Suffering Beyond Slaughter: Where the Horses of Rescue Should Originate

Horse Slaughter

I hope see never see it return to American soil. I hope the export of American horses to Canada and Mexico for slaughter ends.

I believe we should be working to see this resolved at the legislative level.

That said,

All horses in need are not created equal.

Slaughter is not the worst fate a horse can face, folks.

A crowded holding pen, a crammed trailer ride and a slaughter house.  . . those are terrors, but they play out over days or weeks, not years.

What I believe is worse are Horses wasting away while their fat and muscle is consumed until they die from infection, dehydration, organ failure or a combination of all of those things. Spending 365 days a year with too little of everything they must have to survive, let alone thrive: winters covered in lice, halters growing into their faces, foals born in filth, feet neglect until they are crippled, trying to mature and enduring bone deformities because of malnutrition, 90 degree summers hoping for something to drink, being reduced to eating manure to have something in their stomachs as ulcers grow, causing horrible pain. It is amazing how much they can endure and hang on. . .sometimes for over a decade.

That is the life of the neglected horse.

These are the horses that ends up at auction and aren’t purchased by a broker, the horses traded over and over on buy/sell/trades pages on social media. These horses will likely never go face slaughter in Mexico, as their carcass has no value. Their suffering goes on and on.

Oddly, they do not compel advocates to action like the Broker Lot horses do, and I have long been baffled as to why. Nothing compels like Broker lot horses do, actually, even sitting at an auction and bidding in real time.

A horse in need is a horse in need, but as advocates with very finite resources, we should be looking to the future and how we can best change the landscape for American Horses.

How can we create the most lasting, positive change?

Sending our time and funds to brokers’ pockets is not the way.

Your money is an investment in the type of world you want to live in. Therefore, sending these funds to the machine you hope to see toppled cannot EVER work. You are working against your own goals by these actions in so many ways.

The number being slaughtered doesn’t become less. The horses being bought often end up in negligent situations. The money going into the pockets of the brokers assures they are influential enough to lobby to keep slaughter going strong year after year.

The cost to rehab a starving horses has remained much the same over the last few years, yet we’ve seen the cost of broker horses the sellers claim are headed to slaughter raise month after month. Yet most rescue funding seems to continue to be directed toward pulling the “slaughter bound horse.”

Yet only a bit over 1% of horses in America ship to slaughter a year.

The grossly neglected horses in hollows or behind a trailers or hidden in shacks. . .they are forgotten too often in the hysteria of saving the sleek, sound and well trained horses posted on Facebook through one broker program (pro-scam) after another, and the number of extremely neglected horses is surely many, many times higher than the numbers going to slaughter.

We’ve failed, collectively, to unify around the most serious problem.

Advocates flock to the healthier horses in compelling photos posted on a broker pages selling for a $1,050. There is rarely consideration as to where the horse goes once bail is paid (often the fates of these horses morph into that of the neglected horse within a year) by any number of donors. There is no oversight. There is no accountability, as a rule.

It has sometimes stuck me as a bit Mad, honestly.

It is important to understand that NO matter how many you save, the quota will be filled, folks. This is business, and while it is legal. . .the numbers needed will be shipped no matter how many you buy at $500, $800 or $1,000 dollars.

Does the save of one matter more than the improvement of equine welfare, as a whole? We need to think about this long and hard.

You save one, another goes in her place. That is simple economics of this industry. Further, when you donate to pull one, you very well may be helping to “bail” out a horse to send him to a fate worse than slaughter if you haven’t screened the waiting home (think about it. . .if they had the funds to care for the horse, why did they need someone to donate the purchase price, anyway?).

While folks celebrate these saves, they surely must be clouded by the knowledge that another horse is going in that save’s stead. And always will UNTIL we make export illegal.

There has to be a better option for our efforts.

I suggest we would far better serve our nation’s horses if we began to work to support our state’s animal control authorities, as well as educate the public. If we use funding and time to educate and empower our animal control officers, to expand our counties ability to effectively investigate equine cases and assist our prosecutors across this country to see those who are convicted cannot own horses in the foreseeable future, then we would see more dramatic, valuable change for horses in need.

If rescues decided, collectively, to make sure the horses they first consider assisting are those being seized by Animal Control, to making sure counties feel able to prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of the law and to working on better humane laws, we would see amazing change for equine welfare nationally.

I believe strongly in the work we do helping create long term positive change for horses.

People give based on what pulls at the heart, and that is why this type of information is vital.

If advocates start to better understand what is truly happening, we may see the changes we need for actual improvements in equine welfare. I do not think we can settle for anything less.

I  hope, for the benefit of horses nationwide, we see a change in what motivates all involved, else I feel we are fighting a battle we will lose in the end.


(Scarlett was an ACO seizure from Wayne county, WV in July 2012)


One thought on “Suffering Beyond Slaughter: Where the Horses of Rescue Should Originate

  1. I have rescued 3 horses in the past 4 years. One purchased for $1,000, the second was”free” (haha) and the 3rd purchased for $500. The free one was in worse shape by far from the other two; he is the only one still living. The first had an operable tumor filling both nasal cavities, but the pain and recovery time was more than I was willing to put him through. The third one died from colic only 10 months after being saved. He was being sold to a kill buyer and I bought him from the trainer before that could happen. All that being said, I can see both sides.
    I rescued the one still living because my heart could not leave him where he was knowing he would not be given the care he needed because he could no longer work. He has been rehabbed and now serves as a blind buddy to another draft a friend had rescued. I guess we all do the best we can do with what we have. Thank you for standing in the gap for the innocents who have no one else fit to care for them.

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