Q: Why do you advocate for horses only? Why not all animals?Are other animals not as important?
A: All animals matter. However, we have limited resources and we see horses as a critical step to improving welfare for ALL animals. Horses are in the unique position of being both a companion animal and, for some, a so-called food animal. This is why we consider them to be pivotal – an important link between the two entities. If society and our lawmakers can agree that we shouldn’t slaughter and eat horses, then logically the next step will be to examine the welfare of all animals used for food. To many, horses are as dear to the human heart as are dogs and cats, and the majority of people in our country do not agree with the thought of eating our companions.
There are additional vital reasons why our current focus is on horses. As an extreme “flight” animal, the horse is very difficult to slaughter humanely. Horses panic in the stun box – rearing, slipping, falling – because they are fighting for their lives. Their long, mobile necks permit them to swing their heads away from an impending threat. When observing Canadian equine slaughterhouse video, we saw one large draft horse being stunned 11 times before insensibility was achieved. It is not uncommon for horses to suffer numerous mis-hits before being adequately stunned.
Horses as so-called “food” animals are not regulated in the manner that other livestock animals are. Drugs toxic to humans are commonly administered to horses and, although these powerful drugs are regulated, health authorities have chosen not to act. With increasing pressure from the public in this area, they will be forced to acknowledge that most horses have not been raised as livestock animals and that eating their flesh is not a safe practice. This could help to achieve an end to the slaughter of horses in Canada.
Aside from the prevalence of toxic drugs administered to horses, there is a general lack of regulatory oversight in the industry. Cruelty concerns abound in feedlots, slaughterhouses, and in transport– and most of it goes unreported. Audits and animal welfare checks associated with the horse slaughter industry are minimal.