by Fran Jurga | 19 February 2009 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
A report in the March 1 edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) chronicles the work of a group of representatives of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). The group inspected two Mexican horse slaughter plants and judged the welfare conditions experienced by American horses shipped there to be processed into meat.
The article, which is now available online, documents the process of the horses' arrival from the border in sealed trailers, through the captive bolt slaughter process, and describes the plant, the staff, and how the horses were treated during the inspection.
A key quote from Dr. Tom Lenz: "If you look at it from the hard perspective of the meat industry, they're in the business to produce meat. They don't want an injured or down or stressed horse any more than they have to, because it affects the meat quality."
Click here to read an article about the report.
As stated in the article, both the AVMA and AAEP are working actively in Washington to derail or defeat passage of HR 503, the Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on January 14, 2009. HR 503 would prohibit the transport of horses to slaughter. Slaughter itself has been effectively banned within the United States, so horse must be trucked to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. The meat is largely consumed in Japan and Europe.
If it sounds counter-intuitive for the two main veterinary groups in the country to be opposing a bill with the words "prevention of equine cruelty" in it, it is because so many words in our world have twisted meanings when it comes to politics. "Humane", for instance, has become a very subjective word and is highly charged with potential votes and influence when used in the political context.
But for some people, the word "humane" has become another word for "animal rights", and it's all wrapped up in a perception of PETA's plot to take over the world. And, they believe, if PETA succeeds with horse slaughter, cattle and hogs and chickens will be next.
For others, humane means reforming the conditions that horses endure during shipment to slaughter, or not allowing any slaughter at all, under any circumstances.
The US vets did not travel in the trucks with the horses, but did mention that the severely injured horses were humanely euthanized when the trucks were opened in central Mexico, and they were there to witness that.
This battle is far from over.