Kentucky overrun with unwanted horses

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by melbo, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    Kentucky overrun with unwanted horses
    By JEFFREY McMURRAY, Associated Press Writer
    Thu Mar 15, 12:01 AM ET

    The bidding for the black pony started at $500, then took a nosedive. There were no takers at $300, $200, even $100. With a high bid of just $75, the auctioneer gave the seller the choice of taking the animal off the auction block. But the seller said no.
    "I can't feed a horse," the man said. "I can't even feed myself."
    Kentucky, the horse capital of the world, famous for its sleek thoroughbreds, is being overrun with thousands of horses no one wants — some of them perfectly healthy, but many of them starving, broken-down nags. Other parts of the country are overwhelmed, too.
    The reason: growing opposition in the U.S. to the slaughter of horses for human consumption overseas.
    Public backlash — and state bans or the threat of them — have led to the closure of several slaughterhouses that used to take in horses no longer suitable for racing or work. Auction houses are glutted with horses, and many rescue organizations have run out of room.
    There have been reports of horses chained up in eastern Kentucky and left for days without food or water. Others have been turned loose in the countryside.
    Some people who live near the strip mines in the mountains of impoverished eastern Kentucky say that while horses have long been left to roam free there, the number now may be in the thousands, and they are seeing herds three times bigger than they did just five years ago.
    "There's horses over there that's lame, that's blind," said Doug Kidd, who owns 30 horses in Lackey, Ky. "They're taking them over there for a graveyard because they have nowhere to move them."
    It is legal in all states for owners to shoot their unwanted horses, and some Web sites offer instructions on doing it with little pain. But some horse owners do not have the stomach for that.
    At the same time, it can cost as much as $150 for a veterinarian to put a horse down. And disposing of the carcass can be costly, too. Some counties in Kentucky, relying on a mix of private and public funding, will pick up and dispose of a dead horse for a nominal fee.
    The cost is much higher other places, and many places ban the burying of horses altogether because of pollution fears.
    Sending horses off to the glue factory is not an option anymore. Adhesives are mostly synthetic formulations nowadays, according to Lawrence Sloan, president of the Adhesive and Sealant Council. And because of public opposition, horse meat is no longer turned into dog food either, said Chris Heyde of the Society for Animal Protective Legislation.
    Eventually, anti-slaughter groups insist, the market will sort itself out, and owners will breed their horses less often, meaning fewer unwanted horses. When California imposed its slaughter ban in 1989, they point out, the number of stolen horses dropped while there was no significant change in the number reported abused or neglected.
    "Once you remove slaughter, you remove a release valve for irresponsibility," Heyde said. "These are animals. They're not a pair of shoes."
    Nelson Francis, who raises gaited horses, a rare, brawny breed found in the Appalachian Mountains, said the prices they command are getting so low, he might have to turn some loose. He houses about 57 of them, double his typical number.
    "I can't absorb the price," Francis said. "You try to hang on until the price changes, but it looks like it's not going to change. ... What do I do? I've got good quality horses I can't market because of the has-been horse."
    "Kill buyers" used to pay pennies a pound for unwanted horses, then pack them into crowded trucks bound for slaughterhouses that would ship the horse meat to Europe and Asia.

    However, public opposition to the eating of horse meat has caused the number of horses slaughtered each year by American companies to drop from more than 300,000 in 1990 to around 90,000 in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only one U.S. slaughterhouse — in Illinois — still butchers horses for human consumption.
    "What do you do with them all?" said Lori Neagle, executive director of the new Kentucky Equine Humane Center in Lexington. "What do you do with 90,000 head of horses? That's something that has to be addressed. It'll be interesting to see if people financially can do the right thing or if they will leave their horses to starve."
    Federal law prohibits the use of double-decker trucks for transporting horses to slaughter. Many members of Congress have also been pushing a national ban on the butchering of horses for human consumption.
    While California is the only state that has expressly banned horse slaughter, in a 1989 ballot initiative, similar measures are under consideration elsewhere, including Kentucky, Maryland, New York and Illinois. Connecticut has made it illegal to sell horse meat in public places, and many states have tightened up the labeling and transportation requirements governing horses bound for slaughter.
    A federal court ruled recently that Texas must start to enforce its long-ignored 1949 ban on the transportation and possession of horse meat. That put a stop to horse slaughter for human consumption at the two slaughterhouses in Texas that engaged in the practice.
    While the market price for horses has plummeted, the cost of food, lodging and veterinary care has not.
    Kathy Schwartz, director of Lisbon, Md.-based Days End Farm Horse Rescue, which adopts abused and neglected horses, said that rescue operations that choose not to euthanize horses are generally full. "We had one horse we brought in that was a rack of bones — in pain both from starvation and parasite infestation and injury," Schwartz said. "His owner thought life was better than going to slaughter. Well, life is — if you're going to feed it and take care of it."
  2. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    I've got no problem with eating them..... sorry any horse lovers.
  3. 155gunner

    155gunner Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Not a thing wrong eating horse meat. They are livestock, not household pets. The meat isn't bad but really hard to find in these PC times.
  4. snowbyrd

    snowbyrd Latet anguis in herba

    tastes like chicken? I hate to think that I am eating one of my old friends....but then again I would know what it had eaten. Organic for sure.......
  5. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I was in a horse kill plant a couple of years ago, just for the day. The Belgium owners showed me around, and I have to admit the meat on the carcass looked a lot better than beef. More tender, and a lot lower in fat. What the PC people do not realize is that while our country has a love affair with the horse, we have to have a place for those that are unwanted. Why not make some money off of it? It is so profitable that it is shipped by airline overseas. That is practically unheard of for meat. Humane disposal of horses in a kill plant that is regulated by the USDA is a lot more kind than letting them die slowly because the owners cannot care for them, or do not want to.
  6. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I'm a horse lover - had horses most of my life but in the long run, they are stock. Once they become 'pets' the rules change for me. I had a cow once (she was a birthday present from my husband) and I could no more have had her slaughtered than I could one of my horses. The point is, don't make pets out of livestock unless you intend to keep them as pets for their lifetime.
  7. Blackjack

    Blackjack Monkey+++

    My aunts got a couple of fat old cows she considers pets and refuses to butcher. She gets mad at me when I refer to them as cuts of meat. [dunno]
  8. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    ...Reminds me of my old neighbors...

    When he butchered her "pet" cow; he'd MOOOOO every time he opened the freezer. She wouldn't touch a bite.
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