Ten letters against the slaughter of Joe, the workhorse
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Trent Loos writes in his guest opinion "Out to greener pastures," May 18:


"Joe was my first working cow horse and he was awesome. I sold him when he was 22 and every time I saddle up to work cattle I think about how much I miss him. One of my fondest memories was returning home to a message on the answering machine that my bull was out with a neighbor's cows.

I rode the 640-acre pasture, sorted the bull from 150 cow/calf pairs and drove him a half-mile home within 45 minutes. Riding a horse that knows how, where and when to work cattle is a feeling that is hard to describe but wonderful to experience.

I clearly recall my final months with Joe. I was reluctant to part company with him. In the final year, I didn't dare saddle him because of the stiffness in his legs. Age and dedication to his mission had taken their toll on him.

I finally bit the bullet and sold him for a whopping $280. (Apparently and proudly to the slaughter plant)...Most importantly, no one is mandating how your horse leaves this life so why should you tell me how mine should be allowed to die?"

So, let me see if I understand you, Mr. Loos. Joe was an awesome horse. You loved him enough not to try to ride him the last year because he was too stiff and sore. In addition, you acknowledge that he had worn himself out dedicating himself to the mission of supporting you. Therefore, in gratitude, you sold that poor, pain-filled horse for a "whopping $280" to a killer buyer.

Your horse got forced up a slippery metal ramp into the bowels of a double-decker truck and had to crouch on stiff, pain-racked legs, crammed in with other horses on a long, thirsty ride to a slaughter plant and off-loaded in agony.

Looking for you, he saw only strangers that forced him down a chute into a box and left him swaying on those same, stiff legs until they shot a bolt into his head enough times for him to fall down and wait to be hoisted by a leg and have his throat slit.

The only thing I can say is that I'm sure glad you don't love me! Your sentence about "Horses, like man, will die and death with a purpose gives full meaning to life", scares me half to death. I'd hate to be your worn out mother, grown old in dedication to my mission of raising you.

Carol M Chapman
Hitchcock, TX


I have been involved in thoroughbred racing over 30 years. I fully support the ending of this torture to horses. Horses that have learned to trust and depend on you and who run their heart out for you at the races.

The thoroughbred retirement foundation has been up and running for many years and new satellite farms are cropping up throughout the nation. Just this year, in my state of South Carolina, a thoroughbred retirement was started at the Wateree prison. The first one, Wakill in New York, was a success. There are also many other programs throughout the states to place these horses.

The Bills that will end this awful trade are not being pushed by non-horse people--many horse people back it. People who never had a horse that back it, look to the horse as a beautiful and graceful animal that helped to mold America.

I do not think cattle would make very dependable mounts in the calvery. Things do change and it is about time our horses do not have to take a last ride of torture, then smell the blood and fear in the air when they reach their last day of their life at the slaughter plant.

We have a 28 year old TB stallion and yes, he has the stiffness too ,but no way would I ship him off to be tortured en route to the plant, then hit with a stun gun that may miss a couple of times and he suffers more! HA! I will euthanize and let him go in peace among his familiar surroundings.

Things change. We Americans do not eat or raise horses for human consumption. Even pet food companies do not use horse meat.

Here is a link to a program, started out in Michigan, to place ex-racehorses (www.canterusa.org). Now many states are opening up chapters. There are also many other groups throughout the thoroughbred industry, placing or retiring racehorses. They are not trying to get PETA or any other group off their back! We love the sport of racing and care for our horses. We want to give them the life they deserve after they ran their hearts out for us.

Rose Blohm
Kershaw, SC


Mr. Loos states:

"When federal lawmakers decide we can't kill horses, they will be considered pets or companions by law. This would remove them from the jurisdiction of the USDA, which would not be good for horses or horse owners."

What does he think we do with our pets or companions? And how is being under USDA jurisdiction good for horses? As far as I'm concerned they'd be better off protected under animal welfare and anti-cruelty laws as pets.

I have many horse-owner friends and have never, ever, been told stories about their horses, or any other horse, kept beyond their graceful age, only to have birds try to peck their eyes out. Give me a break!

In the nineties, there were over 300,000 horses slaughtered annually; last year, there were approximately 49,000. I don't believe there have been 260,000 horses standing out in fields getting their eyes pecked out because they weren't sent to slaughter. Unbelievable.

Horses are not a part of America's food chain. It is not reasonable to compare them to cattle, hogs, or chickens.

Many individuals are not aware that contracted killer-buyers attend equine auctions purchasing prime meat for the slaughter plants. This is how the killer-buyers make their living. The more meat, the higher price paid by the slaughter plant. Prime, salvageable horses being purchased for meat.

The $40 million made annually by the two Texas slaughter plants is not made by processing old horses--horses that provided a lifetime of service, as Joe did.

And by the way, I own five horses and have no problem being told that, as their owner I am responsible for their health and maintenance; that I cannot abuse them and should provide them a dignified, and as painless as possible, end to this life. Thanks, I'm more than happy to do so.

Pat Fitzgerald
Paige, Texas - The Lone Star Slaughter State


Trent Loos should be ashamed of himself! Anyone that can put their horse through the slaughter system which is far from humane, especially one that has given him so much pleasure and pride, is completely sickening.

This [his story] is a perfect example of why horses should be humanely euthanized, and not slaughtered. Instead Mr. Loos states that he "bit the bullet and sold him for a whopping $280."

Was the $150 too much for this cowboy to spend on his wonderful horse to give it a peaceful and fearless end?

And in finishing his opinion he states, "Horses, like man, will die and death with a purpose gives full meaning to life." I wonder if Mr. Loos will be this passionate when his elderly relatives are passing. Will he sell them to the highest bidder too? Shameful!

Ginger Podojil
Damon, Texas


As a long time horse lover, I was amazed to read Mr. Loos' article in which he infers that he sold his beloved Joe for $280 to a slaughterhouse. Why he didn't spend a hundred bucks on a humane end for his long-serving companion is well beyond me. When my animals age, I have them put to sleep by a vet.

Simply put, the slaughter of horses as practiced in slaughter houses isn't humane. While captive bolts are a humane means of dispatch, they only humane if used with accuracy. A horse's brain is small and well shielded by bone. Shooting a panicking horse (and believe me, they do not just mosey into the kill box and calmly await their end) with a captive bolt is inaccurate at best and at worst, the beginning of a terrible end.

I can't imagine subjecting any being I've loved to that cruelty. But that's just my opinion.

I'm a Republican, and a meat eater. But I no longer buy meat produced by factory farms and processed at assembly line slaughter houses. I want no part of industries that "de-beak" chickens, or roll injured cattle to the kill box with tractors. So I spend some extra dollars to eat free range, humanely processed meat.

And this is the real crux of the horse slaughter issue. With the exception of writing my legislators, I can vote with my wallet and protest the practice by not supporting it.

Most Americans oppose the slaughter of horses. Horsemeat is not legal for human consumption in the US. Horse slaughter shouldn't be legal in the US either.

Sarah Reschly


I am writing in response to the Guest Opinion: Out to greener pastures written by Trent Loos. In this article, Mr. Loos reminisces about a great horse that he had the pleasure of owning. He states that time had taken its toll on this 22 year old horse and that he "bit the bullet" and shipped him to slaughter for as he puts it, "a whopping $280". What I find to be particularly ironic about these recollections is Mr. Loos' statement that he misses this horse.

My family has always had horses and I will acknowledge that some of them do not age gracefully. We had a Thoroughbred which was by far, one of the best trail horses anyone had ever seen in our area. However, since he had been run hard in his younger years, his legs began giving out on him when he reached 24 years of age. It was a hard decision, but the call was made to our vet to put the horse down. After many years of pleasure and service to us, the least we could do for this animal was to give him a peaceful, dignified death. His final memory was seeing us standing around him, then going peacefully to sleep.

There is a profound difference between Mr. Loos' scenario and mine. When the life of the horse Mr. Loos owned became agonizing, he elected to prolong that misery. His horse's final memories likely consist of being prodded with electric cattle prods to the killbox, wondering all the while where his caring owner was.

What these plants offer is an easy way for a small handful of horse owners to dispose of something that doesn't suit them anymore. Out of sight, out of mind.

Finally, Mr. Loos states that there is no law on the books that mandates horse owners sell their horse to slaughter. For now that is correct. However, horses are going to be included in the US Animal Identification Plan which is meant for food animals. American horses being included in such a program may lead to laws governing how we medicate and treat our horses. This is happening in the UK with the Horse Passport Scheme, which along with the USAIP is being discussed in the IllinoisLeader.com Discussion Forum "Say No to Horse Slaughter"

Duane L. Burright, Jr.
Malibu, CA


I am a conservative Republican who supports our freedom to make choices. I oppose the choice to kill unborn babies, to torture helpless animals, etc. I do believe the slaughterhouse system in this country is unnecessarily cruel. I'd also like to say that after we teach our horses to trust us, should we then send them to a house of torture to die?

There are options. There is euthanasia or a bullet in the brain done with precision--both are acceptable alternatives.

How do you explain the Hungarian dish "Foal Stew" if you say the poor, aged horse may be better off at the slaughterhouse to be terrified till their blood is drained? Many of the horses are not even knocked unconscious while they are being sliced alive by sadistic butchers. You say they are not all sadistic. But too many are and most of the others couldn't care less. They are desensitized.

Just think of the horrors in Iraq, we know they are horrible for people but that doesn't mean we should be that inhumane to animals that will be eaten either.

Horses are companion animals, we don't eat dogs and cats, why should we let our horses be killed for food? There are still some cultures that will eat humans if they get a chance.

Your reasoning is wrong. There are many rights that are taken away from you--you can't fight your dogs or hold cock fights in most states. Why not? Isn't that a person's right? Does the bird care? They want to fight. Does the dog care? They want to kill the other dog.

So you sold your beloved friend cheap and he probably went through a slaughterhouse. You should be ashamed, you owed him something. He gave his trust to you and you betrayed him. You must be a real cheapskate!

Take a look at some of the photos of a horse slaughterhouse before you give up all of our equine friends to a fate like the great racehorse, Ferdinand.

Susan Pizzini
West Grove, PA


Trent Loos, has the compassion of a vulture. Use an animal till it can no longer carry your sorry a** around and then send it to a horrendous death--so much for loyalty.

Nobody seems to get it. Horse slaughter by Velda, the owners of Cavel and Luc Van Damme, don't care one iota about any animal. They care to kill every horse their sorry killer-buyers scavenge from the land to their slaughter house.

It is all about money. It is not about an old, crippled horse who was humanely euthanized when he couldn't chase the bull who got loose anymore. It is about selfish, lazy humans who don't know what love for an animal is. It is about people who have no feelings for any living creature.

Patricia Bewley


"Guest Opinion: Out to greener pastures" is a prime example of a callous, self-centered person choosing a few bucks for himself rather than to fulfill his responsibility and do what is in the best interests of his aging horse--an animal that served him well for two decades.

This is the type of person who considers animals as replaceable and interchangeable as TV sets. Mr. Loos misses Joe--yeah, like he misses that Chevy that ran really well. Well, Mr. Loos, you can sell your old truck for its parts, but I hope to God that legislation is passed to stop people like you from selling horses for parts.

Shame on you, Mr. Loos. It is irresponsible people like you who don't bat an eye at dumping faithful old dogs on the side of the road, either.

And yes, Mr. Loos, we own horses, but we pay a vet to humanely euthanize them in their own familiar surroundings. In other words, responsible animal owners choose what is in the best interest of their animals.

Legislation that caters to the irresponsible is as unacceptable as Mr. Loos' excuses for what he did to Joe.

John and Catherine Campagna


Mr. Loos, being a sixth generation farmer, you should know the value of a good working horse and the trust involved in owning and training.

You use terms like awesome and fondest memories, but you're willing to trade all that for $280 just because he wasn't as good as he used to be.

If you look around, you might find a lot of good homes for older horses as a pet, therapy horse, or as a schooling horse. If his quality of life was to the point of suffering, why wasn't a vet called and have him put down and placed on your farm?

As a horse owner you put a trusted friend into the terms of how much you can get. So you don't have to feed him any more shows a side of you that would make anyone worry about being called your friend or partner.

With your views on horse slaughter and life, maybe we should open a slaughterhouse for dogs and cats or ship all the unwanted dogs/cats overseas as a outlet for them?

Maybe if you did some research on this matter, you would find things are not what they seem. Many leaders in the horse industries are divided on this topic. Some are making statements that have been proven to be untrue as to who oversees and controls the process. Many have no idea what really goes on and won't listen to the rank and file of their own groups; calling them bleeding hearts. Some use this to cover the numbers of horses bred or injured to keep the clean look of their sport.

This is a question of culture. In the US, the masses don't consume horse meat. You refer to this as a choice being stripped away from us at the hands of people that many not have ever owned a horse. To me it is not a choice being stripped away, but a hope that any foals that come out of my horses won't end up on a dinner plate because of the almighty dollar.

James Fales
Elkins, AR


Related articles:
"Two letters in support of horse slaughter ban," April 22
"Constituent urges Rep. Lindner et al to reverse horse slaughter vote," April 15
"11 letters skewering horse slaughter company," January 27
"Protect companion animals," January 23
"Legislation proposed to end horse slaughter in Illinois," January 19


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