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1008 PD: On the Edge of Common Sense: Horse slaughter ban a year later

Baxter Black Published on 30 June 2008

“You can die of good intentions” That is the best summary I can give of an editorial I read recently about the bill to ban horse slaughter that was passed last year.

The editor and I had discussed the issue when it was a hot topic. At the time she could not imagine “a horse being dragged across a kill floor with chains around its legs.” It’s a gruesome description that elicits a sickening feeling in the heart of any sensitive being. But a few short months later, some of the bill’s supporters are taking a new look.

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One of the factors that hastened the disintegration of the bill’s good intentions has been America’s economic pinch. Most horses in civilized countries today are luxury hobbies. Backyard horses are an expensive pet, easily thousands of dollars a year for most owners. Today, gas is more than $4 a gallon. Food is up. Essentials like cell phones, iPods, computers, big screen televisions, video games, golf course fees and movies are up. A triple-shot large latte five times a week now costs more than $20! And many have been trying to sell their house for a year!

The kids have gone or outgrown the horse in your backyard. The hay, fly control, regular vaccinations and worming continues, and the vet says your 18-year-old equine has ring bone. (Diagnosis, including radiographs, nerve blocks and advice, was $325.) You’d love to sell the horse, but people aren’t stupid. You make a call or two to the horse rescue and retirement pasture. They’re either full, or they want money from you to feed it. That’s when the thought crosses the mind of professional euthanasia, then a winch truck or front-end loader to haul it to the dump… “a chain around the horse’s legs being dragged across the field.”

The editor said all the reader response to her editorial was negative. On her follow-up she found the majority of callers she talked to didn’t own a horse! Couldn’t afford it! But they thought slaughtering horses was cruel and you shouldn’t eat them.

Good intentions, no responsibility. We see it a lot in critics, columnists, movie stars, reporters, politicians. We’ve now gotten into the mess the good-intentioned created, and it’s getting worse. And where are they now? Offering to pay your euthanasia and burial fee? Offering to take your horse and care for it? Not a peep.

It’s no secret who’s going to be cleaning up after them. The same people who always clean up after the well-intentioned. In this case, the real animal lovers; the humane, the sympathetic and the practical … and they’ll do it with no thanks or recognition. That’s not why they do it. They do it for the horses. PD

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