Live Link:  Straight from the Horses Heart

Guest Op-Ed by Vicki Tobin ~ Vice President of the Equine Welfare Alliance

Who is the REAL Guest of Honor at the Summit of the Horse?

When obvious truth is being ignored, it is frequently referred to as the elephant in the room. As the slaughter issue reaches the boiling point, as expected, the elephants in the room are waiting to be recognized.

Wallis/Duquette have a very, very large guest at their “Slaughterfest”

The upcoming “Summit of the Horse” is an exemplary example of elephants in the room. A group of people are assembling to “take the reins back” and provide solutions. That is truly mission impossible because they would have to acknowledge that they are the cause.

They would have to acknowledge that to control the horse population, it must be done at the source; not on the back-end. If slaughter controlled the population, we wouldn’t still be discussing it after decades of slaughter.

The disinformation that will be rehashed at the “Summit” has been disproven tenfold but they charge forward repeating their mantra of illogical talking points. The most illogical claim is that the horse industry tanked because the US horse slaughter plants closed. It makes a good sound bite but there is the pesky little fact that slaughter never ended – a minor detail that is needed for the closures to have an impact.

They call the wild horses “feral” and the slaughter horses “unwanted” to denigrate them. They complain about the cost of wild horses in holding but completely ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars shelled out by taxpayers to subsidize privately owned livestock on public lands.

The elephants are growing in number. There is scientific data on drugs in US horses, scientific evidence on wild horses as native species and their DNA. There are studies on the relationship between neglect and horse slaughter and GAO studies on the livestock (not wild horses) decimating the ranges. Acknowledging those elephants would expose the disinformation.

The ten ton elephant that will be sitting in the middle of the “Summit” is food safety. There is no getting around the fact that US horses are not raised as food animals. The racing industry alone would be brought to its knees without the routine drugs given to race horses to maintain them at peak performance. The “Summit” folks can call them livestock but that doesn’t make them food animals.

Food safety is not something the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the European Union (EU) take lightly. Food safety in our country is becoming a hot button with consumers. Food recalls are on the rise and on November 30, 2010, the senate passed a sweeping reform to food safety laws. When signed into law by the president, the FDA will have the authority to recall food. This is a clear message that we must ensure the food being produced is safe for humans to consume.

Throughout my professional career as processes were changed, positions lost to automation or numerous reorganizations, I constantly heard, change is your friend; embrace change. Today, those words ring true in modern society, especially with those that don’t move forward with societal changes. Every business in the US has changed operating models and cut back on production to survive in this difficult economy to match supply with demand.

The folks attending the “Summit” want do business the way they’ve always done business and dare anyone to ask them to change. They oppose every welfare bill that would improve conditions for animals, refuse to acknowledge over breeding that feeds the slaughter pipeline and defend the cruelty exposed in undercover investigations. The beef lobby went as far to introduce legislation to exempt factory farms from Emission regulations (HR 1438). Enter the elephant known as accountability for one’s actions.

To arrive at solutions, you must bring opposing parties to the table no matter how polarized each side has become. A solution or compromise cannot emerge without discussing all factors surrounding the issue. If both sides aren’t at the table, you are doing nothing more than promoting one side’s agenda.

In reality, the “Summit” is going to be an extremely small segment of the horse industry coming together who benefit from the slaughter of horses. Breeders that breed dozens of horses for that one special horse, cattle ranchers that have been duped into believing that banning slaughter will lead to banning slaughter of food animals and others that are paid to have an opinion and support the highest bidder. It’s not about the horses or their welfare as evidenced by a session for the sole purpose of bashing and outwitting organizations such as HSUS by a man so radical that he is frequently hushed at meetings he attends. Ah, the pot calling the kettle black!

Not one speaker was invited to represent or even acknowledge the elephants. Instead, the meeting will be held while slaughter supporters ignore, tip-toe around or trip over them.

It’s not hard to guess what the outcome of the “Summit” will be. The solution will be to have Temple Grandin design a “humane” slaughter plant. This plant will slaughter all the cast offs from the breeders so they can continue to over breed and Sue Wallis will ask that all wild horses are removed from public lands and slaughtered. The fact that the EU prohibits all wild equidae meat except zebra meat (page 3, third paragraph) and that US horses have no production records, is of no consequence to slaughter supporters.

When the “Summit” recaps the meeting, let’s hope they don’t insult everyone’s intelligence by declaring they have unanimous concurrence from the horse community on their misguided and ill conceived “solutions”.

Equine Welfare Alliance is an umbrella organization representing over 125 organizations and hundreds of individuals across the United States and several countries worldwide.