that they might not do under ordinary circumstances.
It also deflects money and effort from other types of rescue programs, and the broader horse slaughter issue.

3. The Price is High
Oftentimes the horses are surrendered to the kill buyer, or purchased very cheaply at the auction. Because the community is trying to “rescue” these horses, there is a sense that they should be able to purchase the horses at close to what the kill buyer pays. In some instances this will happen, if you have a relationship with the kill buyer, and make an offer to him at the auction, after the sale of a horse. At that point the kill buyer can simply purchase another horse to replace the one he has bought.

Once in the broker program, this is no longer the case. The kill buyer’s main customer at this point is the slaughterhouse, so it is that price point, the price that the kill buyer can earn at the plant, that should be used to compare the prices offered by the broker program. This may be 50-100% over the purchase price at the kill auction for example.

Added to that are costs associated with the broker program. It takes time and work to make these horses available online, that time and work also needs to be rewarded.

4. Selective Access
The method of deciding which horses are available through the broker program also creates controversy. It is not always all the horses that the kill buyer has in stock. Why? The kill buyer has horse dealers with whom he works. Sometimes those dealers do not want to be exposed (someone hussling racehorses from the local racetrack for example) so the horses that that dealer brings to the kill buyer will not be part of the program.

Because the broker is typically the only “rescue” with access to the kill buyer’s pens, and understands which horses can be made available and which cannot, many consider that they are simply complicit in the entire slaughter system.

5. Working with a Kill Buyer
Can someone really be considered a rescue, if all they do is offer a broker program and work directly with the kill buyer? Some argue no, some of course argue that absolutely they can.

The relationship with the kill buyer is controversial, especially if there is a lack of transparency in terms of how that relationship works. Broker programs that have been controversial in the past include CBER (Washington State) and AC4H (Pennsylvania).

In Conclusion…
This is a controversial aspect of the horse slaughter system, of that there is no doubt. Broker programs have done some great things, especially for the individual horses which have been saved, but there are always consequences to these transactions.

If you think I missed a point, or wanted to share your thoughts, please use the comments.

To learn more about the horse slaughter issue, you can explore my three part video series, Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter.

Talk about the practice of selling horses for slaughter: Part 3

I just came across a very interesting interview with the director of the documentary “Kill Pen” that I’d like to share with you here.

Kill Pen: an interview with the director of soon to be released documentary on Horse Slaughter

Sharon Boeckle is the director of Kill Pen, a soon to be released documentary that addresses the horse slaughter issue in the United States. Her work on this project was the inspiration for my own project, Horses: Sports, Culture and Slaughter.

kill penPlease watch the trailer for Kill Pen.

I asked Sharon a few questions about Kill Pen. Her answers are very revealing.

What inspired you to explore the subject matter in Kill Pen?

Three years ago I – like most of the public, I assume – had no clue that we ever slaughtered horses for human consumption in the United States. A chance visit to a wonderful horse rescue facility on Long Island in New York, Baiting Hollow Farm & Horse Rescue, opened my eyes to the reality of what often happens to horses in this country.

I’m not a “horse” person – have never owned one, never spent time around them – but I’m an animal lover and I have a strong sense of obligation to all species vulnerable to exploitation. So I started digging further, and there was a lot of information to uncover.

The story just kind of exploded – it was going to be a short documentary on Baiting Hollow but I realized quickly there was much more to expose. I followed the trail, the many trails, and realized that this issue is far more about politics and economics than it is about animal welfare, although the animal certainly pays a price for the forces pushing and pulling on this issue.

What key ideas have you learned, while working on the documentary, regarding horses?

I think the big takeaway for me has been an understanding that this is one singular animal in a very unusual and precarious position in our country; the horse has been a work animal, a sports animal, a companion or pet … but it’s never been a “meat” animal, at least not in our country to any wide extent.

That being said, it’s an animal that defies clear cut classification … to many, it’s a pet. To others, it is livestock. I think most of us in the country would agree that a dog is a pet; it’s not a work animal or livestock, not like a pig or cow. But engage in the same debate about the horse and you’ll find that the opinions vary significantly around the country. That gray area puts the horse in an unfavorable and unstable position when it comes to protection.

What is your plan for getting the documentary out there for people to see?

We have just begun the film festival submission process, and we’ve just released the trailer publicly so that it can be shared and promoted on social media. Once the film has screened publicly, we will explore other distribution channels as they open up to us.

What can people do, now, to support this work?

Share the Kill Pen trailer! Let people know the film is out there, it is complete, and we are looking for an opportunity to share it with the widest audience possible.

If we look at the difference made by such films as Blackfish, it’s clear that viewers have a lot of power in promoting films that spark the conversation to create major change. I think that could happen with Kill Pen. I KNOW it could happen, with the right champions behind it.

Your documentary inspired me to develop Horses: Sports, Culture, and Slaughter. We adopted different approaches, you tell a story, my series is purely informational. Can give the viewers an idea as to how you developed your “story”.

We anchor Kill Pen with the European horse meat scandal of 2013, where a number of very well-known companies were found to have “beef” products containing up to 40% horse meat. I think most people were not shocked that food labeling is deceptive, but they were very shocked to find out that it was HORSE meat (not pork, chicken, or lamb) being used as a cheap filler for beef.

So we open the film with that deceptive adulteration of products, and from there, explore the intricate web of politics and economics that brought many of our country’s racehorses, work horses, and – sadly – pets into those products. From there, an even bigger issue becomes the key argument of the film: with a nearly unregulated pipeline, there is no way to trace what dangerous toxins are in those racehorses, work horses, and pets before they end up in someone’s burger.

While we knew we wanted to address the often cruel and insensitive nature of horse slaughter itself, we decided to reduce the focus on that aspect of the issue for a few reasons; one, it tends to turn off sensitive viewers who might otherwise watch the film; two, on the opposite side, many people are not affected much by animal welfare or the realities of slaughter. For those folks, the suffering of the horses isn’t the strongest argument against horse slaughter; it was clear that a stronger argument could be made on food safety issues, and so we decided to steer the focus of the film in that direction.

Thank you Sharon, great work.

Please watch and share the trailer for Kill Pen.

Talk about the practice of selling horses for slaughter: Part 2

kill penI want to educate you more about the horse slaughter that is going on in America with our American horses, including our wild mustangs.

To help stop the dolphin slaughter in Japan, we have “The Cove.”  To help American horses being transported over the border to be slaughtered for human consumption, since American people typically don’t eat horses, there is the documentary called “Kill Pen”.  Click here to see the trailer for “Kill Pen” by Sila Productions.


Let’s talk about the practice of selling horses for slaughter

“It’s a tragedy people have to eat horses, they’re beautiful animals. You ever take a peek at a cow or a pig? They’re ugly. We’re doing them a favor by eating ’em . Saves ’em the agony of looking at their reflections in the trough every morning. But a horse, that’s a noble beast. Why, in the cavalry, a man’s steed was his best friend, a real companion. Where do people get off making pork chops out of them? Too much killing in this world, too much death. No respect for people, for tradition, for life. The whole world is spinning down the tubes and nobody even seems to notice.” — Col. Sherman Potter, M*A*S*H, “Old Soldiers” episode

Aside from the more pleasant things I’ve already talked about here, there is one thing that’s not so pleasant that I am very passionate about when it comes to horses but I really have not written much on it.  I thought I should take a few of my blog posts to put my feelings out about horses that end up in the slaughter pipeline.

unwantedhorsesign_406x250Have you ever asked someone who is a horse lover what they think about horse slaughter?  The people who are for it usually come back with this lame excuse for keeping it going by saying, “We need to do something with our old and lame horses.”  I hate that response because it proves to me that they don’t have the real information.  They have been brainwashed by the pro-horse slaughter people.

A lot of the horses that go to slaughter are either young or in the prime of their lives.  I have not seen that many older ones or crippled ones, mostly the younger ones.  I see a lot of yearlings up to eight years old to be the majority.  These are horses that are right there in the beginning of their lives.  Another thing to think about is this: would you really retire your older, trusted horse by sending it off to slaughter?  If you really knew what happened in Canada or Mexico you wouldn’t want that to happen to your loyal friend if you truly had a heart.  Another point: if your horse broke a leg on the way, the trip to the slaughter house is a very hellish experience for the horse.  But that will be discussed later.  My job, right now, is to help educate people so we can all take a stand against it.

A lot of these horses are gentle and ready to train or are already trained and used to be a horse that someone loved.  A lot of the time people take their horses to the auction because they can’t afford to keep it, their kids outgrew it, the horse grew too old, it was injured, etc.  Whatever the reason, we need to be more careful than ever to see where our horses go.  From my experience, there are people who have you sign a contract or have a verbal agreement to allow you to be the first contact if they wanted to sell their horse someday, but that usually does not happen.  So the person who sold the horse has notices up trying to find out what happened to their beloved horse that they sold or gave away.

A lot of individuals also suspect that their horse will be auctioned off to a loving new home.  In a lot of cases that could be true, but in a lot of other cases that is not what happens to their horse.  It is very scary these days to try and re-home horses.  There are a lot of people who do that and are quite successful at it but there are probably a few horses here or there that slip through the cracks and end up where the previous owner never wanted their friend.  I have a story to share that could put a little bit of a light on that part of the equation.

I once had my horses at a friend’s place on an acre lot.  It was a nice little farm with a big space for an arena and two big runs by it.  It also had a very cute barn that had three stalls inside it.  However, the barn was used for storage.  It was not used for horses at that time.  I loved that farm, to me it was a charming place.  I had another friend named Nicky (not her real name), who called me wondering if we could house another horse there.  This horse was used for racing and was a very tall appendix-quarter horse gelding.  He was injured with bowed tendons.  He had this injury before and was laid off for a year only to re-injure them again.  This time, the owner of this race horse wanted him to go to slaughter.  My friend Nicky wanted to save him.  She asked me for advice or if there was a possible way I could take him in a hurry.  I called the home owner and she said to go ahead and bring him there.  So the rescue attempt was on.  We managed to get someone with a horse trailer to get him over to that farm and Nicky helped me with the expense to feed him.  After all, he was 16.2 hands tall and those horses eat a lot of hay.

End-Horse-Slaughter-against-horse-slaughter-9497914-262-283After we had him safe, we then wanted to figure out what to do with him in finding a great home for him to no longer be a race horse or threatened with slaughter again.  In our calling around and placing ads in free online news outlets, we had a breakthrough.  The grandson of the man who originally raised this horse saw the ad and called on this horse.  When it was figured out that this was his grandfather’s horse years ago, there was some hurt and anger about the fact that the man who had this horse to race him did not keep his word and offer the horse back, but was going to let him go to slaughter.

This was a younger couple, and for this horse it was a happy ending.  They took him, got him re-examined by a vet and retired him to be a horse that would be rested for a year and then ridden lightly on trails or in arenas.  He was at the age of 9 when we saved him years ago.  He also won the owner a championship award.  This was his pay for such an award.  There are others who are not so lucky, but this is one story that we would all applaud since this horse was special for the grandson.

I had a horse years ago that I sold to someone who really wanted her.  He was good to her and owned her for years.  But then I lost contact with him and wanted to know what happened to my horse named Sassy.  I searched to find him with eventual success.  However, I found out that he had to travel out of the country for a year and Sassy would not let anyone else ride her.  There was another person who said that he would take her.  I never found her, she would have been in her later teens.  I still to this day wonder what happened to Sassy.  I wish he let me know that he was trying to sell her.  I might have been in a position to take her at that time.  I have always been disappointed that he didn’t give me first choice.  It was an agreement we had between us.  She was a beautiful horse and I truly cared for her.

I will have a couple more blog articles to come to help people see that this is not something we want for our horses.  Slaughter of horses is not humane, horses are not just livestock that we should just send off to slaughter.  These are animals that we train to trust us and in return we do not want to have them endure the biggest betrayal ever for their trust and loyalty.  Please feel free to comment and we can discuss it.