This week, Congress banned the slaughter of horses for human consumption (the Senate would still have to act before anything would change).  There are three slaughterhouses in the U.S. which kill horses for export to places like France and Asia, where some people eat horsemeat.

The average American seems to be repulsed by this practice.  I think the ban is a good idea too, in theory.

The reality is that many horses will just be driven to Mexico or Canada for slaughter, where the misnomered “Humane Slaughter Act” won’t apply.  That’s the U.S. law that says livestock must not be able to feel pain when they are killed.  

Sounds pretty good, right?  Well, in the case of horses, an acceptable way to render the horse unable to feel pain is to shoot a bolt into their brain, or to use a rifle or a stun gun (none of these kill the animal).  Then they are hung upside down and the throat is cut.  Meanwhile the horses are watching each other die.

So while the “humane slaughter” pretty much sucks, it’s better than getting your throat cut without being rendered unconscious first.  Of course sometimes the operator misses and has to shoot that bolt in the brain again… 

Tangent: The Humane Slaughter Act applies to “livestock.”  Conveniently, there is a separate poultry designation (chickens, turkeys, rabbits  of all things), under which the animal can just be killed while conscious.  The whole thing makes me sick.

I guess we are solving the U.S. slaughter of horses by creating an equally ridiculous problem–ship them farther under stressful conditions to other countries where the slaughter will be worse, and continue to not prosecute those who do not care for their animals in our own country (some folks may abandon their horses or attempt to kill them themselves if options like slaughter, where they are paid to send their horses away, are reduced).  Perhaps if we as a society learned to value other creatures’ lives enough to treat them with respect– to live out their lives or to provide a truly humane death– we wouldn’t have to wrestle with these “problems” of slaughter.

Frankly I’m embarrassed at our hypocrisy.  This pretty much sums it up:

“It is one of the most inhumane, brutal, shady practices going on in the U.S. today,” said Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., a sponsor of the ban.

Sweeney argued that the slaughter of horses is different from the slaughter of cattle and chickens because horses are American icons.

“They’re as close to human as any animal you can get,” said Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.

Added Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.: “The way a society treats its animals, particularly horses, speaks to the core values and morals of its citizens.”

MSNBC 09-07-06

I agree that our society’s morals are reflected in how we treat our animals.  What I don’t get is why a horse is any different than a cow or a chicken.

This bill does nothing for all the horsemeat in petfood or otherwise used for non-human consumption, BTW.



2 thoughts on “Victory?

  1. Hey! When are you (and David) coming back to New York? I’m not sure how I feel about this legislation, but it still has to pass the Senate so it’s not a done deal yet. A lot of people with money don’t want this practice to end.

  2. Barb is alive! Hey, email me–I can’t find your address!

    Ending this slaughter just means they go into dog food, I guess, so it’s a no-win overall.

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