Animal rights activists in California
are currently pushing a “Save the Horses” ballot initiative
that would make it illegal for Californians to ship their horses to other
states for slaughter and processing into meat.
Horse meat, it turns out, has been
eaten in Europe and Asia for a few centuries. In Japan, for example, dinner
patrons can eat a dish featuring raw horse meat with spices and sauce.
Probably due to Americans fascination with the horse in its role in the
exploration and settlement of our nation, horse meat hasn’t caught
on in the United States.
But there are four processing plants
for horse meat in the United States, the two largest being in Texas. The United
States Department of Agriculture estimates 113,499 horses were slaughtered
The animal rights activists complain
that the method used for killing the horses — a four-inch bolt is shot
through the animal’s skull — is inhumane and doesn’t kill the animals immediately.
Activists have been showing videotape of horses being shot with a bolt
and then writhing on the ground. Animal rights groups also complain the
method of transporting the horses is cruel, with horses dehydrating and
injuries occurring with too many horses loaded into small, cramped quarters.
A recent study by the USDA and
the University of California-Davis contradicts these claims, however.
The study examined 309 horses taken to a slaughterhouse in Texas. It found
that injuries were actually minimized when the horses were loaded closely
together, and found dehydration occurred only after trips of more than
24 hours, and even in those cases the dehydration was described as “mild.”
All the horses were able to support their own weight, contradicting animal
rights activists claims that the animals were unable to stand because
they were so dehydrated.
Carolyn Stull, who conducted the
USDA study, told Scripps Howard that if the “Save the Horses”
initiative passes, it would only send California horse owners to other states to
auction them off, or in some extreme cases to abandon the animals.
“We are going to have a ton of starving horses around” if the
initiative passes, Stull said.
Activists just say neigh to California horse meat trade. Robert Salladay, Associated Press, June 30, 1998.
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