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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 8, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Too many horses

Don’t resume gruesome slaughters

Two years ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld Illinois’ decision to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, closing the last two remaining horse-slaughtering plants. This decision was hailed by the Humane Society, the ASPCA, veterinarians and a majority of Americans (polls say about 85 percent) who agree that slaughtering horses is grossly inhumane.

This spring, Montana’s state Legislature passed House Bill 418, which paves the way for the state to build new horse slaughterhouses. Others have joined in this attempt to restart this grisly practice — including the Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition, who in the May 3 article “Too many horses” [page one] said they wanted a slaughtering plant built on the Warm Springs Reservation.

Proponents of horse slaughter argue they need slaughterhouses to deal with old and infirm horses. But according to the Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute, the USDA’s own statistics show that 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good health, including pregnant mares and foals.

Proponents also blame the economy for the glut of horses on the market. While the economic slowdown is a temporary condition, building costly slaughterhouses is a permanent venture that would create an industry around horse meat, for pet food or human consumption abroad. This would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of horses sent to slaughter or being raised specifically for slaughter.

Commercializing horse meat is not a viable answer to wildlife management, whether it involves horses on tribal lands or land the Bureau of Land Management controls. Systemic solutions must be devised to humanely deal with herd populations rather restarting this gruesome practice that will encourage the breeding of more unwanted horses.

— Melissa Alvis, Issaquah

Comments | More in animals

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