First of all, ask yourself who benefits from horse slaughter. It's the tiny minority of people in the industry who are irresponsible owners or breeders, people who buy and sell slaughter horses, or people who own or operate slaughter plants.
For those on the fence about horse slaughter: it's not a hard or complex question. Any person who has loved a horse (or any companion animal, for that matter) should believe, fundamentally, that it is wrong to slaughter creatures we've created to work for or with us. It has nothing to do with "animal rights." It has everything to do with pushing the world to be a little bit more humane. We owe our horses better than this.
Some people use Temple Grandin's research and ideas as an argument in favor of reopening horse slaughtering plants in the United States. She states that even poorly run facilities in the U.S. were better than unregulated abattoirs in Mexico. Bully for Ms. Grandin that she helped make the mass killing of animals a little less traumatic for them, but it's not particularly relevant to this discussion. Shipping horses to slaughter in Canada and Mexico is less "humane" than killing them in the States, but closing the U.S. plants was the first step to ending this monstrous practice. Our next step should have been making the export of horses for slaughter against the law, or at the very least, regulating which plants in Mexico were used to kill our horses, but we haven't quite managed that yet.
Anti-slaughter arguments are hardly limited to emotion. The issue of meat toxicity from the many drugs routinely used in our horses is very real, and will always be so unless horses are raised strictly for slaughter and regulated like any other species meant for human consumption.
Horse slaughter is one answer to the question of what we do with horses that are unwanted, whether from physical or behavioral unsoundness or just because they're untrained or neglected, but it is wrong.
Horse slaughter for human consumption was a lucrative business in this country and some people made lots of money doing it. Prior to U.S. plant closure, horses were selling for as much as $.50/lb on the hoof, so an average sized horse was worth $500 for slaughter. It created an environment for the irresponsible production of horses.
The last equine slaughter plant closed in this country in 2007, and our economy was still depressed. Thousands of people stopped indiscriminately breeding horses because suddenly, not only was money tighter but there was no market for surplus horses. There were ads all over the Internet saying, "Getting out of horse breeding, selling my stallion and broodmares."
U.S. horse slaughter helped to create this overpopulation of unwanted horses. If we stop slaughter and the exportation of horses for slaughter, we won't have such a surplus. After all, horses don't have litters and most people don't keep stallions for recreational use.
Without slaughter, what do we do with unwanted equines? Ideally, individuals would take responsibility for each animal they own or breed. They would pay for humane euthanasia and disposal of the carcass. Yes, that can be expensive, but it should be part of horse ownership. For horse owners who can't or won't accept that level of responsibility, we should also encourage the opening of more rendering plants. Owners would pay nominal fees to the rendering plants for euthanasia of unwanted animals. Horses would spend much less time in transit. Without the assembly line rush to kill them, more humane deaths might be attainable.
This issue is a no-brainer. The only argument in favor of horse slaughter is financial gain for people who have unwanted horses, sell horses for slaughter, or operate slaughter plants. Why would we reward these individuals at the expense of our horses?
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