"I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse." For most of us, this statement is just a figure of speech. But for others, it's a literal fact. Some people in parts of Europe, Asia and Mexico eat horse meat as part of their normal diet. In 2006, the US government banned the slaughter of horses in this country for human consumption. Since then, hundreds of thousands of American horses have been shipped to Mexico and Canada under inhumane conditions to be slaughtered for their meat. In 2010 alone, 138,000 horses were shipped out of the country for slaughter.
Meanwhile, many thousands of American horses were abandoned or neglected by owners who were unable to care for them, couldn't find anyone to buy them (or even take them for free in many cases) or could not afford to pay a veterinarian to euthanize them. Horses were set loose or left to starve by owners who felt they were out of options. In 2009, 1,588 horses were abandoned in Colorado alone. Clearly, our country has too many unwanted horses and too few people to care for them.
In November 2011 a new bill was passed into law that reinstated USDA inspections of horse meat for human consumption. Surprisingly, the law was approved by PETA, one of the staunchest advocates of animal rights. According to PETA, slaughtering horses here in the US under government supervision is preferable to sending them on arduous journeys outside the country to meet a potentially worse fate in unregulated facilities.
In an ideal world, we would not have to choose between the lesser of two evils. We would have unlimited resources to care for all of our horses until they die of natural causes or are humanely euthanized. Since that is not likely to happen, does anyone have ideas for a better solution to the problem of unwanted horses?
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)