Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's amazing what you find out when you read the news

Yesterday on a local news website, I began reading an article about how I-44 was shut down near Sullivan, MO b/c of an accident involving a truck pulling a horse trailer carrying about 40 horses. There were pictures of the resuce workers herding the animals into makeshift corrals along the interstate. They were so adoreable; a real feel good story. The report then mentioned that several of the horses had been killed in the accident and several more had to be "put down" because of severe injuries. I had immediately wondered what kind of trailer was large enough to carry that many horses safely or comfortably and now wondered if this had contributed to the amount of injuries. Then I got to the end of the article to a single sentence stating that the horses were on their way to a slaughterhouse in Northern Illinois.

Then I remembered a report I vaguely heard on NPR while I was getting ready for work. The report discussed the push in the Illinois state congress to outlaw the slaughter of horses in the state and shut down the slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Illinois, which is supposedly 1 of only 4 of its kind in the US. In a slight twist on the old "glue factory" story, these slaughterhouses buy horses that no one wants--old horses, sick or lame horses, horses people no longer want to care for--and process them as meat to sell in Europe where in some countries equine meat is considered a delicacy.

The combination of these two news stories revolts me. Obviously, I am against the slaughter and exploitation of all animals, but horses?! As someone who used to ride recreationally, the idea of anyone allowing this to happen to their horse makes me ill. Even if you aren't a vegetarian or into animal rights, I think you can at least agree that butchering and consuming a "companion animal" is disgusting. Would you sell your aging family cat or dog to be packaged and sold for someone's dinner?

I can't honestly say where I stand on euthanizing animals either, but it seems to me that if a pet, and many if not most horse owners view their horses as pets, is old and suffering, there are FAR more humane ways to aleviate that suffering than making a buck and sending them off to a brutal slaughterhouse.

I was gratified to read in this morning's news that the Humane Society was taking legal action to gain custody of the remaining 26 animals it helped rescue yesterday so they could be adopted out and allowed to live out their days in caring homes. So if successful, that saves these 26 horses, but many others aren't going to be so lucky. I usually prefer just to bitch and rarely write my congress person, but this will be an exception. This is just another case of exploitation of nature for human luxury and profit. You might argue that there are more serious problems in the world right now--war, poverty, hunger--and this is true. But we should stand up for the rights and fair treatment of all those who can't speak for or help themselves. Animals included! It all comes down to practicing compassion for all living things.


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