Treating the Symptoms

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What seemed at first to be a beautiful victory for animal welfare has turned into a gruesome nightmare.

The awful result of the U.S. ban on horse slaughter for human consumption now seems so obviously inevitable, it's hard to believe none of those who rallied for it saw this coming.  The closing of equine slaughter facilities in the United States has done nothing to eliminate the need to put down thousands of our horses every year.  Instead of holding accountable those responsible for our nation's glut of unwanted horses - primarily, irresponsible breeders and wasteful racehorse owners and trainers - equine advocates went after the slaughter industry, which was providing a necessary, if ugly, service.  As a result, the flood of horses into auction houses has not abated one bit, the ride to the slaughter house has just gotten longer, and now takes horses across the border into Mexico. 

This tragic story just goes to show what happens when the focus is on treating the symptoms while the cause of the illness goes ignored.

This reminds me of the current misplaced attempts at treating the immigration "problem."  Closing off the avenues of migration does nothing to address the causes of migration.  Increase border security, restrict legal immigration, terrorize migrants living and working here, punish businesses that employ undocumented workers, criminalize those who befriend and serve migrants  - and the people will still need to come here, to work and to pursue their dreams of returning to their country with enough money to send their children to school, build a house, and live a simple life without so much worry and pain.  Try to stop the flow of desperate people into our country, and our country will still be a shining beacon to those who have no hope in their countries of birth.  Efforts to stem the flow of migrants into the U.S. will be completely in vain, and will have disastrous effects on our economy, and on the migrants themselves, if no efforts are made to address the poverty and lack of opportunity that drive people here.

For the horses, the problem was not with the slaughterhouses.  The problem is what causes the horses to end up in the slaughterhouses.  Take away the slaughterhouses, and you still have thousands of unwanted horses.  Take away the jobs, secure the border, and you still have the same pressing need that sends migrants across the border.

"It's really a matter of supply and demand. These horses are going to go across the border, one way or another," Dr. Cordes said, adding that the $5 million allocated in the horse slaughter prevention legislation for enforcement purposes isn't adequate to secure the borders. "It doesn't even come close," he said.

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vicki said:

The number of horses going to slaughter is result of the demand for meat by foreign owned companies. The number of horses slaughtered fluctuates based on the demand, not the number of so called unwanted horses. The KBs are not performing a service. They’re not rounding up horses – they’re buying them. If they were truly unwanted and people just wanted to dump them, why do the KBs have to pay for them? If horse have to be put down, why are they not being humanely euthanized? Are you not aware that thousands and thousands of horses were sent to Mexico kill houses when the foreign owned US kill houses were open? Where was the outrage then? Are you saying it was okay to send them to Mexico then but not now?

You are correct about owner responsibility but it’s obvious that slaughter doesn’t solve anything, other than making France and Belgium kill house owners rich. If slaughter was the answer, don’t you think after 20+ years we would have slaughtered our way out of it by now? The only way to solve the problem is to remove the financial incentive for slaughter. As long as they can be paid for their irresponsibility and mistakes, nothing will change. Since you quoted the AVMA, perhaps you should read this paper -

Mags said:

And what would you have us do to the irresponsible breeders and trainers who throw away good horses just because they aren't fast enough or pretty enough or can't be sold? Horse slaughter is all about supply and demand and the money made from slaughtering horses. Just as it is in racing, the almightly dollar rules.

Chris Heyde said:

Your post is sadly misdirected at the problem. Do you realize that our goal from day one has been passage of the federal American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act? When I started this campaign back in 2001 my main concern was passage of a federal ban to ensure horses aren't sent to Mexico. For those who don't know the issue such as yourself, there is no federal ban in place. The slaughterhouses are still buying horses in the US and shipping them to their plants in Mexico and Canada. Organizations such at the American Veterinary Medical Association and othe pro-horse slaughter groups are blocking the federal ban. If not for them our horses would be safe and would have been years ago. Instead of helping they try to distract people from the truth. If you want to know the root cause of the problem, take a look at the American Veterinary Medical Association. (you can read more about them from real humane vets at

You must also remember that fewer horses have been slaughtered this year in the US. The public has become aware, horse rescues are on the rise, cruelty is being addressed and we are close to a federal ban.

You talk about symptoms, but don't seem to discuss any? We should be asking pro-horse slaughter groups such at the AVMA what they are doing to help horses? That would be a big fat "nada." Those of us who are fighting for the ban, rescue horses every day. We talk about irresposible breeders, we fight to have cruelty laws enforced and the list goes on. We are part of the solution.

The slaughterhouse is a plague. It is a problem that exists for greed. Take that away and the few indiviuals dumping their horses for a couple of bucks will have to deal responsibly with their animal. Their responsibility. The symptoms you should look at are greed, overbreeding and indivuals who just don't care. As long as we keep the slaughter house open greedy people will dump their animals.

As for Cordes, why would we listen to a USDA inspector with a dismal enforcement record? I read a quote where he said by horses going to Mexico "IT looses ITS citizenship." What is up with that? Is that how we treat our citizens. A bolt to the head here or a knife to the back of the scull in Mexico? Slaughter here is cruel and slaughter in Mexico is cruel. Both should stop. He will say anything to keep his job.

Joyce J said:

Janna, your points have been made time and time again by pro-slaughter advocates but there seem to be aspects of this situation that you have either ignored or may not be aware of. Horses have been going to slaughter in Mexico for almost 2 decades and only now that anti-slaughter legislation is on the verge of passing has this become an issue for groups like the AVMA and AQHA. They have known about it all along and remained silent, until now. If that doesn't call their motives into question I don't know what will. Since organizations like the AQHA make their money on registrations, they will fight this law as long as they can, as hard as they can because the major cause of "more horses than homes" is over-breeding, against which they have done nothing and will do nothing. Why would they want to cut their financial throats? And USDA statistics verify that the majority of horses slaughtered are QHs. Now, if you have any ideas on how anyone can make someone stop over-breeding, please share them. I am sure anti-slaughter will do everything we can to impliment your ideas.
As an anti-slaughter advocate, I would suggest that you people on the pro side get some new material. You keep hauling out the same old arguments that always point the finger at those of us who want this law passed. Kindly blame those who are responsible for this situation--irresponsible owners, organizations that claim to be "for the horses" like the AVMA, AQHA and AAEP and most of all the Congress and Senators like Larry Craig, whose stalling tactics have prevented furtherance of the democratic process of discussion and debate on this bill. Anti-slaughter legislation has been presented to the Congress numerous times over the years and, obviously, has never passed. Castigate the people that stand to lose by a ban on horse slaughter, not those of us who want to see the travesty end. All we stand to gain is the satisfaction of knowing that we have put an end to a horror; they stand to lose their almighty dollar and anyone who does not see that their opposition is self-serving is either blind or easily fooled.
You might want to familarize yourself with the euthanasia concept--the only caring way to dispose of an animal not intended for human consumption. These animals deserve the same kind of death you want for yourself and those you love--calm, quiet and peaceful. We need to grant them that dignity.

America has some real serious sellouts for the Buck. They hire illegals for profits they move to Mexico to be tax free. And in the horse Industries Pro slaughter overbreeders are the problem that has milked our judical system for years. Its not right to slaughter a bibical animal for a foreigners delacy meal. have they forgoten that Jesus rode on a meal and God will return on white horses. The bible even indicates not to eat a hoof animal and that split cloven animals are to be for consumption. These Pro slaughter folks are profiting and ignoring laws that were based back in 1949 for Texas. Not once did the plants try to make them legal for the reason they knew they would not be allowed so they broke the law and lied to the Public. The only ones that still believe there bullcrap are the wana be cowboy and overbreeders association like AQHA and APHA which makes millions off overbreeders. Closing the plants are not allowing horses to run the streets of Ky. Slaughter incresed for exports in far more inhumane treatment and again The AAEP and AVMA which took an Oath to protect the horses stand quietly watching horses indure this treatment thru slaughter and transportation again ignoring the truth. The real truth is out and we will Ban Horses slaughter and Transportation for exports very soon. Note Pro-slaughter folks move to mexico you welcome there.

janna Author Profile Page said:

Wow, I'm overwhelmed by the thoughtful comments to this post! My original intent in posting on this topic was simply to show some of the similarities between the horse traffic going south, and the human traffic going north, over the Mexican border. Like immigration, the issue of horse slaughter is a complex and emotional one, with passionate and knowledgeable people on all sides. I am going to address each of your comments, but in the meantime, I just wanted to say thank you to each of you for pointing out some things that I hadn't been aware of.

vicki said:

I would urge all pro slaughter folks that tout the misdirected rantings of the AVMA to read this VEW press release issued today.

Mrs. Terrebone said:

According to the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute, you did not get permission to post their photo on this site.

Willie Nelson is a stauch supporter of the ban on horse slaughter and has adopted several horses that were rescued from slaughter.

janna Author Profile Page said:

I did, however, cite the source for the photo.
I should probably point out that I am not a supporter of horse slaughter. Having owned horses for twenty years, and having worked with racehorses, I've had some very personal experiences with the issue. Nonetheless, as you all have seen, I've still got a lot to learn. What drew me to post on this in the first place was the news that, since the closure of U.S. slaughterhouses, the number of horses sent to Mexican slaughterhouses to face an even worse fate than they would've faced here, has skyrocketed. It is an unfortunate result of what was otherwise a victory for equine welfare. My point is NOT that U.S. slaughterhouses were a good thing, only that efforts to protect horses seem to have been misdirected - much like the efforts to "fix" our immigration system are so often misguided and misdirected. Obviously, more needs to be done to keep our horses from being slaughtered ANYWHERE. As a horse owner, I will make sure my mares never see an auction house, or a slaughterhouse. That's my personal responsibility. But the only real solution lies in reducing the number of unwanted horses, and that responsibility rests primarily with those who make their living breeding horses.
I especially appreciate those of you who pointed out the bias in the AVMA, and provided the links to Vets for Equine Welfare. In quoting from the AVMA, I actually committed a fairly common mistake that those of us who advocate for migrant rights have been discussing lately, namely organizations who appear to be on one side of an issue to draw in readers (especially people who are new to an issue), only to push their own opposing agenda. One example for us would be versus, two groups on opposite sides of the immigration issue.

Janna, thank you for being open minded on this issue, and I applaud the fact that you have vowed your mares will not go to slaughter. Please keep that promise, and let them die at home in peace when the time has come.

I do disagree with this statement: "he only real solution lies in reducing the number of unwanted horses, and that responsibility rests primarily with those who make their living breeding horses."

The reality is that the existence and option to send horses to slaughter encourages overbreeding. There is an easy out for those who want to cull the less than desirable. Take away the slaughter option, and many less foals will be bred...

Second only to the American Paint Horses, the American Quarter Horse is the most slaughtered breed of horse. And the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and the American Paint Horse Associate (APHA) both are PRO-slaughter.

It has been estimated that as many as 40% of Thoroughbred race horses go to slaughter. Shame on this industry for allowing that to happen!

Yes, for a short time there will be a glut of horses needing to be rehomed. I predict that after one gestation period (11 months), the glut will dissipate quickly. Force those unscrupulous breeders to be responsible for their foals, and things will change quickly.

In all reality, this has potential to be an economic plus! There will be horses needing homes, trainers and grooms needed, farms may be preserved to open training centers, and jobs will be created.

Let's do right by our companion animals, and protect them from inhumane actions.

kyledeb said:


I never thought that I'd see such an interesting discussion regarding the global dynamics of horse slaughtering. Great stuff friends, and thanks for picking up my slack while I was gone.

janna Author Profile Page said:

Thanks, Kyle - neither did I! See what happens when you're gone? The place goes to the animals! Seriously, it's been enlightening for me, and hopefully for others too.

janna Author Profile Page said:

Lorri, I like your attitude. It's refreshing to hear some optimism for the horse industry. I hope the elimination of an "easy out" for unscrupulous breeders will indeed lead to more restraint in breeding.
I also lament the wastefulness of the Thoroughbred racing industry. Having worked with Standardbreds, I saw several horses from my stable get sent to the Amish, a couple get claimed, but amazingly, my trainer didn't send any to slaughter. He even had one gelding returned to him when the Amish farmer found the horse too lame in the knees to use. My trainer kept that gelding till he had to be put down years later due to colic. He shot the horse himself and buried him on the property.
I can't help but point out a link between those increasing horse-industry jobs and immigration - ever notice who comes in to fill those jobs? (hint: see ) Lets hope that reforms in our immigration system result in benefits for migrants and horses alike!

Joyce J said:

Janna, so far you are the only person who has taken our criticism with such grace and class. Usually when things like this appear and anti-slaughter reacts, it has a tendency to get real ugly real fast.
You aggravated me initially but I have to say I misjudged you, I was not very nice to you and I am sorry.
I will stay away from the issue of horse slaughter and immigration except to say that there seems to be a definite connection between illegals and the "industry." Many of us questioned why so few employees of Cavel were listed on the law suit against Illinois; those that know believe it is because most of their people were here illegally and had to remain hidden. Who knows? My only opinion on immigration is anybody can come here to better themselves, just be legal about it! Enough of this; we aren't going to solve it so why beat our heads against a wall!!

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

Hey Joyce J,

I'm glad you noticed what a kind soul janna is, and that's how a lot of us try to be here. We listen, and we admit if we'd made a mistake writing. That's the beauty of being able to interact with people online, growing.

I do have to say though, that the idea that migrating legally to the U.S. is an option for the vast majority of the millions of undocumented migrants is a myth. Check this out, the U.S. only admitted 147 migrants that were unskilled and without family connections last year.

janna Author Profile Page said:

Thanks, Joyce, I appreciate that. This whole discussion was a surprise for me, and all the passionate arguments really moved me. We all have to temper our rage at times when we're not altogether certain where the other person's coming from, and that is certainly one of the challenges of online discussions. I'm happy to have heard from an entirely different crowd here, though, and I hope all our eyes and minds are open a little wider than before because of it.

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This page contains a single entry by janna published on January 7, 2008 4:29 PM.

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