Guest Editorial Stop the slaughter of America’s (and Utah’s) horses |

Guest Editorial Stop the slaughter of America’s (and Utah’s) horses

Cheryl Smith, executive director, Wasatch Humane

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last month to ban the slaughter of American horses, no thanks to Utah’s three representatives. But before the bill can be sent to President Bush to become law, it must be passed by the Senate before Congress adjourns for the November mid-term elections.

ACT NOW to protect horses — horses that have devoted their lives to serving mankind in work, recreation, and competition and have built the American West — from a horrific, inhumane and undignified torture at the hands of foreign-owned slaughterhouses. Call or write to Utah’s Senators, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett. Implore them not to adjourn before they have protected America’s horses by voting for S. 1915. Tell them horses are unique animals to Utahns and should not be slaughtered for food.

Utah does not have slaughterhouses, but we do have feed lots, horse traders and kill buyers who attend the weekly livestock auctions and buy horses from sellers who may have no idea that their beloved, retired 4H pony, barrel champ or trail mount isn’t going to a loving new home, but to a Texas slaughterhouse.

Visit to see our adoptable horses. Some horses have been rescued from feed lots that sell them by the pound, and haul them in trucks without water or rest, where some are injured and trampled to death en route, to slaughter.

Wasatch Humane has rescued several healthy, sound horses from the feed lot, disposed of like garbage, because their people weren’t savvy about how to train them humanely and successfully, like little Buddy who had been ridden and cherished by an eight-year-old girl, but her family sold the three-year-old mustang for meat to replace him with a "flashier" horse; my one-eyed horse, Jack, who carefully carries my disabled son; or Sweetheart and Shasta, older mares who had taught generations of children how to ride and be compassionate, only to be dumped by their families for a quick buck for their flesh. Not a respectful or dignified (not to mention cruel and inhumane end) in exchange for the lifetime of joy and lessons in kindness that these horses have contributed to mankind all to put on dinner plates in foreign countries.

Americans were outraged when our ports were to be sold to foreign interests. And they loudly oppose horse slaughter for human consumption. So why are our president and three Utah congressmen so eager to please these foreign-owned special interests at the expense of the noble, magnificent horse, the symbol of the American West? Presumably, agriculture special interests have convinced them with their lie that, without mass slaughterhouses, horse owners would neglect and abandon their animals in droves. This hasn’t proven true in California, which passed a slaughter ban. If there are too many unwanted horses, complacent mass slaughter by electrocuting their brains then slicing their throats is not the solution in a civilized society like the United States, just as genocide isn’t the solution for human overpopulation, starvation or crowded orphanages.

The solution is education: that horses deserve a kinder, humane end. That horse owners should be responsible and quit breeding so many animals; consider placing their retired or unwanted horse with a rescue like ours or with a riding program for the handicapped; and when the time comes to end their lives, do it responsibly and right — spend $300 to have their horses humanely euthanized. Utahns are outraged that this is going on. The House has passed H.R. 503. Now the Senate must be urged to pass S. 1915 before Congress adjourns for the holidays. Wonder what will be served at their Thanksgiving feasts?

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