Proponents of horse slaughter are treating homeless equines as an economic opportunity rather than a moral responsibility, says the head of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Its president and chief executive, Wayne Pacelle, was commenting ahead of federal lawmakers preparing to address the question of whether a horse slaughter industry should be resurrected in the US.
The House and Senate appropriations committees are likely to take up the issue soon. “By all accounts, it’s going to be a very competitive vote, with the horse slaughter industry and agribusiness interests jockeying for the right to turn horses into mincemeat.”
Pacelle said it needed to be acknowledged that many horses bound for slaughter were not old or infirm or otherwise unfit.
“Most of them are perfectly healthy, but just unlucky enough to have found their way into the clutches of predatory people who sell them off into the slaughter pipeline,” he said in his blog, A Humane Nation.
“We don’t round up dogs and cats for slaughter, and it should be unthinkable to do that to a species that helped us settle the nation.
“Our humane position is grounded on the notion that people who own horses should act responsibly and provide lifetime care or transfer horses to someone who can. It’s a remarkable betrayal for people to enjoy and benefit from the physical and behavioral attributes of horses and then sell them off to a kill buyer when they’re done with them.
“Kill buyers and other key players in the horse slaughter industry trot out the notion that they are somehow ‘helping’ horses by routing them to slaughter, but there is nothing noble about their commerce.
“Horses are dragged and whipped into trucks and endure long journeys without food, water, or rest. Many die or sustain injuries during transport, including broken legs and punctured eyes. The idea of providing veterinary care to an animal about to be slaughtered is unthinkable to these profiteers.”
Pacelle said that President Obama and a bipartisan majority of lawmakers had in recent years fended off the reopening of horse slaughter plants in the US, following the shuttering of the last three plants a decade ago.
“But the fight over the fate of horses in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget looms, and the past votes are not predictors of what will happen in the coming weeks.”
Polling, he said, had shown that the people of Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma strongly opposed horse slaughter.
“In fact, the people of every Congressional district in these states favor keeping the horse slaughter plants shuttered. If we are winning the hearts and minds of people in these states, you can be sure that people throughout the rest of the country are with us too.”
He continued: “No one disputes that there are some homeless horses. But unlike the horse slaughter crowd that treats homelessness as an economic opportunity rather than a moral responsibility, we’re pitching in to help.”
“It would be a remarkable step backward to reopen horse slaughter plants in the United States.”
What was needed, he said, was a complete ban on the slaughter of American horses, including live exports to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
“Only then will we offer proper thanks to animals who’ve helped our nation in ways that we cannot even properly measure.”
Pacelle urged members of the public to contact their US Senators and Representatives and urge them to ban all horse slaughter.