Daily Racing Form
January 31, 2004

Letters to the Editor

Veterinarian's group off the mark on slaughter

As many horsemen are aware, HR 857, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, currently has the sponsorship of 170 members of the House of Representatives who uphold the belief that horses should not be slaughtered and consumed for food.

Remarkably, there is one influential group within the horse industry that is mobilizing to defeat this bill. In spite of the endorsement of law enforcement, horsemen's groups, and many important organizations that serve the racing and breeding industries, the American Association of Equine Practitioners is attempting to obstruct the passage of this landmark humane legislation.

Recently, the AAEP issued a position paper calling the slaughter of unwanted horses "a necessary aspect of the equine industry," without which there would be too many horses for rescue and retirement groups, and scores of neglected horses.

This simplistic reasoning is a blatant contradiction of fact. In California, where we have enjoyed freedom from horse slaughter since 1998, no loads of horses have been impounded and given to rescue groups. Likewise, there has been no increase in humane complaints.

The roughly 50,000 horses slaughtered in the United States in each of the last two years is an all-time low, and represents less than one-sixth of the 360,000 horses who lost their lives to the killers each year in the late 1980's. Foal crops have remained constant during the last decade, and humane complaints nationally have not increased. So where are all the neglected horses?

It would appear that the AAEP is grossly out of touch with the ethics and belief systems of their clients regarding acceptable means of rendering death to aged and infirm horses. Slaughter is not humane. It has always involved wanton disregard for the suffering of horses least able to withstand the ordeal. No one could responsibly suggest that all unwanted horses be kept in sanctuaries, but their deaths should be by lethal injection, without stress and suffering.

It is essential that all of us who want the disgrace of horse slaughter to leave our shores forever - and to secure a humane quality of life and death for our equine friends - contact our representatives in Congress to urge them to stand up for our values.

Priscilla Clark, Tranquility Farm
Tehachapi, Calif.