Letters from America...
Connie Kudsk, member of the American Quarter Horse Association, responds to the organization's president, Frank Howell, after receiving an email from AQHA promoting horse slaughter...(the letter appears here with her expressed permission)
June 1, 2005
Dear Mr. Frank Howell,
I have been a member of AQHA since I purchased my Quarter Horse are last year. I have enjoyed receiving America's Horse magazine and the ability to research pedigrees and show records online. I had every intention of renewing my membership but it has been recently brought to my attention that the AQHA opposes and is encouraging its members to oppose H.R. 503, The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. I am very disappointed that AQHA would take such a position against the very horses that you promote so proudly as "America's Horse" and most of all, I am disappointed that you would irresponsibly distribute the misrepresentation of the facts and truths created by those who are pro-slaughter!
Last year approximately 60,000 horses were killed in slaughter houses in the U.S. and AQHA's concern is, where would all these unwanted horses go if slaughter ended? The majority of the horses being slaughtered are bought by killer buyers at auctions from private people who assume that their beloved pets are going to a good home. Most of these owners would not have sold them knowing this. These are not unwanted horses! Every year in the U.S. approximately 50,000 horses are stolen and a large majority of those that are not recovered were sent to slaughter. The slaughter houses even keep the hides of the horses that they believe are stolen so that they can be identified by their owners. These are not unwanted horses! There are breeders and trainers sending their horses to slaughter that don't have the confirmation they desire or the ability to perform at a desired level. These horses are usually auctioned off as "kill only" and never have a chance to find a home.
These are not unwanted horses! The racing industry runs horses until they are injured and crippled and then throw them away as if they were a piece of trash. These are not unwanted horses! According to the slaughter houses own records, only 10% of horses slaughtered are old, sick, injured or mentally unsound. Horse slaughter exists because there is a high demand for their expensive meat not because we have a huge amount of unwanted horses in the U.S. It is a simple equation of supply and demand!
If we look at the numbers from above, that means that realistically there are only about 6,000 truly unwanted horses each year in the U.S. Approximately 690,000 U.S. horse's die from euthanasia, natural causes or injury each year and we dispose of them properly. If we needed to put down 6,000 more horses, the number is so small that there would be no problem handling an increase of carcasses.
Another concern of the AQHA is the lack of regulatory oversight for the rescue and adoption industry. There are hundreds of rescues operating all over the U.S. currently and there has not been a need to oversee their operations and as previously shown in the numbers above, there would not be a large amount of horses needed to be rescued so this would not be an issue that needs to be addressed.
In the email that the AQHA sent out it says, "Both the AVMA and the AAEP state the captive bolt, which is used to euthanize horses at processing facilities, is one of the most humane methods for euthanizing unwanted and unusable horses when the owner is faced with an end-of-life decision." The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) states that it is an inhumane process. The AVMA has a long and documented history of supporting the inhumane treatment of animals when it is in their best financial interest to do so, as in this case. In the same paragraph, the AQHA also states, "In fact, members of AQHA's Public Policy Committee, along with surveyed directors, believe that horses normally bound for processing facilities would suffer a much worse fate if the processing industry were eliminated." In your own words, you suggest that it is a horrible fate to be slaughtered but then you try to justify it as a humane way to die with dignity and respect!
"The animal is treated humanely with dignity and respect." These are the AQHA's own words! These horses are packed into double decker trailers where they cannot stand normally with their heads up, they are hauled sometimes for up to 3 days in the heat and cold with no food, water or rest. Those that survive the trip, are poked and beaten off the trucks towards the kill pen where they are scared, urinating and defecating on themselves, knowing their fate. They slip and fall on the urine and blood soaked concrete trying desperately to save their lives. Once in the kill chute, they are hit repeatedly with a captive bolt that is meant to render them unconscious immediately but rarely does. Once they are down, they are hoisted up by their back leg, still struggling to live but instead they have their throats cut. Even before their hearts stop beating they are skinned. The pregnant mares have their living foals cut out of them and thrown in the trash to die a slow death. Where is the humane death with dignity and respect in all this? I have looked at it from every angle and I cannot find one ounce of
humanity, dignity or respect!!
Slaughter is an easy out and creates irresponsible horse ownership. It encourages over breeding and a throw away horse society. The AQHA should use their influence to promote responsibility in our industry and to help save the horses that are the very reason for the AQHA's existence. AQHA can do more good for horses by trying educate American horse owners rather than waste your time supporting greedy, money hungry Europeans!
I will continue to support and promote the American Quarter horse but I choose not to support the AQHA. I never thought that I would feel the need to protect the quarter horse from the organization that was created to do the best for them!