They Slaughter Horses for Human Consumption,
By Jack Rosenberger
Human carnivores often display their most fascinating
behavior when they argue against measures to protect nonhuman animals.
While vacationing in Cape Cod last month, I picked up a copy of the
Boston Herald and came across an editorial, which lambasted
a grass-roots effort to outlaw the slaughter of horses for human consumption
Titled Zealots Should Trot Home, the Boston Herald editorial
begins: Sometimes the things zealots spend their time
on is enough to make you weep.
Case in point: The current effort to get a ban against the slaughter
of horses for human consumption on the Massachusetts ballot.
Now dont get us wrong, horses are glorious animals, worthy
of all the admiration heaped on them. And surely worthy of a better
end than being slaughtered for someones dinner.
This said, the editorial proceeds to slam the proposed legislation.
The Heralds reasons are threefold: 1) There are no slaughterhouses
in Massachusetts at which horses are even accepted; 2) the ballot
measure would not ban the export of horses to other states;
and 3) Nationally the number of horses slaughtered for human
food fell from 315,192 in 1990 to 72,120 in 1998, according to the
So why, the editorial asks, would anyone come to Massachusetts
to propose a remedy for a problem that does not exist at all here and
barely exists even nationally?
If the ballot passes, the Herald notes, New York-based Equine Advocates,
its sponsor, will use the Massachusetts legislation to lobby for a nationwide
ban against the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
This isnt good enough, though, for the Boston Herald.
Equine Advocates shouldnt clutter up our statewide ballot with
this nonsense! the editorial concludes. We can only say
take your petitions and go homebother the folks in New York for
A Consciousness-Raising Effort
Of course, the Herald tries to have it both ways. At the
beginning of the editorial, horses are depicted as glorious animals
and surely worthy of a better end than being slaughtered for someones
dinner. By the end of the editorial, though, Equine Advocates
efforts to protect the aforementioned glorious animals from
being slaughtered for someones dinner is denounced
as clutter and nonsense.
Of course, theres a lot the editorial doesnt share with
its readers. Three years ago, California, another state in which horses
arent slaughtered for human consumption, overwhelmingly passed
Proposition 6, which outlawed the killing of horses for human consumption.
While the Herald brands Equine Advocates and its supporters
as zealots, their concern for horses is universally respected.
A nationwide call-in TV poll in 1995 found that 93 percent of callers
demanded the killing of horses for meat be banned. Similarly,
a 1997 California poll found that 88 percent of respondents opposed
horses being killed for their flesh.
One of the implicit goals of the Massachusetts ballot effort is to
raise the publics consciousness about the slaughter of horses
for human consumption. Most Americans are unaware that tens of thousands
are being slaughtered in the U.S. for human consumption, primarily
for export to human carnivores in France and Japan.
This is a cultural issue, argues Equine Advocates. Horses,
an integral part of Americas heritage and culture, are favored
animals, just like cats and dogs. Americans do not eat horses just
they do not eat cats and dogs.
Some cultures do eat cats and dogs, but we would be appalled to
supply these countries with such a food source, as opposed to humanely
euthanizing animals considered to be our beloved pets and companions.
While all of the Heralds arguments against the ballot
initiative are weak, its strange that its opposition is partly based on the
fact that the number of horses slaughtered for human food fell
from 315,192 in 1990 to 73,120 in 1998. One wonders how many horses
need to suffer and die before the Herald editorial staff becomes truly
concerned. I suspect, though, that a single viewing of the graphic photographs,
posted on Equine Advocates Web site, of horses being slaughtered
would be enough.
Contact: Susan Wagner, president and founder, Equine Advocates,
Box 700, Bedford, NY 10506; 845-278-3095; www.equineadvocates.com.
At the Boston Herald: Rachelle Cohen, editorial page editor,
One Herald Square, Boston, MA 02106; 617-426-3000; www.bostonherald.com.