Whoa! Six letters shoot down horse slaughter advocates
Friday, January 30, 2004
Whoa. Who's fair and balanced here?

I have followed with interest the horse slaughter debate in the letters section of Illinois Leader. [See compilation of all related articles and letters, below.]

I am impressed with the statistics and factual information supplied in the numerous letters against horse slaughter ["Nine letters on horse slaughter article," January 20; "Protect companion animals," January 23; "11 letters skewering horse slaughter company," January 27]. They've won my vote.

In contrast, letters submitted on behalf of horse slaughterhouse Cavel International ["Horse slaughter co. responds," January 21] and the Horsemen's Council of Illinois ["Two letters requesting balance in horse slaughter reporting," January 27] (hard to tell who copied from whom, and I would like to know why) are accusatory, erroneous and irrational.

How many times must they be told that California reports no increase in abuse in the six years since banning horse slaughter? That argument is dead. Get over it.

They are mistaken about the legality of eating horses in Illinois and wrong again about the status of horses as companion animals. I read the white paper on the HCI website. It was equally erroneous. I lost count of how many times the words "animal rights" were used. Most unprofessional.

As for a pathetic united attempt at blaming "animal rights" - I would say that considering all of the horse welfare-related organizations, jockeys, and the entire racing industry have banded together to stop this killing-horses-for-profit-trade, not only does that dismiss the "animal right" accusation, but it becomes evident that the HCI has an interest at stake other than the welfare of horses.

Cavel's vested interests are obvious. Vets also have vested interests since USDA vet "inspectors" are paid to loiter in slaughterhouses. In fact, there is such a brotherhood among slaughterhouses and USDA inspectors that, according to the USDA itself, these vet inspectors allow slaughterhouse personnel to chose the animal to be inspected. Naturally, such vets would lead us to believe that horses actually enjoy being slaughtered.

Slaughter of horses is unconscionable; slaughter of horses as an alternative to abuse is ridiculous.

Mark Heck
Lake Zurich

Claims by horse slaughter advocates are wild

In response to two January 27 letters pleading for balance in your reporting on the horse slaughter issue I went to the web page of the Horsemen's Council of Illinois.

In accordance with these letters, I went there looking for objective, scientific facts but finished with disappointment.

Admitting in their White Paper that there are not statistics to support their fear of increased abuse and neglect, they resort to evidence of an anecdotal type by encouraging the reader to talk to people in California where selling and transporting horses to slaughter has been banned and learn how the plight of the horse has been made worse.

Who are these people and where did they stand on the issue when it was up for a vote? Do they have hard data to support their claims?

Pro-slaughter people have always accused the anti-slaughter camp of being ruled by emotion, meaning sentiment. Yet this White Paper is no less ruled by the emotion of fear. How about the stories of people in Florida who lead their horses out to the swamps to be "eaten by gators?" Cruel people are cruel regardless of the options open to them. Caring, responsible people are caring and responsible no matter what. Here in New Jersey we provide the option for mothers who want to give up their newborn infants to take them to the nearest emergency room and leave them - no questions asked. Yet we continue to hear of many newborns abandoned to starvation and death.

How about the fear that PETA is going to put the country under tyranny, taking away our freedoms, and they will do it by banning not only horse slaughter but even tying a horse and racing a horse. Come on! These are objective, scientific facts! This is like saying that laws prohibiting the slaughter of our dogs for human consumption have led to a ban on leashing them.

Do we not have laws that govern what we can eat, how we acquire, use, and dispose of our property, how we treat our livestock and pets, and how we treat our children? And what are these laws for? Are they not to provide sanitation, safety, and to protect our cultural norms?

Horse slaughter for human consumption goes against one of America's cultural norms. In the face of Mad Cow the demand for bison is going up but I don't hear people calling for horse meat.

Arrogance struck me the most in the White Paper report. Horsemen in favor of slaughter are "true horsemen" who often put the needs of their horses above their own, while others are "horse hobbyists," "animal rights activists," or "sentimental pet owners," i.e., ignorant city fools.

What a slap in the face to people who have invested their lives in their horses and are opposed to slaughtering them. I know people who work two or three jobs and go without needed dental care so they can keep and care for their horses yet are opposed to horse slaughter. Are they not qualified to be called "true horsemen" simply because they don't believe in slaughter? What nonsense?

How about the horrors of euthanizing your horse by lethal injection? Do people opposed to slaughter know what it's like, asks the paper, to have to hold the lead line while their horse is euthanized? Well, from an emotional standpoint, is it any different from standing by any beloved pet while it's being euthanized? Isn't this a part of the obligation a pet owner takes on when they acquire a pet? Isn't it possible, after saying goodbye to your horse, to have a friend be there in your place if the emotional strain is too great, just as people do with their dogs and cats? Yes, there's an added danger of being there with a horse at such a time, but that's true of horse ownership in general.

This is a paper that makes attempts at being objective by providing numbers here and there on things like rendering, possible contamination of ground water, and cremation (none of which is insurmountable or without answers), but its attempts got lost in caricatures and fear mongering.

Craig DiBenedictis
Brick, New Jersey

Outting Robert Meierhans and wife

In response to the letter to the editor dated Tuesday, January 27, 2004 entitled, "Illinoisans can eat horsemeat," [second letter] written by Mr. Robert Meierhans of Elburn, we respectfully ask him to visit the Illinois Department of Agriculture website, where he will indeed discover that the use of horsemeat for human consumption is in fact unlawful in Illinois.

Link to the Illinois Department of Agriculture website: http://www.agr.state.il.us/AnimalHW/awflaws.html.

The following text is taken from the Illinois Department of Agriculture website:


The Horse Meat Act outlaws the use of horse meat for human consumption in Illinois. However, zoos may use horse meat for exotic animals, and animal feed producers may include it to produce exotic animal feed.

Furthermore, the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act(510 ILCS 70/) clearly, in fact, defines horses as "companion animals."

The following text is taken from the Illinois Department of Agriculture website:

(519 ILCS 70/2.01a) Sec.2.01a. Companion animal. "Companion animal" means an animal that is commonly considered to be, or is considered by the owner to be, a pet. "Companion animal" includes, but is not limited to canines, felines, and equines. (Source: P.A. 92-454, eff. 1-1-02.)

Mr. Meierhans, whose wife, by the way, sits on the board of directors at the Horsemen's Council, as well as the other members of Horsemen's Council of Illinois' board of directors (the HCI membership cannot accurately be recorded as supporters of horse slaughter, as no official "polling" of the HCI membership is known to exist) and a very small handful of others who seek to gain financial benefit from the slaughter of horses need to once and for all stop the propaganda and tell the truth.

The truth is that the only people in the United States, who support horse slaughter are those who seek to profit from the exploitation of our countries horses.

These people include: the foreign companies who own the horse slaughter plants, the irresponsible horse owners and breeders who find financial reward for their irresponsibility and over breeding, and the slaughter plants killer buyers, who profit from the coffers of the slaughter plants.

We the people of the professional Illinois horse industry, respectfully request that the proponents of horse slaughter follow suit with the overwhelming majority of responsible, caring horse owners and horse industry leaders and find a better way to make a "buck."

Horse owners sell their horses to slaughter for one reason only - GREED!

Gail Vacca
National Horse Protection Coalition

They shoot American horses, don't they?

What I do not understand is this: Why are these foreign-owned corporations so intent on butchering our horses? There are many other countries who also export horsemeat.

Is it because the horses that go to slaughter here are young and healthy, so their meat is in high demand and fetches the highest prices? Because of the tax incentives?

And why are there so many horses available to feed this cruel industry? Is it because of irresponsible owners and breeders who want to discard any animal that does meet the requirements for which they were intended, and see this as a means to an end, perhaps?

Interestingly, almost all of the equine organizations that are opposed to horse slaughter have a wide variety of programs in place to provide for the future welfare of their horses.

And why is Cavel so desperate to get its plant rebuilt? Could it be because of Wyeth's downsizing of the PMU industry so that thousands upon thousands of horses, mostly pregnant mares and their foals, are now ripe for the picking? Cavel must be licking its lips at the prospect.

Additionally, just imagine how much money would be saved by the rescues, sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers, and retirement homes for horses if they were not spending so much of their resources trying to save as many as they can from a gruesome and terrifying death - instead putting it all towards what they originally intended - saving abused and neglected horses.

A majority of Americans are saying "whoa" to horse slaughter. It is our country, and these are our horses. It is our voice that counts, and should determine the outcome of this matter.


Vivian Farrell
The Fund for Horses
Houston, Texas

Horse slaughter for human consumption is un-American

I would like to respond to James Tucker from Cavel International, Inc. ["Horse slaughter co. responds," January 21]

Sir, horse slaughter for human consumption currently exists in the U.S. only because very few people know that its going on. Polls show overwhelmingly that when people do know about it, they are against it.

I have owned and ridden horses for over 20 years. I first learned about horse slaughter for human consumption just a few months ago. Ever since, I have read everything that I could find on the topic to educate myself on what the truth is - and I am appalled. I am not a radical activist. I am not a vegetarian. I am just a person who can tell the difference between an animal raised for companionship vs. one that is raised for food.

I do know about horse slaughter now and I am telling everyone. They are just as outraged as I am.

Mr. Tucker, the United States has never eaten its horses and never will. Slaughtering horses for human consumption is simply un-American.

I support IL SB 1921 and Federal HR 857.

Lori Hackman

White Paper full of dark misstatatements

I just read the Horsemen's Council White Paper on its site. All I see is a lot of speculation! When many horse slaughter plants were operating throughout the USA, the abuse of horses still existed.

I remember a case about 10 years ago in the Michigan area. About 30 starving horses were found and confiscated. Studies have been done on such acts. They classify these people as "collectors." There have been many who have collected cats and dogs that you hear about now and then. I would say this is abuse, but no way would they have sent these animals to slaughter.

The slaughter plants would not want them anyway! They have buyers out all over the USA, going to the auctions that was mentioned in the White Paper, many times outbidding people who can afford only so much. The kill buyer looks for a horse in good flesh, not an abused horse! They also call on classified ads, telling the seller, "This is just the horse for my child," etc. They will do or say anything to make their quota.

Another part in the White Paper said this issue is mainly being pressed by animal activists or people who are not professional horsemen? Gee! You are calling Nick Zito, one of the winningest trainers in the nation, an amateur? Or John Hettinger of Fasig Tipton Horse Sales? If I were to continue naming the professional horsemen in favor of banning horse slaughter in the USA, it may take up too much space!

Americans, whether they make a living with horses or not, want an end to this. Horses are not raised here in the USA for human consumption!


Rose Blohm
Kershaw, South Carolina

Related articles and letters:
"Legislation proposed to end horse slaughter in Illinois," January 19, 2004
"Nine letters on horse slaughter article," January 20, 2004
"Horse slaughter co. responds," January 21, 2004
"Protect companion animals," January 23, 2004
"11 letters skewering horse slaughter company," January 27, 2004
"Two letters requesting balance in horse slaughter reporting," January 27, 2004

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