Let me preface this column by once again mentioning this blog is to discuss harness racing from the fan's view. As such, this blog will discuss all things related to harness racing; from the good and not so good. The topics will vary though at times there will be a concentration on one particular topic or another. So kindly indulge me for another, albeit brief, entry regarding horse slaughter.
In another forum, there was a brief discussion regarding the Salon article concerning horse slaughter which was mentioned in an earlier post from this blog as well as the proposal of surcharging various fees to provide for the means of retiring or at worst, humanely euthanizing a horse that is no longer able to race. There were few responses to the thread in that forum, which was troubling in itself for reasons I will discuss shortly, but the some responses were surprising. Here are a a couple of sample responses:
"...this (animal slaughter) is a very distressing subject to discuss, but is a fact of life with no apparent solution in the near future..."
"...this is a distressing topic to discuss, ...but for myself, I would rather not know the gory details of what happens to our athletes once they are not racing any more. Just human nature I suppose. I would hope they all go to green pastures or become members of police force to live out their lives, unfortunately, this not the case as long as there is a market for their meat."
To be sure, there were a couple responses of how as owners they took care to make sure their charges found a suitable home when they were done racing and that is to be applauded.
Then there is the lack of responses by people in various forums where this is discussed. Why don't people join in the discussion? Most likely it is because they have the same sentiments as the people quoted above, they don't care, or they believe if we don't discuss the problem it will go away (and yes, there is probably a very small minority that don't have a problem with horse slaughter).
The problem is not going to go away if we don't talk about it and work on addressing the problem; the status quo is unacceptable. Attitudes towards animals have changed; society is more 'enlightened'. If we don't do anything about our unwanted horses the animal rights people will do something about it and you will see harness racing disappear. Can't happen? How many racetracks are still in operation because of the VLTs? As states continue to have budget issues, animal rights groups like PETA will be sure to launch a campaign to make sure slot revenue for horse racing goes away as a way to fund social programs in the various states as well ending the inhumane treatment of unwanted race horses (horse slaughter). These groups have been very successful in crippling greyhound racing; once they finish that industry off they will turn to horse racing.
This is not the only reason we should be doing something about unwanted race horses. It is the right thing to do both ethically and business-wise. Ethically, we owe it to these animals who perform for us to treat them right when their racing career is over by letting them start new careers or if so seriously injured that they can't become pasture animals, euthanized; not sent to the horrors of a slaughterhouse. Business-wise, considering what owners pay to keep horses racing they certainly can afford to give the horse away to a rescue group or if that far gone, they can afford to euthanize a horse that can't physically tolerate a life as a pasture horse. Let's call it an investment in the long term survival of their industry. If they can't do that, they have no business being an owner.
Continuing on the stranglehold Atlantic City has over New Jersey racing, State Senator Steven Oroho writes an opinion piece which indicates why it is time for New Jersey to get racinos. Apparently, the doom and gloom the casino industry says racinos will cause is all smoke. According to studies the author mentions, opening a racino at the Meadowlands will have for all practical purposes no impact on Atlantic City, all it will do is bring back the gaming dollars spent at Yonkers back into New Jersey where the state will benefit; very little additional gambling dollars will be transferred from Atlantic City to the Meadowlands.