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Friday, September 08, 2006

No Barbaro Burgers in House

- CBS reporter Jim Axelrod told us last night on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric that during these final weeks before Congress recesses for the election, it will be "all terror, all the time." So I suppose the headine of the story on that reads "Horse Slaughtering: The New Terrorism?" was an appropriate one. The majority party of a woefully unpopular president is trying to paint the Democrats as "weak" on national security as November's crucial elections approach, in part by exploiting the tragedy of 9/11 as they did during the 2004 election. But in doing so, they will call attention to unpopular programs such as the NSA's illegal wiretapping, as well as to the prison at Guantanamo Bay and, inevitably, to the inmate abuse that spread from there to Iraq.

So it was probably smart politics for House Republicans to schedule a vote on the horse slaughter bill over the objections of a White House that many GOP candidates are trying to distance themselves from, as well as from some Democrats, who protested that the chamber has more important things than horsemeat on its plate. Many of the latter ended up voting for the bill anyway, as it passed by a vote of 263-164 after what was termed a "fiery debate." "Let's not sign off on Barbaro burgers," urged Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., a backer of the measure. [SF Chronicle]

It's certainly worth noting that the debate on the bill is just as contentious within the equine industry as it was in the halls on Congress. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is said to be the "largest equine group in the country," whatever that means, and they, as well as the American Association of Equine Practitioners, oppose the bill. A statement on the AQHA website reads:

H.R. 503 does not offer any solutions to the 100,000 unwanted or unusable horses that are sent to slaughter facilities each year and infringes on the rights of all horse owners. Additionally, the bill does not have any oversight measures or guidelines for equine rescue operations that are expected to absorb these horses each year. AQHA supported humane transportation and treatment laws for horses bound for slaughter.
Backers of the bill cited California as proof that the AQHA's fears are unfounded.
Sponsors of the bill also noted that warnings of dire consequences for horses have not been borne out in California, which banned horse slaughter for meat after voters passed Proposition 6. California has seen no increase in abuse or neglect cases, and horse theft has fallen by about 34 percent, according to state data.

"This has been the law in California for many years and all these naysayers, these predictions of bad (things) happening, it just hasn't happened in California," said Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. [SF Chronicle]
Of course, the bill still has to pass the Senate, which is currently smack dab in the middle of the wiretapping and Guantanamo trials debates (neither of which is off to a good start for the White House); so you would think that its chances of being addressed during this session are slim. Also pending in the Senate is the bill passed by the House during the summer that would outlaw internet gambling sites. That's an issue that's far more trivial than slaughtering horses, but, not surprisingly, it's on Senator Frist's agenda for the session nonetheless. The GOP may have little else to present to its conservative base come November 7.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the horse slaughter debate deserves more balanced coverage and I thank you for providing some. I worked for a respected publication in the industry whose leader is vehemently anti-horse slaughter and, while I have immense respect for this person, I cannot respect her anti-horse slaughter stance.

It seems to me that these people have latched on to the magnificence of the horse (beauty, courage, etc) with complete disregard to the fact that horses are very expensive to care for and, if we're really being honest with ourselves, are of very little use once they can no longer serve man. Additionally, you cannot release the horses into the wild once they’ve been domesticated.

Unfortunately, there are, despite the rhetoric, only so many people able to care for a horse just for the sake of keeping it alive...whether you call that a pet, or adoption, or whatever. I’m called insensitive for my views, but 100,000 horses being put to death for human consumption in countries and cultures where that is not necessarily frowned upon, doesn’t make my stomach turn. The aftermath of a ban on horse slaughter, where thousands of horses are neglected and no economical solution to the problem of an unwanted horse knots my stomach far more.

Is the path to destruction unpleasant for these animals? Probably. Would I like to see some meaningful work done in ensuring horse death with dignity and comfort? Absolutely. But a ban on horse slaughter is short sighted and will only lead to greater problems (practically and perception-wise) for the racing industry.