West Virginia is apparently in the works to start a “Livestock Care Standards Board.”

This was something that “sounded” like I should and would want to be involved in, a step in the right direction, as it were.

But possibly not. . .

Status 19-1c-1
http://www.nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/farmanimal/westvirginia.pdf

Calls for a board to be formed, and without knowing what I was walking into, I went to the meeting last night. This meeting changed my view of some West Virginia farmers, but it also made the pro-horse slaughter stance far more real for me, and the dangers of that view are now all too clear to me.
The initial slideshow presentation was on body scoring cattle and was reasonable in that is presented useable information to farmers, though it hardly really addressed much for livestock welfare.

The bulk of the meeting was carried out by an Assistant Professor and Extension Equine Specialist at WVU and has an agenda, it seems.

She started her speech by explaining right off that horses are only livestock and should never be entitled to pet (read: high) standards of care, essentially. She explained that those present, she hoped, realized and agreed that they should be considered livestock, not companion animals. She stated she was pro-slaughter from the beginning.

Note: I only sat through this lecture, though I did so with a queasy stomach and much difficulty, in order to inform the readers of this blog and my facebook farm and rescue page of the misinformation that exists out there.

I heard, during this lecture, a lot of what I have found to be erroneous information concerning even some simple care guidelines of horses. Some of these thing are those in which my time in rescue has proven false, nevermind my lifetime of equine experience. She explained that a horse doesn’t have to have a shelter beyond trees, that trees alone are perfectly suitable. I’ve rescued horses with only trees as shelter and they almost always have rain rot and other skin issues and poor coat condition. I have personally witnessed horses with good feeding regimes that have no shelter beyond trees show serious skin problems from having no real shelter.

She touted the science behind commercial feeds and the reasons they will work for any horse, if a horse needs a concentrate, that is. I can tell you that doing all the rescue I have, this is not true. Each horse has different needs. She made no consolation for easy keepers, hard keepers or the horse in the middle – nutrition was presented as a cover all for all horses. This is dangerous because it is not true and leads people to believe if Mr. Fat on air lives on 10lbs of hay a day, Ms. Hard keeper can, too. Wrong. This might have been an oversight, but you know, rather than past many minutes on pro slaughter propaganda, how about one actually talk about real equine ownership matters?
She stressed that horses cannot change body scores quickly, i.e. go from 1 to a 3, in a matter of a short time – WRONG. With the RIGHT care, they not only can, they almost ALWAYS will unless there are underlying conditions. I’ve had them go from a 1 to a 3 in 2 weeks. I can only assume this was stated to give people who do not provide quality care a cushion, a grey area to make excuses for starving a horse: “I’ve been trying to get weight on this mare for 2 months, and she is still a skeleton. . . “ The local human officers were at this meeting, and now they walk away believing this garbage. That statement alone will cause countless harm to the horses those human officers see in this next year. That is ALWAYS the excuse given by those starving their animals, especially horses, “I’ve been trying to get weight on for a month, 2 months, 3 months.” They are lying, and this woman gave the animal control no reason to doubt their story. But you know what? I have many photos that disprove all of that. Look at
http://www.equinerescue.com.
I honestly was so upset by what I was hearing, I cannot even recall all of the information . . . but here are those I have NOT forgotten.
All of you may not be aware, but I’m not anti-slaughter in the way many rescues are, but I am a 15 year (in December) Vegetarian, 1 year of that as a Vegan (which isn’t for me, thanks), and I’m a lifelong animal advocate. I do not believe animals are people or that they are entitled to the rights of people. I believe they deserve as much kindness as is possible, though. I believe in being honest.  As a whole, I do not separate the rights of a horse to not be eaten over the rights of a cow, goat or chicken, but I try to look at this as an average American and from a factual standpoint, and that is how I will argue this. My personal feelings aside, 70-90% of Americans, when asked, do not want to see America slaughter horses for food. PERIOD. A Democracy should operate for and by the people, right, but we know that is not how it works, sadly.
This person made it a point to stress that most people, when asked, including most horse owners, do not state they “LOVE” horses, they only “like” them. This is the biggest crock of nonsense I’ve heard in my life. America has a long standing love affair with horses, and anyone with ears willing to hear knows that when horses are brought up, the response, when you’re not in a room of hilljacks, is usually overwhelming one that has proclamations of love and adoration for these creatures. I can think of no animal more universally loved in America, actually.

(How do you REALLY ARGUE that we should eat animals capable of this above? How do you deny the love affair Americans have for horses when they pay huge sums of money to just watch them “be?”)

The Black Stallion, Misty of Chincoteague and Black Beauty – NO animal, even the dog, has such notable icons of human adoration in the States. Imagine suggesting eating one of those beloved horses. Imagine people eating Secretariat, Man O War or Seattle Slew after their careers!
I sat and listened to the arguments for slaughter, flushed and feeling a bit faint, actually. This speaker’s sincere hope is to see the glorious slaughter factories of America reopened, and at present, it looks like that will take place, and she was not short of bashing and condescending statements toward those of us that rescue and help horses in need and of the HSUS and any group seeking to give horses some protection. Oh, the professor also seemed to me in favor of seeing our Mustangs erased from American land, as well. . . at least, offered no aside to make an exception to them in her pro slaughter rhetoric. How kind.

The problem, be you pro or anti slaughter of horses, is that the data that supports these arguments are all, by and large, lies. If someone wants to state that they simply think the meat of unwanted horses should be used and not wasted, that is one thing, but that is not what this woman stated, as a whole. The supports she provided for this belief system were wholly without merit.

Might I add in here that quite a few of the farmers in the room said a few times, some loudly, things like, “I’ll eat a horse,” “I’m all for killing and eating horses,” “Yea, we need to see those factories open again,” and grumblings about how their horses aren’t worth anything anymore (likely backyard breeders).

The speaker explained that the closing of slaughter factories in the USA is the primary cause of the flooding of unwanted horses we are experiencing. Well, that is interesting since her very chart contradicts this statement.
http://www.animallawcoalition.com/horse-slaughter/article/541
Her chart (which was dated 2008. I believe) and the statistics above show that by 2008, the exporting of horses to Mexico and Canada has replaced the number that had gone to US slaughter houses in 2006, and this makes it impossible – 100% IMPOSSIBLE – to argue that the numbers of unwanted horses displaced by the closing of the US slaughter houses created this problem we have now. The numbers of horses being slaughtered each year are the same as the numbers that were slaughtered before the closing of the slaughter houses. What does that mean?
She made it sound as if the horses, based on her charts, going to slaughter, are old, poorly bred or have behavior issues. This is false.
http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/horse_slaughter/facts/facts_horse_slaughter.html
While I’m providing a link to the HSUS stance that 92% of the horses going to slaughter are horses in good condition, I am backing that up, since people will discredit their link, with my word that the vast majority of rescues I’ve done or that I’ve seen go through auction and the majority of those others I trust have pulled from auction or have seen run through, have been nice, not aged and many times very well trained and bred. It is a simple matter of research online to SEE this is true.
She explained that these horses have nowhere to go. There is no way to house them in rescue, there is no place for all of the unwanted. There is no real solution except to slaughter the horses; however, since we already see that the numbers of horses being slaughter is the same as prior to the closing of the US plants, we know beyond a doubt – based on actual, real life events, slaughter IS NOT (and CANNOT) helping the unwanted horses country wide. Be it here or elsewhere, neglect and abuse is not lessened by slaughter. . . if it were, we’d not see what we do now – Slaughter is going on in the same numbers as BEFORE.

One might argue that horses have a smaller value based on the meat prices that are quite a bit lower now that horses must leave the US to be slaughtered, but I have a hard time believing that when (2007 figure http://www.avma.org/reference/marketstats/ownership.asp) over 2,080,000 million horses are in the United States and only a fraction of that number, some 90,000 to 100,000, go to slaughter a year, that this fraction of the industry is what dictates the value of the horse in America. It likely isn’t.  If would make little sense that the primary value of Horses are based on the price per pound of less than 5% of its numbers in the country. That simply does not make good business sense. Meat buyers get 25 cents or a bit more per lbs now, verses a price of around $1.00 per lb, I read, but 15 years ago (though I doubt prices were ever that high), I went to auctions with my grandfather when the US slaughter plants were alive and well, and I saw horses going for a $100 a head Over and over and over again. I saw horses that went through as poor and ill kept as I do now. Why was this happening if slaughter in American solves the low prices and abuse?
So, even though this professor doesn’t want to admit it, something else that has nothing to do with slaughter effected the market for horses. It is no surprise to find that when the nation’s economy tanked (an understatement) in 2007/2008, the horse market fell apart. You see, horses are a luxury item, and they are one of the first things that many people have had to let go of. This allows the lowest dregs of society to now be able to afford, in their small minds, horses. This is where your problem of neglect and abuse comes in. The overpopulation is no more than it ever has been. Fewer people with means are keeping them: FACT. Breeders, even though the market has collapsed, refuse to breed in smaller numbers, and morons that cannot feed themselves keep collecting horses they cannot feed.
We were told that, by the way, WVU only accepts, for the most part, horses into its program that are worth a lot, say 10-20k, and I had to laugh at that. It was painted out that the “unwanted” would not be able to fill the shoes of those horses. I’ve had horses come through my rescue worth 10k in the past market, I’ve seen many worth MUCH more in a by gone era, go through other rescues, and I assure Ms. Spooner, I’ve seen and others working rescue, horses worth more than your bragging rights . . . pass through auction. Keep that in mind. I wonder if these worthless horses she says that end up slaughtered include Ferdinand, the 1986 Derby winner, who met his end in Japan? I guess he wasn’t worth as much as those high dollar WVU horses. What a joke.
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/story?id=5025242&page=1#.TsSyGcPNm-U
Never once did this person mention the dangers of horse meat to human beings. If you’re pro-slaughter and ignore this fact, you’re misleading people in a dangerous way, and it doesn’t matter how you think about eating horses. . . feeding people tainted meat is hardly a simply matter to defend. I suppose since the companies who would open (standing by with money, she said, in hand – eager to reopen these plants) these facilities are foreign based and selling to non-USA citizens, we should not care about their food safety? Remember how we appreciate the toxic food we import from China? Oh, we don’t appreciate that, you say? Yea, that is right, and what right do we have sending meat that is full of medications we KNOW cannot be given to animals (of course, we know none of these horses were intended for food, though) intended for food, and yet, people like this woman are touting the wonderful solution of using these horses, all having medications (bute, for instance) for the most part, that would prevent any American from consuming them . . . for food for people outside of America. Wow. This isn’t JUST ABOUT animal’s rights, this IS ABOUT REAL human beings that should not be eating contaminated meat. And this woman and others sit back and laugh at us in rescue for caring too much about animals, when they are more than happy to feed men, women and children a food that cannot ever be safe. Who has the messed up priorities? Well, I’ll tell you, it isn’t me.
Never once did this “Livestock Care Standards Board” speaker mention that killing a horse by a captive bolt can never be humane. She did not discuss humane options for these unwanted horses at all. This equine “expert” (which seems a joke to me, degree or no!) NEVER explained that the reactions and nature of horses make slaughter in these plants a far more heinous than it typically is for livestock (though that process is inhumane, as well). Never did she talk about the blood volume of horses, the multiple stab wounds it often takes, the fact many have to bleed to death – alert and aware – because the slaughter process fails. Who cares? Well, this woman and those at the meeting, do not. I care. Very much, I care. Never did she discuss what is defined as negligent care, either.
How is the slaughter of horses even economical? Who does it benefit? Not Americans. The added slaughter trucks on the road, polluting the air, using fossil fuels, adding traffic to the roadways, the massive pollution added to the environment by these plants, the devaluation of the property near the plants, the morale of the areas around horse slaughter plants, the tax payer money (money tax payers do not agree with providing) spent to pay the USDA inspectors . . .how is that a benefit to a single America or a single horse? How does this provide a solution? Excuse me for not being so stupid as to not be able to see past this rhetoric. The neglect, abuse and so forth will continue, as we clearly see, and in addition, you have all the above added grief, but by golly, Holly Spooner and other pro-slaughter folks certainly love to tout this garbage to sheeple. . . err, people, that is.
She explained that she was privy to information that showed the plants in Mexico are actually stringently ran and have high Belgium standards, even more so than Canadian plants. She maligned the videos, hundreds and possibly thousands, online of these plants as showing inaccurate information. . . Really? How high of standard could Belgium have when they think nothing of feeding animals on medications that people should not consume to humans?
Last time I check, hundreds of accounts and videos rarely lie:

http://www.animalific.com/farm-animals-video-1.html’
Yes, clearly very well carried out and humane. . .there. Hard to make That stuff up, isn’t it? Yes, I thought so to.
The government sits back and does nothing because . . . you know, they do not even care about human beings, let alone the cares of animals. If they are content to ship tainted meat overseas, logically, they aren’t going to care about the horse killed to supply it.
This assistant professor explained that slaughter, she hoped, was the only answer any of us could see, to the issue, and she expected we all would leave with that understanding and with the expectation to see plants reopened soon. She applauded the great efforts of those trying to see the plants open again, and it looks like, based on legislation just passed, we will see them open again if nothing changes.
Let me explain that IF – and only if – slaughter HAS TO continue because the government refuses to listen, as usual, to the people, then yes, I believe it would be better if it took place here in the US – not because the plants are much more humane, if at all, but at least the trip is shorter; however, I would prefer to see it abolished. I believe there are other answers. At least, the government ought to see if other options can work. I believe if more people KNEW the facts, we could see slaughter eradicated and see successful results.
I had hoped I could be a part of the “Livestock Care Standards Board” in West Virginia when I went to this meeting, but I think that their goals and mine have so little in common, they would have no desire to have a person on board that actually wants to see “STANDARDS” exist.