Op-Ed from Laura Bonar appears in Albuquerque Journal
Stop horse slaughter

The opposition to horse slaughterhouses remains a hot topic statewide and around the nation, and APNM Program Director Laura Bonar wrote an op-ed that appeared in May 9's Albuquerque Journal. Keep reading to learn more about why New Mexicans are overwhelmingly against horse slaughter, and then click here to sign our petition and add your voice!

Poll shows 70 percent of New Mexicans are opposed to practice and oppose slaughterhouses

By Laura Bonar
Program Director, Animal Protection of New Mexico

It does not matter how old you are, which political party you identify with, or whether you're rural or urban - if you live in New Mexico, it's highly likely that you oppose horse slaughter.

A 2013 scientific poll found 70 percent of New Mexicans oppose the slaughter of American horses for human consumption, and 70 percent of New Mexicans oppose a horse slaughterhouse in their community.

Nonetheless, Roswell's Valley Meat Company chases every opportunity to gush that horse slaughter - brutal, unpopular horse slaughter - is a noble investment for New Mexico. One (former) employee even took the time to make a video of himself threatening people while petting a horse, then shooting the horse at point-blank range, snarling, "Good!" toward the camera, and posted this video on a popular social media website.

Valley Meat's reputation is also afflicted by its owner's failure to report a past felony conviction on federal applications for horse slaughter and the company's long list of health and safety violations ranging from the inhumane handling of animals to failing to protect against Mad Cow Disease.

All American horses are a food safety risk. Slaughtering so-called unwanted horses for food isn't plausible, because horses are regularly given drugs and common pain relievers that make them unsuitable for human consumption...

Industrialized slaughter, no matter where it is done or under what circumstances, will always result in terrible suffering for sensitive, easily frightened horses. Video evidence from U.S. slaughterhouses shows horses taking multiple hits from the killing machinery and sometimes still living when butchering begins. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, gouging out stallion's eyes was a practice used to control horses in the last horse slaughterhouse in Texas. The inherent cruelty of horse slaughter is wrong and unacceptable in our society.

Even when Texas operated that horse slaughterhouse, some people still shipped American horses to Mexico for slaughter. As long as this practice is legal and people can make money from it, the suffering of horses during shipment to slaughter in Mexico will continue.

Contrast Valley Meat slaughter supporters and the associated gruesome reality with those who are making a positive difference for horses and New Mexico.

Increasingly, New Mexico is developing horse therapy programs that acknowledge horses' contribution to our well being, with the Department of Corrections and Veterans' Services undertaking a proven program to help veterans using therapy with horses.

Stop horse slaughter

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture has approved a process for the use of a cheap, effective contraceptive for use with free-roaming horses.

A tax check-off to help horse rescues was just passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor to help licensed organizations care for abused, abandoned and neglected equines.

Program directors from Colorado, California, Wisconsin and Georgia are calling upon New Mexico to learn more about our successful statewide feed assistance and veterinary assistance programs, including low-cost and free humane euthanasia and disposal for suffering horses or those equines who cannot be re-homed.

Sen. Tom Udall is sponsoring federal legislation to rein in horse-racing cheaters, in recognition of the ethical obligations to horses and their riders in the robust and lucrative racing industry.

Clearly, New Mexico benefits by building and expanding these widely supported solutions to ensure that living, thriving horses are valued more than dead ones.

Valley Meat should stop justifying its slaughter of American horses here or anywhere else. Their slaughter plans represent an extreme view that devalues equines to the lowest common denominator of price per pound, and they have no place in our state.

When you get that rotten-gut feeling about plans to open a horse slaughter plant, listen to your instincts. Compassionate people don't have to reluctantly agree with slaughter. The majority of New Mexicans who oppose horse slaughter, from citizens to elected leaders, have the power to do the right thing. There's just no way horse slaughter works for New Mexico.

Published in the Albuquerque Journal, May 9, 2013.
Posted with permission from the Albuquerque Publishing Company.