The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Horse Slaughter Up Close

Read this thorough article at Note: not for the faint of heart, but includes personal accounts of people living near the Dallas Crown slaughter plant in Texas. Excerpts below:

...A campaign to outlaw horse slaughter last year at the federal level was bolstered by polls showing 70 to 90 percent of Americans opposed killing horses for meat. Some congressional offices received more calls in favor of a proposed U.S. slaughter ban than they did regarding the recent Supreme Court nominations or Hurricane Katrina. One Senate office, fielding a call every six minutes, begged a Humane Society lobbyist to ward off the siege. “They couldn’t function,” she says.

...Finch led his video crew around the plant, past a half dozen snarling, chained rottweilers, to a tangle of pipes and vents. Misters sprayed deodorizer that did little to mask the stink of intestines. From inside a narrow cinderblock structure came an occasional chain rattle, whinny and thud. This was the plant’s “kill room.”

...Many horses here suffer horribly painful deaths, Finch believes. A gun with a retractable spike, known as a “captive bolt,” is supposed to fell the animals in one quick jolt to the brain. But two different workers kill horses for the plant on different days and Finch often hears one of them shoot the bolt repeatedly. “The Thursday guy is good,” he said. “The Monday guy is terrible.”

Whatever happens inside the plant, there’s little dispute that slaughtering a large animal can be nasty. Angling out of the kill room and over a puddle of blood, a conveyor belt carried a freshly stripped-off horse pelt, turning it over the lip of a dumpster in a bundle of ear, skin and tail. The scene was a stone’s throw from the backyard of a house where children played.

...Take the slaughter option away, Ewing says, and horse abuse cases such as Shorty’s will spike. Rather than pay to dispose of unwanted horses, some owners will turn them loose in the wild or leave them to die slow, agonizing deaths at pasture.

...Accounting for slaughterhouses in Texas and Canada picking up some of the plant’s business, he estimated 50,000 horses were nonetheless saved from slaughter even as horse abuse cases in Illinois declined. Anecdotal reports from California back up Holland’s assertion that the “unwanted horse theory” is a myth. Carolyn Stull, a UC Davis animal welfare expert, found no increase in horse abuse cases since the ban.



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