Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Radio interview on Slaughter Ban

My recent radio interview with Dr. Tom Lenz really stirred the pot. Dr. Lenz is an equine veterinarian who represents a group called the Unwanted Horse Coalition (, which is supported by the AAEP, AVMA, AQHA, the American Horse Council, and many horse owners. This group opposes the ban on U.S. slaughterhouses.
On the other side of this issue is the American Humane Society, a group of equine veterinarians that don’t agree with the official position of AAEP and AVMA, and individual horse owners. There may be others I’m not aware of. This side believes the ban is a good thing and would like to see it taken further, making it a federal crime to ship horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.
As Dr. Lenz pointed out, the slaughter ban is a difficult and complex issue. It’s not a matter of one side being for slaughtering horses and the other being against it. Both sides are committed to the welfare of the horse. Both sides support humane euthanasia. They diverge primarily on whether the transportation and slaughter of horses is currently or can ever be done humanely. They also differ on the consequences, intended or unintended, of closing the U.S. slaughterhouses. Another hot-button issue that lurks just below the surface is use made of the slaughtered horses (e.g. human consumption), but as Dr. Lenz points out, that is quite separate from the treatment of living horses.
Both sides in this debate rely on statistics and anecdotal evidence, but these sources contradict each other. Accusations fly both ways about lying, exaggerating, and the motivations thereof.
So whom do you believe? Dr. Lenz has been immersed in the issue for the past eight years, has testified in Washington, has interviewed sale barn owners, has toured slaughterhouses in Texas and Mexico and has personally witnessed close to 100 horses being killed in the traditional captive bolt method. He feels slaughter can be done humanely and that it is part of the solution to the unwanted horse problem. He also believes, as I do, that government interference in this is not the answer.
As for the other side, I don’t want to misrepresent so I’ll simply give you this link. It is worth reading:

Several emails came in regarding the Lenz interview, some supportive and some critical. I was disappointed that some of my listeners felt it necessary to attack me personally. I have struggled to rise above this and make up here for any partiality I showed in the interview. There are some things about which I do have expertise. This is not one of them. I should have been more neutral.



blueprints said...

I am sorry, I did not hear your interview with Dr. Tom Lenz, but I am familiar with him and his stance. What he will not address is the medication issue in horses. You see, it is really as simple this -- it is illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption according to our own and EU food laws. American horses are not raised or medicated as food animals. About 70% of currently legal horse medications are NOT legal in food animals. We have laws about what medications are allowed in food animals for a reason (e.g. carcinogenic to people). We do not have any sort of tracking system in place to even begin to accomplish keeping track of what medications horses receive to make them safe for human consumption nor are the established withdrawal times (note for some medications including "bute" there is NO acceptable withdrawal time). The violations are clearly indicated in the USDA Red Books. The subject of horse slaughter is really as clear as night and day. It is illegal under current conditions.

coeurdefer said...

Mr. Lamb:

I believe Dr. Lenz has the right to speak and be heard. I medically and scientifically, seriously disagree with his logic and position on the issue of human consumption horse slaughter (HCHS)for US Horses.

I would hope that you would find the time to find someone to intelligently speak for the antihorse slaughter position, although I realize that you have featured rescue groups in the past. Dr. Lenz's points have to be rebutted point on point.

As a side note, why is the beef industry and Farm Bureau so interested in HCHS? Especially since these equines have no production records or drug protocols? Seems odd to me that they are trying to maintain consumer confidence and quality with our traditional meat products, but support this cruel, unnecessary "industry".

Anyone that supports antislaughter should not be personally attacking anyone who does not support antislaughter (BTW, I just got accussed of being a crossdresser on Washington it's seems personal attacks work both sides of the slaughter street, Sir). I apologize for them, but understand their desperation and frustration with this issue and the likes of Dr. Lenz, UHC/AHC, AVMA/AAEP and Farm Bureau; to name a few. We have been battling this issue for decades and are continually thwarted by special interests or rogue members of Congress like ex-Sen L. Craig-Idaho.

I hope you find someone to speak for us and the horses, because the HCHS system certainly is not speaking for the horses.

coeurdefer said...

Mr. Lamb:

Would it be possible to get a transcript (maybe .pdf link) of the interview with Dr. Lenz via your site? I think it would help both sides of this issue. Unfortunately, I live in a rural community and video/audio via internet are very hard for me to do.

Thank you for trying and in closing, one cannot be neutral regarding horse slaughter. The best you personally can do is present both sides of the issue because there is no middle ground, especially for the horses.

grace said...

I knew when I saw the topic on your website I knew that it was going to get interesting.
This is an emotionally charged issue and I have an uncharged observation.

The slaughter houses in Texas have been closed for well over 3 years in Texas. In our area the price of good green broke saddle horses (one that can move forward backward and to either side calmly, pick up 3 gaits and stop from each of them, and yield either haunches or shoulder on being asked) has gone from about $4000 to $250. Now how long do you think a trainer can afford to keep that up?

Now that horses are cheaper more people can afford to buy one, but should they? Maybe they can afford a $250 horse but can they afford $2K a year to care for it? and $4-6 hundred to kill it if something goes wrong?
How many people will pay a vet $250 to euthanize a horse (conservative estimate) then pay $450 or more to have the horse buried? That is assuming they have that option available to them. A lot of people who own horses just can not do this. Maybe we should tell those people that they can’t have a horse or horses because their income is not high enough? And just who should determine this? PETA maybe?
We as horse owners, riders and lovers do not want the AHS PETA SPCAUS or any other animal advocacy group dictating to us what we can and can not do with our horses. These animal Nazis are way out of control already.
Dead is dead. A dead animal knows no pain no fear no hunger no want. It matters not one whit if the means of death is a captive bolt, a lethal injection, or a pistol shot.
For those who think a captive bolt does not kill I would like to point out that ancient people buried their horses with them when the human died. The horses were often killed by a sharp hammer blow to the head.
If we (humans) put as much time into caring for our horses as we have into this debate they (horses) would all be better off.
Thank you for having the fortitude to have Dr Lenz on your show. His interview was a breath of fresh air.

PS if you want to see cruelty, please allow me to take you on a guided tour of horse boarding facilities in a 50 mile radius of my home.

Barbara said...

This is such a tough issue but the big problem now is that horses are being transported in such a cruel manner to Canada and Mexico. I really would have no problem with a peaceful end for horses who are unfit for companion animal status but I have several over thirty five girls getting special feed and care now and others that are not reaching their potential because the market is gone with all the factors inplace. I am fortunate to be able to cremate and bury on my own land but what a nightmare for those backyard people. There are no rendering plants picking up and I feel that in my dotage I will have to make some very hard decisions as to where these guys go if something happens to me. So provide for that when you are making plans. I always wonder if we are going to meet our animals in the spirit world, what will they think of our treatment? With all the zoos having problems with their carnivore food bills, there have to be some options. Perhaps better record keeping to see if a humane slaughterhouse would be a final option? It's like organ donation in some ways, Help another species survive.Haven't heard of many horse thefts anymore so the bottom has been reached.Healthy kind horses should always have a home but when there are problems with no solutions but a humane death, that should be an option.

Sandy E. said...

Still does not seem like you are being neutral on this issue Rick, that is more than clear.

BTW Peta is NOT involved in this.