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China trade deal threatens American horses

There it was in black and white: The world’s most populous nation is preparing their plates for “fresh, chilled or frozen,” good ol’ American horse meat.

But how? You may ask, since horse slaughter is currently illegal in the U.S.

The much ballyhooed trade deal signed by President Donald J. Trump and China includes a tiny hint that we’re about to open the gates of hell to satisfy China’s hankering for Mr. Ed.

“Kids are starving in China and you’re just gonna let that horse go to waste?”

For me, the revelation buried in page 68 of the 91-page document answered some burning questions about the fate of abused, neglected and exploited horses in America.

What the heck with the SAFE Act?!

I’ve been wondering (albeit cynically) how a bill can have more than half the U.S. House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors, yet can’t get past committee to a vote. I started investigating all the politicians’ pockets being lined by pro-slaughter lobbyists and special interests and my cynicism only grew. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961/S. 2006) will never become law – even though it’s obviously the right thing to do. Rarely is there money to be made doing the right thing.

When organizations like the American Farm Bureau and its affiliates, the American Quarter Horse Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association are willing to spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars influencing politicians to end the ban on horse slaughter, it’s easy to see how such a “duh” bill has taken more than seven years to even get to the House floor.

So, now the BLM has scads of wild horses…

The second question that kept me up nights was, what was the Bureau of Land Management going to do with all those wild burrows and mustangs they’re now authorized to round up, sterilize and “relocate?” The federal government is not the most reliable at keeping track of… well, anything, so now that the Bureau of Land Management has $21 million extra for mass roundups and removal of wild horses from their habitats, what could go wrong?

Gee golly, folks. We had no idea there’d be so dang many of ’em!

It’s not good for ’em to be all cooped up in pens and such. Hmmm… [fingers tapping in earnest contemplation] What to do? Hey, I know! Folks are starving in China…

What’s the big deal? We eat cows, don’t we?

Ugh. My head hurts to have to go through all these arguments again. I’m still amazed at the number of people who buy the pro-slaughter talking points (lies):

  • It’s better to feed starving people in foreign countries than to let “old horses” go on living.
  • Most horses that go to slaughter are sick, lame, old or otherwise useless.
  • Horses are private property and it’s none of your business what owners do with them.
  • Wild horses are a menace to public lands with their running free, eating and pooping and such.
  • Slaughter is basically humane euthanasia.

Truly, a migraine is brewing; but here we go.

  • Feed the starving

A. America’s horses are not being slaughtered to feed poor people. Horse meat is a delicacy in Europe and Asia, and I’m betting the Chinese government dictates who gets to eat the shi-shi meat. It’s a preference – like eating a baby lamb that spends its whole life bound up and unable to move because you like to gum your food.

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The majority of products made for horses are toxic to humans.

B. Nearly every product made for use with horses bears a warning label that says something like, “Not intended for use in horses meant for human consumption or your brains will fall out of your ears,” or some other similarly dire threat. The meat of American domesticated horses especially is potentially toxic to humans who consume it. Why is America selling likely tainted meat to other countries?

  • Sick, old, yada, yada

Inspectors with the United States Department of Agriculture determined 92.3 percent – that’s almost all of them, folks – of the horses bound for Mexican slaughterhouses are “in good condition and are able to live out a productive life,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.

The average age of horses we’ve saved from slaughter at Swingin’ D Horse Rescue is about seven. Horses can live into their 30s. So,…

  • None of your business what owners do with horses

The same argument can be made about dogs, cats and children. I’m as libertarian as the next person, but we’re talking about the life and well-being of a sentient being capable of learning, setting and achieving goals and serving. We’re not talking about a pickup truck or a broom.

That being said, if an owner chooses to euthanize a healthy horse, that’s their prerogative; but slaughter is the worst possible form of animal abuse, which is illegal.

  • Wild horses ruin public lands

Trust me, no one knows better than I what a horse can do to property. We’ve sacrificed about two of our 12 acres to horse traffic. But we have a dozen horses spread over a dozen acres at any given time and somehow, we figure out how to keep 10 acres grassy and green.

The Bureau of Land Management “manages” more than 250 MILLION acres… and thousands of horses. The real issue is that the BLM also manages what many consider nothing more than a welfare program for America’s cattle barons. Through more than 17,000 leases each year, ranchers are allowed to graze their cattle for less than one tenth of what they’d pay if they had to use their own land.

Wild horses are not ruining public lands. Cattle ranchers don’t want to have to deal with wild horses while their cattle graze at the taxpayer teat, and horse advocates don’t have the money to out-bribe them.

  • Slaughter is basically humane euthanasia

If you can watch this video without throwing up, and still tell me slaughter is anything like humane euthanasia, we probably shouldn’t meet.

Not only is it not possible to humanely slaughter a horse, even if it were somehow made possible (it’s not and never will be because of the horse’s physical conformation), exactly who is going to regulate it and at what cost? America failed miserably at humane horse slaughter, and nothing has changed to indicate we’d do anything better if Congress were to open the gates of hell and make it legal again.

Children starving in China

Because the mention of horses is buried so deep in the bowels of the trade deal, in the Expanding Trade section, in a subset of a subset of an Annex attachment, I’m naively praying it’s an oversight. But my cynical (more realistic) side is telling me it’s a prelude to something that makes more sense. Something that makes politicians rich.
Let’s be real clear. The Americans who support horse slaughter don’t care about feeding children in China. They don’t care about helping farmers get rid of unwanted old horses and they certainly don’t care about the welfare of horses. They assuage their cognitive dissonance with pretty little myths like the migraine-inducing ones we just covered. To these people, horses are no different than shoes. Some are designer shoes; some are used-up work boots; but they’re all disposable and easily replaced. They’re commodities.

com•mod•i•ty kə-mŏd′ĭ-tē

  • n. something useful that can be turned to commercial or other advantage.
  • n. A product or service that is indistinguishable from ones manufactured or provided by competing companies and that therefore sells primarily on the basis of price rather than quality or style.

Under a section titled “Other Commodities,” horses are not even given the stature of cattle or pigs. They’re listed in the same category as tomatoes and potatoes. Last time I checked, you can’t train a tomato to carry you off to adventure. A tomato can’t be a faithful companion or childhood friend.

But tomatoes and potatoes can make people rich. So can disposable horses. And it’s not just kill buyers getting rich. Sure, horse meat makes money; but think about the truly wealthy horse people. Think about wherever horses are easily and quickly replaced. Those are the people who truly benefit from slaughter: The ones who dole out life and death with equal regard.

Horse slaughter gives the worst horse exploiters an easy way to dispose of yesterday’s prized possessions; and you can bet that’s who’s whispering myths in the halls of power.

Support Swingin’ D Horse Rescue in our mission to choke off the slaughter pipeline and save horses from abuse and neglect. Donations are tax deductible and 100 percent of your money goes directly to our horses.

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Tell Congress to get off their rears and pass the SAFE Act. Feel free to use the attached letter as your starting point. If they don’t commit to protecting horses, see who’s putting money in their pockets. The groups that most notoriously support horse slaughter include: