Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Horses have feelings

Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013 at 1:49 PM

With regard to Ari LeVaux's "Harvesting horses" column (May 16), I hope that his idea remains no more than a "Flash in the Pan."

While the euphemistic phrase "harvesting" sounds amenable, the brutal slaughter of horses for human ends is anything but. There is no humane way to kill horses on a large scale, such as is done at knackeries. The conditions at the slaughterhouses are horrific for the horses (and humans)such "harvesting" of the animals is nothing like the harvesting of fruits, grains and vegetables. It should go without saying that horses are not plants. They are sentient creatures who feel pain, fear and loss. People rightly object to their slaughter, as they would object to the slaughter of their pets.

If there are too many horses, it's because people have bred too many horses. If there are too many abandoned horses, it's because people view animals as objects that really have no worth in and of themselves. Breeders should be held responsible for the lives they've helped create, while owners should realize they've taken on a 10-30 year financial commitment. And if you make your living off the backs of animals, you should consider them more similar to human capital instead of merely as livestock. Livestock are living beings that are treated as property. Animals are neither machines nor plants, and they should not be treated as such.

The horse-racing industry destroys thousands of horses for human entertainment; they overbreed to get winners and if their "athletes" don't win, they have them killed—that is, if the doping doesn't get them first. We don't need a horse-racing industry, just as we no longer need horse-drawn carriages in cities. And, instead of getting rewarded for their years of involuntary service, LeVaux is saying that these working animals should then have to sacrifice their very lives? What a betrayal. I'm reminded of the tree in The Giving Tree who gave everything to a rather ungrateful person and of Boxer in Animal Farm who is used up and sent to slaughter because it was financially prudent. We humans seem to expect animals to conform to our expectations of them and have little to no regard for them as fellow creatures who deserve much better treatment than we give them.

As for the "wild" horses roaming the land, are we incapable of coming up with something better than killing them? And if they are an invasive species, what are we? We dumped them there. We created the problem, and we should be able to come up with a more humane solution than shipping them off to slaughterhouses. The horse management issue is really a people management issue. And if overpopulation is the problem, perhaps we should look to our own overpopulation and overuse of limited resources before getting rid of extra animals.

There may be too many horses, just as there are too many cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. And while, unfortunately, as in most of these cases, the animals are already suffering, they should not be killed because they are not to blame. We are. This is an ethical problem more than a financial one and should be handled as such. We need to be creative in caring for these animals, and we need to educate people about the problem and what they can do about it. What we don't need to do is add horse to our menu.

Cathy Reich

Superior

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