My Turn: ‘Nothing humane about horse slaughter’

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I know that horse lovers abound in Taos and the surrounding areas but I wonder how many people realize how close our state is to becoming the first state in the nation to reopen horse slaughter plants. Is that the notorious reputation we want for our Land of Enchantment? Around the country greedy kill buyers and horse slaughter house operators are licking their chops in anticipation of killing off our country’s horses.

Slaughter advocates say that horse slaughter is the humane answer to deal with unwanted horses. There is nothing humane about horse slaughter.

Horse Slaughter is the opposite of euthanasia. There is no way a horse can be humanely slaughtered in an industrialized setting. We should have learned that lesson by now.

In 2006 the USDA stopped inspecting horse slaughter houses for a good reason, horse slaughter is inhumane. As late as 2011 when the defunding of horse slaughter inspections by the USDA expired, the Government Accounting Office, June 2011 report recommended a permanent ban on slaughter.  

The captive bolt method of slaughter commonly used for cattle slaughter is not effective or humane when it comes to horses. Horses, flight animals by nature struggle to escape. Their heads cannot be restrained.

The horse skull is much thicker than other livestock, and their brain is located further back in the skull. As a result it takes several painful blows to the head before the horse is stunned enough to be suspended. Forty percent of the time a horse is alive and aware when the butchering process begins. Is this what you would call a humane end of life for your horse?

Horse overpopulation is another piece of propaganda being circulated by pro-slaughter advocates. Horse slaughter merely enables and rewards the continued irresponsible breeding by the horse manufacturing industries of quarter horses and thoroughbreds.

In New Mexico, we are the recipient of unwanted horses from all over the country as a result of our proximity to horse slaughter in Mexico. In 2011, according to a European Union report, over 19,000 horses were dumped at the border to Mexico — rejects from slaughter. These horses were dumped by unscrupulous kill buyers on state, federal, tribal and even private land.

As citizens, taxpayers, horse lovers, are we going to stand by and allow the hideously cruel industry of horse slaughter to dig it’s nasty claws into our country’s horses once again, an industry that will make a few people rich, an industry that is subsidized by taxpayer dollars to the tune of $5 million annually, an industry that has the reputation of environmental pollution that far outweighs the economic benefit.  

We can still stop this barbaric industry before it ever gets started in our state.

Several groups including  New Mexico Against Horse Slaughter and Wild Horse Observers Association continue to call on Gov. Susana Martinez to write an executive order to ban horse slaughter in New Mexico.

Martinez has repeatedly claimed that she has no authority, that it is up to the USDA. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, however, has already pleaded with Congress to place a ban on horse slaughter.

Take action now and call Governor Martinez and tell her that we do not want horse slaughter in our state at (505) 476-2200.  You can also add your name to a petition at causes.com/actions/1737967-executive-order-to-ban-nm-horse-slaughter?recruiter_id=95461414&utm_campaign=sharebar&utm_medium=wall&utm_source=fb

At the Federal level, support the Safeguard American Food Exports Act which will implement a national ban on both the slaughter of horses and the transport of horses to slaughter. You can follow this link to a website where you can send a letter to your Senators and Congressmen asking them to support this legislation secure.humanesociety.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=5933&s_src=sh_facebook_tyA5933#.UUCr91v_xTs.facebook

At the present time, none of the New Mexico Senators or Representatives have shown their support for this legislation.  Please call Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Luján.   

Take action now for your voice to be heard. You can be assured that well-funded special interest groups are in Washington lobbying on behalf of slaughtering our country’s horses. Demand that elected officials listen to the voices of their constituents to ban horse slaughter now in New Mexico and the United States.

Paula Todd King is a writer and horse advocate who lives in Ranchos de Taos with her husband Ron.

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