I am often asked why I am so opposed to the work of Dr. Temple Grandin. Dr. Grandin means well, certain animal advocates point out to me, and has dedicated her life to making the slaughter of animals more humane. Here is why.
Slaughter is not, and cannot be made, humane.
Definition of slaughter: To kill in a violent or brutal manner.
Definition of humane: Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion
Clearly, the terms slaughter and humane are about as contradictory as two words can be.
Can anyone in actuality kill in a violent or brutal manner characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion? I believe that killing characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion is defined as euthanasia. It is certainly not defined as slaughter.
In an article written by Mark Schatzker, “Why you should eat horsemeat: It’s delicious,” Globe and Mail (Canada), Jan. 4, 2011, he speaks with Temple Grandin about horse slaughter:
As to the apparent cruelty of slaughtering a horse, I put the question to Temple Grandin, the famous animal-welfare specialist. Dr. Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University who has studied the horsemeat industry in Canada and the United States, told me horses do not possess a unique or unusual susceptibility to suffering.
“Their brains are similar to pigs and cattle,” she said, “although they’re a bit more flighty. As long as you use the right equipment, it can be as humane as any other kind of slaughter. I don’t see any reason why a horse can’t lead a happy life and be slaughtered and not suffer.” The vast majority of welfare issues Dr. Grandin witnesses aren’t due to slaughter but to owner neglect. If given the choice between being a horse and a commodity pig or chicken, Dr. Grandin says, “I’d rather be the average horse.”
Well, I can see why Grandin would rather be the “average horse.” Horses are not food animals, and the average horse is not slaughtered, although approximately 100,000 U.S. horses are killed each year in slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico for human consumption overseas. A “commodity pig or chicken” on the other hand is definitely headed to the slaughterhouse. Grandin knows what happens to pigs and chickens, before and on arrival at the slaughterhouse, is horrific.
So, in Dr. Grandin’s opinion, horses do not fear or suffer any more than pigs and cattle when slaughtered. Further, when a horse is slaughtered “it can be as humane as any other kind of slaughter” and doesn’t see any reason why a horse can’t “be slaughtered and not suffer.”
Note the date. Here is what Grandin said just days after she was interviewed for the above article about just how “humane” slaughter is.
At the Summit of the Horse in Las Vegas, Grandin stated that only about 20% of animal slaughter facilities operate within acceptable humane guidelines and the rest “slip into bad practices” with a full 10% intentionally treating animals cruelly.
Wow, as good as that? Supposedly Dr. Grandin has worked out modifications and improvements that can bring slaughterhouse practices within a humane range of acceptability. Don’t believe it for a moment.
Right now, however, for argument’s sake say she could.
Whatever they are, they are not going to happen in a fast moving production line with stringent slaughter quotas to meet to be profitable. Additionally, it was the consensus of many of the pro slaughter attendees at the Summit that Grandin’s recommended changes to prevent cruelty would be “costly.” There did not seem to be much interest anyway, and they can save their money. The only surefire way to prevent cruelty in a slaughterhouse is to close it down.
Dr. Grandin’s high sounding ideas to revolutionize the slaughter of horses or any other animal to prevent cruelty are never likely to materialize, and would not achieve it if they did. But it certainly sounds good coming out of the mouths of the killers who use her to continue exploiting animals for food and help soothe the consciences of those who eat them.
That is why I am so opposed to the work of Dr. Temple Grandin.