Cathleen Doyle responds to Charles Stenholm
Cathleen Doyle, former head of the California Equine Council and the historic Proposition 6 — Save the Horses campaign in 1998 which led to horse slaughter being banned in California, had this to say in response to Charles Stenholm, who is encouraging some American Indian tribes to consider starting a horsemeat industry on their reservations:
“Former Congressman Charles Stenholm is clearly out of step with mainstream America and appears to be ‘cow-towing’ to a handful of special interest Cattlemen. The American people do not want horses cruelly slaughtered and exported for the foreign meat markets—period! And their voice has been unwaveringly heard by way of a mandate initiative in California (the largest agricultural and horse owning state in the nation), majority votes in both the Illinois and Texas legislature, an overwhelming majority vote in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as all independent national polling conducted throughout the last decade.
Stenholm, himself, concedes that unwanted horses must be dealt with in a humane fashion, and that the American people do not want them slaughtered for human consumption.
Here, we agree to agree. So the issue is really one of disposal. Horses whenever necessary for whatever reason should be humanely euthanized. It’s easily accessible, and the cost of euthanasia and carcass removal is commonly under $200. Humane disposal goes with the territory of horse ownership and personal responsibility.
However, I am embarrassed for Mr. Stenholm when he represents that Native Americans should embrace horse slaughter which is something completely contrary to American sentiment evidenced by the fact that each of the fourteen foreign-owned horse slaughter facilities previously operating in the United States have had to close their doors. Why would Native Americans want the stigma of this reviled, underbelly business which would generate only a small handful of minimum wage jobs and would potentially lay their profitable casino businesses open to massive, negative public relations campaigns?
Stenholm is also forgetting that when the national bill to prohibit the slaughter and export of American horses passes in the next Congress, the reservations could not open nor operate horse slaughter facilities because they must adhere to federal laws. It would seem like pure folly to me especially in today’s economy to capitalize a business venture whose immediate demise is tied to an extremely popular bill merely being placed on the calendar and brought to a vote.
So. Mr. Stenholm, the question is not what to do with unwanted horses nor who will pay to feed them but rather how do we dispose of recreational, non-food tax-based animals in this country?
What do we do with our unwanted horses each year? There are several humane options including humane euthanasia (a lethal injection administered by a licensed veterinarian) which has been the method of disposal for our recreational, non-food animals for a very long time, including dogs and cats.
Starving or abandoning a horse is against the law, and anyone who would do so is a criminal. Horse slaughter is not a humane alternative.
At the very least, Americans can, and should, guarantee our horses a humane and dignified death!“