When the federal budget was signed off by President Obama at the end of last week, included in the $1.1 trillion spending package was language that defunds USDA inspections at horse slaughterhouses. That effectively ends any company’s plans to open a horse slaughter facility, including the plants in Gallatin, Missouri, and in Roswell, New Mexico, at least until September. On Jan. 21, a media source [Daily RFT] summarized the horse slaughter issue perfectly. Horse slaughter with all its opinions – pros and cons – continues to be hotly contested.
It can probably be said that a great many people, in fact the majority of the nation’s people, are feeling a sense of relief. When the results of the SoonerPoll are taken into consideration, it becomes apparent that the vast majority of people were opposed to anything having to do with horse slaughter. And there is yet another poll, taken in 2013 by Lake Research Partners in Missouri which surveyed 402 registered voters. The results again came down against horse slaughter, this time by over 70 percent.
Public opinion and majority polls have not been the primary consideration of proponents of horse slaughter. In particular, Sue Wallis who is a Wyoming state representative and also heads up Unified Equine is especially outspoken regarding the horse slaughter issue. She has partnered with a number of pro-slaughter people equally blunt and who are representing horse slaughter as the solution to benefit the nation’s horses. Wallis claims that butchering horses that have become old, are homeless or are unwanted is a humane solution and will help horse welfare overall.
Animal welfare organizations view Wallis’ claim as ludicrous. Nancy Perry, senior vice president of government relations for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, has told the Daily RFT:
It would be grossly inhumane to argue that the solution for those horses is to put them through this terrible process. Cruelty is inherent to the process of commercial horse slaughter.
Wallis wants domestic horse slaughter to stop overpopulation of horses. In addition, she notes that the “horse industry will not give up” on their goal of horse slaughter. She says,
We will continue to do whatever we can to make things better for horses.
She would have the public believe that her solution of horse slaughter will be “better for horses.” Wallis is intent on pushing her butchering solution through despite rampant opposition at every turn. Her Unified Equine continues efforts to start domestic horse slaughter and has had her sights settled on possible locations in Rockville and Mountain Grove. Since summer, Wallis has partnered up with David Rains of Rains Natural Meats.
Both Wallis and Rains have alluded to “analyzing several options” regarding horse slaughter. It might not be at all farfetched to see Wallis equip a mobile horse butchering truck, station it just across the border, and begin butchering horses in order to accomplish some sort of goal. She has spoken frequently about her vision to have a number of traveling slaughterhouse vehicles crisscross the country.
Wallis has stated that turning a horse into food is the same process as turning a cow into food and there simply is no difference. She claims any arguments that differ are merely “false propaganda of the worst sort.”
Animal welfare organizations are concerned that horses carry an unknown amount of harmful drugs in their bodies. Also, they insist that the horse cannot be painlessly slaughtered due to its anatomy, intelligence and temperament.
Both Wallis and Rains scoff openly at this, countering that federal guidelines, inspections and meat testing would ensure humane slaughter and drug-free horse meat.
Until September 2014, horse slaughter will not happen in the United States. Amanda Good, the state director in Missouri for the U.S. Humane Society, says that the battle about horse slaughter is not over. She believes that it will rage on into the future.
I don’t think it will be over until we pass the SAFE Act. Until then, we’ll keep seeing stuff like this.