New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com)- As is the case with most animal interests, the debate surrounding horse slaughter is complicated by the lack of knowledge most of us have about the subject.
When Congress failed to renew the funding for the inspectors in the horse slaughter plants in 2007 (at the urging of the Humane Society of the United States), they did so over the objections of many leaders in the horse industry who recognized the tragedy that was about to befall not just the industry, but the welfare of the horses themselves.
The vast majority of people who own horses are middle class, and cannot afford to keep those animals that they can no longer use or support in a poor economy.
Within months, and for five long years, horses that could no longer be sold because there was no market for them, they were abandoned, left to starve in barren fields, or turned out on public lands. Those that were sold for slaughter were shipped to Canada or Mexico, where there are no regulations, inspections, or oversight. In June 2011 the GAO released a report detailing the situation, drawing a straight line from the closing of the USA Processing plants to the horse welfare disaster that ensued.
The bottom has fallen out of the horse market and it is the horses that end up paying the price.
It is to their credit that Congress reconsidered their mistake, and voted to reinstate the funding for the inspectors this year. Currently there are plans to build and open state-of-the-art plants in several states. New Jersey is not among them, so a ban on the plants is an artificial move with no real outcome. The transport of horses for slaughter for human consumption and the transport of horse meat for human consumption is unenforceable and quite likely illegal. It is not the purview of the states to control interstate commerce; that falls solely to the federal government.
As currently written, transportation within the state would be enforced by NJSCPA agents who are also cited as the direct beneficiaries of the proposed fines! This could lead to severe harassment of responsible, tax-paying horse owners. How can it be determined what the final destination of the horses or the meat will be? The processing is the same, whether winding up as food for pets, circuses or zoos, or people.
If those bills were to pass and could be enforced, it would not just create a welfare crisis for horses, but would bring it home to New Jersey. What would happen to the hundreds of horses that are currently sold weekly throughout the state to dealers that may or may not sell them for slaughter? Horses are livestock, and are sold frequently throughtout their long lives. Once they have reached the end of their days, slaughter is quick and painless. We owe that swift end to them.
Horses have long been a desired source of protein for cultures around the world, and even in the U.S. It is wasteful in the extreme to allow a good food source to go unused, particularly while there are people going hungry every day. The ban on tranpsort of horse meat is nonsense. If it has already been processed, what difference does it make if it is also transported?
The AVMA regards the captive bolt method to be humane, quick, and painless. Chemical euthanasia is not reliably as quick, can be painful and renders the horse unusuable after death. Not only is that wasteful, but the disposal of these large carcasses that are full of chemicals will create an environmental nightmare, filling our ground water with unwanted toxins. Cremation or burial are not feasible options for the vast majority of owners.
Creating a ban is a simple reaction to a complicated question. The one element it does not provide for is the most important: a solution. If the State bans the one humane outlet for unwanted horses, what will it replace it with?
- Will it donate State lands and State monies to pay for the thousands of hourses that need a place to live?
- Will it offer financial aid to families that cannot sell their horses, but cannot afford to keep them?
There are no solutions offered in these bills, only bans on the only available solution at this time.
Finally, this is an attempt by HSUS to try to create a crisis (a glut of unwanted horses in need of a solution) which they can then capitalize on with more rhetoric and distortions to attract more donations from caring but misguided citizens. That is a tactic they are using across the country. Please do not fall for their devious tactics.
We need to be focusing our attention on the actual welfare of horses, not some emotional appeal that makes the situation worse. We need to be working to restore the vitality of the horse industry at every level. Finally, we need to continue to do our part to feed the hungry in the world, not to deny them a food source. Please send a message to your State Senator and ask him or her to oppose A2023/S1976 when it comes to a vote in the Senate. You can use the talking points and express them in your own words.
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