Food for Thought
Horses are food to some: other countries, dogs, and predators. It would be wonderful if horses were not slaughtered for humans. It would also be wonderful if horses were not just property to be sold, bartered, or traded.
For people who really care about a horse's quality of life, horses are one of the family (whether or not they have jobs). The ideal situation is for every horse to have a caring, appropriate home, and this is not the case. In America we are very far from it, however attempts to home horses and ban slaughter of horses are thankfully gaining more and more momentum. This is wonderful. It is a step in the right direction, and there are indeed many other directions to go to achieve quality of life for horses (and other animals).
‘Owners' are now being referred to as ‘guardians' in some states to try to redefine one's role and responsibility with one's animals, who contribute so much to so many lives in so many ways. Horses, pets, and other animals nowadays are too easily discarded and replaced like last year's model partly because of their designation as ‘owned property' or a commodity - which makes for profit… and horse slaughter… and horse theft… and homeless animals… etc.
Because of unethical people, and some uneducated people, breeding is out of control, and the homeless pet population is out of control. (See 'Barn Buddies' in this issue for more information on the pet over-population problem and what to do about it.) At a recent elementary school talk, a rescue board member asked the assembly of children how many of them had ever gotten rid of a pet because they didn't want it anymore - and sadly, 90% of them raised their hands.
It is heartening to know, however, that there are many groups helping to educate people about the realities of having a pet BEFORE they get one. The same is happening with horses. With a little education and preparation, animals and people go together very well. Nobody lives forever, and there is a time and place for a life to end, or be ended if that is the kindest option. Slaughter is not a kind option. There are better alternatives and other solutions to the horse overpopulation problem, and stopping the problem at the sources will be the most effective.
Horse breed associations may not see their contribution to the problem, as is obvious in the following mass email from one of them, complete with the recipient's response:
Perhaps there are other breed organizations sending Emails to all their members, trying to defeat the bill.
On another note, the natural care and feeding of the horse is the way to optimum health, not pharmaceuticals. There is a time and a place for conventional medicine. It does not come under the category of ‘optimizing health', however, which is the only way to effectively prevent dis-ease. The user of pharmaceuticals, particularly injectables, assumes that the pharmaceutical companies have prepared their products according to FDA standards, especially where sterile conditions are necessary. The many reported problems (swellings, laminitis, lameness, birth defects, deaths, bacteria, and discoloration of product in sealed vials, etc.) that surrounded West Nile Virus vaccinations, for instance, could be one example of possible contamination of the product. A recent warning letter from the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Ft. Dodge is available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. It makes one think twice about purchasing pharmaceuticals. It is available online in its entirety at www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/g4602d.htm .
And last but not least, the dire situation of the PMU horses is still being addressed. Mares are still being bred and confined to the ‘pee' barns, and thousands of foals are being produced who will be in need of homes (as will more and more mares as production continues to slow). The word is out, thanks to the studies performed by the Women's Health Initiative and the National Cancer Institute, that hormone replacement therapy has its real dangers, but many women (and their doctors) are still uninformed or still using the product.
As more people become informed, more horses will be saved and spared the many unkindnesses that the ‘horse industry' imposes upon them. It doesn't have to be 'the horse industry vs the horse'. There is no ONE solution to the problems that horses face; addressing these issues effectively will require a whole-istic approach. Talking to local rescues, protection organizations, veterinarians, horse councils, friends, and neighbors can bring about some possible solutions to the homeless horse problem. A group effort is needed, FOR the horse.
For more information:
PO Box 1154
Studio City, California 91614
United Pegasus Foundation
102 S. First Avenue
Arcadia, California 91006
In Defense of Animals
131 Camino Alto
Mill Valley, CA 94941
415 388 9641
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, DC 20037
If Your Horse Could Talk