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Pictured above is Barbara, rescued PMU Mare. PMU factory farmers freeze-brand the stall numbers on the mares. They have no names, just numbers.
Pregnant Mares' Urine Industry (PMU)
The merger of Pfizer and Wyeth (the producers of PMU drugs) in 2009 has been a huge disappointment for those who had hoped that this might have been the beginning of the end of the inhumane, archaic and unnecessary PMU industry. Instead, Pfizer is continuing the cruelty and brutality by producing the same series of drugs, including Premarin, Prempro and Premphase that can just as easily be made in a laboratory rather than using, abusing and exploiting horses to produce them. Please express your feelings to Pfizer's CEO, Ian Read at Pfizer, 235 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017 (212) 733.2323.
Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!
This well-known quotation was aptly used to condemn the pharmaceutical giant, Wyeth, in a riveting article published in 2002 by the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), widely regarded as the most highly respected medical publication in Canada. It was one of countless articles written about the abrupt halt to the PMU arm of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a study of the effects hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopausal women. Not only did the CMAJ article condemn Wyeth, but it added "...the message for healthy women without severe symptoms of menopause is now clear: To avoid as far as possible HRT, which on balance does more harm than good..." The findings of the WHI concluded that the use of PMU drugs increases the risks of breast cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and dementia.
Cycle of cruelty
Life for PMU mares is brutal. An estimated one-fourth are replaced each year, although the typical lifespan of the draft breeds used on most of the PMU factory farms in Canada is twenty years or more. The mares are repeatedly impregnated, and for six months of each 11-month pregnancy most are confined in stalls that prohibit turning around, grooming themselves and comfortably lying down. Their water intake is often regulated to produce maximum estrogen-rich urine. The mares are continually attached to plumbing which is designed to fit over their urethras. It is held in place with movement-restricting body straps. When mares can no longer adequately "produce," most are sold for slaughter. Most of their surviving foals are either pulled and raised as "Pee Line" replacements or sold at auction for slaughter.
A former PMU mare, Ella was part of a major rescue operation of 46 Canadian PMU mares that Equine Advocates saved in Manitoba between October, 2003 and March, 2004. Ella's brand, the number 57, corresponds to the number on her stall where she had to stand for more than six months of every year while pregnant.
Will we live to see the end of PMU lines?
Historically speaking, PMU drugs have been on the market since 1942. That was long before the rules for approval of medications by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) were not as strict as they are today. PMU drugs contain impurites and unknown properties that cannot be identified. It is outrageous that the FDA would try to stop women from taking bio-identical hormones which are produced in compounding pharmacies and regarded by many medical professionals to be much safer while not involving the use and abuse of horses to produce them. There are numerous other doctor-recommended medications on the market that women can use to effectively treat the symptoms of menopause that are safely produced in laboratories... And whose ingredients can be completely identified. Note: Equine Advocates is not endorsing or recommending any particular medication. All questions of a medical nature should be taken up with your doctor.
There goes Ella as she kicks up her heels in the middle of the herd. All the mares in this photo came from PMU factory farm operations in Canada; the fillies are foals born to several of the rescued mares.
Below, Maxine, a Cleveland Bay and former PMU Mare, takes a few minutes to cool off with some of her friends during a turn-out of 40+ horses at Equine Advocates Rescue & Sanctuary. Equine Advocates rescued Maxine at a Winnipeg, Canada, slaughter auction where she was being brutalized and beaten in the sales ring. It took a long time for her to get over her past abuses and she is enjoying her life at the sanctuary.