March 25, 2003
Public Hearing –
House Agriculture & Livestock
Excerpt from testimony of Dr. Steve Hicks, Bradford, Texas
Dr. Steve Hicks: The American Quarterhorse Association…uh…in their
statement in their position paper….with regard…this is not regarding this
issue….this bill that we are talking about today.
Their statement was regarding the bill that came before the Congress last
Chairman Hardcastle: asked
Dr. Hicks to be brief.
Hicks: I apologize.
Let me give you a list of the organizations that are for allowing this
option of horse slaughter plants to stay in existence.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners which is the largest
equine veterinary organization in the world.
Their position is they are for this. We
have letters from several veterinary schools.
Oklahoma State University, California Veterinary School at Davis, Texas
A&M University stating that in their opinion that these plants….without
these plants the potential of abuse for these unwanted horses is much greater
than what these horses face at the plants.
One very important item I think Rep. Brown brought out was from Edward’s Life
Sciences, and this was a revelation to me, as a matter of fact.
Edward’s Life Sciences is one of the several corporations using the
equine pericardia or heart sac for the manufacture of specific life saving
products, including the pericardial patches Ms. Brown alluded to…this is in
human medicine. We have another…I
was going to give you a list of the associations that are for…to add to what
Ms. Brown said, Texas Veterinary
Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association…uh… in
discussing this yesterday, which they are making the recommendation from the
Welfare Committee to the Board that the statement of the American Equine
Practitioners Association is for allowing this to be their position also.
The Texas Veterinary Medical Association also has this position, and they
may have someone here to speak to that. We
have the….Ms. Mary Beth Juler (sp?) who is the… heads up for
the Responsible Pet Owners
…is for allowing these, and they rescue horses.
And her statement is there’s no way these horse rescue groups could
handle the large number of unwanted horses should the plants be closed.
Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association has the position that they
do the inspections for stolen horses, and without these plants a lot of these
stolen horses would not be found. Texas
Animal Health Commission checks for equine diseases at these plants.
Equine infections anemia, which is a horse disease that has no
vaccination and no treatment, and they give us, the veterinary community, heads
up on where these diseases are…how prevalent they are.
Texas Sheriff’s Association…uh…course they are involved with
recovering stolen horses also. From
Dr. Stull, who is in the cooperative extension,
California Veterinary Medicine
, did the research on a lot of the transport, and her position is that..uh..”I
urge you to consider the many factors that would be impacted by the closure of
the equine processing facilities in
. These impacts include safeguarding
human and horse health throughout the
Comm. Member Sid Miller: Chairman.
Dr. Hicks, I’m just sitting here wondering if we closed all of the
horse slaughter plants in
.. or if we just do not allow that meat to be exported to
. The thought crossed my
mind…I’m a horse owner and I’m also a cattle feeder, and in the feed yards
I see cattle come in from the
that have been shipped on these cargo ships.
They have a lot of respiratory problems and … very unhealthy…and a
large death loss in those cattle that arrive.
What about..uh… if we do not allow this meat to be shipped, certainly
nothing would preclude these horses from being shipped live on those cargo ships
. These same type of inhumane…
Hicks: Or transported
across the border to
. I talked with an individual, a
veterinarian that had seen these horses… some horses being transported across.
He told me of the time that these horses spent just in the hot sun
waiting for somebody to come sign a ticket so they could travel on … on down
the road. And course there’s a lot
of… you have to pay for somebody to get this signed, and you have to pay for
somebody to get that signed. His
opinion was, Dr. Volares (sp?) in Brownsville, as a matter of fact, who does a
lot of horse importing/exporting, said that it was his opinion there would be a
lot more problems and inhumanness with these animals… and to answer your
question directly, yes, anytime you transport horses without water, without food
for extended periods of time you run that risk.
Miller: There’s a lot
of… I guess… ammonia built up in those closed containers, and they have a
lot of respiratory problems.
Hicks: They found… the
researchers found that when the trucks that hauled the horses had straw and hay
in them for the footing and everything that they had a higher buildup of ammonia
than if they did not.