When Charles Stenholm urges us to "focus on facts," keep in mind that he is paid to justify the existence of the horse-slaughter industry ("Meat plant ban a Trojan horse," Commentary, online, Sunday). His job is to bend the truth to make it look good.
Because we are focusing on facts, let's consider some facts that undermine Mr. Stenholm's rhetoric.
In the 1990s there was a sharp decline in the number of U.S. horses slaughtered. According to Department of Agriculture records, 345,700 horses were slaughtered for export in 1990, but 10 years later, in 2000, that number was 50,400. During this time frame, the number of horses slaughtered per year dropped by as many as 79,000, and there was no rash of "unwanted horses."
Seven thousand one hundred horses were imported from Canada for slaughter in the U.S. last year. How can there be an "unwanted horse problem" if the slaughterhouses have to import the horses?
Not all horses sent to slaughter have "outlived their usefulness" or are "unwanted." United States Equestrian Team member Jill Henneberg outbid a kill buyer for a horse that earned a Silver Medal in the 1996 Olympics.
Since California banned horse slaughter in 1998, horse theft has dropped by 39.5 percent. Thieves can make a quick profit selling a stolen horse to a kill buyer.
Euthanization by a veterinarian and disposal of the horse carcass is relatively inexpensive. It cost me a total of $150 to have a horse euthanized by my vet and buried at the landfill.
Horses commonly are treated with products such as Zimectrin (de-wormer) and Phenylbutazone (anti-inflammatory). These products are plainly labeled "not for use on animals raised for food," as meat tainted with them can cause nasty side effects, such as cancer, in human consumers. I wonder why Mr. Stenholm would wish to poison "our friends in Canada, Europe, and Japan" with tainted horse meat.
The real "Trojan horse" is the foreign-owned horse-slaughter industry.