Unwanted horses would suffer if not for buyers

RECLUSE, Wyo. -- I recently was interviewed on a radio show that included the Humane Society of the United States' Wayne Pacelle, who made remarks such as, "horse slaughter is a predatory business where killer buyers outbid people who just want t...

RECLUSE, Wyo. -- I recently was interviewed on a radio show that included the Humane Society of the United States' Wayne Pacelle, who made remarks such as, "horse slaughter is a predatory business where killer buyers outbid people who just want to save horses," "horse slaughter is inhumane," "Americans don't eat horsemeat and we shouldn't be supplying people who do" and "all horse meat is contaminated and unfit for human consumption."

Every one of these statements is false.

Good people, bad rap

Good people in the horse business are getting a bad rap from so-called "nonprofits" that are anything but -- radical, antiagriculture activist groups such as HSUS and its offshoots that target honest, taxpaying citizens so they can "rescue" horses. "Rescue" is code for stealing horses without compensating owners and then holding them hostage so that they can be "re-homed" or kept as poster horses to raise more dollars.

"Re-homed" means "adopting them out," or, in other words, selling them to some kind-hearted sucker, often for far more money than the horses ever would bring in a sale ring for any purpose -- and with lots of strings attached. Innocent horses are palmed off on someone who likely doesn't understand how expensive it is to keep a horse -- or how difficult -- and who is hampered by limited options. They didn't buy the horse fair and square with the right to sell it when they find out they can't afford to keep it. They have "adopted them into a forever home as their nonhuman companion for which they are solely responsible." This results in people being saddled with unnecessary burdens they can't get rid of.


Buyers step in

Typical horse buyers, on the other hand, have "rescued," "re-homed" and "re-purposed" thousands of horses, done it all on their own dime without a single handout from anybody and don't get any credit. Horse buyers are in the business of finding a purpose for horses that are unwanted, unneeded or no longer are useful.

Horse buyers differ from cow buyers, hog buyers and lamb buyers in one significant aspect: The horse buyer has an opportunity and an economic incentive to find out if the horse might be wanted or useful for something besides meat.

In a normal market situation, any healthy, useful horse is worth a lot more than one only suitable to feed somebody or something.

Before 2007, people who were good with horses would buy a horse that went through the sale ring without a saddle or halter, took them home and tried to train them, fix bad habits, tune them up and sell them. If the horse didn't work out, buyers had the option of selling it. Any horse in reasonably good shape would hold value as a meat animal.

The opportunity to "rescue" and "re-home" horses is gone, and the responsibility for the number of suffering, starving, mistreated horses falls in the lap of the animal rights do-gooders who have destroyed the chances for thousands of horses. Not only are these horses not getting the chance that they used to, but too many bad horses that are bound to hurt somebody are getting passed around because there is nowhere to sell them. The supply pipelines to the Canadian and Mexican processing plants are full of Grade A meat horses and the price for even the best candidates is low.

In the end, the horse buyer is a savior to otherwise-doomed horses. Horses that end up being processed for food are slaughtered under the same laws and regulations as other livestock. Government inspectors responsible for ensuring humane treatment and food safety are required to be present at all times that animals are being processed. Horses have to be killed instantly and painlessly. As in all meat production, protocols, testing and inspection of the meat ensure the animals provide a wholesome product to a worldwide market -- a market that would be larger if those who would like to use horse meat in the U.S. had a chance to buy it.

Horses killed cleanly and quickly in a regulated facility have a better fate than the alternatives -- plus the benefit and comfort for horse owners of knowing that the horse's life was not wasted.


Restore horse industry

The humane and regulated use of horses for meat is the only moral and ethical choice for unwanted horses

But common sense and doing the right thing for animals play no part in the strategy and tactics of radical activists who want to destroy property rights for animal owners, put animals on the same moral plane as human beings, and, most importantly -- all for their wallets and long term wealth -- make humans the "guardians," not owners, of animals so that animals can be represented by human attorneys who would protect the "rights" of our animal "companions."

For these reasons and others, nearly every horse industry and agriculture organization in the country has joined with thousands of horse owners and businesses to oppose all appropriations riders and bills in Congress, such as S. 1176 and H.R. 2296, which seek to eliminate the use, sale, or transportation of horses for slaughter.

Instead of making things worse for horses and for the people who love them, we ask Congress and the people to restore the horse industry. We should be celebrating the true heroes A huge dose of overdue appreciation is owed to the few remaining stalwart, heroic, saviors of doomed and suffering horses -- the horse buyers. God bless them.

Editor's Note: Wallis is a Republican Wyoming state representative, rancher and leader of United Horsemen.

What To Read Next
Get Local


Agweek's Picks