Horse slaughter? Horsefeathers!
By DAVID HOLSTEDTimes Staff firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Friday, March 13, 2009 12:03 PM
When it comes to opposing the slaughter of horses, Le Ann Box can be as stubborn as a mule.“I consider myself a reasonable person and I’m amazed at what’s going on,” Box said.
Box is the secretary of Eagle’s Nest Draft Rehab and Sanctuary Inc. of Fayetteville. She is also a member of the Humane Society of the Ozarks. She does not consider herself a radical animal rights activist. She eats meat, she said, and her husband is an avid outdoorsman who loves to hunt.However, she is adamantly opposed to the resolution introduced by state Rep. Roy Ragland (R-Marshall) that urges the U.S. Congress to support horse processing plants. She even testified against horse slaughter at Ragland’s committee hearing.“It’s brutal, predatory and unacceptable,” Box said of the practice. “The industry perpetuates a market for irresponsible breeding. It gives an incentive for it.”Ragland has said he introduced the resolution on behalf of the Arkansas Horse Council. However, Box said its president, Betty Miller Jones of Kingston, did not speak for all horse owners in Arkansas.
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According to Box, she wasn’t always so opposed to horse slaughter. She had been led to believe that the method of putting down horses was humane, and though she didn’t like the idea, she grudgingly went along it. She has since investigated the industry and has become convinced that it is not humane.“Knowing how it was done completely stole a piece of my soul,” Box said.In her testimony before Ragland, Box said she challenged him to produce reliable evidence that the horse slaughter industry was humane. He could not, she said.A lawyer, Box considered how Ragland’s lack of evidence would play in her profession.“I can’t go before a judge and say ‘This is the truth and I say so,’” Box said. One of the groups that Box cited in her campaign against horse slaughter is Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. While proponents of horse slaughter point out that the captive-bolt method for equine euthanasia is acceptable with the American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinarians for Equine Welfare qualified that position.On its website, the organization said there is a “vast difference between efficient administration of the captive-bolt by a highly trained veterinarian with appropriate restraint of the horse's head and its improper use by low-skilled slaughterhouse employees without proper head restraint. Improper use of the captive-bolt during slaughter means that horses may often endure repeated blows with the device, and may be improperly stunned as they proceed through slaughter.”Box also referred to the Veterinarians’’ position that horses, unlike traditional food animals in the United States, are not raised or medicated during their lifetime with the intent of one day becoming human food.“Because no American horse is ever ‘intended’ for the human food chain,” the group said, “often times horses throughout their lives will have received medications that are banned for use ever during the life of food animals.”Box even questioned the number of truly hungry people that are fed because of the processing of horse meat for human consumption. She noted that horse meat is considered a delicacy in Europe and Japan, and sells for up to $20 a pound.According to Box, horses endure terror at a slaughter plant before they are even euthanized. She challenged people to ask anyone who trains horse for hunting if the animals don’t know what blood is.“The idea that horses don’t know what’s going on is ludicrous,” Box said. “Add the chaos of a slaughter house with its sounds and the smell of blood. It’s not a quick, clean kill.”Box and her husband are currently caring for eight horses on the nine acres owned by Eagle’s Nest. One of the horses, she said, is a direct daughter of Secretariat, a thoroughbred that won the Triple Crown of racing in 1973. The mare had gotten too old to breed and was headed for slaughter before she was rescued.