Chicago Sun Times


Letters to the Editor

Protect racehorses from slaughter

May 5, 2006

With the Kentucky Derby fast approaching, a true American tradition, this year something a little different will be going on for charity at the Run for the Roses -- mint juleps at $1,000 each to benefit the wonderful athletes that make this race awe-inspiring: the horses. Proceeds will benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

Horse slaughter is the No. 1 concern of a retired racehorse and all of America's horses. This is a cruel, cruel business from start to finish, and it is not only the old, sick and lame that end their lives in this way. The fate at a slaughterhouse for a horse is a cruel end indeed, but their lives leading up to that point after purchase by a dealer are also a horror story. Often they are shipped from auction to auction in hopes of bigger price tags. Those that don't bring it will be shipped to one of the three remaining foreign-owned horse plants left in the United States. They are jammed into trailers for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles -- often with no food, water or rest for hours and hours on end. Many are injured in the trailer and some die on that ride. It is a well-known fact that horses are high-flight animals and being thrown in with unknown horses causes panic, and panic causes injury.

This is a cruel fate indeed for all horses, but let's speak about the racehorses -- the racehorses that throughout history have stunned us with their beauty, heart and athleticism. Many have made their owners millions. All deserve a chance at life and a second career after giving their all, wouldn't you agree? It may stun readers to know that the great Ferdinand and Exceller met their end in a slaughterhouse. They certainly deserved better. Many other big-stakes winners have found themselves in kill pens, their fate sealed. You can see it in their face: no fire in their eyes anymore, that great heart broken, the spirit that once never gave up sees the end.

Thankfully, there are many wonderful organizations that have stepped up to save these incredible horses. Many are now successful show horses, trail horses, family horses and companions. They are truly worthy of this end. It does fall to the owners and trainers of these amazing creatures to take responsibility, for in the end these are their charges. Dumping them for $200 to $300 is shameful and disgusting.

So I applaud all those who buy a mint julep on Saturday, for they are raising their glass for all those amazing horses that died in a truly cruel end. Please support the National Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, and a big thank you to organizations like the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, Old Friends, Rerun, the Exceller Fund and the countless others that work so hard to ensure a good life for the ex-racer. They are indeed deserving.

Rebecca Meinders,