More Voices from the Racetrack--Against Horse Slaughter
JAY HEATER: HORSE RACING
Slaughtering not food for thought
..."Putting a horse down for anything other than a painful condition has never entered my mind," said Jackson, who has decided to speak on behalf of the National Horse Protection Coalition, which is trying to force legislation that would end horse slaughter in the U.S. "I can't believe this exists, and it's hard for me to accept it."
According to a USDA study, about 16 percent of the horses slaughtered per year -- an estimated 80,000 to 90,000 are slaughtered each year in the U.S. -- are thoroughbreds.
"Horse slaughter is cruel and inhumane," said Arthur Hancock, who has bred three Kentucky Derby winners. "Horses are not bred for the food chain."
...They can't do it in California. Voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative in 1998 that bans horse owners in the state from selling their horses to slaughterhouses or from knowingly selling their horses to people who have the intention of selling them to slaughterhouses.
Even so, California horsemen are aware that the problem hasn't been corrected on a national basis.
"I'm in the horse business, so I find (slaughtering horses for food) a little repulsive," said Brian Pitnick, a Northern California trainer. "I would support anything that can be done to decrease the practice.
"I don't know why they would want them anyway. There are so many guys pumping horses full of steroids now. There are all kinds of medications that say, 'Not intended for horses that might be used for human consumption.'"
The horse racing industry's sometimes callous attitude toward its own featured attraction might be one reason legislation to stop horse slaughter has been stalled since 2002 and why H.R. 503 now is sitting in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
One trainer told a story of how some owners would stuff a hose in a horse's mouth and fill it with water to increase the weight before taking it to the slaughterhouse buyers.
Horse slaughter also has been an option for owners who want to dispose of unwanted horses that have become costly "pets."
"We can do a better job," Hancock said of the racing industry. "We have to be responsible for our own horses. In the past, we've sold horses, and we didn't ask where they might be going."
Northern California trainer Greg Gilchrist said he remembers a time when selling to the "killers" was an alternative.
"Back in the day, there were people who would haul them straight to the killers," said Gilchrist, who trains 2005 Eclipse Award Sprinter of the Year Lost in the Fog. "Some guys would buy them at auction for $100 and turn around and sell them to the killers for $200."... [READ ENTIRE ARTICLE...]