Roseburg, Or (KMTR) Horses could soon be butchered in the U.S. for human consumption, after congress quietly lifted a ban last week. The decision is not sitting well with horse rescues in Roseburg.
The law lifts the ban on federal funding for horse meat inspections, since the U.S. stopped commercially slaughtering horses five years ago, the animals have been trucked to Canada or Mexico to be butchered, often by methods considered inhumane.
Those in favor of American slaughterhouses say it would be done in a clean, humane process in the U.S. and it would prevent thousands of animals from starving to death.
Strawberry Mountain Horse Rescue in Roseburg says the problem of too many horses with unstable or irresponsible homes is already solvable with humane euthanization.
They say creating a demand for horse meat could only make the problem worse. They say it's bad business, and money spent on U.S.D.A. inspections isn't worth the low end jobs created by slaughter houses.
They point to Oregon’s horse slaughter history, saying in the past locals haven't been the ones benefiting.
"There is a small group of people that will make money off this,” says Darla Clark of Strawberry Mountain Rescue, “and that's going to be some foreign interest somewhere, maybe a meat buyer here and there, but we're chasing our tail. We've been down this road before and it didn't work"
She says inhumane handling in Canada and Mexico isn't a big issue anyway. Canada has similar regulations to the U.S. and it's extremely rare an Oregon horse would end up in Mexico in the first place.
She says U.S. slaughter houses don't exactly have a clean record. The ban on commercial horse meat five years ago, was originally brought on because of inhumane practices right here in the United States.
She says there are plenty of resources for those who can no longer afford to keep a horse, layed out in a Strawberry Mountain Mustangs Facebook post:
“If you want to bury your horse, but don't have the land or access to the equipment - consider Omega Farms in Lane County, Oregon. For a fee, Omega will come pick up your already euthanized horse, return it to their property and bury it. It's also an option to have your horse euthanized there. I know these people well and they are professional, kind and courteous. They have a website - which I will post shortly. You may call them @ 541-935-1588
According to the Dept of Ag - composting is becoming hugely popular. Again - contact the department for a list of guidelines. It could be a good method for people in areas with rocky soil, again, tough to bury, and people with enough room to have the compost pile away from high traffic areas. I'll post an interesting link when I'm done.
LANDFILL: Call your local landfill. You may be shocked to learn that they will take a body for little to no charge. The Douglas County landfill (right off the freeway) is open Wed - Sat, and will take the body for no charge.
WILDLIFE PARKS: Here in Douglas County we have the Wildlife Safari. People can "donate" their horse to be used for carnivore diets. There are other large cat and wolf sanctuaries around the state. (If you know of one - feel free to post info here.) Depending on the park, they may take your horse live, or pick it up from you already dead. Here's the drawback. PLEASE don't lie to these people. Lions and cheetahs especially are very susceptible to the effects of bute, banamine and other drugs. They can NOT take your horse if it has any of this in it's system. These places are trying to preserve a species, not kill it off. Also, be aware, the horse has to die of natural causes or be put down with a bullet. Again, you need to prepare for these things. Call around, ask what the wait time is, (you may need to make an appointment) and plan accordingly. Wildlife Safari can be reached @ 541-679-6761
RENDERING: In Oregon - White's Rendering - 503-851-4147. She was on a cell phone and it was difficult to hear, but she operates mainly in the northern part of the state. Having her drive down to say - Eugene/Springfield/Lane County would cost you approximately $300, give or take. Obviously less if you are farther north. If you are scheduling to put your animal down, she can be there at the same time, otherwise, she's a few hours out. I found a number for Vancouver also - but I didn't call and don't know if they are still in business. Johnson's Farm Rendering, Vancouver, WA 98663 360-693-5282 I'd like to see someone post information for No California, So Oregon.
CREMATION: While expensive, I can see why some people may want to go this route. In Tualatin Oregon - Dignified Pet Services - toll free - 888-566-2211. I will post a link later. From the website - costs start at $600.
Small ponies, donkeys and foals can sometimes be cremated in small animal facilities, so don't be afraid to ask. Bailey Vet Clinic in Roseburg has been able to do this.541-673-4403
VETERINARIANS: ASK your vet what resources they know about. If you're having a crisis and can't afford the euthanasia and the bill to bury/cremate/remove the body - TELL them that. Ask for help. You might be surprised at the answer. Most vets have a certain amount set aside to assist low income owners, especially if it will humanely end an animal's suffering. ASK!!!
RESCUE: Nothing infuriates me more than someone asking me to take in their old crippled horse (or young crippled horse) because they can't stomach the thought of putting it down. Responsible ownership includes tough topics like end of life decisions. Most rescues aren't going to gleefully accept your horse solely to euthanize it, but they MAY be able to assist you with costs and/or burial. Douglas County residents may contact Strawberry Mountain Mustangs for help. Be prepared though. If you have half a dozen horses, I think you ought to be prepared for these scenarios. If you're in an equine related business, you'd BETTER be able to afford it. And if you call me for help for a horse that is nearly starved to death, there had better be a pretty good explanation. 541-784-5522
FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE: Cut the cost in half. Thanks to a wonderful woman who I'm proud to call a friend - Hilary Wood of Front Range Equine Rescue in Colorado, you are eligible to receive a 50% reimbursement of your costs for euthanasia AND body disposal. Mail your receipts to FRER PO BOX 307, Larkspur, CO 80118”