Activists work to end horse slaughter (Canada)

In an article written by Mary Vallis for the National Post entitled “Horse lobby presses for slaughter ban,” Vallis tells us:

The once-booming business of killing horses in the United States died last year after court cases effectively shut down the country’s last three abattoirs.

Thousands of unwanted horses are now crossing the border into Canada, where six federally licensed horse-slaughter plants cut and process the animals.

Most of the meat is then sent to Europe and Japan, where horse sashimi is considered a delicacy.

Activists are now lobbying for a national ban on the practice in Canada.

It is a tense issue. The activists, supported by such celebrities as Bo Derek and Willie Nelson, say they have the interests of horse lovers and gentle companion animals at heart.

Slaughter plant owners in Canada, on the other hand, bristle at suggestions their practices are unethical and are wary of attempts to draw the horsemeat business into the public eye.

They argue the international market for horsemeat is good business and creates valuable jobs.

“These people have a lot of money and a lot of time, and they create a lot of trouble,” said Ken Piller, president of Natural Valley Meats in Saskatchewan.

“We’re a plant. We just cut and process. To us, that’s our job. If it’s a chicken, or a turkey, or a horse, or a bison, or a cow, that’s what we do.”

The movement to ban horse slaughter is about ending a practice that is cruel and inhumane. People working to end it come from all walks of life. Many of our members, for example, have never been involved in animal activism of any kind. This is a true grassroots effort of horse owners, lovers and advocates combined. To say we have a lot of money and a lot of time, well that is simply not true. It is through sheer numbers we are able to make the noise about this issue that we do.

At least Piller admits the horse slaughter industry is big business and the real reason it exists, instead of pretending it is a way of putting down unwanted horses.

The article continues with a statement by Shelley Grainger of the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition.

“They’re companion animals, they’re support animals, they go to the Olympics. Policemen ride them to protect us,” Ms. Grainger says.

“They’re a symbol of nobility and so many other things that livestock just aren’t.”

As John Hettinger of Blue Horse Charities so blithely put it so many years ago, “Horses are not fast cows.”

Source: “Horse lobby presses for slaughter ban,” National Post, 26 Jan 2008

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