I've made this rant somewhere before, be it on here or elsewhere I don't recall, but while looking up information on an upcoming auction, I rather innocently clicked on a YouTube link. The video was one of those usual "This auction house is killing all the pretty ponies!" ones -- they video taped some goings ons and pointed out every little wrong that happened. I've been disgusted at these types of videos before, but this one hit home; I was familiar with this auction house, I knew the owners (in passing; I wouldn't call us friends. So I can't even claim bias.), and I'd even bout two horses from that very auction house.
Here's the video, for the curious:
"Canadian trucks transporting horses for slaughter arrive at the auction"
Yeah, and? There's a market for horse by-products. It's a fact. If there wasn't we wouldn't have slaughterhouses. No amount of dramatic videos on youtube is going to dissuade whoever out there is using horse by-products from doing so. Picketing/boycotting/etc might do in some, sure. Call me a nay-sayer, but I don't see talking /the entire planet/ into not using horse by-products as a realistic goal.
But, for the sake of argument, let's say that happens. No more demand for horsemeat and such. This would mean no profit for slaughterhouses, so they'd shut down. Win/Win? No. For one, there's the loss of jobs that comes with the closing down of any business. Oh, sorry, we're only worried about horses here; I'll try to stay focused. Now, what do we do with all those unwanted horses? Give them to all of the little girls and boys out there who've always wanted a horse? Uh, yeah, let's ask their parents about that first. Not every person who wants a horse can realistically afford to /buy/ a horse, then there's the matter of where to keep it, and -- oh yeah! -- that pesky upkeep cost that lasts for years afterward, including important stuff, like food! So we've rules out making some kid's dream come true.
Rescue shelters? Nope sorry. I don't run one myself, but the way I understand it, they aren't exactly the most profitable business. A rescue shelter can only support a set number of horses before they're overrun by horses (and thus overrun by people with cameras who post videos to YouTube of 'starved, abused' horses.).
Well, I guess you could euthanize them. You know, a quick shot, and they go take a long nap. Well, see, there's a problem there, too. Say John Doe can't afford to keep Ol' Betsy anymore. He got laid off, bills came in, and the kid's were hungry. Hard times, hard decisions, he has to get rid of the horse. With the horse market as it is (and I'll get back to that), he couldn't sell her and, well, she is getting up there in years, she's starting to get a little blind in that left eye, arthritis is catching up to her. She's had a good life, been treated well as John Doe could manage. Now, John Doe has some options: He could call in the vet and get her euthanized, or he could put a well-placed bullet in her head. Don't just assume euthanization, though: There's the cost for the vet to come out, the cost of the shot, and then they have to dispose of the body. You can pay to have it hauled away, pay to have it cremated, or pay to have it buried. Even if you use your own equipment and such and bury the horse on your own property (where that's even legal to do so), there's money lost in gas and labor. Versus that bullet: You just saved that money on the vet and shot, and that's something.
Another thing to keep in mind? Now, I'm no vet, but the way I understand it, euthanasia basically knocks the animal unconscious, then stops it's lungs, then it's heart. So... it suffocates. And then has a heart attack. That unconscious part is just there to keep the animal from flailing around. Peachy.
That well-placed bullet? Takes the horse out quickly, with minimum pain. (When done correctly.)
Or, and I'll go back to my John Doe example, he can take Ol' Betsy to auction. Hope to get a little cash out of her. She might go to a happy family, she might go to a slaughter house. I can only hope that that slaughter house is well-maintained and follows anti-cruelty regulations -- oops, nope, slaughter houses are illegal in the U.S. Now. She'd be shipped miles to Canada or Mexico, where the U.S. Regulations aren't applied. I'm not saying they're automatically inhumane, but we have no way of regulating them.
I would also like to giggle and point out that one of those "Canadian kill buyer trucks" they show is my truck. And what's even the point of showing the Amish buggy/horse?
"Approximately 350 loose horses are sold to slaughter buyers that day"
Really now? Do all the winning bidders hold signs above their heads that say "Hey! I'm a kill buyer! Every horse I buy is going to slaughter!" Are the filmers doing exit surveys, standing at the door and asking "Are you a kill buyer? How many horses did you buy today? OK, Thank you, rot in hell. =D"
I've never understood where they get these numbers. Do they just count every horse at the auction and assume they're all going to kill? I've bought horses at this particular auction house; so has my uncle, and several of my friends. Plus, it's in Amish country -- there's always Amish buying horses too. Granted, there probably are kill buyers there, but they're not buying out every horse in the auction house.
Also, that little flash of an injured horse, right at the end of this section: Yes, maybe it got hurt at the auction house. Or maybe it's careless current-owner let it get hurt in the trailer. Or, hell, maybe it just is clumsy and got hurt! It's not a life threatening injury, it doesn't even look like it'll leave much of a scar!
"The slaughter horses are then put into overcrowded pens with an extremely low ceiling. The horses hit their heads on the ceiling beams."
LOL, what? That's nowhere on the property. The pens at Kalona have tall ceilings, are brightly lit, and at most have five or six horses in them.
"Horses are then rushed into overcrowded pens closer to the auction ring. Again fighting, kicking and biting result from lack of regard for these horses."
HEY! HEY LOOK! Those are the pens they keep horses in! See those high ceilings?
And fighting results from horses fighting. They do that sometimes. My six horses have a huge, open pasture to run around in, and they still fight sometimes.
Now, I will admit here: there are too many horses in that pen. But I will also point out that generally, Kalona is pretty empty. Generally, they don't have that many horses. The last one I went to, the most horses they ran in at one time was two or three.
"Behind the auction ring, the horses are forced to pass through a heavy hydraulic gate. The horses are crushed between the doors of the gate. Their heads are caught in between solid steel."
Notice him stopping the doors from closing on the horses? Yes, it's kind of a dumb system. But he apparently has a button on there that stops the doors. So the horses got bumped a bit. Example: That buckskin, in the first shot? See the door pause as he heads for it? Then it stays open enough that he can slip back through it?
Also, if those doors are so solid and heavy, why do they look so flimsy?
"After the sale, the horses are loaded immediately onto the trucks destined for the slaughter house. The horses leave for their last ride - through the cold and snowy Iowa night."
I don't have much to say on this. I already went into the "Yes, there is slaughter."
Otherwise, it's just... seriously? Do they have nothing better to do than stalk some truck? Also, they only showed one truck that was positively marked as destined for Canada. What about all those other trailers that were there? They didn't buy anything?
On anti-slaughter in general:
I already went through most of my spiel. I just want to leave you with why I feel slaughter houses are necessary.
With slaughter houses outlawed in the States, unwanted horses, ideally, could be either sold, euthanized, or sent to a rescue farm. Or sold at an auction. I went through all those options earlier. There's also the option that most horse-loving people wouldn't even consider to be an option: Abandonment. There have been reports in my area of horses that were simply abandoned roadside, or left in other people's pastures... a few times, even, the owner would move and leave the horses in their pasture for the house buyer to deal with.
With the horse market as bad as it is, and some, perfectly good, horses going for <$200, Joe Blow from down the street can afford to buy a horse without thinking about the future needs of the horse. So it could receive inadequate care, or end up back on the market again awhile down the road.
Slaughter houses offer a place for excess horses to go. It's not exactly glamorous, but it's a necessary evil. If we allowed them to be reopened, and then kept them closely regulated, horses wouldn't need to be transported for miles to the border to slaughter houses outside the U.S.
If that sounded harsh, well, I won't apologize. That's my opinion. If you have any opposing opinions, I'm not necessarily close-minded to them. If you want to call me out with facts, feel free; but please have resources to back you up.