Nov. 1, 2003, 1:07AM
Houston Chronicle
Run for roses, not their lives

Let them `run for the roses,' not for their lives! As I watched the Breeders Cup held in California recently, I was amazed to see these wonderful horses run their hearts out, giving their all. It is in their blood, just like the thoroughbreds before them, to run for the roses.

I wondered if these horses would be the lucky ones. Will their fate be to end up in a Japanese slaughterhouse?

Many of the best horses end up being the unlucky ones, ending up at auction houses and hauled to a horse-slaughter plant where they will have a cruel and inhumane death. Texas plants slaughter horses and ship the meat to France, Germany, Japan and other countries.

Thoroughbreds are not the only horses that end their lives at these slaughter plants. The buyers will buy anything that will bring them a good price. Usually, it is the young and healthy American horses that fall into that category. In France, horsemeat goes for about $15 a pound.

Many of the people who take their horses to these auctions don't know where their horses will end up. Even stolen horses are bought at auction.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages the inspectors who work at the plants to be on the lookout for stolen horses, but they have only found a small number since 1997.**

We can stop horse slaughter in America through the American Horse Protection Act, that has been introduced. If passed, this act will ban all horse slaughter in the United States for human consumption as well as ban the transport of horses to other countries (including Mexico) for slaughter purposes.

Horses are part of our heritage and culture in the United States and we do not breed them for food purposes. Let's tell Washington that as Americans we don't approve of young, healthy American horses being slaughtered for the benefit of the rich in other countries.

Julie Caramante, Pearland

** Editor's Note:  Brand inspectors hired by the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association inspect each horse and complete "horse inspection forms."   A 1997 Texas law requires the slaughter plants to pay $3.00 to the TSCRA for each slaughtered horse in order to fund the inspection program aimed at stopping stolen horses from being slaughtered.  Since 90% of horses slaughtered in Texas come from out of state, the program makes no sense.