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 (www.unwantedhorsecoaltion.org), 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.