Tag Archives: humane euthanasia

The Right Time?

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horse trio

Photography,  Writing,  and Artwork by:  Heather Clemenceau

“Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” ~ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

If I could choose, all my animals would peacefully die the day after I did,  because arriving at the decision to euthanize and coping with the deaths is just overwhelmingly difficult. The one thing about our attachments to animals that seems horribly unfair is that we almost always outlive our pets too. The short lifespan of cats, dogs, and even horses virtually assures that we will almost always face the loss of our companions. Yet,  we still plan for their continued existence even in death, in the event that they do outlive us.  This is even more true if you own a long-lived animal such as a donkey; the possibility that they might outlive you by many years is highly likely.

For most pet owners, the most difficult part of the decision to euthanize a beloved pet is deciding when. But there is no exact right time, and even if there were, we could never know when it was. So that leaves us with only two possible times for euthanasia: too early or too late. The worst thing we can do is to prolongue humane euthanasia because we are not ready to let our animal go.  Therefore, we have to  find the “ golden mean” between too soon and too late, between premature and overdue.

Bookmark made of braided mane hair

Bookmark made of braided mane hair.  Reading is one of my favourite activities,  so having a bookmark made of Dalrahza’s mane hair always keeps me mindful that she’s still with me and we’re together forever. She’s gone to the Rainbow Bridge,  but I can still touch a part of her.

But if death is not imminent, our conscience tells us we should not euthanize.  This is such a great problem for all pet owners,  but especially horse owners, since horses are more difficult to place into forever homes and costly to maintain if we can’t afford them.  Yet it is so profoundly difficult to contemplate euthanizing healthy horses, even to avoid sending them to slaughter.

Yet the fear of horses going to slaughter is sometimes seen as the impetus to euthanize.  Consider the case of Rosie and June, Percheron draft horses who worked for 15 years at the DuPage County Forest Preserve and are now retirement age.  They have been put up for adoption, but commissioners at the preserve are faced with the moral dilemma of giving them to people who might allow them to ultimately go to slaughter.  If the money cannot be found for their retirement, euthanization remains a possibility, even though they are completely healthy.

The Ministry of Defence in Wales recently defended a decision to put down two guard dogs used to protect the Duke of Cambridge, days after he left his military base for the last time. The dogs were euthanized immediately following Prince William’s final shift as a search-and-rescue pilot at RAF Valley.  The MoD said it always tried to rehome dogs but that it had not been possible in this case. The Dogs Trust charity responded by objecting that dogs were not “disposable kit that can be decommissioned at the end of their useful military life.” Apparently these dogs had some medical or behaviour issues that prevented them from being reassigned to other duties or being retired.  Yet the dogs were somehow able to perform their duties just days before the Duke left his job in Wales.  To me,  putting them to sleep is rather comparable to putting down a bomb-sniffing dog who had worked for years in the field just because there were no more bombs found in that particular area.

Killing a pet, even a problem pet, is a difficult decision.  “Do no harm & relief of suffering” are ethical standards for veterinarians. There are also many pet owners that do not have spare Fall at Deb's 8 x 10 copy_tonemappedthousands of dollars, nor have ability for credit.  And on the flip side, there are many owners that do not value their pet any more than a broken appliance.  Slaugterphiles tell us all the time that they have “killer” horses that must go and many of them will not even begrudge that horse a bullet.

Even with the possibility of slaughter looming, a veterinarian approached to perform euthanasia on a healthy horse would likely be concerned, since they are charged with the humane treatment of animals and are guardians of their welfare – in their own discretion they may refuse such a request.  They would be concerned whether the horse was suffering from a non-obvious life-threatening ailment or just being put-to-sleep out of convenience.  A progressive disease that is not (yet) life threatening or causing discomfort may not warrant euthanasia. They would be correct, but horses are a special circumstance……..

It has always struck me as bizarre to choose the moment of your animal’s death, to make an appointment to have them killed. Yet this is exactly what we often do if and when we decide that euthanasia is needed.  Farmer and horse breeder Rose Reid from Whitby, Ontario euthanizes 4 of her horses for the documentary film “A Century of Horses,” by filmmaker Stefan Morel.  The film is currently showing on Documentary Channel / CBC. It’s both moving and disturbing in that while it’s humane, the viewer is left wondering what prompted the decision to euthanize all these seemingly healthy horses all at once.  She appears to have other horses on her property,  so why did she choose to “triage” these four?  While watching the video, I found myself grappling with the belief that she had made an unforgivable mistake and that her whole thought process was stupid.  Yet I was not faced with her decision-making process, and can’t blithely negate her feelings since I didn’t have to make the decision.

“Morning without you is a dwindled dawn” ~ Emily Dickinson

When I thought back to the euthanasia of my horse Dalrahza, almost four years ago on October 19, 2009,  I realized that anyone looking at her would have seen a horse that appeared healthy in all respects,  good condition and body how long until my retirementscore, clean and well-tended,  and still eating well.  But what they couldn’t have known was how utterly drugged she was in order that she be able to move much at all – the night before I had given her, with veterinary approval, both bute, banamine, and Previcoxx, a powerful NSAID usually given to dogs with arthritis.  I needed her last day on earth to be as pain-free as possible,  and knowing she liked to lie down in her stall at night,  I needed her to be able to get up again. Putting her to sleep meant that I was putting an end to her falling down in the pasture and being unable to rise without help, injuring herself over and over, turning what should have been a few months of lay-up from a deep-digital flexor tendon injury into years of rehab with veterinary specialists but no real result.

I’ve played the timing of her euthanasia in my head over and over many times, wondering whether it was too soon or too late. I was convinced that as long as I continued putting money into treatment,  something would “click” and she’d spontaneously recover. If she could have been safe on her own in the pasture I would have been happy to leave her in retirement. But her age was working against us,  and winters in Ontario are even more difficult for horses that are not steady on their feet.

When we’re faced with making a decision, we always think that the presence of pain is the deciding factor in every case. Surprisingly, pain is a component of only a minority of terminal illnesses.  A horse that cannot be made to be pasture-sound is a rather obvious reason to euthanize,  and they are probably also in pain, but there are other non-specific ailments that are not really painful but are uncomfortable or are situations where the animal has no hope of recovery.  Obviously one justification could be the buildup of toxins in the blood due to the impaired ability of diseased kidneys or liver to remove them from the body, intense fear, or serious depression or refusal to eat.

The minute we learn that our pet has an illness that will progress either to death or unrelievable discomfort, we have to ask ourselves, would we want this operation or therapy, and what about the additional or prolonged pain such treatments may bring? A natural death at the end of many surgeries is rarely kind if it means prolonged pain.

Mane and tail hair saved before euthanasia

Dalrahza’s mane and tail hair saved before euthanasia

For many people, the special significance of death provides a basis for the belief that natural death is preferable to euthanasia. There’s a spiritual impulse to allow nature to “take its course” with one’s pet. A natural death seems to make the pet once again a part of nature. But humane death is one gift that we can give our animals that cannot be given to wild animals,  who often suffer terribly in death.  In nature,  death is often not quick either.

Consider the likely outcome for a rabbit that is attacked by a coyote, or a baby bird that has fallen out of its nest. If it was our animal that was the victim, we would never allow nature to take its course. When natural processes create suffering in our pets that we can relieve, allowing that suffering to continue simply because it is natural seems pretty hard to justify.

In my opinion, perhaps we should not criticize Rose Reid for euthanizing what appear to be healthy horses.  Maybe we should take note of her horses’ good condition as a testament to the exemplary care she seems to have provided.  Losing 4 horses in one day is surely anguish enough. And although she may have been making a business decision in euthanizing 4 horses at once (including a relatively young horse),  she could have sent them to an auction or slaughter instead of providing them with a good death.Driving at Beaverwood5A_tonemapped

At some point in every horse’s life, they get too old to be ridden. They simply don’t enjoy it any more, and even if they do, they are physically unable to continue to carry a rider safely. Being put “out to pasture” is an expression that suggests that the horse is always going to enjoy being out on pasture, when in fact, for some horses, pasture in old age is too hard on them. They may need the mental and physical stimulation that being exercised has provided.

Our most caring option is to subordinate our own interests in favour of the interests of our animal. Sometimes, the inevitability of the aging process can prevent our objective of ensuring everlasting good health for all animals.  But if we are going to err in our timing for euthanasia,   too soon is far better than too late. It makes sense when you realize that it’s better to help a friend a month too soon than an hour too late. This is because “too late” can be really awful for the animal. When all efforts to relieve discomfort fail to provide a reasonable amount of comfort for a pet, it is time to consider euthanasia. If you can consider euthanasia as part of the total care of an animal, euthanasia is not an act to end a life. It is, rather, an act to end your animals’ discomfort.

A Vow to Make to Your Companion Animal

“I will be your loyal companion from this day forward. Even more important, I will be your protector. You have my solemn promise that I will, to the absolute utmost that my strength and resources permit, protect you against all the hurts that life can hold, whether they be physical or emotional. You can depend on me for this. I will never let you down.

And when any hurts become such that all of my efforts cannot effectively alleviate them, I will place your needs above mine, your suffering over my own, and use the only means left to protect you from those hurts. I will deliver you comfort by bringing your pains to an end, not because I will be ready to let go, but because, to protect you, I will have to say goodbye. I know you will count on me at that difficult time to protect you, and I will be there for you, right by your side.

Should my passing come first, you need not worry, because I will have made all the provisions for your care, safekeeping, and happiness.

Fear not, because when death ends our physical togetherness, our emotional bond will never end. You will be a part of my heart forever. I promise.”

dalrahza copy

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A Reply to Nathan Winograd…

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bignewyorkerbookofdogs2Written by:  Amanda Katz (Guestblogger Extraordinaire)

After a lengthy discussion that centered around my support for HSUS and the ASPCA,  I asked Nathan Winograd via Facebook whether he supported Caboodle Ranch a failed hoarding/rescue of 700 cats.   He responded that he had made no statement about the ranch, then asked me a number of questions that seemed to be sparked by my cover pic of the HSUS baby seal campaign.  Here is my response to him, which came after a long series of back and forth between Winograd, myself and several other people.

Mr. Winograd – You have asked posters on your Facebook page not to put words in your mouth, yet your latest reply to me certainly puts words into mine.  You seem to have made all kinds of assumptions and accusations about what I think and believe, when all I did was ask if I could post openly on your page!   I am going to go ahead and share my thoughts openly, even though you removed my civil comments and banned me.

First regarding Caboodle Ranch.  I am glad to see you say you would condemn a place that is causing prolonged suffering and death to animals, even if that place calls itself No Kill.  That is exactly what Caboodle Ranch did.

You seem to be questioning the evidence against Caboodle Ranch solely because some of it came from PETA and ASPCA, which you claim lie about the facts.  However, it is hard to see where the evidence that PETA and ASPCA got about Caboodle was a lie.  Photos and video don’t lie, which is exactly why Big Ag. interests in several states are trying to pass Ag-Gag laws banning undercover investigations — and why the Caboodle defenders sound exactly like factory farmers talking about Mercy for Animals when they claim the photos and videos were doctored, staged, etc.

In the Caboodle Ranch case, PETA sent an undercover investigator at the request of several former volunteers to document the cruelty and neglect that caused the death of hundreds of cats.  PETA’s investigation provided local authorities with the evidence required to shut down the ranch.  At that point, local authorities asked the ASPCA to remove all 700 cats.  The ASPCA housed the cats for months while the legal proceedings were sorted out, provided extensive rehabilitation and medical treatment, and eventually adopted all but the very sickest of cats into new homes.

Even if you don’t believe PETA or the ASPCA about Caboodle Ranch, there is plenty of other evidence available. Before PETA and ASPCA were ever involved, the owner sued a former volunteer turned whistleblower for defamation and lost — it is this court case that provides much of the evidence against Caboodle Ranch, such as the financial records showing that Caboodle took in much more in donations than it paid in care for the cats, and that its owner used donations for the cats to pay for trips and clothing.

That evidence, combined with evidence from PETA and the ASPCA was certainly convincing to the courts, as the judge cited it in his order awarding custody of the cats to the local sheriff.  If all you do is read this court order, you will get a good idea of conditions for the animals at Caboodle Ranch.

Yes, I support the HSUS — and Other Organizations

You have also asked several questions of me.  I will do my best to answer them, though you may not like the answers.

I do support the HSUS, as well as ASPCA and PETA.  I also support Best Friends, and believe it or not, I support some of what you do as well.  You may not think that is possible, as you have made a concerted effort to draw a line in the sand between yourself and every other national animal welfare organization.  But I do not take such a black-and-white view of these issues.

First, regarding HSUS, you have presented a number of allegations on your Facebook page.  I can’t answer all of those, but I can answer some, and I believe you are misconstruing their actual work and position on the issues. For example, bignewyorkerbookofdogs5regarding dogs rescued from fighting operations, your description of the HSUS position does not include the fact that they changed their position on this issue back in April 2009 — almost four years ago.  At the time of the Vick case and the Wilkes County case, when asked, they did advise the court to euthanize the dogs.  That is not the same thing as “lobbying” — the court asked, and they provided an answer.  Moreover, at the time euthanasia was the standard recommendation for all dogs removed from fighting operations — most humane organizations made the same recommendation.

Fortunately the HSUS was mature enough to reconsider this position and change its recommendations to advocate for individual evaluations.  Again, that happened almost four years ago now, yet you continue to write about HSUS as if euthanasia is their current position when it is not.  Moreover, the HSUS remained true to its word with the rescue of 200 dogs from a fighting operation in Ohio in 2010.  All but the sickest of dogs were rescued and placed into new homes.

One of those homes belongs to an HSUS employee I know personally who slept with him in the living room every night for weeks so she could be there when he woke up with nightmares.  This is hardly the hard-hearted pro-killing organization that you make HSUS out to be.  For more, see “HSUS Steps Up and Seeks Help for 200 Dogs Seized from Fighting Operation” by Ledy van Kavage first published on change.org.

Why do you not present this crucial part of the story when discussing the HSUS’s recommendations on fighting dogs?

bignewyorkerbookofdogs1Gas chamber and Michael Vick

Regarding the allegations that HSUS has lobbied against laws banning the gas chamber, I have a very difficult time believing the HSUS did that. On the contrary, the HSUS has given grants to shelters to transition them off of the gas chamber.  The HSUS also actively supports the proposed Congressional resolution by Jim Moran (D-Va.) to condemn use of the gas chamber and encourage states to ban it.

You told someone farther up this thread that the Moran resolution makes an exception for shelters, but again, I think that is a misconstrual of the facts.  It is a proposed resolution, not a law, so it is not binding on anyone.  The national Congress is not going to pass a law regarding shelter practices because animal shelters are regulated by state and local governments, and are not a federal matter.

However, if Congress passed a resolution condemning the gas chamber, that would be an important tool in pushing states like North Carolina to ban the practice.  This would be a win for the animals that we are all trying to help.  That’s why resolutions like this should be supported regardless of feelings about HSUS.

Moreover, the HSUS position on the gas chamber is clear: “The HSUS considers use of the gas chamber in a shelter setting to be unacceptable under any circumstances.”  The reasons are that “Gas chambers cannot provide humane euthanasia for shelter populations,” and “Gas chambers pose grave dangers to staff.”

As for Vick, I can see why the HSUS worked with him, but it is not something I actively supported.  As was pointed out to you, Vick can reach inner-city kids in African American neighborhoods in a way that you, I, or Wayne Pacelle cannot. He spoke to tens of thousands of them, and if he got even one kid to reconsider going into dogfighting, that is a good thing.  Unfortunately, the Vick partnership sparked a strong backlash in the animal welfare community.  For that reason, I do not think it has been a success.

However, regardless of whether the Vick program was successful, it was not done as a quid pro quo to get $50,000 out of the Philadelphia Eagles.  That money did not go to line anyone’s pockets but to the End Dogfighting program in Philadelphia.  The Eagles also gave $50,000 grants to two other humane organizations at the same time — the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society to build a spay-neuter clinic, and Berks County Humane Society to fund a mobile veterinary clinic.

Why do you not mention those grants in your discussion of the Eagles money?  Is it possible the Eagles were simply trying to improve animal welfare in their community?  All three of their grants went to animal welfare programs in Philadelphia, and with a $50,000 grant, each program could help a lot more animals.

herding catsOther National Groups

Regarding the ASPCA, I do not know as much about them as I do HSUS, but they stepped up to save 700 cats from Caboodle Ranch, as well as 350 dogs from a failed rescue in Ohio in 2011. In both cases they were asked to help by local authorities because local shelters simply do not have the capacity to handle so many animals. And in both cases almost every animal was saved, and these were very sick animals removed from horrible hoarding situations.

This demonstrates one reason why we need the national groups.  What other groups have the capacity to conduct large-scale rescues from hoarding situations, fighting rings, puppy mills, natural disasters, and other cases when hundreds of animals are in need?  I don’t see that any of your No Kill shelters, as wonderful as they are, have the capacity to do that.

Furthermore, in many cases in which animals were removed from so-called rescues that were really situations of great cruelty, the rescue group had a 501c3.  In fact, all the national animal welfare groups have been asked to handle major removals from 501c3 rescue organizations that were actually horrible hoarding situations.  Besides the ASPCA’s involvement in Caboodle Ranch in Florida and One More Chance Rescue in Ohio, the HSUS rescued, rehabilitated and rehomed 700 cats from Haven Acres in Florida, while Best Friends rescued 800 cats from For the Love of Cats and Kittens in Nevada, 150 of which still live at the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah.

All of these so-called rescue groups had a 501c3, yet they all involved extreme animal suffering.  Perhaps this is why the national groups have not testified in favor of CAPA laws that would require local shelters to turn over animals to any rescue group that asks.  While most rescues are wonderful organizations, clearly some of them are not — to send an animal to one of these places would condemn it to prolonged suffering and death.

A 501c3 alone is simply not enough to ensure that a place calling itself a rescue is not a death camp.  Again I think you have misconstrued the position of the national organizations on this issue.  While you say they have lobbied against the CAPA bills, that is not the case in the instances I have read about, such as Best Friends which remained neutral on the CAPA proposal in New York.

Personally, I think shelters should work more with rescue groups and would support a version of CAPA that provided some kind of standards for rescue groups to meet before shelters were legally required to send animals to them.  I am not sure what those standards would be, but would support, for example, formation of an accrediting body for shelters and rescues similar to the organizations that accredit top zoos (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), and quality exotic animal sanctuaries (Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries).  Shelters and rescues would have an incentive to achieve accreditation because accredited organizations are more likely to draw donations and be awarded grants.

We All Want to End Shelter Euthanasiadogsandblogsnewyorker

As I said earlier, while I don’t agree with some of your positions, I do support other things you do.  The No Kill Equation is a list of best practices that every shelter should be striving to accomplish, and many shelters are already incorporating some, most or all of its elements into their operations.  Others are not.

There is no doubt that some shelters are in dire need of reform, and I am glad your group is there to demand that they do it.  But there is a difference between criticism meant to reform bad practices and a scorched earth campaign meant to destroy the very infrastructure we need to help animals.  I think that your rhetoric often crosses the line into destruction rather than criticism.

Moreover, I cannot agree that there is no such thing as pet overpopulation, or that adoption alone can end shelter euthanasia.  Increased adoption is certainly an essential part of what must be done, including concerted efforts at better marketing and placement of animals.  Other tactics to  help save large groups of animals should be supported, such as a creating a Parvo ward for puppies and a bottle baby ward for kittens, provided they are properly staffed to avoid suffering.

But we also must reduce the number of animals flowing into shelters, particularly from puppy mills and unaltered street cats.  Low-cost spay-neuter for low-income areas is vital, as is legislation regulating high-volume dog breeders.  Why endorse one tactic to end shelter euthanasia (increasing demand) but not another (decreasing supply)?  Surely there is room for a variety of tactics to achieve this important goal.

You say that no one can provide numbers showing there are fewer homes than animals needing to be placed.  That is because such national numbers do not exist.  We have an idea how many animals are in shelters, but we have no idea how many are being advertised on Craig’s List and other online forums, how many stray cats are on the streets, how many people get cats from accidental litters that a friend had, etc.

The actual number of homeless animals is much, much higher than what is in shelters.  For every person who gets a cat at a shelter, many more get cats from friends or the streets.  That is direct competition for shelter animals and must be considered in these calculations of supply and demand. Furthermore, the animals who are in shelters do not always match what people are looking for.  Most people don’t want pit bulls, yet half of dogs in shelters are pits or pit mixes.  People want kittens, not adult cats, yet shelters are overflowing with adult cats.  People don’t want black animals.

I’m not saying that’s right.  I think it’s terrible.  But regardless of what I think, someone who comes to a shelter looking for a kitten or a Pomeranian is not going to walk away with an adult black cat or a pit bull.  So it’s not a matter solely of numbers.  It is also a matter of preferences.  Shelter director Karel Minor makes this point eloquently.

Herblock Fire June 17, 1949We Need to Work Together

To say that people who disagree with your interpretation of these complex issues are “pro-killing” is simply not accurate.  On this page I have seen you tell people who spend their entire life outside of work rescuing animals that they are pro-killing.  I believe that is a misrepresentation of their hard work and counter-productive. With so many animals suffering, we need ALL tactics, ALL groups working together.

You have noted that the number of no kill communities is rising.  They achieve no kill by working with others in their communities to constructively solve problems, not through vicious attacks and infighting.

I look forward to the day when all animal advocates can work together to help animals in need, when there is room for all tactics and programs to end shelter euthanasia, and when we can end this vicious infighting that is a much larger threat to the animal welfare movement than any external enemy ever could be.

The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

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Written by Heather Clemenceau

The transition from summer to fall is a time when the air may still be hot,  but the winds signal that a change is arriving.  The fall is a time of letting-go;  we prepare our gardens for the fall,  pruning and fertilizing,  removing spent foliage, and raking leaves.  When the leaves flutter to the ground,  we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in reality.

It is possible to take something beautiful and lasting out of the heart-wrenching experience of seeing something you love move inexorably toward death.  Four ladies living in or near Mattawan,  Michigan discovered that sometimes memories are one of the most poignant legacies that exist.  If you aren’t involved in the equestrian community on Facebook,  you might not have heard about the story of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse.

Sugar was a 34 year-old mare living in the junkyard owned by Don Austin of Mattawan.  She was purchased at auction about 20 years earlier,   and lived her life out in his junkyard.  Don Austin claims she was a barrel-racing quarterhorse,  but to me she looks more like a thoroughbred.  Her history seems unclear,  but years ago she apparently had a foal who still lives to this day. There may have been a time when she looked relatively healthy,  but in recent years her emaciated appearance created concern in Mattawan.  Add to that concern was her injured back leg,  deep lacerations,  and rapidly growing mass on her jaw.  Despite complaints,  the Animal Control and Sheriff maintained that Sugar was healthy and receiving appropriate care.

Concerned animal lovers took sides with many residents in Mattawan over the health of the horse and the rights of others to intervene in cases of obvious neglect.  Sugar was an “icon” with whom parents photographed their children  while feeding her apples and carrots that she could not chew due to the loss of her back teeth and the encroaching mass on her jaw.  Animal lovers questioned the appropriateness of photographing Sugar for a keepsake photo with their children while doing nothing to intervene on her behalf.  Two Facebook pages dedicated to her became battlegrounds over such issues as humane euthanasia,  property rights,  and the Sheriff’s inability to discern via direct evidence (Sugar’s condition) that the mare needed an intervention immediately.

After reading about Sugar on Facebook,  Cindy,  Nancy,  Mary and Laura stepped up and became everyone’s “eyes on the ground” for Sugar.  And thus,  the “Sugar Shack Crew” came to be.  A very caring local equine

The Last Photo......

The Last Photo……Saying Goodbye

veterinarian,  Dr. A,  who had tried to help Sugar in the past,  gave tirelessly of her time and skills to provide professional care and assistance to Sugar and the Crew.  A Chip-In was begun,  and people from all over the world gave money to provide food and medical supplies.  Through an agreement with Austin,  the Crew and Dr. A. reached an understanding about Sugar and how she would be cared-for in the coming months.  They also reached an agreement of sorts that allowed for humane euthanasia when the time came.  Through diligent visitation for several months,  the Sugar Shack crew cared for Sugar and truly gave her her “Last,  Best Days.”

Through the oppressive heat of the summer of 2011,  the Sugar Shack Crew doted on their charge.  They restored both her mind and body,  and performed all the maintenance and hard labour that goes hand-in-hand with caring for a horse on a small acreage,  in the limited time left before the harsh Michigan winter took hold.  The onset of winter was an immovable milestone in the near future,  because despite the greatly improved condition of Sugar,  it was agreed by her caregivers that she couldn’t survive another winter.  The kindest thing anyone could do for her would be to make those last days,  her very best days,  and then humanely let her go  before the deep cold set in,  and before the growth on her jaw made eating or swallowing impossible.

October 29, 2012 is the one year anniversary of Sugar’s humane euthanasia.  May she rest in peace.

I know the experience was transformative for all the Sugar Shack ladies.  Cindy and Nancy describe their feelings one year later……..

Cindy's Comments

Click to read the entire message

~Epilogue~

Dr. A did do a biopsy after Sugar was euthanized and the diagnosis was indeed osteoma,  a benign tumour which is typically formed by abnormal growth of bones on the skull or jaw. Once again, she paid for everything because she wanted to know.  To remove something that large would have resulted in Sugar losing her left mandible and the basic care for this kind of wound would have beyond unmanageable for any of her caregivers to handle especially considering where she lived.  Dr. A also felt that it would have been too traumatic to move Sugar to a place where that kind of procedure could have been carried-out.

The excess funds (so many people were so generous) were donated to the Michigan Horse Coalition.  Part of the monies were used to provide a small honorarium for Dr. A,  since she would not accept cash in compensation for her services.

Don Austin was never charged with animal cruelty.  The prosecutor’s office did not authorize animal neglect or cruelty charges against him because Sugar had enough food, water and shelter.  Among animal rescuers, the phrase, “food water shelter” has become a sad code when clear cases for criminal charges are dismissed. Ironically, the food, water and shelter don’t even have to be nearly adequate.

The bylaws in Mattawan were subsequently changed to disallow horses in junkyards.  There will be no new junkyard horses in Mattawan.  I think this is a good thing,  because a skinny horse living alone in a junkyard doesn’t bring anyone any peace.  We would also like to wish Buddy,  depicted in photos here,  a safe journey to the Rainbow Bridge,  where no doubt Sugar will be gratified to see him once again.  Buddy died under unknown circumstances at the Austin farm.  RIP Buddy.

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 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!