There has been some attention given lately to the presence of horse meat in what was supposed to be beef in Ireland. What some may have missed, however, is that the U.S. is close to approving a horse slaughter plant right here in this country. It will be the first time since 2007 that horse slaughter has been allowed in the U.S. for human consumption. Besides the obvious concerns about the inherent cruelty of the slaughterhouse industry, the drugs often used in horses that could be deadly for humans, and the risk of native wild horse populations becoming increasingly targeted for roundup and death, another question has come to mind for me: Does our societal agreement to this permit signal a change in our willingness to kill any species that the slaughter industry wishes to foist upon us?

I am not someone who argues that eating pigs is ok but eating dogs is not. Eating pigs is NOT ok with me. Pigs are intelligent, sensitive creatures that surely suffer as much as dogs would during the brutal deaths inflicted upon them in slaughterhouses (some would say more due to purported higher intelligence than dogs). My concern is the effect such a change would have on our country’s psyche and its potential willingness to go even further down the road in terms of species diversity for food sources. After all, horses have enjoyed a status and relationship to humans that is unique and spans the history of this country. Whether it was in battle, helping to deliver mail, or as treasured companions, horses have been seen as valuable aids to humans over our history, and many still revere these magnificent animals. Concern for horses was one of the many things that inspired Henry Bergh to found the ASPCA almost 150 years ago. And now we may be on the verge of approving a permit to a slaughterhouse so that Americans have yet another kind of steak option on the menu. If this goes through and we get used to people eating horses, doesn’t it stand to reason that other species may be next? If Black Beauty is fair game for dinner, why not Spike the family dog? In other countries it is rather routine for dogs, cats, and other species we consider “for companionship only” to be slaughtered and eaten. How close will we become to that? Are we that desperate for another artery clogging, cruelty laden , environment destroying food source that we will walk backwards in time down this revolting and treacherous road?

photo by Karen Arnold via

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