Friday, August 22, 2008

Dr. Boyd ReButts ProSlaughter Crap

This (USA Today) article fuels rampant misconceptions about the horse slaughter industry, whose practices are inhumane, heartless and frankly, revolting. Let’s be clear, the horse slaughter industry exists out of greed and those advocating horse slaughter could care less about horse welfare.

As a farmer, and the President of the National Black Farmers Association, I feel strongly about responding and correcting the record on this issue. It goes without saying that horses have played a long and important role in our history – from tilling the land, to being out pets and companions.

Those advocating horse slaughter are using the abandonment issue to divert attention from the real issue, which is appalling to a vast majority of Americans.

Even if horses were being abandoned, that has nothing to do with slaughter. We should go after those abusing animals, not reward them. The notion that horse slaughter staves off a glut of unwanted horses, or that horses brought to slaughter are old, sick, crippled or dangerous couldn’t be further from the truth. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 92 percent of the horses slaughtered each year are sound, usable horses.

Horse abuse and neglect cases will not rise following a ban on horse slaughter. Since California’s 1998 ban of horse slaughter, abuse cases in California have not risen and have even declined in some areas. Horse theft also dropped by more than 34 percent.

The biggest misstep in your piece was the question, “How can we humanely lessen their numbers?” The exportation and slaughter of American horses is anything but humane. To support such an industry and practice is to support the brutal killing of these animals — longtime members of our families as loved pets and valued farm hands.

Slaughter is NOT humane euthanasia. In some cases, the execution method involves activities outlawed in the United States, such as shooting or stabbing. Horses often travel 24 hours or more without rest, food or water in cramped double-decker trailers. These trailers are built for shorter animals such as cattle and pigs; most horses cannot fully lift their heads. Horses often slip and fall in these trailers, arriving at the plants dead or severely crippled.

There are hundreds of horse rescue organizations across the country that have volunteered to care for these horses in the interest of removing them from the slaughter line. In fact, in June of this year, the Animal Welfare and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) formed a partnership to place rescued horses on farms operated by NBFA’s 94,000 members.

While some continue to suggest that slaughter is the only option, the success of this program, and the lives of the saved, tell a vastly different story.

Dr. John Boyd
President of the National Black Farmers Association

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