The sad demise of former racehorse Beau Jacques will upset any horse lover.
Here was a thoroughbred gelding who, at five, was at the end of his racing career.
Owner Kevin Patterson had spent $US1000 in veterinary care to help Beau Jacques over a tendon injury suffered on March 29 last year, in the first step in getting him right for a new career after racing.
Kelsey Elva Lefever, 24, met with Patterson in May and held out the promise of a bright future for Beau Jacques.
Patterson gave Lefever Beau Jacques on the understanding she would find him a new home and he was not to be sold for meat under any circumstances, according to a probable-cause affidavit signed by Trooper Colleen Shelly, of the Pennsylvania State Police Department.
Patterson also gave her $US200 and 10 bags of horse feed to help Beau Jacques on his way.
He said if she needed any more money to help with Beau Jacques, she should get in touch. If things didn’t work out for his horse, he would take him back, he added.
Lefever asked if Beau Jacques had been medicated recently. Patterson confirmed the horse had received penicillin, naproxen and phenylbutazone.
In little more a week, through checks made by a volunteer with the charity, Animal Angels, it was established that Beau Jacques was in the trailer of a known kill buyer who sends horses to a Canadian plant.
The court will obviously decide the outcome in this case, with Lefever facing five charges – one of deceptive business practices and four counts of theft by deception over the sale of four horses, including Beau Jacques.
One wonders, however, whether the authorities will choose to pursue another interesting aspect that arises out of this case.
The affidavit indicates that the kill buyer in question paid, in total, $US1661 for four horses, including Beau Jacques, who were shipped from Pennsylvania to a Canadian slaughter plant.
Given that Lefever asked about medications, and Patterson made it clear that Beau Jacques had received three different drugs within the preceding two months, including phenylbutazone, it is interesting that Beau Jacques made it to slaughter at all.
There is no legal withholding period for phenylbutazone. Once a horse has received the so-called “horse’s aspirin”, it is no longer suitable for human consumption.
What became of Beau Jacques? Did his paperwork indicate he had received phenylbutazone and he was rejected at the plant? Did the paperwork show he had received phenylbutazone and went for petfood instead? Or did his paperwork show no known medication record and he was processed for human consumption?
Anti-slaughter advocates argue that horse slaughter is cruel and unnecessary. They also argue that horses are not raised as food animals in the United States and the wide use of medications such as phenylbutazone make them unsuitable for the human food chain.
The head of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, describes the horse slaughter industry as disreputable and predatory.
The circumstances outlined in Officer Shelly’s affidavit lend weight to that argument.
In this case, Beau Jacques had an owner clearly determined to ensure his retired racehorse had a future. He helped with money and feed, and made it clear he would take the horse back if things didn’t work out.
That Beau Jacques never got that chance is distressing.
* Beau Jacques should have had an EID form. Questions one and three on page 3 relate to medications.