Monday, March 2, 2009

HR 503

I am so tired of dealing with the opposition's attempts to make more of a bill than there is. Recently I received an email from someone who had gotten the "bullet" points that the pro-slaughter groups are out there promoting. Some of them are the same tired issues that they have been beating to death since the beginning. So, again this year I will answer those stupid arguments and hopefully put them to bed for the last time. (I know it won't be but a girl has to dream doesn't she?) The text from the incredibly ignorant are going to be in red, with my responses in black.

First of all...know what we are all up against...let me point to just a couple of the headlines out of the bill that has been introduced-from the transportation statement, "to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for any other purposes;"(that covers about everything!) "horses and other equines are domestic animals that are used primarily for recreation, pleasure, and sport;"(also used for work, and for the majority of world cultures for food) "the movement, showing, exhibition, or sale of sore horses in intrastate commerce, and the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation in intrastate commerce of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, adversely affect and burden interstate and foreign commerce;" ("sore" is a very loose term that could be applied to practically any horse under a lot of different circumstances) and "the Secretary may detain for examination, testing, or the taking of evidence-(the horse)-any horse at any horse show, horse exhibition, or horse sale or auction which is sore or which the Secretary has probable cause to believe is sore." (Unconstitutional search and seizure!) According to Thomas Arens, a licensed Equine Professional and Auctioneer in Markleville, Indiana who pointed this out to me, the intent of the bill is to have a USDA official to be able to stop any horses being transported anywhere and take a swab sample of their legs. If the swab sample shows an astringent or a countered irritant then the assumption is that they must be transporting them to slaughter and the official will have the right to impound the horse.

Isn't everyone tired of the play on the whole "you wouldn't be able to transport your horse" thing? How incredibly ignorant of them to not know that Soring is an issue with gaited horses (of course it only takes reading the law, where Soring is very well DEFINED to know this stuff) and Soring has been illegal since the law passed in 1970. Swabbing the legs of the horse is done to detect the chemicals used in Soring a horse. One doesn't sore a horse to send it to slaughter, one does it in anticipation of entering said horse in a show. Testing for soring wouldn't happen when a load is suspected of heading to slaughter. Since Soring is illegal the agency charged with enforcing it should be able to take the suspected item (in this case the horse) in for further testing. It isn't unconstitutional search and seizure any more than if police officer smells alcohol on one's breath and asking for a Breathalyzer or blood test is. One can refuse the swab, just as one can refuse to take a Breathalyzer, but expect to be held until a court order is issued for the blood test or have your horse taken until the tests are run.

Of course if you are getting your legal opinions from an auctioneer you have bigger problems than just getting the wrong answer. I guess the reason why the stopped saying "an attorney friend" is that people kept asking that pesky question about who that attorney is. Now we have a name for that stunning legal analysis.

Sore is NOT a lose term that can mean anything. That is incredibly ignorant. It is well defined under the Horse Protection Act. The issue of "and for any other uses" is NOT being added, it is already contained in the law. This is procedural, meaning it is not limited to checking horses at shows should the USDA choose to enforce the law elsewhere.

To remove these protections might make some really cruel gaited horse people happy, but it wouldn't protect the average horse person any more.

1. Talk to everybody. Talk to the media. Talk to livestock and agriculture groups. Talk to animal rescue and recovery groups. Talk to local governments. Talk to concerned citizens...and tell everyone of them to talk to everybody they know, and write Congress...particularly the House Judicial Committee where the Burton-Conyers HB 503 Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act has been introduced...and to both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees who need to challenge the appropriateness of that Committee, and weigh in with all of the weight of our rural and horse-loving citizens behind them. Here is a link to the House Judiciary Committee, House Agriculture Committee, Senate Agriculture Committee, and a contact list for the entire Congress so that you can contact your own Senators and Representatives.

We sure should talk to everyone we can as well. The committee the bill is in is the appropriate committee. The US Code can only be amended through the Judiciary Committee. That is why it is the most sought after committee, with the most senior legislators sitting on it. They have the ability to make things ILLEGAL, not just change regulations. The Judiciary Committee deals with "The judiciary and judicial proceedings, civil and criminal.", "Criminal law enforcement" and "Revision and codification of the Statutes of the United States.".

2 What should you tell them?
Make sure they understand the true agenda of the animal rights organizations backing this measure-imposing a vegan lifestyle on all of America-go to yourselves, and point everyone you have any contact with that way-find out what the 7 Things You Need to Know About the HSUS are...

Huh? This issue has nothing to do with promoting a vegan lifestyle. While some fighting to ban horse slaughter may be vegan, not all are. I certainly am not and that is definitely not a part of my agenda. I also wrote an article on the difference between animal rights and animal welfare. I guess that they simply refuse to recognize the difference, because of ignorance and just want to focus on a certain part of those involved in the fight. Just like they LOVE saying that those wanting to ban slaughter have nothing to do with the horse industry and don't know anything about horses. I guess my horses are a figment of my imagination as are all the horses of our members. 99% of the AHDF members are horse owners, but that doesn't fit in with their little spin.

3. Make sure they hear that a vegan lifestyle is particularly dangerous for our babies and children. Babies and children deprived of animal derived protein through their mother's milk, and through their diets-their brains do not have the nutrients to develop properly-this lifestyle will severely handicap the next generation. Remember that 85% of the human brain's development happens in the first three years of life. Here are a couple of links that back this up: New York Times article - Authorities Say Strict Vegan Diet Endangered Life of Queens Baby; People Magazine - Did This Baby Die from a Vegan Diet?; and Death by Veganism, a New York Times Op Ed written by Nina Planck, author of Real Food.

Huh Again! The proper diet, vegan or otherwise can be healthy for children. Of course any diet, taken to extremes, can be dangerous. That includes feeding your children a diet high in beef as it contributes to heart disease. Let's get real. Are we seriously going to sink this low?

4. Make sure they understand that most of the world eats horses. Remind them that horses have been used for many purposes, including food, since before the very first animals were domesticated. If we ban the processing of horses in the US it will not stop horses from being eaten-it will just destroy the equine industry here, eliminate the livelihoods of thousands of people, and the jobs of thousands more-at a time when the economy is already suffering tremendously. Here is a quote from a recent broadcast, "Frugal Icelanders Prepare For The Holidays Morning Edition, December 11, 2008 · Iceland has been hit by the global financial crisis in a big way. With unemployment surging and the currency collapsing, less expensive traditional staples are coming back into fashion. Frugal Icelanders are avoiding imported beers. They are also buying horse meat, which is half the price of beef."

I don't know that we can go so far as to say that MOST of the world eats horses. We do acknowledge that there are parts of the world that do eat horse meat. DUH! Who the heck do they think is buying it? We never claimed that they were killing horses for the fun of it. However, let's look at a couple of issues. Recently the USDA came out with an alert saying that they are finding Bute in dairy cattle being culled and sent to slaughter. Since there is no tolerance for ANY Bute in meat producing animals, this is highly alarming. Funny, just about every horse owner I know has Bute on hand and have given it to their horses. That is because we don't intend them to be a food animal. We can read the label that says "Not for use in animals intended for human consumption". Maybe the pro-slaughter side should spend some of their money on teaching their side to R-E-A-D. Owners are not selling their animals to slaughter, they never did. The horses that go to slaughter go through a middleman, the kill buyer. If every owner intended their animal to go to slaughter why did they not take them there themselves? (According to the records available about 3 animals a week out of the hundreds a day were brought there by their owners.)

4. Tell them that since the plants were closed by state action in the US, that we are now importing more than 500 metric tons of horsemeat into the US.

First, I have to say that the numbering belongs to this person and group, I didn't make two number 4s, they did.

Next, we are NOT importing horsemeat for human consumption. At least not where I can find it. It is illegal in many states. My guess this is being imported for zoo animals. Most zoos have found that feeding horsemeat is not the healthiest for their big cats. First, there are too many drugs in the meat. (It has been found to be responsible for killing greyhounds and alligators fed the meat.) Second, horse is not a traditional meal for these animals and many zoos have found other meats are healthier and more easily digested than horse.

5. Make sure that every horse owner in the United States-especially the wealthy thoroughbred owners, and warm blood people, clearly understand that if we classify horses as pets, as companion animals-that all of their agriculture related tax benefits will disappear-no more deductions, no more exemptions. Horses are livestock, plain and simple.

What agricultural exemptions? In most areas there aren't any for those raising horses because they AREN'T a meat producing animal. Horse feed is taxed, just like dog food. Horse supplies are taxed, just like dog leashes. Most tax exemptions are taken under the hobby deduction on our income taxes, that is if we have derived some sort of income from it. Also, most are businesses and are taxed as such and allowed to offset any expenses. However, it is incredibly rare, if available at all, to see any agricultural exemptions based on equine breeding, racing or anything else. Of course if they do allow horses to be considered livestock only then EVERY owner should be allowed an agricultural exemption. I'd sure like one.

6. Tell them this is not an issue of human euthanasia for un-wanted horses-this is an issue of economics and markets. Without a market there will be no breeders. Without breeders there will be no horses. Period.

Yep, every breeder would stop breeding. Because if there is no slaughter of course every race track would shut down, every dressage rider would get out of showing... That is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. Actually banning slaughter would HELP the equine industry in the end. Breeders would ensure that every foal was bred for the best confirmation and that horses would sell for more as breeding would be more selective. The backyard breeding of lower quality, cull/grade horses wouldn't see a market with much higher quality animals for sale at reasonable prices.

I am not even going to talk about the difference between humane euthanasia and slaughter. I think that viewing the videos can make that clear for just about anyone. HSUS has videos of both on their website.

7. Tell them that abandoned and neglected horses are overwhelming the rescue and recovery organizations, and that even if you wanted to give away your good, old horse might not be able to find any place to go with him because there is no longer a release valve through the marketing of those horses who will never be anybody's pet-or whose owners need to salvage some economic value out of their property.

Make sure they understand that we have some 33,000 (by BLM count-most ranchers dealing with those ranges say triple that number) so-called wild horses on the Western public lands. Make sure they know that we have another 30,000+ standing in feedlots all over the West at taxpayer expense.

It isn't abandoned and neglected horses that are overwhelming rescues, it is the fact that we have to expend so much on rescuing slaughter bound horses that put so many of us in trouble. Abuse and neglect are very separate issues that have little to do with slaughter. Greed is the issue behind slaughter. I guess if they could sell grandma for burgers they would rather do that than do the right thing. Next let's gun down our eagles because I am sure that the folks eating horse would eat those too. Now let's all turn over our cats and dogs and let them eat those and lift the ban on using their fur for products.

Ok, that got a little nasty, but come one I have had to rebut the most ignorant things. Let's face it the economy is bad and things are expensive. Horses are not a necessity, they are a luxury. Some people have had to face hard decisions, ones that I hope never to have to face. Shelters for dogs and cats are also at the maximum and adoptions are down for them too and many no-kill shelters are looking at lifting that ban to deal with the overflow. That doesn't mean that we should all just throw our hands in the air and give up. We all have great hopes that things will get better soon. However, it is ignorant to say that the equine industry is the only industry not impacted by the economy, just plant closings affected it. C'mon!!

Hay is higher because they closed the horse slaughter plants, grain is higher because they closed the plants, oh yeah and only for horses, cattle are facing it because of the higher fuel prices. The economy crashed because the horse slaughter plants closed. I think thy have given those plants far too much credit and power.

8. Make sure they know that any unregulated, unmanaged horse herd will double itself every 4 years-that they are already destroying the ecosystems and wildlife habitat of our public lands, and that the cost of caring for them off of the lands will grow to $77 million dollars of taxpayer expense by 2012.

This has got NOTHING to do with horse slaughter. It has to do with the wild horse issue and we firmly believe that the BLM has overinflated these statistics as well as improperly managed the wild horse populations. Of course, what can you expect of someone from Wyoming who claims to be a horse breeder, but actually is a beef rancher and writes poems about illegally roping and harassing wild horses.

And, how can I possibly explain
that racing horseback,
loose and wild through
treacherous enchanting terrain,
sailing loops from
rope swung, weary shoulders
to catch wily mustang mares
is the most exciting,
and addicting occupation
known to

And lastly.

9. Remind them that 10 million people starve to death every year in this world...and maybe our excess BLM wild horses could be put to much better use by providing high quality, nutritious animal protein, untainted by BSE-type disease concerns of other livestock to people who could never afford to buy it. Once again, Americans can use an abundant and sustainable resource to come to the aid of the poor and starving of the world.

Nope horses don't suffer from BSE, they have TSE, Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, which has caused a confirmed 94 deaths in Europe. Not to mention the previously mentioned Bute and other carcinogenic drugs found in horses as well as the frequently prescribed and used antibiotics that have strict rules in food producing animals. There is also the issue of strangles, a highly contagious disease which runs rampant through the feedlots. This strep disorder can affect humans if they ingest the diseased meat.

Besides horse meat doesn't go to 3rd world countries to feed the poor. The market doesn't support it. No industry can support itself by providing only food to 3rd world countries, it isn't profitable. They make so much from selling horse meat to buyers at the highest rate possible. Besides, I would NEVER approve of selling horse meat to the poor after all we would want to help them, not kill them all off.

As I said, these arguments that the pro-slaughter folks provide are ignorant and really shouldn't be worth the time to rebut. However, the ignorant can often make an argument sound valid to the uninformed. This is what makes them so dangerous. There is just enough logic and truth buried in there to sound legitimate, even though it is a load of manure.

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