For now, just a final word about the latest in horse slaughter. I am still against horse slaughter as I don't think it is humane, but I do think karma may come to those eating horse are they are eating tainted meet and they may get theirs later.
However, one thing I do try to do is be fair and in some way, are these people any worse than those who get rid of dogs and cats because they no longer can afford them? My wife works at an animal hospital and I hear stories of people surrendering dogs and cats that they 'claim they don't own' but that they found so they feel they don't look like heels. People, due to the economy take their pets in to euthanize because they can't afford treatment or for other reasons. Fortunately, there are a lot of dog and cat lovers at the animal hospital who happen to adopt a lot of these animals, but they can't save them all and if a client insists, they must put to sleep. Some people at the animal hospital volunteer at the animal shelter and you should see the number of dogs and cats that end up there. Being they are at county shelter, the clock starts once they arrive and when the shelter gets full, if a rescue group doesn't come in to take some of the cats or dogs out, they euthanize those that are there the longest (most county shelters are kill shelters). Of course, some no-kill shelters are around to take dogs and cats but the dirty secret is they often take animals they think they can place or they refuse them forcing them to the county shelters. Like with horses there are rescue groups for dogs and cats but lets not kid ourselves, it costs a fraction of what it costs to keep up a horse than to keep dogs and cats with respect to feed and health treatment.
Want to talk about abuse? How many dogs and cats just get dumped out on the street, so the former owners don't have to admit they are giving up the pet? Once in a while you read stories about people pouring acid over a dog or some other atrocity.
While society is becoming more enlightened with dogs and cats, these are small animals, so the death of unwanted dogs and cats is done out of sight and usually done humanely, though in the south, some shelters still gas them.
If there was a market for dog and cat meat in Quebec or Europe, I am sure we would be seeing people setting up slaughterhouses for them as well, despite we treat our pets with drugs not approved for feed animals. For those responsible dog and cat owners, when it is time for life to end, it may cost only $75 to euthanize a dog and have the dog cremated en masse.
Are these people who give up their dogs and cats any better than horse owners who give up their horses? I would suggest not; it is just a case of out of sight out of mind. They can hide much easier what they are doing. We have breeders breeding more dogs and cats than we need if people would rescue a dog or cat from a shelter, but some people need to have that purebred dog or cat for $1,500 instead of paying $75 from a shelter.
The problem is horses are much bigger and cost a lot more to keep up. Euthanasia and disposal costs are a lot more than a dog or cat and you can't bring your horse to your county animal shelter. Unfortunately, there is market for horse meat so people who won't do the right thing for their horse (the same who may not do the same for their dogs and cats), have the opportunity of making a couple of hundred dollars selling to the kill buyer instead of paying $600 to euthanize and dispose of the horse; you are talking about a swing of $800.
Let's not kid ourselves, I am not talking just race horses even if this is a racing blog. On the whole, we think no more about our dogs and cats as we do our horses; it is just the cost of ending a house pet's life is a lot cheaper and even then, we find people avoiding it and there is no market for dog meat. What we really have is a societal problem with regards to treating animals, regardless of type. We treat them nice when all is well, but the moment things go south, some will treat them responsibly and seek care when they are sick, others will dispose of them as quick as possible.
Right now we are talking about the slaughter of horses. What we really need to discuss is the way we treat animals in general. I would argue on the whole we treat them badly. The treatment of horses is a just a piece of the pie.
At this point, since horse slaughter is coming to the United States, the best we can do is redouble our efforts to educate horse owners, and try to get more legitimate rescues established and funded adequately and take steps to make sure the horses are treated as humanely (such as putting video cameras in plants so the companies involved in slaughter will never know when a third party organization will be looking). Perhaps, require horse owners take education courses, or make the cost of owning a horse more expensive by having owners contribute to a fund for subsidized euthanasia clinics.
But remember, if people did the right thing, these slaughterhouses wouldn't have any horses to kill. Education and changing attitudes is the ultimate answer to the problem.