Written by JANE ALLIN
Chief Research Analyst
Just as in the U.S., the misleading and malicious notion of the “Unwanted Horse” has now transcended its origin to become Canadian terminology in response to the EU laws in effect for paperwork required in federal horse slaughter plants for horses destined to be sold for human consumption.
The new Equine identification Document or EID must document illnesses and medications for the 6 months previous to slaughter. So what does this denote in terms of the “Unwanted Horse” hypothesis?
A British Columbia news article entitled “New laws in effect for paperwork on horses” starts with this.
“The new documentation required for each horse called ‘The Equine Identification Document’, requires the name of the animal, land location or premise identification number, horse’s markings, colour, pedigree, picture of the animal and a history of drugs or vaccinations given to the animal within the last six months.
A 1200 lb horse that would normally sell for 40 cents per lb would bring $480; the same horse without paperwork would probably sell for $100 because the horse would then have to spend six months in a feedlot to be able to be eligible for the correct paperwork. An estimated 125,000 horses are slaughtered annually in Canada with the meat destined for the European market where for many it is considered a dietary staple.”
Well, no doubt this is true but it fails to address a number of issues and for the wrong reasons. Regardless of the paperwork, or lack thereof, there are many drugs that require a 6 month quarantine; there are substantial costs incurred in maintaining the good health of those horses ineligible for immediate slaughter and; last, but by no means least, effectively ALL horses should be disqualified as a result of the ubiquitous administration of Bute for pain relief. But I digress.
The writer of the British Columbia news article continues:
“The United States no longer has a horse slaughter industry, ironically the industry which closed in 2007 was based on horse welfare issues but the result has been abandonment, starvation, loss of quality horse markets and an overwhelming amount of horses in rescue facilities or simply turned loose. An estimated 170,000 horses per year are considered unwanted in the U.S. “
More deceptively is the author’s referral to the idea that prohibiting horse slaughter leads to “Unwanted Horses” – purely blatant propaganda to conceal the real issue of over-breeding and lack of owner accountability. Use of this carefully crafted definition arose with the formation of the “Unwanted Horse Coalition” (UHC) under the chairmanship of Dr. Tom Lenz, an acknowledged pro-horse slaughter advocate.
“The United States no longer has a horse slaughter industry, ironically the industry which closed in 2007 was based on horse welfare issues but the result has been abandonment, starvation, loss of quality horse markets and an overwhelming amount of horses in rescue facilities or simply turned loose. An estimated 170,000 horses per year are considered unwanted in the U.S. The ban on horse processing has cost the US roughly $26 million annually in lost meat exports.
One person who operated a non-profit refuge in Oregon for many years averaged 2 new horses per year. When the U.S. Slaughterhouses closed she ended up with 95 horses that year. Although originally opposed to horse slaughter herself, she has changed her mind since seeing starved and abandoned animals.
If the horse processing industry was lost the result would probably be 35 to 40 per cent of Canada’s horses would have a negative value and the same welfare issues the U.S. is faced with would be a reality here.”
There is not a shred of truth to these statements. The real issue at hand is not “Unwanted Horses” but rather “Surplus Horses”.
One needs to look no further than the dictionary for synonyms of unwanted: undesirable; unwelcome; of no value; unacceptable; objectionable. Need I continue? On the other hand take the word surplus.
Surplus = an amount or a quantity in excess of what is needed.