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Shavahn Best: We must eliminate horse slaughterhouses

To the editor:

One wonders if this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, will one day end up being transported with truckloads of other scared and starving former race horses, work horses and pets to a slaughterhouse.

Many great, once highly profitable race horses have already met this fate. It is unbelievable that the horse-racing community of owners, promoters, trainers and jockeys has not taken a more visible stance on ending both horse abuse and slaughterhouses.

It is a very sad situation. How can we possibly consider ourselves to be the most civilized of species if this is the practice we routinely engage in and support? Each year millions of unwanted and/or homeless animals are euthanized; still more fall victim to heinous acts of brutality.

Please support anti-violence at every turn. Please support no-kill animal shelters; and spay and neuter pets.

Please think twice about attending or viewing another horse race until every last horse slaughterhouse is razed and turned into an animal sanctuary.

Surely we can offer more humane employment to the people involved at each level of these horrific systems, through, in part, different food, entertainment and even gambling choices.

If we learn how to coexist with all of the earth’s beautiful creatures by actively supporting and protecting them, then perhaps we would be more inclined to extend ourselves to supporting and protecting our planet, as well as our human brothers and sisters everywhere, across all so-called racial, spiritual and economic lines.

Shavahn Best

Amherst

thank you Shavanh Best for pointing out the cruelty in the shadows behind the visible beauty of horse racing. The cruelty inherent in horse racing lies in its method of eugenics, of treating a thousand foals or horses as collateral damage in its drive to produce each moneymaking "winner". Most people are unaware that nurse mare foals are killed by the thousands each year, after being torn away from their mothers, so that their place may be taken by thoroughbred foals who promise to make their owners money on the racetrack. Since they are raced to soon, many of these suffer injuries and are sent to the slaughterhouse. At least 15% of the 150,000 horses still sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico are cast-offs from the race horse industry, those they have decided will never generate money for their owners. The co-owner of Mine That Bird, Doc Blach, recently made into a hero in the movie Fifty To One, testified in favor of opening a horse slaughter plant in Roswell New Mexico just a few miles from where his Derby winning horse was stabled. No Hollywood movie will ever be made to show what happens to the thousands of horses who are sent to slaughter or are made to suffer in order to produce a single "winner". It is time for us to stop looking the other way at the suffering which horses endure in order to entertain people who do not wish to know about it and to make those who do know wealthy.

Horse slaughter is a predatory business that inflicts suffering on our former sporting partners, companions and work horses. From livestock auctions, where horses bound for slaughter have been filmed being whipped and beaten with pipes and sticks; to transport, where a study found that 30% of horses suffer injuries because of the cramped conditions and 24 hour rides without food, water or rest; to the kill process itself, which is ill-suited to such a strong, reactive animal, and often requires multiple stuns, or horses being strung up while still conscious. The other problem is that horse slaughter encourages reckless breeding and irresponsible ownership. Quarter horses and thoroughbreds are routinely bred en masse in hopes of breeding that one special winner, and it's convenient for owners to dump the culls at slaughter and get a few hundred bucks - instead of breeding selectively and putting training into the ones that don't make it to find them a legitimate home. In MA right now, there is a very real threat to equine welfare that could also impact our ability to prevent our horses from ending up on dinner plates. HB 4008, the Livestock Board bill, is ghostwritten legislation from national agribusiness interests designed to prevent oversight of livestock and equine welfare. It creates a board where 10 of 12 positions represent non-horse agriculture, who are very vocal in their support of horse slaughter. Please call your State Rep and Senator today and request they oppose this outrageous special interest legislation.

The "use 'em up, throw 'em out" mentality is one of the least attractive traits of the human race. We see it in our discarding of horses to slaughter houses and in the inhumane way breeder dogs are kept in puppy mills. We also see it in the child sex trade, destruction of the environment and other areas. It all hinges on one of the deadly sins called GREED. I hope that as the human race continues through the end of this century, we will be able to evolve into more intelligent and empathetic beings, capable of creating a better world and not one where the most beautiful creatures on earth are ground up by mindless, irresponsible businesses.

Unfortunately animals in the human world are only what we are allowed to see - the beautiful race horse, the grazing cows, the puppy in the window. No one wants to know what goes on after the race. We live in a world of denial because that is what makes us comfortable. The truth of course is that horses are sent to slaughter houses, where they are NOT humanely euthanized. Cattle slaughter methods do not work on horses in the same way - and their deaths take longer. Never mind that each and every animal - cow, horse, pig, chicken - they all want to live - yet we think we have the right to destroy them. It is a selfish and sad thing, the human world. It is way past time for people to start paying attention.

I read your letter to the editor and applaud you for writing. It is up to the animal lovers among us to stop some of the senseless cruelty and especially the outright and horrific horse slaughtering. When I think of the world population now and in the future, and what it takes to feed all of us, I have come to realize just how many animals suffer in the most horrific ways just so we eat. Horses are only livestock to many and mean little else. Racehorses are great when they're winning or able to drop winning foals. When their time runs out, it is the humane person who seeks a retirement home or otherwise loving solution for their animals. But most owners either don't think or don't care when they discard horses. Meanwhile, perhaps you can put some of your effort and frustration into getting your state's legislators to vote to pass the SAFE Act.

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