Tag Archives: precautionary principle

The Science Is In: Exposure To Bute In Horsemeat Still A Big Problem

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Phenylbutazone or “bute” was at one time marketed for humans use under the trade name of Butazolidin.  It was a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) used for arthritis and other inflammatory ailments that worked by inhibiting an enzyme that synthesizes chemical mediators called prostaglandins.  It was ultimately withdrawn by the FDA for causing a wide range of serious side-effects.  It remains however, on the market for treatment for horses and is an effective anti-inflammatory.  It is also prohibited in the food chain as residues of bute and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone are not known to have safe limits.  None of this is new information to experienced horse advocates.  Therefore, it’s always personally surprising to me when I come across another horse advocate who takes the position that we needn’t be concerned about bute adulteration in food. It’s a pretty rare position to take, IMO, and reaffirms  to me that not all champions of the horse are on the same page when it comes to advocacy. This position not only harms our advocacy,  it’s also scientifically illiterate IMO.

Writing in a recent blog post, Founder and President of the Equine Rescue Network Janine Jacques goes all-in and on the record as being in doubt that bute is harmful to people.  Jacques also assumes that the only possible toxic result from consuming bute or metabolites can be aplastic anemia.

How did the consumption of over 16 million pounds of horsemeat impact the health of those who consumed horse meat tainted with bute? ~ If Google search deaths from phenylbutazone you will find no relevant deaths for humans.”  

While investigation and surveillance of overdoses and poisonings by phenylbutazone are available, there is a tendency to believe that, in order to be hazardous to health, only large amounts of a chemical are needed to cause poisoning. This is not necessarily so. A highly toxic chemical can have a low health hazard if it is used with proper precautions and care. On the other hand, it is possible that a chemical of low toxicity may present a high health hazard if it is used inappropriately, such as in the food supply.  The domain of published works in the field of toxicology contain many presuppositions such as this; regulators have always had difficulty establishing acceptable levels of chemicals and they are expected to show evidence that a level of exposure is harmful before they can ban its use.

Virtually all evidence we have about harmful dosages of drugs come from animals where extrapolations are made from high doses (LD50, Draize, and ADME – Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Excretion tests for example) .  It is also said that effects found in animals in relatively short-lived species cannot necessarily be used to estimate the effects in a long-lived species such as human.  Humans live much longer than most of the species used for drug testing, so we have a longer period of time in which to manifest disease.  Compounding this, we know that much of human disease is idiopathic in nature – without known causes.  Forensic toxicology testing can detect drugs in the blood stream or urine and overdoses in the emergency room, but it can’t predict the cause of idiopathic disease.

What makes chemicals poisonous?

There are several factors which can influence the degree of poisoning caused by a chemical.

  • Route of entry into the body – orally, inhalation, etc
  • Amount or dose entering the body
  • Chemicals that are weakly toxic require large doses to cause poisoning, Strongly toxic chemicals only need small doses to cause poisoning
  • Chemicals that are broken down by the body into sub-products before being excreted may be more or less toxic than the original chemical
  • Biological variation in the person consuming the chemical/drug determines response – slow metabolizers may be affected in addition to those who have susceptibility to phenylbutazone due to different metabolic genes (polymorphisms) that encode enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of drugs.People who are poor metabolizers of a drug may overdose while taking less than the recommended dose. Altered or enhanced drug metabolisms in individuals have been known to cause fatal drug reactions.

PBZ Molecule

Another layer of complexity is added when humans are exposed to chemicals at very low doses – the chemicals may reside in certain regions of the body that are more susceptible to organ damage  which is impossible to measure directly.  Studies have shown that many chemicals impact cancer-causing pathways at low doses. Taken directly, phenylbutazone is associated with various hematologic disorders, including aplastic anemia. Bute is also a cause of agranulocytosis, which can also be fatal. Hypersensitivity reactions can include anaphylactic shock, arthralgia, fever, angiitis (polyarteritis), vasculitis, serum sickness, adenitis, hepatotoxicity, allergic alveolitis, lymphadenopathy, Lyell’s syndrome, activation of systemic lupus erythematosus, and aggravation of temporal arteritis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. Asthma may be precipitated or aggravated by phenylbutazone, especially in aspirin sensitive patients. We also know that phenylbutazone interacts with many other drugs.  When administered to lactating cows, it was found that phenylbutazone was distributed into their milk.

When the drug was used therapeutically in humans as Butazolidin, the dose rate would have been around 2 to 6 mg/kg, similar to the current dose for the horse of 4.4 mg/kg. The question is whether the presence of bute in horsemeat can present a risk to human health even in small amounts.  Around the time of the 2013 horse meat adulteration scandal in the EU, the highest amount of bute found in a horse carcass was 1.9 mg.  If a human had been taking Butazolidin in the 50s, they might have taken 200-400 mg a day in total, if we compare it to the current-day dosage of Tylenol or Advil.  Obviously, we would have to consume a significant amount of contaminated horsemeat in order to reach the level of a therapeutic drug dosage. What is not clear, despite reassurances, is the level that is necessary for the average person to consume in order to experience a toxic effect.  If a therapeutic dose of Butazolidin was once considered “safe” at 200-400 mg, then how do we know that some individuals are safe at 1.9 mg?  If Butazolidin was withdrawn from the market as being unsafe for some people at that dosage, we don’t know whether sensitive individuals may have experienced toxicity at lower levels as well.

If it still seems as though a negligible trace of bute in meat might not be enough to cause harm,  there is an analogous cautionary tale of another NSAID – diclofenac, which was also used in human medicine for decades,  and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Obviously, the dynamics are not the same, but vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses, their main food source, and this has accounted for death by renal failure of many vultures examined in a three-year study by the scientific journal Nature.  Further investigation showed tissue residues in livestock treated at the labelled dose rate were sufficient to cause death in vultures. These findings confirmed that diclofenac is the primary cause of the Asian vulture decline.

“Diclofenac is toxic to vultures even in small doses, causing kidney failure. That results in uric acid accumulating in the birds’ blood and crystallizing around their internal organs—a condition called visceral gout.”

Food safety laws are clear.  Companies that produce, trade or sell food or food ingredients are legally obligated to implement a quality assurance system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), which maximizes food safety by minimizing chemical, physical and microbiological hazards.  There is something wrong with a food system whereby the food animal must sit on a feedlot for six months in order that veterinary drugs “degrade” before it can be eaten.

For years, regulators relied on the old adage “the dose makes the poison, which still holds true for many drugs and chemicals.  But one key message there is that source or origin of a chemical usually tells you very little if anything about its toxicity or ability to cause harm.   We now live in a time where exposure to chemicals is unavoidable and we can’t evaluate these chemicals in isolation.  Having said that, bute is not a chemical that is ubiquitous in the environment like other toxins we are exposed to – we can avoid it by not eating horsemeat and not killing horses for food.  In the final analysis, no one is really in a position to make broad statements about the safety of horse meat.  Conrad Brunk,  the co-chair of the 2001 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, wrote that:

“When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks;  the mere absence of evidence is not enough.”  This is the essence of the Precautionary Principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment,  precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” The toxicity of a chemical cannot be changed, but the hazard it presents can be controlled.

New Phenylbutazone Study Found To Have Toxic Potential For Scavenging Birds Of Prey

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27565927_mWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

A new peer-reviewed South African study that evaluates the toxicity of carprofen, flunixin and phenylbutazone in Cape vultures has found evidence of toxicity for al three non-steriodal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). While there were no deaths as a result of the exposure, the study found that long half-life elimination times and the presence of toxic clinical signs were strong indicators of toxicity. The study was conducted to determine whether these three NSAIDS were similar in toxicity to diclofenac, another NSAID, which was also used in human medicine for decades, and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Diclofenac was determined to be a primary causal factor in the decline of the Asian vulture when the vultures predated on the carcasses of animals treated with the drug.

Methodology:

Plasma samples were analysed and after the 48 hour monitoring period, the birds with euthanized for post-mortem evaluation. While no mortalities resulted from the treatment itself, clinical signs of lethargy and depression (drooping heads) were noted in the 1 CRP treated bird, 2 FXN treated birds, and 1 PBZ treated bird while no signs were reported for the control (untreated) birds. The exposure doses used for this study are also considered to be realistic as they were based on either a worst case scenario of the birds being exposed to high tissue concentration of the drug in recently dead cattle, horses or pigs which would represent their primary food source.

PBZ Molecule

PBZ Molecule

While the study concluded that the three NSAIDs evaluated are not as toxic as diclofenac is to vultures, the three drugs were not considered to be safe. The elimination half-life of phenylbutazone was found to be 18.1 in the horse (PBZ has a half-life of 70h for people). Phenylbutazone is certainly not without toxicity or contraindications in horses either. While dose-dependent, both phenylbutazone and oxyphenbutazone cross the placenta and are excreted into milk, and the drug binds irreversibly to cyclooxygenase, thereby inducing Cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 gene expressions.

Study Conclusion:

“From the specific study design used, it was concluded that CRP, PBZ and FXN are not as toxic to vultures as diclofenac. We are unable to conclude on the general safety of these tested drugs, as they all show some indication towards toxicity.”

When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks; the mere absence of evidence is not enough.  This is the essence of the precautionary principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment,  precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.  Phenylbutazone is not permitted to be used in equine animals that may be used for food – there are NO exceptions. Mark Markarian, who is chief program and policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States and president of The Fund for Animals, said recently that:

“There is currently no system in the US to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption. It’s a free-for-all when this tainted and contaminated meat is dumped on unsuspecting consumers through their dinner plates and supermarket shelves, either overseas or here at home.”

The Disquieting Truth About Drug Exposures in Horsemeat

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laboratory-011Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

The most recent news surfacing today is that Nestlé, one of the largest food companies in the world, has now been entangled in the EU horsemeat scandal.  Major supermarket chains Tesco and Aldi were found to be selling beef products that contained horse meat. Burger King sourced thousands of burgers from the same Irish beef supplier, Silvercrest, and Findus “beef” lasagna was found to contain 100% horse meat.

Liffey Meats in Ireland and Dalepak in Yorkshire have both been fingered as well.  Silvercrest and Dalepak are both subsidiaries of ABP Food Group, one of the largest beef processors in Europe.   Huge blocks of frozen meat in cold storage in Northern Ireland – Freeza Foods, which had been quarantined by officials suspicious of its labelling and state of packaging, were found to contain 80% horse.

There is now evidence that both Polish and Italian mafia gangs are running multimillion-dollar scams to substitute horsemeat for beef during food production. There are claims that vets and other officials working within slaughterhouses and food production plants are intimidated into signing off meat as beef when it is in fact cheaper alternatives such as pork or horse.

europe-crisisWhat this multi-level fraud has done is remove informed consent from the public – people believed they were paying for and consuming beef products.  The public also had no idea that they were at risk for consuming minute quantities of veterinary drug phenylbutazone(“bute”) as a result of massive quantities of horsemeat of unknown origin entering the food chain.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced that there are at least eight known cases of horse carcasses that tested positive for phenylbutazone in the EU out of 206 samples.  British Environment Minister David Heath told the House of Commons that of these eight horses, “three may have entered the food chain in France. The remaining five have not gone into the food chain.”

Phenylbutazone or “bute” was at one time marketed for humans use under the trade name of butazolidin.  It was a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAID) used for arthritis and other inflammatory ailments that worked by inhibiting an

Butazolidin

Butazolidin – trade name for the human version of the drug phenylbutazone

enzyme that synthesizes chemical mediators called prostaglandins.  It was ultimately withdrawn by the FDA for causing a wide range of serious side-effects including blood dyscrasias which damage the bone marrow.  It remains however, on the market for treatment for horses and is an effective anti-inflammatory.  It is also prohibited in the food chain as residues of bute and its metabolite, oxyphenbutazone are not known to have safe limits.

Horse welfare advocates and the inadvertent consumers of horse meat have been repeatedly reassured by various government agencies and horse slaughter proponents that any residues of bute or its metabolite are harmless.  We know that the pro-slaughters aren’t relying on science when they tell us this, but what about government agencies?   On what do they base this reassurance?

Professor Tim Morris, veterinary surgeon and Vice Chair of the British Horse Industry Confederation, said:

“It is important to note that the levels of Bute in horsemeat, even if it is found, will be very low, and greatly below the doses following medical treatment in people that have been associated with occasional rare adverse reactions; therefore whilst this is unacceptable the actual risk to consumers is very small.”

Professor Peter Lees, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology, Royal Veterinary College, wrote that:

“The main toxicity concern in humans is that some people developed (very rarely – 1 in 30,000 to 1 in 50,000 persons) an anaemia which was life threatening, when the drug was used clinically in humans. This occurred when the drug was used therapeutically in humans at a dose rate of some 2 to 6 mg/kg, similar to the current dose for the horse of 4.4 mg/kg.”

The question is whether the presence of bute in horsemeat can present a risk to human health even in small amounts.  In the above noted tests, the highest amount of bute found in a horse carcass was 1.9 mg.  If a human had been taking butazolidin in the 50s, they might have taken 200-400 mg a day in total, if we compare it to the current-day dosage of Tylenol or Advil.  Obviously, we would have to consume a significant amount of contaminated horsemeat in order to reach the level of a therapeutic drug dosage.

9601_fig1What is not clear, despite reassurances, is the level that is necessary for the average person to consume in order to experience a toxic effect.  The basis for determining toxicity levels to inform public policy decisions has been the dose-response relationship, which is central to defining “safe” and “hazardous” levels and dosages for drugs, potential pollutants, and other substances to which humans are exposed.

If a therapeutic does of butazolidin was once considered “safe” at 200-400 mg, then how do we know that some individuals are safe at 1.9 mg?  If butazolidin was withdrawn from the market as being unsafe for some people at that dosage, we don’t know whether sensitive individuals may have experienced toxicity at lower levels as well.  What about drug interactions?  There is an acknowledged interaction between phenylbutazone and the anticoagulant drug warfarin, and patients taking warfarin can suffer severe gastrointestinal bleeding if they also take phenylbutazone.  This complicates arguments about safety of bute in horsemeat.  Bute also metabolizes to oxyphenbutazone,  which has been shown to have similar toxicity.  Have any of these horse carcasses been tested for oxyphenbutazone?  Both bute and oxyphenbutazone bind to human serum albumin (HSA) as does warfarin and so they “compete” with each other.  For more information on this interaction, please read this study by the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia.

Indian vultures poisoned by diclofenac after eating scavenging livestock treated with the drug

Indian vultures poisoned by diclofenac after scavenging livestock treated with the drug

If it still seems as though a negligible trace of bute in meat might not be enough to cause harm,  there is an analogous cautionary tale of another NSAID – diclofenac, which was also used in human medicine for decades,  and was recently introduced for veterinary use in India.  Obviously, the dynamics are not the same, but vultures appear to have been exposed to the drug while scavenging livestock carcasses, their main food source, and this has accounted for death by renal failure of many vultures examined in a three-year study by the scientific journal Nature.  Further investigation showed that diclofenac was fatal to vultures at 10 percent of the recommended dose. Tissue residues in livestock treated at the labelled dose rate were sufficient to cause death in vultures. These findings confirmed that diclofenac is the primary cause of the Asian vulture decline.

“As few as one in 760 carcasses containing diclofenac at a dose lethal to vultures would be sufficient to cause the observed decline in vulture numbers (30% per year). Clearly, even small-scale usage of the drug can have catastrophic consequences.”

The traceability issues with this untraceable horse/donkey meat also bears some similarity to the problem of kangaroo meat diverted into the human food chain in Australia.  Kangaroo meat is often obtained from animals that were shot with machine guns via helicopters and therefore not slaughtered humanely and not bled by conventional standards either.  Possibly also introduced into the food chain dubiously as well.

The ability to treat horses with bute is very important for their welfare.  The EU scandal has also revealed that the passporting system there is subject to fraud, despite strict rules regarding the regulation of medicines.  The fault lies not with horse owners but with individuals or organizations who are motivated by greed and willing to manipulate the system, allow their controls to fail, or commit outright fraud.

Food safety laws are clear.  Companies that produce, trade or sell food or food ingredients are legally obligated to implement a quality assurance system called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point house-of-cards(HACCP), which maximizes food safety by minimizing chemical, physical and microbiological hazards.  There is something wrong with a food system whereby the food animal must sit on a feedlot for six months in order that veterinary drugs “degrade,” and 100% of the “raw material” must pass a negative test before they can enter the food chain.

In the final analysis, no one is really in a position to make broad statements about the safety of this horse/donkey meat.  Conrad Brunk,  the co-chair of the 2001 Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on the Future of Food Biotechnology, wrote that:

“When it comes to human and environmental safety there should be clear evidence of the absence of risks;  the mere absence of evidence is not enough.”  This is the essence of the precautionary principle, which states that “when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment,  precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”bute  - High res

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!