The Kaufman Herald, Page 11, Thursday, April 3, 2003

Horse Slaughter is legal in Texas

    It is a shame that an organization such as the Habitat for Horses has to use scare tactics along with more than a touch of untruths and half-truths to try and get Kaufman County residents upset with Representative Betty Brown and the work she is trying to do in Austin for her constituents and the businesses they represent.

   To correct some of the misinformation in last week's newspaper concerning the horse slaughter issue, please consider the following:

  1. Horse slaughter is legal in Texas.  What the animal rights people are doing is dragging up a 1949 law that has over the past 40 years been redefined on numerous occasions and under which Texas has legally processed horses for human consumption, animal consumption, medical and surgical procedures and veterinary and scientific research to name only a few of the uses for the unwanted horses.
  2. While all of the meat is sold and consumed overseas in many countries, over 150 families are supported by the jobs at these plants, several million dollars annually are spent in road use taxes, property taxes, unemployment benefits, other state and federal taxes.  All this means that Texas and the area of Kaufman realize several million dollars a year due to this business in the county.
  3. Young healthy horses are not the typical horse used by the processing plants.  According to a Colorado research team headed by Dr. Tempil Grandin (Colorado State University, 1998) they observed over 1,000 horses coming to both plants in Texas and the average age of these horses were (sic) 11 years old.  According to their percentages only about 8% were 2 years old or under.  Most of the horses were between the ages of 5 to 20 years old with about 10% over 20 years old.
  4. One of the most agregious (sic) untruths that came out in the article paid for by Habitat for Horses was the claim that "they have their throats slit while they are still alive so their hearts can pump the blood from their bodies."  This is totally not true.  Horses are rendered brain dead instantaneously by a device held next to the front of the head without excitement or anxiety on the part of the handlers or equipment.  This method of euthanasia is recommended and sanctioned by the American Veterinary Medical Association as both humane and instantaneously effective.  As with all euthanasia methods, the heart still pumps a few minutes but the animal is effectively dead.

        Enough of answering untruths and mis-statements.  Who is supporting having the horse slaughter plants in Texas as an option for the removal of unwanted, old, crippled or otherwise non-useful horses?  The following:

  1. Texas Veterinary Medical Association because both the euthanasia and transport is humane and if there were no place that unwanted horses can go for humane euthanasia it is felt that a future for these horses may be worse than a humane demise.
  2. Southwestern Cattle Raisers Assn. because they help provide protection to the horse owners from horse theft and return to horse owners stolen horses when found.
  3. Texas Sheriff's Association because they also provide stolen horses protection and aid in the prosecution of anyone found guilty of horse theft.
  4. American Association of Equine Practitioners Assn.  This is the largest association of horse veterinarians in the world who in their position paper stated "The AAEP recognizes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary aspect of the equine industry and provides a humane alternative to allowing the horse to continue a life of discomfort and pain and possible inadequate care or abandonment."
  5. AVMA
  6. American Paint Horse Assn.

        Most of us that love horses, use horses, raise and sell horses realize that all horses are not going to have situations where they are always given the best care.  Some of this is from economic problems of some owners, owners that are not well informed and in some cases of simple neglect by uncaring owners.  However, what ever (sic)  the reason a horse is unwanted all of us want that horse to have the prospect of a free and humane euthanasia and disposal.  The horse plants are not the solution to the unwanted horse population, there are many options of which the Habitat for Horses is one, but the horse plants need to be recognized as one of the options for any unwanted horse.  Most of us in the horse veterinary medical field realize that these plants are necessary and provide a needed service for the horse industry and we want them to remain viable and functioning.  Thanks (sic) you Representative Brown for your concern and forethought for your constituents and the horse industry in Texas.  We applaud the work you are trying to do for us all.

Steve Hicks, D.V.M., Bradford, Texas
Ben Cornelius, D.V.M., Eustace
Jim Gibbs, D.V.M., Brownsboro