|With the advent of laws banning horse slaughter, such as those enacted in 2007 in Illinois and Texas, the practice seemed to have gone underground, at least domestically. The difficulty in collecting proof that a horse has fallen into the underground slaughter pipeline is evident in the unproven allegations surrounding Cactus Cafe and Canuki, two injured thoroughbreds racing out of Beulah Park in Ohio that disappeared after being deemed not race worthy. Their disappearance caused racetrack officials to look into establishing anti-slaughter policies but they dragged their heels on enforcement citing difficulty in tracking the horses.
Now the practice of horse slaughter is again in the news--this time in our own neighborhood. Front Range Equine Rescue (FRER) of Larkspur, Colorado has revealed that United Equine, LLC has applied to the Food Safety and Inspection Service to begin slaughter of American horses at a plant in Rockville, Missouri, a town in Bates County east of Highway 71 not unknown for its slaughter of cattle.
"Horse slaughter for food is a national disgrace, given the fact American horses are not raised as a food animal and the especially brutal methods used to kill them," reports an Arizona spokesperson for Americans Against Horse Slaughter.
Since the application for the Rockville plant states that it intends to open in September 2012, FRER says it is acting quickly to prevent any chance of Unified Equine reaching its goal. The group plans legal and community-based efforts with groups across the country to stop the opening.
Calling attention to the negative impact horse slaughter has had on communities where the practice was located, Mary McNichols, Ph.D., of Huntington Woods, Michigan wrote her Congressmen in support of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, S. 1176. The act seems to have died in committee.
The owner of Belgian horse slaughter company, Chevideco, accompanied the president of United Equine to Mountain Grove, Missouri where they were unsuccessful in attempting to convince residents of that community of the benefits of such a plant. Citizens became inflamed, according to information provided by the Equine Welfare Alliance, a 501(c)(4) equine welfare organization, when attorney, Cynthia MacPherson, challenged the intentions of the partnership, cataloging the pollution and crime that Chevideco's Dallas Crown facility brought to the town of Kaufman, Texas. In addition, the argument by pro-slaughter advocates that jobs would be created in communities in which plants were located was questioned by those citing the occurrence of undocumented aliens historically given the work.
"Besides being an inherently brutal practice, horse slaughter results in horrific environmental, economic and social results in communities in which plants are located," McNichols points out. She also calls attention to a recent opinion piece by Vicki Tobin, vice president of the Equine Welfare Alliance, that in part questions the safety of horse meat for human consumption. It should be noted that Tobin's piece was challenged by a reader who said Tobin offered no solution to the problem of unwanted horses--now more prevalent due to the poor economic climate and high cost of maintaining them.
Horse slaughter is an extremely hot topic. If only horses could live the life and death of Roy Rogers' horse Trigger. Stuffed, it commanded an auction price of $266,500 in July 2010 from an Omaha cable TV company airing equine and country living programming. Trigger became the focal point of a western-influenced museum in Apple Valley, California.