Monthly Archives: June 2012

Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

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Voltaire,  Make my Enemies Ridiculous........

Voltaire, Make my Enemies Ridiculous……..

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Artwork copyright: Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only please)

We have a myriad of differing opinions about horse slaughter,  so disagreement is an unavoidable.  Couple that with the innate desire of many people to “win” in cases of conflict and the widespread lack of reasoning skills that plagues us, and the stage is often set for virulent disagreement.    It’s frustrating to deal with unreasonable,  fact-challenged people,  and there is always the temptation to stoop to their level and respond with the same ignorant contempt that they use as a substitute for actual reasons.  So,  when reason goes out the window,  ridicule pulls up a chair.

Centaur - This half-human and half-animal composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, as the embodiment of untamed nature

This half-human and half-animal composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature

There are so many myths and fallacies perpetrated by pro-slaughters that it’s hard to pick your “Top 10.”  Well,  here`s my Top 20,  but I could have gone on for much longer!  While in the midst of perpetrating their own brand of mythology,  it`s ironic that pro-slaughters claim that welfare and animal rights activists anthropomorphize all animals into Disney-esque characters.  Now,  I quite like mythology myself,  but I know the difference between fact and fiction.  While I’ve seen plenty of people give animals human emotions or even claim to know what they`re thinking,  many more recognize that they are animals who need to be with their own kind and be allowed to exhibit behaviours inherent in their species.  So,  for the edification of my readership,  I’ve  included some “real” horse mythological figures;  let’s see if we can all isolate the  “real” myths from the  pro-slaughter myths!

  • Myth/Fallacy #1)

Anti-slaughter advocates all live in the city,  don’t own horses,  are therefore rank amateurs who learn by reading online

This is actually the fallacy of the Hasty Generalization.   Not everyone who owns a horse can or should work in agriculture.  I know doctors,  psychiatrists,  HR Managers,  and others in professional/administrative functions that have never been to a working farm other than to ride their horse(s).  So what?  A lot of them know more than a lot of pro-slaughters,  and they can actually ride too.  These people are the “pleasure owners” who exist in far higher numbers than any other group of horse owners.  These are the people who are really driving the horse industry and injecting most of the money into it by maintaining their LIVE horses.

I also have to ask – have any of these people making these claims ever heard of the concept of boarding a horse?  If all “true horse people” only lived in the rural countryside,  to whom would breeders sell their horses?

  • Myth/Fallacy #2)

An Ad Hominem attack will squelch disagreement:

Abusive ad hominem usually involves insulting or belittling one’s opponent in order to attack his claim or invalidate his argument, because they aren’t familiar with parliamentary-style debate.  I’ve seen this on my own blog  “You’re from the city,  I guarantee you know nothing!”  Of course,  the version on my blog was horribly mis-spelled,  so whenever I’m quoting a pro-slaughter I’ll be fixing up the spelling and grammar unless of course,  I’m using a screen-cap.   Anti-slaughter advocates sometimes do it too – it can be pretty frustrating to cope with redundant ideas over and over again.

While there are a few pro-slaughters who can effectively debate and will take time to formulate their ideas,  they are in the extreme minority.  To see more of this in action,  check out my other post on Slaughterhouse Sue and her requests to her followers to inundate and bully people she disagrees with.  Note that she doesn’t ask anyone to reason with us!  If you’ve spent any time on Facebook,  you’ll eventually clue-into the fact that when pro-slaughters post on a Facebook page or invite someone to their page and find their overall philosophy is NOT accepted – they report the page as SPAM and start arguing with the person!  This happened on the “Kentucky Against Illegal Immigration” page.

  • Myth/Fallacy #3)

Only true vegans can justifiably complain about horse slaughter

I’ve not only heard this one numerously from pro-slaughters but also from diners at La Palette in Toronto.  The animal advocates I know are vegetarian, vegan, or neither. If one feels called to end horse slaughter or pig abuse and still eats fish or uses a leather saddle,   it’s not for me to judge.  Most advocates I know are actually not members of large AR groups; many probably don’t even consider themselves “animal rights activists” – that’s a pejorative heaped on them by people who are worried about others’ (i.e. the 80% or so) legitimate objection to their behaviour.

After spinning for an eternity,   even carousel horses want to get the hell off the merry-go-round

After spinning for an eternity, even carousel horses want to get the hell off the merry-go-round

There are, of course, various stock arguments against eating any animals and they can be pressed into service here.  Not only do horses NOT merit being looked at as something to be sold by the pound,  there are of course,  legitimate arguments against using non-food animals in the food chain,  and those arguments aren’t mutually exclusive with vegetarianism or veganism.

  • Myth/Fallacy #4)

There are no true vegans anyway

Glad to see a variation of the No True Scotsman fallacy is alive and well!  Because we know that a “true vegan” would eschew using any byproduct of an animal, and avoid living in a house that was built with any byproducts of an animal,  even if the house was built before they were born!

We are all born into a non-vegan world. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.  Most people take vegan  to mean that there is no consumption or active utilization of animal products and nothing further – no meat,  no leather,  no honey,  gelatine,  eggs, milk  and so forth.  So vegans can feel comfortable knowing that while their grandmother’s ashes are stored in an urn made of bone china,  they can still confidently refer to themselves as vegan.

  • Myth/Fallacy #5)

You must own a horse and work in the “industry” in order to be able to render an opinion

United States - Use of Equids by Function - Click to view original source

United States – Use of Equids by Function – Click to view original source

To get an idea of the ridiculousness of this claim let’s draw an analogy between the ability to critique what goes on in the horse industry and any other subject matter.  For instance,  can you quote the Koran?  If not,  your opinions on Islam are invalid.  Can you quote Karl Marx?  If not,  then you have no right to critique liberalism.  How about Stan Lee?  If you can’t speak eloquently about comics,  perhaps your opinion should not be heard.

Well,  I’ve never been to war,  nor have I met Sarah Palin,  but I have very definite opinions on both of those topics.  Most pro-slaughters who make this claim appear to either be ranchers or breeders or both.  The breeders/ranchers actually represent a much smaller percentage of the horse industry but claim they ARE the industry – in the US they represent 15.9 and 24.8%   Those who use horses for “pleasure” represent 45.7%,  so I hope we can finally put the lie to the myth of who IS the industry.

Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis Does NOT Own A Horse!

Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis Does NOT Own A Horse!

The horse industry includes all businesses that profit when more people own horses. The pleasure horse industry is the largest segment of the industry.   People who own horses as “pets” churn more revenue through to farriers, boarding facilities, tack shops, feed stores and vets because there are more of them.  My guess is that the money I’ve spent on tack, boarding,  and training for my horses is a helluva lot more than the back yard breeders have invested.  The idea that people who don’t own horses cannot contribute to any discussion regarding them, is one that has been regularly parroted by Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis,  who ironically has claimed that she owns no horses.

I will also draw another distinction between myself as a companion horse owner and the slaughter industry – on occasion when I’ve taken my horse to Michigan for an event,  I’ve been required to pull a negative Coggins beforehand.   The shippers who transport slaughter-bound horses across State lines are somehow able to evade this responsibility.  We also read that in Texas,  Federal Veterinarians were obliged to ignore the Coggins entirely. How can we require responsible owners to spend money and time to meet regulations that help to ensure control of contagious disease when the slaughter buyers (who appear to be represented by that teeny tiny 1.2% block) bypass US (and probably Canadian) borders freely, without Coggins testing and very little, if any proof of ownership?

  • Myth/Fallacy #6)

Hitler was a vegetarian too!

So was Einstein in the later part of his life.  And Atilla the Hun rode a horse.  So what?

A centaur with wings is called a pteracentaur

A centaur with wings is called a pteracentaur

I can only ::facepalm:: when people (especially christians who are also pro-slaughter) compare vegetarians to Hitler .Aside from the fact that they seem to think everyone around them is a vegetarian or vegan,  comparing anything that is not a dictator/mass-murderer to another dictator/mass-murderer is a fallacy known as the Reductio ad Hitlerum.   You don’t get to call people Nazis just because you want to inflame or incite.

Hitler’s vegetarianism was not a foregone conclusion but so what if it was? What if he was also left-handed, or a Taurus? Is that somehow a significant or relevant argument? Not eating meat, or being left handed does not contribute to their ideology to slaughter millions. What about Stalin or Pol Pot? Maybe they ate meat? They might not have liked animals much either.  People who inject Hitler into conversations would do well to start by googling the phrase imprinted on the belt buckles worn by the Nazis. It says “Gott mit uns” (God with us).  The Nazis also were not atheists – one important Nazi slogan was ‘Kinder, Kirche, Kueche’ ( Children, Church, Kitchen).  In any case,  comparisons to Nazis are irrelevant in this example;  it is also similarly fallacious to use the Nazis as an example of what might be wrong with Christianity.  Don’t do it.  Case closed.

  • Myth/Fallacy #7)

Humane Euthanasia is not humane

No matter how much pro-slaughters present in the way of anecdotal evidence (“I saw a horse that thrashed for hours”) this does not qualify as “data.”  No one is available to examine your claims,  confirm with a veterinarian etc. etc.  Pentobarbitone sodium has sometimes been used for euthanasia WITHOUT being preceded by a short-acting barbiturate or sedative,  and this will actually cause excitement in the horse.  There’s no excuse for a large-animal veterinarian not to know this and take appropriate action.  I’ve seen euthanasia and it is humane.  Do pro-slaughters expect us to believe it’s humane to PTS dogs and cats but not horses?   Can anyone really believe that putting your horse in a truck (even a short distance) and sending it through unfamiliar surroundings such as a feedlot where it must contend with numerous other unfamiliar horses,  then onto its ultimate demise in a slaughterhouse,  is somehow humane?

Rather than relying on the opinion of the talking heads at various veterinary or horse associations,  I think we should go to the actual people who work with the animals.  Veterinarians for Equine Welfare (VEW) `….was created by a group of veterinarians from all disciplines who were concerned about misinformation being transmitted to the public regarding the national debate on horse slaughter versus euthanasia.“  They believe that their profession’s integrity is being undermined by the positioning of a few misinformed individuals (their industry association) whose opinions have been co-opted by external forces,  as opposed to what should be a primary concern for animal welfare.

Veterinarians should put animal welfare at the top of their priorities, not relegate it to an also-ran concern.  The reality is that horse slaughter has never been considered a legitimate form of euthanasia by many veterinary professionals or organizations.  The veterinarians who support slaughter stand out in their field as oddballs who wouldn’t even sell you their own services.  If they can`t demonstrate to their clients why their own euthanasia services are not better than slaughter,  then why enter the field of veterinary medicine in the first place?  And why do you deserve me as a client?

  • Myth/Fallacy #8)

Euthanizing a horse wastes valuable meat

Do you ever get the impression that pro-slaughters are always busy cramming shit down their throats or into their freezers,  because they’re afraid they might run out of food?  They always seem to have a horse stashed in the freezer.   I wonder how they’re even able to focus on riding or ranch work,  knowing that they’re basically riding around on a piece of meat?  The feeling that an animal’s life seems to be best served by providing food for man is a very anthropomorphic centralism.

Anthropocentrism has been posited by many environmentalists as the underlying reason why humanity dominates and sees the need to “develop” most of the Earth.  Anthropocentrism is a root cause of the ecological crisis, human overpopulation, and the extinctions of many non-human species.There is no market for the meat of the slaughtered horse unless you conceal his drug history.  Stop pretending that your horse can suddenly be transitioned into a food animal at the end of his useful life, when he hasn’t been raised as one.

Food safety should be taken seriously,  if not by governments then certainly by the consumer.  Food safety requires that certain protocols are followed with food animals from birth,  quite unlike what happens with most privately owned horses.  It’s immoral to promote an industry that conceals drug contamination and doesn’t make any effort to determine whether any horses are stolen.  Since it seems apparent that no pro-slaughter has ever taken a biology course,  I’ll distill it down for them here.  Just because you can’t eat it and shit it out does not mean that you have wasted something!  All biotic matter ultimately must be broken down into biochemical cycles – this includes all plant and animal life.   The breakdown of biological matter is essential for perpetuation of the carbon/phosphorus/sulphur/oxygen/nitrogen cycles,  without which life on earth would cease.

There is nothing whatsoever unnatural or wasteful about microbes acting upon dead animal flesh – breaking it down into its constituent components;  ultimately this is how soil is created and regenerated and our air is oxygenated.   Everything alive is made from chemicals that are only borrowed from the earth. If you aren’t aware of this process then you really aren’t that connected to nature after all.

  • Myth/Fallacy #9)

Euthanasia is too expensive

It was Centaurus that descended upon a herd of Magnesian mares and conceived the Centaurs.

It was Centaurus that descended upon a herd of Magnesian mares and conceived the Centaurs.

Compared to what?  The cost of euthanasia or any service is a relative thing.  The horse slaughter industry’s spokes-whore (the Wall Street Journal) bemoans how unfair it is that hiring a veterinarian to euthanize and dispose of a horse can cost hundreds of dollars. How expensive is that to a horse owner?  The average cost to maintain a horse for a year is thousands of dollars,  not including the cost of the horse,  which can be significant.  If you board your horse out it’s easily $400 – $600 a month (on the low end) without adding in any other services such as farrier and veterinarian,  and certainly not a trailer or truck.  So let’s not even entertain the notion that horse ownership is for regular people.  Unless you use your horse to plough fields,  you’ve got to be hustling and making some decent change in the private or public sector in order to be able to afford that horse – or be willing to do without a lot of other expenditures.  If you’re already spending that kind of coin for your horse,  $200 – $500 for euthanization/disposal is already a budgeted expense for many people.

Various veterinary colleges and schools offer euthanasia and disposal/cremation starting at around $100.  For anyone who lives in an area where there is truly an issue with disposal,  I wonder why no enterprising individual has thought of providing a rendering service?  What could the constraints be?  While I’m very sympathetic to people who have fallen on hard times/lost jobs etc,  for everyone else I say  – if this is too much,  I have to honestly say that I hope I never need $100 bucks as badly as that pro-slaughter individual apparently does.

  • Myth/Fallacy #10)

The bodies of euthanized horses pollute ground water

Not exactly a myth unless one intends to pass off the presence of barbiturates as being solely caused by euthed horses.  Most groundwater pollutants are created by industrial facilities, power stations,  motor vehicles,  and agriculture.  Farmyard waste,  created by,  you know,  people working in  “the industry” is one of the biggest culprits.  So while people working  in “the industry” are creating the majority of agricultural pollutants,  they want to pass the blame for pollution of ground water to those 90% of horse owners who are euthanizing their animals?  Barbiturates have been used in humans since the 60s as well as in veterinary drugs.  They are highly stable and take considerable time to degrade in the environment,  which means that drugs passed through urine and wastewater plants (which can’t capture it) and dumped by pharmaceutical companies will remain in our environment as a contaminant for centuries,  in both surface and groundwater.

Pegasus became the servant of of the gods. There he was the mount of Eos to help bring the dawn, or was ridden by Apollo to bring the sun. Pegasus also served Zeus by bringing to him the thunder and lightning needed for the thunderbolts. For all his noble services, Pegasus was honoured by a constellation in the autumn sky.

Pegasus became the servant of of the gods. There he was the mount of Eos to help bring the dawn, or was ridden by Apollo to bring the sun. Pegasus also served Zeus by bringing to him the thunder and lightning needed for the thunderbolts. For all his noble services, Pegasus was honoured by a constellation in the autumn sky.

The fact is that most barbiturates were used in humans as hypnotics,  anesthetics,  anticonvulsants, sedatives,  and antiepileptics, and NOT in horses.  Obviously,  landfills should not be located next to aquafers and companies should not use landfills to dispose of pharmaceutical waste.  It’s also inappropriate to euthanize an animal and then leave it lying in a field where it can be predated upon.  Of course,  we have more regulations about disposal of drugs now,  but it certainly doesn’t mitigate the damages that have been done 50 years ago.

Another question I frequently ask of pro-slaughters (you can cue the crickets,  because I’ve not gotten an answer yet) is why they’re not outraged about human burial.  Not that we have much of a choice.  But most people are preserved in formaldehyde prior to burial,  then placed in hermetically sealed coffins.  No state or province in North America requires the “routine” embalming of bodies,  although there are some exceptions.  Formaldehyde is a carcinogen.  Although we are burying more people than horses,  the ability of embalming fluid to contaminate soil or water tables has not been studied thoroughly.  So claims that horses are polluting the environment seem rather extraordinary,  and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  • Myth/Fallacy #11)

We can feed the world – starving people,  children, prisoners, etc with horsemeat

This is the fallacy of the false dichotomy.  Just because we have horses does not mean that we should give or sell the meat if toxic.  Slaughterhouse Sue claims horsemeat will resolve all hunger problems in the US,  and her supporters in United Horsemen’s group also claim that it could be exported to Africa and solve hunger in that continent.  Why doesn’t she and the IEBA just create a business proposal to sell horsemeat to impoverished African countries?

The problem with these types of simplistic “solutions” is that they can’t possibly account for all the problems in Africa. Like food distribution problems, government corruption, AIDS, the effects of globalization, overpopulation, gang warfare, coup d’etats, the role of the IMF, and the lowest average wages in the world. 23 million starving – we’d have to slaughter every horse in the US and Canada, plus dogs and cats, every year, and even that wouldn’t be enough to sustain them over time. Most African countries have had aid provided to them for many years, and yet the circumstances never improve for the people. In actuality, the divide in levels of corruption in rich and poor countries remains as sharp as ever, according to the latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), government corruption is a primary cause of food shortages in 3rd world countries, so it matters little which foodstuffs are being referred to as a “relief” for hunger.

How many years was horse slaughter available in the US,  and yet there was no real market for horsemeat?  Or were there no hungry people in the US for the last 70 or so years?  Granted,  some people ate horses and currently do.  And some people take Bute despite being warned otherwise.  But to cite Yale or Harvard as examples of horsemeat eating hardly cuts it as an assertion that horsemeat is or should be consumed in the US.

Nobody is seriously feeding starving children with horsemeat. There is no nonprofit organization volunteering to run a slaughterhouse that would exist exclusively to donate horsemeat to the hungry.  No one operating a federally-licensed slaughterhouse in Canada is doing so,  and as far as I know,  neither are the provincial ones.  If our goal is to feed the starving, the grain our horses eat would be a more efficient donation.  So good luck trying to pitch horsemeat in North America.  Remember the frosty reception given to pink slime?  The pink slime marketers are still trying to peddle their propaganda too.

  • Myth/Fallacy #12)

Horse Slaughter is Humane

A lot of pro-slaughters don’t even believe this.  How do I know?  Because they keep writing about how,  “when slaughter returns,  it will be humane and regulated.”  So you mean it wasn`t already?  If not,  why not?  “We’ll make it humane.”  “We’ll  regulate this or that.” This is one of their  most insincere statements yet.   I`d have more respect for them if they at least admitted it wasn`t humane and they wanted to get rid of the bad players such as Trent SaultersDorian Ayache,  who by the way,  has amassed 64 violations within 2 years,  and Dennis Chavez of Southwest Livestock Auctions,  who has a chance of going to prison thanks,  not to pro-slaughters trying to clean up their business,  but to Animals Angels investigatory work.  I have to say that I have NEVER seen a single pro-slaughter ever condemn any of these low-lifes who flagrantly ignore the law.  Au contraire – Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis endorses Chavez – ergo,  she endorses someone who could get up to 11 years in prison!  Quite the recommendation. Again, no surprise when you know that Wyoming ranks as the third-worst state when it comes to corruption!

Pegasi make excellent choices as companions on journeys, able to take to the sky at any sign of danger, and traveling almost as fast on foot as in wing.

Pegasi make excellent choices as companions on journeys, able to take to the sky at any sign of danger, and traveling almost as fast on foot as in wing.

Half of them can’t even say “slaughter.”  They want to speak in doublespeak,  referring to it as “processing,”  or the “equine terminal marketplace,”  or worse – “euthanasia.”  They can’t say it because they know what it is.  Even Temple Grandin thinks such euphemisms are silly.  Concerns about the lack of a humane slaughter process for equines are central to arguments against equine slaughter, and cannot be summarily dismissed simply because an industry association declares slaughter “humane.”  And it doesn’t matter what the AQHA thinks  (appeal to authority fallacy) – I wouldn’t believe them anyway.  They’ve spent at least 30 years promoting halter horses that are of no use to those of us who use horses for pleasure or performance riding.

There is no such thing as “Humane Slaughter” any more than there is “Humane Rape,” “Humane Torture,” or any series of violent acts – how can you bestow humanity where there can be none? Should anyone campaign in favour of “humane” rape as a gateway to no rape?

Dr. Nicholas Dodman is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and Professor, Section Head and Program Director of the Animal Behavior Department of Clinical Sciences at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. He is certified with the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists (ACVA) and the American College of Veterinary Behavior (ACVB). Dr. Dodman is one of the world’s most noted and celebrated veterinary behaviorists, and is the author of four best-selling books on animal behavior as well as two textbooks and more than 100 articles and contributions to scientific books and journals. With his experience in anesthesiology and his intricate knowledge about the anatomy of the brain, Dr. Dodman is a leading specialist, qualified to assess the stunning of horses in a slaughterhouse environment. He observed the undercover video tape taken at Les Petites Nations given to the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition and these are his comments:

All of these factors contributed to a poor first shot stun percentage, with approximately 40% of horses requiring two or more shots, and one large horse requiring seven shots, to be stunned. Large horses seemed particularly at risk of requiring more than one shot. Whether this is because of the necessity of the operator to reach up high to angle the CBP down or because of the physical size of the horse’s skull limiting the reach of the captive bolt is unclear. Either way, the operator’s stance below horse head level was likely another factor contributing to the poor first-time stun percentage. Many horses who required a second or third shot, and some who were only given one shot to the head, retained muscle tone for some time, with some running in place or lurching from side to side, indicating that some level of consciousness was likely still present as they slowly expired.

My final conclusion, after reviewing 150-plus horse slaughters in this series of videos, is that the process was terrifying for most of the horses and, in many cases, horribly inhumane. In my opinion, only a one-shot stun is acceptable and this is, in fact, what Canadian humane slaughter regulations require (Meat Inspection Act – Part III). It is not acceptable for 40% of horses to require or receive a second shot. At this slaughterhouse, in cases where a second shot was required, most humane standards, in my opinion, were not met.”

Dr. Brian Evans,  Chief Food Safety Officer and Chief Veterinary Officer for Canada,  claims he had no idea that there were deviations from the standard at Bouvry or Richelieu or anywhere else.  No idea,  until he finds out through the media that there’s undercover video.

  • Myth/Fallacy #13)

It’s Biblically appropriate to eat horsemeat

If you think so,  more power to you. But due to all the conflicting passages in the bible,  how can you really know for sure?  In my mind,  this justification is very similar to the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy.  And why question the  “moral compass” of individuals who are not christian or don’t want to eat horsemeat? How do you account for the “moral compass” in individuals from nations that do not embrace the “in god we trust” dogma”? Canadians somehow manage quite well without the pervasiveness of religion, and why not? Morality is not based on the religion  to begin with.  Hammurabi of Babelonia developed a system of law and morality about 2,000 years before the bible was written.

Furthermore, morality is a sense of behavioural conduct that differentiates intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good (or right) and bad (or wrong) and it is not dependant upon the embracing of any religion. Morality is dictated and embraced by societal mores and moral truths, which exist irrespective of religion. We also know that some Christians are not actually very moral people, and you only have to look at politics to see evidence of this.

  • Myth/Fallacy #14)

Animal Welfare/Animal Rights Activists want to remove all our property rights

OK,  here we’ve got another example of the hasty generalization or slippery slope fallacies.  To start with,  no one has  unlimited property rights. We do not have eminent domain over our own property. Owners of animals have both legal rights and limitations related to their animals’ legal status as tangible personal property.  In most jurisdictions you can’t fill your yard with junk or abandon your car on the side of the road either.

Of course, laws that are enforced that are in the best interests of animals are not often seen as being in the best (economic) interests of exploiters. Those people often proclaim that animals are merely property. As such, any welfare law that sought to accord animals protection therefore impinged on exploiters’ property rights. What many feel is “incrementalism” against their personal rights are accommodations to animals that the average person recognizes should be granted automatically. Therefore, the only people who are in an uproar about the animals that form part of their “property rights” are those individuals who already have a grand-canyon sized gap, philosophically speaking, with most of society – people who are already using ethical standards in the care of their animals.

  • Myth/Fallacy #15)

Bute and all veterinary drugs are eliminated from the animal’s system within hours

The doctors and veterinarians who attempted to refute Dr. Marini et al’s study expected pro-slaughters to accept their supposition even though it exemplified an argument from ignorance,  which started out as an appeal to authority.  How did this happen?  Sue Wallis and Dave Duquette asked everyone to accept the word of a veterinarian who is an expert in his own field (body scoring),  but who is commenting on a field outside of his area of expertise. Dr. Henneke supports the assertion that bute exits the system completely.  So what?  He’s not a toxicologist.  When you want to discuss the Henneke scale,  Dr. H is one guy to call.  Similarly,  if Einstein makes a suggestion about relativity,  you’d better listen. If he tries to tell you how to ride a horse,  you can tell him to keep his day job.  Read Dr. Marini’s response here.

In a survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs.  Additionally,  99 percent of horses that started in California last year raced on bute, according to Daily Racing Form.

In the US, Canada, and the

The unicorn appears in the Old Testament as something to both fear and revere. Many writers have speculated that the unicorn inhabited the Garden of Eden, but it is not specifically named. There is a theory that the unicorn perished in the great flood.

The unicorn appears in the Old Testament as something to both fear and revere. Many writers have speculated that the unicorn inhabited the Garden of Eden, but it is not specifically named. There is a theory that the unicorn perished in the great flood.

EU, bute is not permitted to be used for food animals. PERIOD. That simple acknowledgement renders any other discussion on toxicology rather moot. There are no safe levels for known carcinogens,  which is why it’s pointless to discuss to what degree bute is or is not eliminated from the tissues. Harm is assumed.  Discussions of toxicity or “safe levels” are reserved for non-carcinogenic effects. Non-carcinogens are assessed with a different type of dose-response study than that for carcinogens. Furthermore, the “precautionary principle” is recognized in international law, and it of course stresses that the absence of scientific certainty about a risk should not bar the taking of precautionary

measures in the face of possible irreversible harm.  If bute did exit the system completely,  we would never see this:

Examples of bute found in horsemeat in the EU

Examples of bute found in horsemeat in the EU

  • Myth/Fallacy #16)

Horse slaughter returns the viability of the market

I have personally found that horses are most apt to survive when they are not killed and eaten.  Without the demand for meat,  horse slaughter would cease to exist.  I’d have a lot more respect for breed associations if they promoted

The hippocampus, the mythical sea-horse, which, according to the description of Pausanias, was a horse, but the part of its body down from the breast was that of a sea monster or fish. The horse appears even in the Homeric poems as the symbol of Poseidon, whose chariot was drawn over the surface of the sea by swift horses.

The hippocampus, the mythical sea-horse, which, according to the description of Pausanias, was a horse, but the part of its body down from the breast was that of a sea monster or fish. The horse appears even in the Homeric poems as the symbol of Poseidon, whose chariot was drawn over the surface of the sea by swift horses.

euthanasia with a bullet,  followed by rendering.  Can’t you give horses “at the bottom of the pyramid” a humane death without eating them?  Or perhaps people producing horses “at the bottom of the pyramid” should reduce or stop?  Horses don’t know they’re at the bottom of any pyramid in terms of desirability.  Your average grade horse feels the same fear and pain at a feedlot/slaughterhouse as would any high end horse (not that they end up in feedlots much anyway,  unless they`re stolen).

The problem with a reduction in slaughter, for the AQHA (also known as the “Equine puppy-millers”) and other registries, is that it leads to a drop in registrations. Registries make their money from registrations and from show fees paid only by the owners of registered horses competing in registry-sanctioned events. If the slaughter pipeline contracts, people breed (and register) fewer horses, and the disposal method for all these horses suddenly ceases to exist.  Most breed associations consider their own survival before the welfare of the horse.  It`s interesting to note that there were more than a few Tennessee Walker Horses on the trailer that collapsed in Nashville,  another Dorian Ayache and Three Angels Farm debacle.  Marty Irby,  president of the Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders and Exhibitors’ Association, said an organized program for retiring horses would be expensive.  He claimed that there was no money for such a program,  beyond the money required to  keep the association alive.  Keeping the “association” alive is what is most important to this industry. They do not care about end-of-life choices for horses and readily use the killer buyers and slaughter industry.  Please don’t forget that Canada has slaughter,  as does Spain (over 100 slaughterhouses) and both countries have seen the bottom fall out of the horse market.  Methinks there must be other factors at hand.

  • Myth/Fallacy #17)

We’re overrun with wild horses

Where to begin with the BLM?  The organization which consistently claims that it is  protecting wild horses whilst simultaneously working behind the scenes for their eventual destruction. The US government is spending way too much money to keep wild mustangs in holding pens so they don’t compete with livestock on federal grazing lands.

As Ginger Kathrens, volunteer executive director of the Cloud Foundation, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal: ”You would think there are millions of wild horses roaming the West. It’s pathetic how small the herds are, how underpopulated they are.” In the 1.3 million acres of Antelope Valley, 407 wild horses graze alongside 7,700 cows. ”That’s the statistic that’s common to all their management. The pie is so slender for wild horses.”

Past Division Chief Don Glenn has gone on record as saying  that the “simple solution” to the wild horse and burro management problem is “unlimited sale authority.” He opined: “It makes no sense for the taxpayers to put out $75 million to take care of a bunch of old horses that nobody wants. They should be sold without limitation. If folks want to protect them because they’re afraid they’re going to go to slaughter or something, they have every right to purchase them.”  He’s right – why spend that amount of money when you could instead leave them alone or manage them with a science-based approach that treats the horses as the native, reintroduced species that they are.  The BLM barely leaves an area before the welfare ranchers unload truckloads of cattle on the same land and remove the fences around the water holes.

  • Myth/Fallacy #18)

Wild horses have no predators

Considering that humans cannot control their own populations (or choose not to) despite negative consequences, is it really fair to manage other species by killing due to the negative consequences they have on humans?  The cod fishing industry (now decimated) in Atlantic Canada is a perfect example of resource mismanagement. But when it comes to management of practically anything, governments and organizations that try to play God end up acting the fool.

The fates of horses, and the people who own and command them, are revealed as Black Beauty narrates the circle of his life.

The fates of horses, and the people who own and command them, are revealed as Black Beauty narrates the circle of his life.

Alyson Andreason from the University of Nevada Reno presented the findings of her research into mountain lions and their rate of predation on wild horses. She documented much higher levels of predation on wild horses – primarily foals – than had previously been believed.  Her research team found that the lions consumed “more horses than we would have expected.” In the Virginia Range, mountain lions killed four times more horses than deer. This research puts the lie to the notion, perpetuated by ranchers and the BLM, that wild horses have no natural predators, and therefore, the only way to manage them is to round them up and remove them. Mountain lions are hunted throughout the West, as well as removed (killed) by the USDA at the request of ranchers. If they were protected instead of persecuted, mountain lions could clearly play a role in regulating some wild horse populations.

While mathematical ecology is a new discipline, mathematical physics is not – it is peer-reviewed science.  The mechanistic explanation of predator/prey relationships suggests that the machinery of nature functions without us quite well:  In short, the predator-prey paradox and prey-enrichment theories will suffice quite well, in fact, they have worked for hundreds of thousands of years. Both predator and prey species are healthier when left to the devices of nature, whose mechanisms are far superior than anything man could devise.  Predators and prey can influence one another’s evolution. Traits that enhance a predator’s ability to find and capture prey will be selected for in the predator, while traits that enhance the prey’s ability to avoid being eaten will be selected for in the prey. The “goals” of these traits are not compatible, and it is the interaction of these selective pressures that influences the dynamics of the predator and prey populations. Predicting the outcome of species interactions is also of interest to biologists trying to understand how communities are structured and sustained.

The Lotka-Volterra model is composed of a pair of differential equations that describe predator-prey (or herbivore-plant, or parasitoid-host) dynamics in their simplest case (one predator population, one prey population). The model makes several simplifying assumptions: 1) the prey population will grow exponentially when the predator is absent; 2) the predator population will starve in the absence of the prey population (as opposed to switching to another type of prey); 3) predators can consume infinite quantities of prey; and 4) there is no environmental complexity (in other words, both populations are moving randomly through a homogeneous environment.  The model is sound.  We’ve seen this play out in real life  in Yellowstone Park after wolves were exterminated – this was done because wolves preyed upon elk, animals human hunters also wished to hunt. They believed that without wolves to prey on them, there would be more elk and so on for humans to hunt. This was a foolish and short-sighted view, however – the elk population exploded without natural predators to cull the weak and sick, leading to overgrazing and damage to the environment. The herbivores then starved. Fortunately, wolves have now been reintroduced, and the balance between predator and prey has been restored.

  • Myth/Fallacy #19)

The unavailability of slaughter in the US causes abandonment and abuse

The global food and fuel crisis is resulting in more than just people going hungry. Rising grain and gas prices in the US and Canada have made it difficult to continue to afford horses. But slaughter never ended in the US – the business of slaughter just became an issue of geography.  Horses now travel longer distances,  perhaps with the exception of those that are illegally slaughtered in Florida and that little shop of horrors – Bravo Packing in New Jersey,  which serves the big cat market. In actuality,  the rate of slaughter of US horses was only temporarily affected by the closings of the US based slaughter plants in 2007, and the slaughter rate has since returned to its previous levels. There was therefore no mechanism by which these closings could have impacted abuse and neglect.

Slaughter Statistics by Year - 1989 through available YTD (click through to original document at Equine Welfare Alliance)

Slaughter Statistics by Year – 1989 through available YTD (click through to original document at Equine Welfare Alliance)

This article suggests that horses were turned away from a slaughterhouse and abandoned for being too thin,  yet the pro-slaughter faction tells us that slaughter will PREVENT starvation.  What a joke!  A six month investigation by the EWA and other animal investigation organizations determined the predominant source of abandoned horses in the Southwestern US. The findings show that most or all of more than 5,000 horses a year are being abandoned after being rejected for slaughter at the Mexican border.

It simply made no  sense that someone who could not afford to euthanize and bury/render a horse would elect instead to pay for hauling it hundreds or thousands of miles only to turn it loose.  Kill buyers hauling horses to Mexico need a place to dispose of the rejected horses, and the most economical way to do so is to simply abandon them on a deserted stretch of road or in an isolated lot.  Surely the pro-slaughters don’t believe that the KBs are taking them home and nurturing them back to health!

Groups are now in place to verify all abandoned horse article claims made anywhere in the United States. There is a mechanism in place at the EWA to examine future claims of abandonment as they become newsworthy. Any articles or news stories which make claims about abandoned horses, will be checked for verification through police reports, state park services, and all other places that claims have been made about abandoned horses anywhere in the U.S., due to the findings that many reporters are writing false or unverified articles about abandoned horses. The EWA has compiled an extensive study of horse abandonment reports that reads like a Snopes reference – 26 pages of source documentation that refutes claims of horse abandonment,  as reported in various news reports. The Animal Law Coalition also conducted its own extensive study of the metrics involved. It’s findings reveal that abuse and neglect are largely determined by economic conditions. An upturn in unemployment seen in late 2007 appears to have translated into the beginning of an upturn in abuse and neglect in early 2008.

This is not to say that there are no cases of horse abandonment at all – there are no doubt a great many opportunistic,  cruel people who will abandon horses in desolate areas,  but people who commit these types of acts will abuse animals with or without the presence of slaughter!    Face facts – people who neglect or abandon their horses have chosen NOT to send that horse to slaughter.  I would call that a resounding FAILURE of slaughter to control horse neglect or impact the value of horses.

I wonder what the president of the AQHA has to say about these findings since he has released a statement claiming the abandonment of horses as a reason to support slaughter?

  • Myth/Fallacy #20)

The 80% is Bogus!

If you’re complaining about all the AR/AW activists getting up in your business,  then it’s time to acknowledge exactly why there are so many of us – we’re the NORM,  We’re the 80%.  We’re the majority.  There is no secretive, clandestine, Machiavellian worldwide animal rights and liberation movement underway.  We’re “out there” and we’re regular people.  A 2004 Ipsos-Reid poll that showed 2/3 (64%) of Canadians opposed to the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption,  and ASPCA Research Confirms Americans Strongly Oppose Slaughter of Horses for Human Consumption,  in a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners.

Conclusion:

Discerning which voices to listen to is, as best as I can tell, a function of your degree of expertise in the subject and your innate intelligence, breadth of general knowledge of how the world works and reasoning capacity, which allow you to smell when someone is spoon-feeding you bullshit.  Reasonable, rational people who are not fact-challenged,  understand  even if they do not accept.  Blaming the messenger never changes the facts,  because a fact cannot be insolent – and you have no right to be offended merely because you don’t like or agree with said fact.  If you’re going to argue badly,  why do it at all?

The only way any views can be reasonably challenged are by the claim that the conclusion is not true,  the evidence is not true,  or that the evidence is insufficient to justify the conclusion.  The only ways you can have mistaken beliefs is to have faulty evidence – evidence that is  not true or that even if it is true,  does not support your beliefs.

Join the children's letter writing campaign!

Join the children’s letter writing campaign! (Click image to jump to the program at the Equine Welfare Alliance!

Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company (Or Reason #189,743 Why We Cannot Trust Unified Equine or the IEBA)

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Canadian and American horses are at risk

Canadian and American horses are at risk

Written by Heather Clemenceau (with contributions from the CHDC)

All Artwork Copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only)

Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company

Domestic and wild horses in Canada are at risk of being in grave danger. Back in May 2010, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) published a paper called “What You Didn’t Know About Canada’s Horse Federations” –  exposing a deceptively named Canadian organization called the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada (HWAC).

The report included some eyebrow-raising facts including:

  • HWAC’s formation being in response to Canada’s anti-slaughter movement, prompted by the CHDC’s first investigative report, “Black Beauty Betrayed” in 2008.
  • the true purpose of HWAC, which is not horse welfare, but the promotion and support of North America’s horse slaughter industry;
  • proof of HWAC’s affiliation with Canada’s largest horse slaughter plant, Bouvry Exports;
  • HWAC’s founder, Bill DesBarres is a Board member with the Alberta Equestrian Federation, and thus manoeuvred to include all provincial horse federations under HWAC;
  • Bill DesBarres’ reaction to authentic footage obtained from Bouvry Exports in the CHDC 2010 report, “Chambers of Carnage” was to dispute its authenticity, saying: “I’m not convinced that those pictures were taken at Fort MacLeod. These things are produced by people who have a different agenda. They are against animal agriculture, period.”
  • HWAC’s affiliation with extreme pro-slaughter groups in the U.S. under State of Wyoming Legislature Republican Sue Wallis.

South of the border, DesBarres American counterpart and horse slaughter advocate, Rep. Sue Wallis, has been hard at work laying the groundwork for horse slaughter plants to re-open in the US after a 6-year moratorium.  Despite failed attempts at re-establishing slaughter in Wyoming and Mountain Grove, Missouri, Rep. Wallis, the recently-resigned President of the United Horsemen’s group, is refocusing her efforts on alternative locations in Southern Missouri, Oregon, New Mexico, Nebraska, Iowa, Washington, and Oklahoma.  It has recently been revealed that the site of that location in Missouri is Rockville,  a town of less than 200 people,  and the site of a now-closed beef processing plant.  Wallis is counting on the fact that the plant is located in this small town where 50-60 residents were previously employed at the plant,  which was closed by the owners as a result of USDA pressure.  Via a press release from the IEBA,  Wallis announced that “Americans Eat Horses, and the World is Hungry Enough to Help Us Save Them.” If Americans ate horses and there was a buck to be made, horse meat would be in grocery stores long ago. There was nothing stopping the selling of horse meat during all the years they were slaughtered in the US.  Wallis claims horsemeat will resolve all hunger problems in the US,  and her supporters in United Horsemen’s group also claim that it could be exported to Africa and solve hunger in that continent.  Why doesn’t she just create a business proposal to sell horsemeat to impoverished African countries?

The problem with these types of simplistic “solutions” is that they can’t possibly account for all the problems in Africa. Like food distribution problems, government corruption, AIDS, the effects of globalization, overpopulation, gang warfare, coup d’etats, the role of the IMF, and the lowest average wages in the world. 23 million starving – we’d have to slaughter every horse in the US and Canada, plus dogs and cats, every year, and even that wouldn’t be enough to sustain them over time. Most African countries have had aid provided to them for many years, and yet the circumstances never improve for the people. Pro-slaughters think you can throw horsemeat at anyone and they will literally rise up from the grave in good health and prosperity. Wallis’ rejection of food safety regulations would be laughable if not dangerous.  Food safety regulations are to protect humans,  not animals,  and the veterinarian sources she cites are not able to make determinations as to the acceptable limits of drug residues,  if any,  because they are not toxicologists.  The reason she is so irrational on food safety is that if food safety regulations were enforced with  horses, she would not be able to set up her slaughter empire!

Incidentally,  Wallis is running for re-election in Wyoming,  and her professional bio lists her as a “writer” and a “poet.”  Well,  I’ve read her so-called poetry.  IMO, cowboy poetry sucks because they can’t rhyme anything with “saddles.” It’s even worse with Sue trying her hand writing about “Mustang meat-patties” and “BLM Burgers.” I’d rather be hog-tied than have to listen to a Sue Wallis poetry reading.

American horses are exported to Canada for slaughter

American horses are exported to Canada or Mexico for slaughter

While Wallis has previously moved around, working under the guise of several organizations, most recently Unified Equine LLC (which apparently no longer has a web presence apart from its Facebook page), she is attempting to re-brand herself by creating yet another organization to further her pursuit of horse slaughter in America: The International Equine Business Association. (IEBA).  This organization now includes Belgian monetary backer Olivier Kemseke of Chevideco, an international horse slaughter corporation and Canadian Bill DesBarres, of the ironically-named Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada. (HWAC).  Chevideco, the owner of the Dallas Crown horse slaughter facility, owes the City of Kaufman, Texas numerous fines for the environmental grotesqueries of their plant.  HWAC is also public representative of Claude Bouvry, owner of Bouvry Exports in Alberta – Canada’s largest horse slaughter plant.  Bouvry is also owner of many large horse feedlots in Alberta, Shelby, Montana and Fallon, Nevada.  As such, we are confident in asserting that these three individuals do not represent the horse industry – they represent the meat industry!

The last few months have been busy for the aptly named “Slaughterhouse Sue” Wallis.  Not content merely to confine herself to arranging duplicitous business enterprises, she has been given her walking papers by the town of Mountain Grove, MO, she has crumbled under pressure on a radio program, written endorsements for feedlot owners under investigation and slaughterhouse owners who have had their operations suspended for cruelty violations.  In 2011,  she was the subject of an ethics enquiry in her own state by an animal activist.  On the United Horsemen’s page on Facebook, she has started calling anti-slaughter legislators in Congress “socialists,” after a press release announced the cancellation of the 2nd Summit of the (Dead) Horse event.

Consumer research firm Neilsen found that in March 2011, a typical Facebook user was on the site for a staggering 6 hours and 35 minutes at a time.  I suspect Sue Wallis spends considerably more time on Facebook than the typical user,  or even the typical politican,  who tend to be quite observant of commentary from other Facebook users and constituents.  A selection of Sue Wallis’ Facebook posts taken from various sources reveal that any individuals who express concern for the environment,  drug contamination in food,  or animal welfare are likely to come under fire.  Once Wallis tires of battling animal welfare groups on Facebook,  “sics” her United Horsemen’s minions on other Facebook users she doesn’t like or who have challenged her.  In another incident,  Wallis exercises questionable judgement when she once again asks her minions to “reach out” to a woman who has slaughtered her own horse and crawled nude inside the carcass to pose for pictures.  Some photos featured in the website even showcase the woman posing with the horse’s heart,  as if she is about to consume it.  Even posters on the United Horsemen’s page feel the distaste at her request.

Sue Wallis asks United Horsemen followers to "reach out" and support the right to commit horse necrophilia.

Sue Wallis asks United Horsemen followers to “reach out” and support the right to commit horse necrophilia.

"Slaughterhouse" Sue asks her followers to harass people who disagree with her.

“Slaughterhouse” Sue asks her followers to harass people who disagree with her.

Sue Wallis asks Facebook followers to harass this email account holder (email account has been partially redacted for privacy)

Sue Wallis asks Facebook followers to harass this email account holder (email account has been partially redacted for privacy)

One wonders how the whiny, finger-pointing Wallis can regularly travel away from her constituents in Wyoming, to further her own business interests in other states.  When objection to her plans reached critical mass in Mountain Grove Missouri, Wallis was given a “get out of town card,” after she hatched the bizarre claim that the local YMCA director received death threats from “animal rights activists.”  Of course, the Director himself denied that any such threats were made by anyone – he even told the investigating police that no one had threatened him.  But this is not what the followers of the pro-slaughter faction wanted to hear, so the fabricated story of death threats was made to cover-up for the truth that they were kicked to the curb.  Sue Wallis left town with the following advisory: “Discussion’s over.  Make all the noise you want.  We’re going into business.” Should we be surprised that  Wyoming ranks 48th out of 50 states in terms of corruption risk. 

Despite a published agenda for the radio program, Wallis’ snake-oil showmanship was exposed in a radio broadcast that featured, among other guests, Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), leading to her public meltdown  and abrupt departure from the show.  She claims that she was ambushed, which seems surprising – who agrees to speak on a radio program with the belief that there will be no other guests, and with the pre-program guest list posted online?

Greasewood and the Sandwash Basin Horsres

In a move that was not only ill-conceived, but couldn’t be more ill-timed, Sue Wallis pointed her slaughter house interests towards New Mexico, after failing in Missouri.  New Mexico is the home of the infamous Chavez Feedlot, where horses are shuttled from many points in the U.S. to slaughter plants in Mexico.  In March 2012, Animals Angels exposed horrible conditions there where horses that were rejected at Mexican plants, were returned to the Chavez feedlot and left to die.

Wallis then went on to urge the New Mexico Governor that “instead of charging (feedlot owner Dennis) Chavez with negligent mistreatment or animal cruelty, and trying to ruin his business…if these groups really cared about horses they would be honoring and applauding him, as we do, for providing care and sustenance to horses that would otherwise have no chance of survival.”  Read the entire letter  The problem is that Mr. Chavez has established a clear pattern of abusing horses, as can be seen from a USDA Freedom of Information Act inquiry.  Additionally, he is now the subject of an animal cruelty investigation which revealed profoundly disturbing footage of severely emaciated horses, unable to rise, expiring on his feedlot without the humanity of euthanasia.  Chavez didn’t provide “care” or “sustenance” to any of these animals in the video, as they were too weak to rise to eat or drink and remained prostrate on the ground.  As if that was not going to be embarrassing enough for her, she then tried to discredit the investigators in her comments.

In another humiliating incident for slaughter advocates, New Mexico slaughter plant owner Rick De Los Santos,  who has lost his license to slaughter cows due to humane violations, now wants permission to slaughter the quintessential flight animal – the horse.  Mr. De Los Santos’ explanation of the reason for which he has had to lay off his entire staff  at Valley Meats is not credible either, yet certainly pro-slaughter advocates are not constrained by adherence to facts.  However,  never one to miss an opportunity to promote a pro-slaughter agenda,  Sue Wallis’ Unified Equine Facebook page boasts a recommendation of Mr. De Los Santos that makes me concerned for my own cranial integrity – yes,  I’m about to *facepalm* yet again.  Not content to merely make recommendations for those businesses and individuals who have been sanctioned or fined by various US government agencies,  Slaughterhouse Sue is well-known as a politician who glorifies those who are employed in any capacity in the slaughter industry – including many kill buyers,  lauded for sainthood.  Someone should explain to her that many of these so-called heroes have incurred fines to the tune of $100,000 or more in the course of their saintly occupation.

Unified Equine Promotes a business that has been suspended for humane violations to cattle

Unified Equine Promotes a business that has been suspended for humane violations to cattle

The Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, has asked the USDA to deny Mr. De Los Santos and Valley Meats’ request for a permit.  In addition, New Mexico Attorney General, Gary King, has stated that “a horse slaughtering plant in Roswell is a terrible idea. Such a practice, while not illegal, is certainly abhorrent to public sentiment, and I strongly suggest it be abandoned.”

More defeat dogged Sue Wallis and United Horsemen counterpart, horse-trainer Dave Duquette, when it was announced that the 2nd Annual Summit of the (Slaughter) Horse, a conference designed to convince the general public that eating pets is a good thing, would be “rescheduled” to sometime in January of next year.  That’s not a rescheduling in our books; that’s an outright cancellation.

In 2011,  Patricia Fazio, PhD, President of the Cody-based Wyoming Animal Welfare Network, filed charges last year that alleged that Sue Wallis, a Wyoming State Representative, attempted to defraud horse slaughter supporters out of $30,000 in a bogus truck raffle and that Sue Wallis had sponsored and voted on bills in which she had a financial interest.  Although the truck allegations were dismissed the remainder of the investigation is still running at full throttle against the embattled Wyoming State Rep.

From a Canadian perspective, DesBarres’ association with Wallis and Kemseke earns him a blazing refutation as a representative of Canadian horse owners and horse groups. Together, the  alliance of Wallis/DesBarres/Kemseke maintains that horse slaughter is necessary in North America in order to deal with the numbers of homeless or “unwanted” horses – the IEBA is a soapbox upon which they stand to deliver their dubious claims to an unsuspecting public.  The reality is that slaughter is not an end-of-life solution, but one that fulfills a demand for horsemeat in the EU and Japan – a lucrative demand that has filled the pockets of foreign plants such as Belgian Chevideco, who apparently expect taxpayers to fund the costs of their business enterprises as well as any environmental clean-up that may entail.  Typically,  Chevideco invests no money of their own, and pay imaginative accountants good money to circumvent paying taxes while on U.S. soil;  Dallas Crown continued to bedevil the town of Kaufman despite efforts by Mayors Paula Bacon and  Harry Holcomb and the Kaufman City Council.  By virtue of his connection with the IEBA, DesBarres and HWAC are actively endorsing and supporting individuals and businesses that have flouted the law, often with disdain for taxpayers.  So long as the criticism is going to rain down on these three (and it surely is) I suggest that they consider building themselves an ark.  The more I read about the whole slaughter enterprise,  the more I realize I’m in need of some sort of prophylactic.

Paint Horses

The IEBA is now offering a “Charter Membership” which includes, among other “benefits,” “Legal defense network and protection from activist attack.”  Much of their mission statement and purpose was developed in lockstep with United Horsemen and the Cavalry Group, both extremist pro-slaughter organizations.  Horse owners, please be advised that this group, in order to implement its business plan and charter, will stipulate that you have your pleasure horses and pets tracked from birth to death, all to satisfy foreign countries’ appetites for horsemeat, whilst lining the pockets of Sue Wallis, Chevideco, and Bill DesBarres and the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.  The statements made by both Wallis and DeBarres constitute a logician’s nightmare.  Neither Americans nor Canadians will withhold humane veterinary care of our horses just so we can ethically say they are “healthy and safe” to eat so we can sell their bodies at the end of their lives.   Myself,  I will never apply for membership in my provincial organization again,  nor will I purchase liability insurance from a carrier that indirectly endorses slaughter.  I will obtain liability insurance from my own insurance carrier.  We, the compassionate horse people of Canada, must use our time productively to get Bill C-322 passed!

If you find any of the above information unacceptable to you as a horse owner or advocate, please be aware that the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada is allied with the following business partners – please let them know that you hold them all to a higher standard than that maintained by an alliance with the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada,  the International Equine Business Association, and Sue Wallis:

Provincial Organizations

British Columbia
Horse Council
Orville Smith
President
Lisa Laycock
Executive Director
27336 Fraser Highway
Aldergrove, BC
V4W 3N5
Phone: 604-856-4304
Fax: 604-856-4302
Toll Free: 1-800-345-8055
Email
Alberta
Equestrian Federation
Dixie Crowson
President
Sonia Dantu
Executive Director
100, 251 Midpark Blvd S.E.
Calgary, AB
T2X 1S3
Phone: 403-253-4411
Fax: 403-252-5260
Toll Free: 1-877-463-6233
Email
Saskatchewan
Horse Federation
Terry Fagrie
President
Mae Smith
Executive Director
2205 Victoria Avenue
Regina, SK
S4P 0S4
Phone: 306-780-9244
Fax: 306-525-4009
Email
Manitoba
Horse Council
Geri Sweet
President
Bruce Rose
Executive Director
145 Pacific Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R3B 2Z6
Phone: 204-925-5718
Fax: 204-925-5703
Email
Ontario
Equestrian Federation
Allan Ehrlick
President
Deborah Thompsen
Executive Director
Suite 203
9120 Leslie Street
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 3J9
Phone: 905-854-0762
Fax: 905-709-1867EmailToll Free: 1-877-441-7112
Email
Quebec
Fédération équestre du Québec
Dominique Chagnon
President
Richard Mongeau
Executive Director
4545 Ave Pierre de
Coubertic CP 1000
Succursale M
Montreal, PQ
H1V 3R2
Phone: 514-252-3053
Fax: 514-252-3165
Email
New Brunswick
Equestrian Association
Deanna Phalen
President
Suite 13
900 Hanwell Road
Fredericton, NB
E3B 6A2
Phone: 506-454-2353
Fax: 506-454-2363
Email
Nova Scotia
Equestrian Federation
Helen Smith
President
Heather Myrer
Executive Director
5516 Spring Garden Road
4th Floor
Halifax, NS
B3J 1G6
Phone: 902-425-5450 Ext 333
Fax: 902-425-5606
Email
PEI
Horse Council
Ken Smith
President
Joy MacDonald
EC Representative
POB 1887
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 7N5
Phone: 902-964-2379
Email
Newfoundland
Equestrian Federation
Chris Gallant
President
34 Circular Road
St. John’s, NF
A1C 2Z1
Phone:709-726-0826
Fax: 709-777-4558
Email

Mailing address:
Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada
Box 785, Cochrane, Alberta
T4C 1A9

Bill DesBarres: Tel: 403-526-1070 Cell: 403-529-7237
http://horsewelfare.ca/contact

Please support Pro-Horse Initiatives at the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition:

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

www.defendhorsescanada.org

All artwork copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only)

Honk If You Like Honking! La Palette Horsemeat Protest – June 15th

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La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th

La Palette Horsemeat Protest June 15th (Thanks as always to our vegan supporters)

Written by Heather Clemenceau

All artwork/photography copyright Heather Clemenceau (use with permission only please)

Queen Street West  in front of La Palette –  where protesters against horsemeat have revived the lost art of honking.  Here,  tonight,  honking is no longer interpreted as something hostile, like a rude gesture, or a jab in the side in a crowded elevator. Tonight,  honkers in cars and on bicyclettes honk to reach out to us,  and show support.  We have determined, via direct scientific observation of the La Palette subjects,  that the management DOES NOT support the social compact between us and the public.  It does not seem to matter whether the honking is delivered via the delicate jangle of a bicycle bell,  the tentative toot of a car horn, or in a full blast of a transport truck,  they do not appreciate it.  In fact,  they roll the patio doors closed – on a sweltering hot June day – the patrons are being slowly cooked,  quite unlike the tartare!  La Palette co-owner Shamez enquired,  rather like a host asking his guests who have overstayed their welcome, when we might be leaving?  Normally,  when I want my guests to leave,  I start putting on the “showtunes,”  but I have no intention of alerting Shamez to this tactic (unless of course,  he happens to read about it first-hand here).

Queen Street West,  near La Palette

Queen Street West, near La Palette

The news this week is that we became aware that La Palette received a “conditional pass” by Toronto Public Health,  results of which are in the public domain and can be viewed as part of the “DineSafe” program. As a customer, the best thing to do is read up on any premises’ DineSafe rating before choosing to patronize any restaurant/grocery etc. Toronto Public Health publishes an Interactive map of every restaurant,  grocery,  cafe and take-out joint that’s been closed by Toronto Public Health since 2001. To sum up,  below are the findings for La Palette,  which led to the conditional pass:

  • INADEQUATE FOOD TEMPERATURE CONTROL (This is rated as “critical” by Toronto Public Health)
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / UTENSILS /EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER MAINTENANCE / SANITATION OF NON-FOOD CONTACT SURFACES / EQUIPMENT
  • IMPROPER STORAGE / REMOVAL OF WASTE
  • FAILURE TO PROTECT FOOD FROM CONTAMINATION
  • BY-LAW #574-2000 INFRACTIONS
la Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health - page 1

La Palette Inspection by Toronto Public Health (click to jump to the official source document)

Jim Chan, head of Toronto Public Health’s food-safety program,  explains that Toronto Public Health uses a risk-assessment system to figure out how frequently to inspect any given establishment, whether it’s a hot dog cart or a hotel kitchen. Here’s how it works:

“HIGH-RISK PREMISES (Inspected three times a year or more): The more complicated the food preparation, the higher the food-safety risk. “Think of a restaurant with multiple items on the menu, with raw food and ready-to-eat food,” says Chan. “Think of a hospital kitchen, or a long-term-care-home kitchen. If these operators are not careful, it increases the risk of food poisoning.”

MEDIUM-RISK PREMISES (Inspected twice a year or more): “Lots of people think McDonald’s would be high-risk, but it’s medium-risk,” says Chan. “Everything is generic: You have frozen patties, and there’s one way to cook them and one way to serve them.” Other medium-risk establishments: most pizza places, bakeries, sub shops and cafés.

LOW-RISK PREMISES (Inspected once a year or more): “When you look at a 7-Eleven, where all they have is a few hot dogs on a rotisserie, or they sell chips, pre-packaged sandwiches, stuff like that, they’ll be low-risk.” Ditto for Starbucks and most convenience stores.”

According to the inspection schedule,  It seems that La Palette could perhaps reduce the number of inspections required for their resto from three to two per year by eliminating raw food such as horse or venison tartare,  for example.  Eating raw meat is asking for a parasitic infestation –  it’s a fact that raw meat may contain harmful bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, campylobacter and E. coli that can cause food poisoning. These bacteria are destroyed when meat is correctly cooked.  Unless you’re Anthony Bourdain, who quite often treats his GI tract like a toxic-waste dump,  most people wouldn’t consider  eating raw meat and it’s not recommended for young children, elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

When I think about eating raw meat,  I feel an eating disorder coming on.  Personally,  I don’t eat meat,  not only because of the cruelty to all meat-producing animals,  but because pro-slaughter advocates are very cavalier about drug toxicology,  about which they know NADA,  and Big Ag is equally as cavalier.  Pro-slaughter horse advocates whine about “wasting meat” but what they don’t understand is that euthanized horses (or any animal) which are composted or buried become part of the carbon cycle,  without which life on earth would cease.  Also,  having an education in biology,  I get a little panicky when I think that people,  perhaps unknowingly,  are eating food I’ve been taught to avoid.  It seems every day there’s another recall of tainted meat,  or in the case of horsemeat – a recall due to contamination by phenylbutazone.  It’s little wonder that health authorities go apoplectic when they hear stories of consumers willingly chowing down on raw meat. You can get really, really sick. Or worse. Cooking meat is a safety issue.

Sometimes people will say, “Show me a horse that’s got trichinosis,” or “Prove to me that anyone’s ever gotten sick eating horsemeat.”  I usually suggest those people go to Pubmed and start poking around,  where there is plenty of evidence.  Most disease is actually “idiopathic” – without known or attributable cause or mechanism.  Case in point,  if you ask a person who is suffering from cancer to define the cause of their disease,  in all likelihood,  neither they nor their oncologist will be able to precisely pinpoint a cause.  While scientists know that Parkinson’s disease is caused by cellular death,  they don’t yet know what causes that cellular death.  Hence Parkinson’s is another one (of many) examples of idiopathic disease.  But many of the Pubmed entries you can find about diseases associated with consuming horsemeat or meat in general are very precise in arriving at their conclusions – these case studies have pinpointed the cause and effect.  All you need is one serving to make you really ill – especially if you’re eating it raw.   Anthony Bourdain, who explains the philosophy or eating,  well,  pretty much anything that humans can catch and kill,  in his book Kitchen Confidential, “Good eating is all about risk. ”  Yes,  I suppose the way Bourdain eats,  that’s completely true  – it’s about as risky as a dalliance in organized crime.  I propose that we send Bourdain and other foodie freaks into the animal’s natural habitat,  and watch them cope with their natural defences – that’s an assumed risk that would be quite entertaining.  Even an animal experiencing its death throes is still capable of one final insult to the person attempting to eat it.

Toronto Public Health - La Palette earns a conditional pass

Toronto Public Health – La Palette earns a conditional pass

If we review the recent history of La Palette’s food inspections,  we can see that they have passed their inspections at least since July 2010.  We know that the management hasn’t changed,  so we can only speculate as to why they have only received a conditional pass in May 2012.  Shamez Amlani probably had no idea that La Palette’s  “Scandalicious” menu,  named for the “Winterlicious” dining festival,  would transition into such an ominous foreshadowing.  The proverbial heat is on – for food safety and for horses.  We will continue to respectfully request that La Palette remove horsemeat from its menu,  thereby reducing its impact on cruel animal slaughter practices and the possible unintended consequences of supplying their clientele with veterinary drug residues. But in the meantime,  we will do what protesters do – get the word out,  and continue to solicit support for our message by encouraging honking – we love it even if Shamez does not.

La Palette tweet - the heat is on

La Palette tweet – the heat is on

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat

Information on Phenylbutazone contamination in horsemeat

You Cannot Win An Argument With Facts

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Not for Consumption

Not for Consumption

Written by Heather Clemenceau

All artwork copyrighted – use with permission only.

When you come across references to eating horsemeat, you probably think of the French, Mongols,  or Kazakhs.  “Oh yes,” you say, maybe attempting to hide a slight shudder “they eat horses don’t they?”  Despite an attempt by Italian politicians to ban horsemeat in Italy a few years ago,  certainly the Italians  need to be included when discussing countries and cultures that consume horses.  But I’m not singling out Italians for criticism;  the following observations could easily be applied to any Old World horse-eating culture,  especially a culture that relies on North American horses as a food source.

Today  I just returned from a small grocery shop in the Italian area of Toronto. It’s an exceptionally tiny 600 sq foot or so,  located in an older strip mall.  It’s probably been around since the 70s.  I peruse the comestibles at the front,  consisting of pasta,  rice,  and olive oil,  not really paying attention since I am focused on one area of the store only – the meat counter.  I know in advance that the proprietors are selling horse meat,  so I’m apprehensive about seeing it – a slaughtered family horse/riding steed/racehorse/retired school horse, dis-assembled in the display case.

Not for consumption

Not for consumption

There were two unwrapped slabs of meat, each one half the size of my torso.  A few days ago this was a living horse,  and probably amongst the 92% of all horses who are young and healthy at the time of slaughter.   I am wondering where it was living a few days ago.  My ruse for going into the shop was that  I was looking for meat for a BBQ, so I asked what meat I was looking at,  already knowing the answer.  I professed surprise and asked if they had any other meat, the man replied “no – we only sell horse because all other meats have bacteria.”

To be honest,  I wasn’t prepared for this answer.   I know,  as does most everyone else,  that bacteria cover every single surface that is not sterilized.  Raw meat should always be regarded as a likely source of pathogens – meat or poultry dishes are usually incriminated in more than 70% of incidents of foodborne illness.  The skin and gastrointestinal tract of any healthy animal carry a large population of microorganisms that can include a number of pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter. These come primarily from the animal’s gut but can be transferred to the skin via faeces,  a transfer which certainly happens during the slaughter process – which is one of the main reasons people cook meat at high temperatures. Parasites, if present, can be found at a number of locations in the animal’s body.

So it’s impossible for me to resist the challenge of presenting him with the facts,  and I respond with as much diplomacy as I can muster.  “Sir,  this meat  (or any meat) could harbor parasites and microbes such as Trichinella,  Lysteria monocytogenes, Clostridium Perfringens, Staph aureus,”  etc. Emphatically he maintains otherwise – “No, horse does not.  All other meats do but horse does not.  You see chicken’s feet?  Bacteria can get in the feet.  Horses have hooves.  No bacteria.  Horses do not get sick.”   “But,”  I proclaim earnestly,  “every surface naturally has bacteria growing on it; horses don’t live in an hygienic environment,  and a slaughterhouse is not an hygienic environment either.”  I touch the display with my hand (the counter isn’t even cool – isn’t a meat counter supposed to be chilled?)  – “I’ve now transferred bacteria from my hand to the display case.”  He stares,  either not understanding or unrelenting.  Then I ask,  “what’s the difference between cows and goats and horses?  They all have hooves – what makes the horse’s hoof different,  and why does that make the horse sterile of bacteria?”  He shakes his head.  Now he starts to protectively remove the meat from the display case,  as if it’s in harms way by my touching the display case, but in doing so he proceeds to touch it with his BARE HANDS.  At this point it’s become rather like watching Penn and Teller get people worked up over their “dihydrogen monoxide”  skit. He realizes that I don’t believe him,  so my punishment is that he gives me the silent treatment.  Or perhaps it’s really the Evil Eye treatment.  I never get the chance to ask him where he got the supply,  which was my main reason for being there in the first place.

Not for Consumption

Not for Consumption

I’d encountered germ denialism before,  although not in a grocery store,  but this wasn’t quite the same thing.  The foundations of microbiology and infectious diseases are based on the work of Pasteur and Koch.  The resultant  Germ Theory of Disease is the single most important contribution to medical science and practice, ever.  But this man wasn’t denying the existence of bacteria – he believed in bacteria,  just not on horses though.  He’s not alone in his misunderstanding about horsemeat either – I found an article at Chow.com which incorrectly stated that horsemeat is free from tuberculosis and tapeworms.  While tuberculosis in horses is rare,  there are still 134 references to the disease in horses on the Pubmed database.  Tapeworm infection is dependent upon where a horse lives in North America;  any horse that IS free from tapeworms (or any of its resident parasites), will also provide you with a dish of meat tainted with veterinary residues.  Collies and other breeds of dogs are very sensitive to Ivermectim in wormers,  which is why horsemeat doesn’t even make good dog food.

So now I’m left wondering how our old-world proprietor could have arrived at his conclusion about horsemeat.  Does this belief have any basis in fact,  the way some urban legends start out legitimately,  at a camp fire or slumber party, and gain new momentum and life after-the-fact.   Enter Wikipedia,  to provide some enlightenment.   Apparently,  commercially prepared Salami which is often made with horsemeat,  is cured in warm, humid conditions to encourage growth of the bacteria involved in the fermentation process. Sugars are added as a food source for the bacteria during the curing process. Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria as a waste product.  The acid produced by the bacteria makes the meat an inhospitable environment for other, pathogenic bacteria.  While this is interesting,  it certainly doesn’t explain why this guy believes that horses are impervious to microbes.  Perhaps there is a biblical reference somewhere?  What’s also interesting is that the latin word for sausage is botulus,  suggesting an association with botulism,  despite the curing process.

Horsemeat certainly is not free of bacteria (nor is it free from veterinary drug residue) and it is irresponsible to promote horse meat consumption due to the appalling abuses of animals in the industry.  It wouldn’t have made any difference to his entrenched beliefs,  but I wish I could have shown the proprietor the first page of a Pubmed search for horsemeat,  (one of many) which details the findings of case-controlled and co-horted studies of meat contaminated by various sources.

First page of Pubmed,  itemizing various forms of horsemeat contamination by drugs,  parasites,  or bacteria

First page of Pubmed, itemizing various forms of horsemeat contamination by drugs, parasites, or bacteria

While the proprietor’s belief about horsemeat may be similar to many other old-world customs and beliefs that don’t hold up to scientific scrutiny,  it’s still dangerous to perpetuate myths.  Again,  this blog entry is not a post intended to unfairly criticize Italians or the Italian community;  when it comes down to ethnic groups and their food consumption practices,  I am completely “agnostic.”  The issue is solely about businesses or individuals who provide horsemeat to end-user consumers.  But we can’t  win every battle – we’re never going to convince every denier. You have to choose your battles.  Whether it’s this small example of superstition and lack of understanding of the natural world,  or the larger battle of horse slaughter in an indifferent world,  we must always use our best efforts at persuasion.  Sadly,  when dealing with entrenched ideas, we cannot win an argument with facts.

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada

Please support Bill C-322 to end horse slaughter in Canada