Apr 142011
Authors: Robyn Scherer

I can remember having a horse since the time I was a little girl. His name was Flax, and he was my best friend. I remember all the days that I spent with him and how devastated I felt when I had to put him down my junior year of high school. Due to this lifelong relationship, current problems in the horse industry greatly affect me.

When the economy is down, people have a hard time feeding and caring for their horses. It takes at least $2 per day to care for a horse, not counting boarding if you don’t own land. The American Horse Council estimates one-third of horse owners make less than $50,000 per year. When people can’t even afford to feed their families, there is no way they can afford to feed a horse.

So what happens to all of these animals? Some are sold, but that market has basically tanked. Some go to rescue organizations, but many of these are so full they can’t accept more horses. So what’s left? Believe it or not, many horses are dumped.

Horse dumping happens when someone takes his or her horse out in the middle of a non-populated area and lets the animals out of the trailer … and drives off.
These horses then wander around, sometimes ending up in someone’s driveway on a farm or ranch whose owner can’t afford to feed the extra horses. In extreme cases, they end up starving or dying from dehydration.

Feed is not the only issue. For any of you who have ever had a horse, you will know that you can put a horse in a round padded room and it will still find a way to injure itself. Veterinary care is expensive and many people can’t afford that either.

What about old and injured animals? You would think that they would be euthanized, but the sick reality that many of these horses are left to die because the cost to put down a horse is so high. According to a survey conducted by the Unwanted Horse Coalition, it averages $385.

The shutdown of horse processing facilities has helped contribute to this problem. In 2006, a bill titled “American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act” was passed that banned the processing of horses in the United States. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, it has become clear to me that it was not.

This ban has led to a market for these “unwanted” horses in Mexico and Canada.
If they are lucky enough to go to Canada, they at least face a humane death.
If they are sent to Mexico, death is not humane. The USDA has no jurisdiction in another country. Don’t believe me? Google horse slaughter in Mexico and see for yourself.

Prepare to get sick. At least in the U.S. we have humane processing standards monitored by the USDA.

In 2005, roughly 4.7 million horses were processed in the world, with roughly 626,000 animals being from Mexico –– the second highest in the world behind China –– according to a study published by the Animal Welfare Council, Inc. In a 9News article in Feb. of 2007 it was stated, “More than 100,000 horses are sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico from the United States each year.”

Repealing the ban of horse processing in the United States will help to curb this problem. Many Americans feel that horses should not be eaten, but in many other countries it is considered a delicacy, such as in Japan. In the States the meat is used to feed carnivores at zoos or exported.

This issue is so controversial because people see horses as pets. I am just as attached to my horses as the next person, but I also realize they are still livestock. With the ban repealed, horses that are unable to be taken care of can be used for another purpose. Would you rather these animals be abandoned on the range to die?

I wish there was enough money for rescue organizations to feed all of these animals but there isn’t. Sometimes we must think with our minds instead of using emotions to make decisions. Reopening horse processing facilities in the
United States is the humane thing to do.

R_obyn Scherer is a graduate student studying integrated resource management. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com._

 Posted by at 3:41 pm

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