Monday, December 19, 2011

They shoot horses, don't they? Yes, that's the only vet-endorsed method, and it can easily fail

A month after the U.S. ban on horse slaughter was overturned, horse advocates, animal-rights activists and politicians are wondering if horses can be killed humanely. Jake Nichols of JH Weekly in Jackson Hole, Wyo., reports about the complexity of horse slaughter.

According to hidden-camera footage and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the inhumane treatment suffered by horses in Mexican-run slaughterhouses is "grisly." Nichols reports details of the slaughter, which leaves the horse fully aware of being paralyzed and later killed by having its throat slit. He reports this is the unintended result of the forced closure of U.S. slaughterhouses in 2007.

Nichols reports anti-slaughter activists say horses will never be killed humanely despite suggested USDA inspections. They rely on a 900-page FOIA-obtained report from a Texas slaughterhouse, Dallas Crown, which allegedly reveals abuse. Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state representative and United Horsemen member, told Nichols the allegations are false, saying USDA inspectors must be present during and after any animal is killed for human consumption. She said the USDA dealt appropriately with every case pointed out by activists.

The American Veterinary Medical Association endorses only one method for killing horses humanely: shooting in the forehead with a bullet or a 4-inch captive bolt, and even with the latter, "about the size of a roll of quarters . . . Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving," Christopher Beam wrote for Slate in 2009.

"Horses, because of their size, are not good candidates for euthanasia by drugs – death can take hours," Nichols writes. "Dr. Temple Grandin, a noted autistic and designer of livestock handling facilities, says she struggles with her feelings about horse slaughter plants." She said at the recent Summit of the Horse "that she is skeptical whether a horse slaughter facility can ever be made humane. Horses are slaughtered using the same method as cattle. The problem is, Grandin said, that they are nothing like cattle. A horse’s flight instinct works contrary to cattle’s huddling behavior when scared, making the recommended 95 percent first-attempt kill shot difficult to achieve."

Since the ban was lifted, Congress hasn't set appropriations for Department of Agriculture inspections of horse slaughterhouses, estimated to cost $5 million annually. Chris Heyde, deputy director of government affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute, told Nichols he would be surprised if the government found money for inspections when there is such pressure to reduce its budget deficit. (Read more)

1 comment:

Heather Clemenceau said...

"Horses, because of their size, are not good candidates for euthanasia by drugs – death can take hours." You must be kidding right? Hours? Euthanasia by pentobartitol overdose takes a few minutes. And recent undercover video taken at the most advanced slaughterhouse in North America revealed that it was neither quick nor humane. Perhaps that's what you meant what you stated that it could take hours -