Emily Murdoch, an Itchmo reader, is a writer, runs a dog rescue, and is also part of a horse rescue in the state of Washington. She recently wrote this article and sent us it to bring attention to horse slaughter and the group’s mission to save as many horses as possible from slaughterhouses.
Columbia Basin Equine Rescue: Horse Lovers And Activists Saving Slaughter-bound Equines
By Emily Murdoch
They shoot horses, don’t they? Isn’t that the saying? Would it shock you to know that a bullet would be infinitely kinder, than the harsh reality that befalls so many of our unwanted American horses?
Slaughter, and the slaughter pipeline, is no place for a horse. At livestock auctions, where unlucky horses are paraded before a crowd for that needle-in-a-haystack chance of being purchased by a loving family, horses are more often purchased by Kill Buyers, who make their living off horse meat. Kill Buyers often purchase young, sound, impeccably trained riding horses whose families or past owners believed would find a good home. They purchase horses dumped at auction by irresponsible breeders and people who want to squeeze that last buck out of a horse, regardless of its fate. Some of the horses have been abused and neglected; some have been starved and are fattened up at feedlots before being shipped. Some of the horses are wild horses, who never stood a chance; some are stolen horses leaving behind frantic owners who fear the worst.
Americans have been led to believe that only old, sick or crippled horses go to slaughter, if theyâ€˜re even aware of slaughter at all. But itâ€™s simply untrue. Horse slaughter is Americaâ€™s dirty little secret. Horses, which the American Veterinary Medical Association classifies as â€œcompanion animalsâ€ (pets), are rounded up and essentially tortured to death to satisfy foreign palettes.
A painful, fear-filled, inhumane fate awaits over 100,000 of our American horses each year. Because the last operating American slaughterhouse, Cavel International in Illinois, was ordered shut down on April 6th, 2007, the horses have been rerouted to the slaughterhouses of Canada and Mexico. In Mexico, the slaughter plants render horses with a knife stabbed into the horsesâ€™ back repeatedly until the spinal cord is severed. The animals are then lifted up by chains, their throats slit, and bled to death, often while still conscious, with waiting horses looking on.
I found out about horse slaughter four years ago, while working on a novel. Wanting to round out the main character, and living in the West, I decided to make the character a horse rescuer, then set about researching the subject on the internet. What sort of horses need rescue? Where do rescued horses come from? What I learned horrified, outraged and profoundly changed me. How did I not know about horse slaughter before? How in a civilized country built by the horse, and where Americans don’t eat horsemeat, are we betraying and exporting our national heritage for foreign consumption?
Vowing to do my part, and now four years later, if you looked outside my living room window you would see two horses and a donkey grazing in the corral, saved from slaughter and the horrors that await so many other American horses, donkeys and mules. The reality is, far from being old, crippled or useless, these equines were young, sound, and desperately in need of someone who cared.
During my research I came across Columbia Basin Equine Rescue, or CBER, a horse rescue group in Washington state that works with horses presently on the feedlots. From their website, you can place a beautiful face and kind eyes on the slaughter statistics, and view horses presently on â€œdeath rowâ€. And you can even do something about it — adopt one of these feedlot horses, or, make a donation to save a horse’s life. CBER is hands on, working in the emotional trenches as they evaluate each horse and post their availability on the internet. There are days when no more can be done; the truck that takes the horses to slaughter pulls up and with many tears shed, another unfortunate group of unadopted horses is loaded and whisked away. Their photos are taken down and moved to the â€œIn Memoryâ€ page of CBERâ€˜s website.
Itâ€™s time to stop the inhumane and callous exploitation of American horses. Support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which prohibits United States slaughterhouses from processing horses for food to be sold in Europe and Asia, and bans the exportation of live horses to Mexico and Canada for slaughter. Write your Senators, your Representatives, your President and let them know the murder of American horses is unacceptable. Start an Anti-Slaughter petition, sign an Anti-Slaughter petition, educate family and friends, and educate yourself. Don’t turn away and do nothing, now that you know; the horses need your outrage and your compassion. There are so many things in life we can’t control; the slaughtering of Americaâ€™s horses is not one of them.
For more information:
Columbia Basin Equine Rescue: www.columbiabasinequinerescue.org
Shark: Showing Animals Respect and Kindness: http://www.sharkonline.org/?P=0000000528
1st Photo: This is Kiva Glow, being ridden and evaluated by Jeff, a horse trainer, and a rider for CBER. Kiva Glow was shipped to slaughter on 8-13-07, after time ran out. His ad for a second chance read: 20 year old, 14.2h, roan BLM gelding. He ties, and easy to tack up. He was good to ride but does not appear to know much. Split reined and neck reined a little, does not respond well to leg pressure. Just a little refresher course is all he would need. He was sure footed as many mustangs are and was sound at time of assessment. Picked up his feet gentle and willingly.
2nd Photo: Peter was on the feedlot in July of 2007. His ad for a second chance read: Very sweet yearling QH/TB, halter broke & very very friendly. Would make someone a great project. In the photo, he is one-year-old. He stands with his new owner, 14-year-old Alyssa. Which fate do you think a horse would choose, if a horse could choose his fate?
3rd Photo: Shipping Day: “Despite the best efforts of CBER and it’s supporters, not all the horses can be saved. The best way to save all of the horses from slaughter is to support the Anti-Slaughter Legislation for American Horses.”
To see more photos, visit http://columbiabasinequinerescue.org/DEF-ShippingDay.asp