Friday Leader reader soapbox
The Illinois Leader
Friday, February 13, 2004

Thoughts from a greyhound rescuer

Regarding horse slaughter, being involved in greyhound rescue and knowing the abuses that do go on in our country, I am appalled and embarrassed at the brutality of the killings of these beautiful animals! [See related article and letters, below.] It is very disturbing to say the least that this is happening in our country, let alone countries overseas.

Viewing some of the pictures made me sick and so very sad. This must stop now! For God's sakes, have some compassion - that's what's wrong with this world today. Are we so callous and cruel? Have we no heart? The laws must change. There is no excuse for this.


Linda Delgado
Bayville, New Jersey


"Why is it when we destroy something humans have made we call it vandalism, but when we destroy something God has made we call it a sport?"

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
"Whoa! Six letters shoot down horse slaughter advocates," January 30, 2004

Truths and myths surrounding horse slaughter

The AAEP, AVMA, and the Illinois Horse Council promote the need for horse slaughter yet they do not appear to honestly understand the reality of the issue; their arguments are based on speculation and propaganda. [See related article and letters, below.] Here are some facts to consider:

Fact: HR 857 bans shipment of horses to slaughter outside of the U.S. as well as inside the U.S. It will be illegal to ship horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Large truckloads of loose horses at the border will not be hard to distinguish as bound for slaughter. The "black-market" comment concludes that slaughterhouse buyers are prone to committing felonies and will be willing to risk fines and prison. That's like saying people will break laws anyway so why make laws. It's backwards thinking, and if this were how we thought, then cocaine and marijuana, and many other things would be legal.

Fact: The captive bolt is not used as a form of euthanasia. It is a stunning device used to render an animal unconscious as mandated by the USDA for food animals. The animal's beating heart bleeds out a hoisted animal after the throat is cut.

Fact: The vast majority of neglected and abused horses are not for sale. They are hidden from sight in barren back pastures and dark closed barns. Very few find their way to horse sales. A recent article in Texas notes the rising amount of neglected horses, in the same state as the only two operating horse slaughterhouses, countering the opinion that horse slaughter reduces horse neglect -

Rescuing the horses
Neglect on the rise in Texas and other states

There are many neglect cases in the news across the country each day of the year. Dr. Temple Grandin's studies (below) show that very few wind up at the slaughterhouse.

Another case in point:

Dozens of once-starving horses find homes


Ninety-eight horses discovered near starvation more than a year ago in a Kingfisher County pasture. Gene and Janie Richardson rehabilitated the horses. Trial is scheduled tomorrow for the original owner of the horses, retired Enid veterinarian Jess Brewer. Brewer has pleaded innocent to 17 counts of animal cruelty.

In Dr. Temple Grandin's study (prior to California's yearend 1998 slaughter ban law) of 1,008 horses delivered to a slaughterhouse, she noted only "3% (30 head) of the arriving horses were skinny and emaciated and 1% (12 head) were foundered or had obvious leg injuries. Ninety-two percent were in good condition." The most serious injuries were sustained during commercial transport to the slaughterhouse.

If the AVMA would care to post their copyrighted 1999 updated study on transport to slaughter from Dr. Grandin (and others contributing) on their website, then we could all share in the latest (yet five-year-old) scientific data.

Slaughterhouses slaughter "unwanted horses" - Fact?

For something to be a fact, it must be testable. In 1992, 243,585 horses were slaughtered in U.S. slaughterhouses. Ten years later in 2002, 42,312 horses were slaughtered in U.S. slaughterhouses. (Figures used don't include horses shipped to Canada.)

That's a 201,273 horse difference.

According to those in support of horse slaughter, this means that in 1992 we had 243,585 "unwanted" horses but a decade later in 2002 we had only 42,312 "unwanted" horses - 201,273 more "unwanted" horses in 1992 than we had in 2002.

What can the explanation be for such a huge difference in the number of "unwanted" horses?

There's only one explanation that can be offered, in 1992 there were many more slaughterhouses operating in the U.S. than there were in 2002, proving that slaughter actually has nothing to do with "unwanted" horses. Following this mentality, if we had only one slaughterhouse operating in the U.S. with the capacity of slaughtering 25,000 horses, then statements would be made that we have 25,000 "unwanted" horses in the U.S.

Fact: So-called "unwanted" horses are in reality horses that are for sale.

Slaughterhouse buyers competitively bid against other horse buyers at horse sales (and answer classified ads) to purchase horses to resell to slaughterhouses for profit. They don't go around answering calls from people to come pick up their old, infirmed horses. They are not providing a service. Horses of all ages and breeds are bought for slaughter, no horse is exempt from the misfortune of being purchased by a slaughterhouse buyer.

"Slaughter needs to continue to be an option available to horse owners."

Fact: Until fairly recently most horse owners were not even aware that the horse slaughter for human consumption industry existed. Many are only now finding out. Many still do not know and are yet to find out. I've been a horse owner since 1970. It wasn't until I got a computer in 1998 that I found out through the Internet about the horse slaughter industry.

How can slaughter have been a viable option for horse owners who haven't even been aware that this industry even existed for the past four decades? And according to statistics we had over 380,000 "unwanted" horses in certain years decades ago. How could all of those horses have been sent to slaughter by owners who no longer wanted them?

Horse owners across the country have only recently been learning about the slaughter industry by way of the information highway, the Internet, just over the past few years. Most are shocked and appalled. Prior to this horse owners have been kept in the dark, the only way the slaughter industry knew it could continue to exist.

The AAEP, AVMA, and IHC use typical propaganda comments to support their views. The words "emotional issue" and "emotions" are always included. Read the growing list of horse industry professionals, especially in the racing industry, and call them emotional. Even AAEP and AVMA members are outspoken against horse slaughter, stating their associations don't reflect their views on the issue. These members too must be emotional? Pro-slaughter propagandist predictions include "Without slaughter there will be more cases of neglect and abuse," "horses will be smuggled to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada," and "this is just the first attack on the meat industry."

Logical fallacies > Unwarranted extrapolation

The tendency to make huge predictions about the future on the basis of a few small facts is a common logical fallacy.

"It is easy to see the persuasiveness in this type of argument. By pushing one's case to the limit... one forces the opposition into a weaker position. The whole future is lined up against him. Driven to the defensive, he finds it hard to disprove something that has not yet happened. Extrapolation is what scientists call such predictions, with the warning that they must be used with caution." (Chase, 1952)

This logical sleight of hand often provides the basis for an effective fear-appeal. Consider the following example:

If Congress passes legislation limiting the availability of automatic weapons, America will slide down a slippery slope that will ultimately result in the banning of all guns, the destruction of the Constitution, and a totalitarian police state.

When a communicator attempts to convince you that a particular action will lead to disaster or to utopia, it may be helpful to ask the following questions:

Is there enough data to support the speaker's predictions about the future? Can I think of other ways that things might turn out? If there are many different ways that things could turn out, why is the speaker painting such an extreme picture?

All slaughter advocates have failed to address the issue concerning common medications regularly given to horses that are strictly prohibited from being given to food animals.

If horsemeat were consumed in the United States, the FDA would be forced to test the meat for drug residue contamination. I'm sure they're aware that most horsemeat would fail testing. Veterinarians prescribe and administer these drugs to horses every day yet they never warn the horse owners not to allow the horses into the human food supply. Many other prohibited drugs to food animals such as wormers are purchased over the counter. Slaughterhouse buyers have no medication records for the horses they purchase unlike those required for the food animal industry.

The AAEP, AVMA, and IHC would better serve the welfare of horses by encouraging strong enforcement of existing animal neglect and abuse laws rather than advocating horse slaughter as an acceptable means of destroying the evidence of a crime.

Is it acceptable to the AAEP and AVMA to slaughter young healthy horses who were in the wrong place at the wrong time and bought by the wrong buyer? Isn't the veterinarian's motto, "First Do No Harm"?

In the case of those 3 percent of horses in Dr. Grandin's study who arrived at the slaughterhouse skinny and emaciated, and the 1 percent who were foundered or had leg injuries, transporting these animals across the country hundreds to thousands of miles to slaughter these victims of crime, while monetarily rewarding the criminal, is not the answer.

Terry Watt
Lake Havasu City, Arizona