Opposition Builds Against Pro-Slaughter Forces

Fighting The Misinformation About Horse Slaughter

Stop Horse Slaughter

Colonel Potter of the popular television program M*A*S*H loved to shout the expression, "Horse hockey!" when he was exposed to nonsense. Many people loved his character for telling it like it is, and of course for having a very soft spot in his heart for his beloved horse, Sophie.

Like the colorful colonel, we believe in calling out baseless claims, in this case the fiction being spun by pro-slaughter forces intent on preserving their bottom line at the expense of the lives of horses and New Mexico's national reputation.

Two points are important to emphasize:

  1. There is no such thing as humane horse slaughter.
  2. The so-called "homeless horse problem" is a direct result of the choices being made every day by people who, in most cases, could just as easily decide to treat their horses with dignity and respect, especially when it comes to how their horses' lives end.

On the first point, one only has to examine the gruesome elements of the horse slaughter pipeline to know that all facets of it stink. Horses bound for slaughter are usually routed through an auction, which means that they have to be moved twice: Once to the auction, then again to the slaughter facility.

Both trips have potential for misery, injury, suffering and even death. Horses are usually jammed onto a trailer that is often too small for their tall bodies, and subjected to travel with other frightened horses, some of them already sick or injured. There are sometimes fights in the cramped quarters, resulting in trampling, injuries, and even death. Substandard care at auction houses adds insult to the injury of the transport, and then it starts all over again when the horses are loaded again on their way to slaughter.

Once at the slaughterhouse, the instinctive horses are well aware of the fear of other horses, particularly those who can already see other horses being killed. Those final moments of panic and fear don't even factor in the unimaginable suffering of the horses who are put into a chute, and then forced to withstand being shot in the head, not necessarily in the location most likely to result in effective stunning, because the terrified horses are moving around violently to escape their torment.

On the second point, it is important to remember that horses usually don't just reproduce on their own. Unless they are feral or wild horses, these magnificent animals are owned, managed and controlled by people, many who intentionally breed horses for competition or for sale. In New Mexico, breeders are given generous incentives to win horse races with "NM-bred" horses, and New Mexico brags about its national ranking for Thoroughbreds and quarter horses bred. Since it takes, on average, about 29-49 "losers" to yield one winner at the racetrack, how can we wonder where all the horses are coming from?

The reality is no one can definitively say what is the source of the horses in our state because there is fierce opposition in the horse and agricultural industries to establishing even a basic method of traceability for horses. To do so would, of course, put culpability for the horses and their disposition squarely where it belongs: At the doorstep of those who are breeding the horses but not worrying about where they wind up when they outlast their profitability.

We have heard pathetic excuses for opposing a tracking system, ranging from the absurd "microchips don't work" to the bizarre claim that it would "violate private property rights". Of course, the rights of the horses not to be considered sheer commodities, or of taxpayers not to have to mop up after someone else's mess don't seem to be of concern to these naysayers.

For those very few who truly cannot afford their horses any longer, existing programs like the Equine Protection Fund, that have already helped many hundreds of horses, could be broadened and deepened to address this minority of cases. In fact, APNM is partnering with the Four Corners Equine Rescue to hold a gelding clinic this fall in Ramah Navajo Village to geld 30-40 stallions. If you can help with even a small contribution toward this affordable, worthwhile effort, please visit the crowd-funding website that is helping us raise money for this project. After all, establishing truly humane solutions that are supported by 70% of New Mexicans would not be that difficult to achieve if those responsible for horses would do their fair share.

Some People Don't Want Solutions. They Only Want Slaughter.

Because those ultimately responsible for horses have gotten away with resorting to inhumane slaughter for so long, the resistance to change is fierce. There is no magic silver bullet that will "solve" the homeless horse problem in New Mexico. It is a problem that has been developing for generations and has been greatly exacerbated by failed policies and ludicrous incentives. Long-term help for horses will require policymakers to change the entrenched systems that actually reward irresponsible behavior and make the caring public pay for someone else's problem.

Stop Horse Slaughter

To force this issue, it needs to be illegal for American horses to be slaughtered for food both in the United States and anywhere else. We should not allow our horses to be shipped to slaughter in Mexico or Canada. Federal legislation that would forever end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption is called the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE Act), S. 541/H.R. 1094, and these bills have already been co-sponsored by three of New Mexico's five members of Congress: Senator Heinrich; Rep. Lujan Grisham; Rep. Lujan.

Also, Rep. Lujan signed onto a Congressional letter to President Obama in which he and other members of Congress raised several grave concerns about horse slaughter resuming in the United States.

APNM has also learned that Rep. Lujan Grisham used her position as a member of the Agriculture committee to advocate for animals, including supporting penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight and voting against an amendment that would undermine states' abilities to protect animals used in agriculture. The Representative also introduced an amendment in committee to defund horse slaughter plant inspections, stay tuned for this debate to continue as Congress continues work on the Farm Bill. In the end, the results of the Agriculture committee vote were mixed, but Rep Lujan Grisham is proving with her words and actions to be an outspoken and strategic leader for animals and for her constituents who care deeply about these important issues.

In addition, Senator Udall wrote US Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to express his concern about a horse slaughter plant opening in New Mexico. The legislation's lead sponsor, Sen. Landrieu (D-La.) spoke eloquently about the need for a ban on horse slaughter at a ‘Horses on the Hill' (video link) event in Washington, D.C. last week.

To address the many questions caring people ask about horse slaughter, APNM recently devoted an entire section of its website to horse slaughter. Please take the time to review its important contents.

And to remind the public that horse slaughter proponents are outliers among voters, APNM's OpEd published recently in the Albuquerque Journal highlights some of the many creative measures sensible people are pursuing to help ensure horses that are deemed "excess" in the state are treated with compassion and care.

  1. If you haven't already, call Senator Udall's office (505-346-6791, 575-526-5475 or 202-224-6621), thank him for his letter to Secretary Vilsack about horse slaughter in New Mexico, and politely ask him to co-sponsor the SAFE Act (S. 541).
  2. If you live in Congressional District 2 represented by Rep. Steve Pearce ( here's a map of the district to check), call his office (855-473-2723 or 202-225-2365) and urge him to cosponsor the SAFE Act (H.R. 1094).
  3. Support the latest effort to geld colts and stallions in Ramah! Visit the link, give what you can, and SHARE with your friends and family.

The cruel horse slaughter industry can't get a foothold in our state or anywhere in America if enough people speak up. Please raise your voice and use your power for positive change for the horses!

RELATED LINKS

‘Horses on the Hill' event promoting the SAFE Act (video)

Horse Slaughter on New Mexico in Focus (video)

Equine Protection Fund

APNM's Horse Slaughter campaign page

APNM's OpEd in the May 9, 2013 edition of the Albuquerque Journal

May 9, 2013, Public News Service: NM Horse Slaughter Plant Faces More Hurdles

May 7, 2013 column by Albuquerque Journal's James Monteleone, Politics Notebook: Former Governor Richardson weighs in against horse slaughter