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Teena Elijah , Published February 09 2009

Horse slaughter facilities needed

I’ve been following two stories the past several weeks concerning horses and their care. First, the article concerning the market study for an equine slaughterhouse in North Dakota, and more recently, the article concerning horse neglect. The articles each prompted editorials and letters to the editor. I, too, am a horse enthusiast, having grown up raising, riding and training horses all of my life. It is surprising to me that neither the staff nor the public have made the connection between the two issues.

Until the recent slaughterhouse closings, selling horses to slaughter was an option horse owners, from time to time, utilized. There are times horse euthanasia is necessary. A horse may develop health or soundness issues that cause euthanasia to be a necessary and humane choice. There are times, such as this discovery of neglect, where an owner or breeder is no longer physically or financially able to care for their herd.

Consider the expense of feeding, vaccinating, farrier work, etc. There are also many people who have chosen to take a horse as a pet, or breed a mare because they want a foal, without realizing the expense and time commitments horses require. Euthanasia provided by veterinarians can be very expensive. The slaughter market has long provided a humane solution for these kinds of problems that horse owners face.

I’ve written in an attempt to educate and change prevailing public opinion of horse slaughterhouses. They have long been accepted by horse owners, and the void left with their closings have caused some truly heartbreaking problems.