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October 17, 2011

Rhapsody's Story and the Ugly Truth about Horse Slaughter

In my book, The Bond, I write about how animal-abuse industries have cast aside their old, transparent arguments that animals don’t matter or don’t feel pain and that we humans don’t have any responsibilities to them. Today’s apologists for cruelty are most sophisticated and deceptive, now laying claim to the argument that they are the best defenders of animals, and that when it comes to caring for them, they know best.

Horse being transported to slaughter
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Thousands of American horses are sent to slaughter.

You see the evidence when trophy hunters claim they are killing polar bears or leopards to aid their conservation–rather than as a selfish head-hunting exercise. You hear it from factory farmers who claim that the best science supports their position, and that animals in warehouses are protected from predators and disease threats–as if it’s a trifling matter that the animals cannot even turn around or engage in normal behaviors. But giving them a run for their money, in terms of self-centered rationalizations, is the horse slaughter crowd–whether it’s the folks at the American Quarter Horse Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and even the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Yesterday, Tim Carpenter of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote about the debate over horse slaughter, and in the lead of his piece, he reported on the case of Rhapsody Rhose. She was a beautiful Arabian, well-loved by her owner, Jaime Cowan.

Rhapsody was reportedly sold by a temporary caretaker without Jaime’s permission, and it wasn’t long before she found herself on the floor of a Mexican slaughter plant to be killed, cut up, and shipped to Asia or Europe for a luxury meat product. It wasn’t a hardship case, or an unpleasant necessity. It was just deception for someone’s personal profit, and an innocent life was chewed up in the process.

If you know the details of the horse slaughter industry, there’s an inescapable conclusion that it’s a disreputable, predatory industry, gathering up horses from all sorts of sources and turning them into meat exports for profit. These people have not a thing to do with responsible animal ownership or proper care. They actually get in the way of responsible care and re-homing of horses when they outbid horse rescue groups at auctions, because there's a profit to be made in exporting the animals for slaughter. They see horses as commodities on the hoof, and they take nothing more than a utilitarian attitude toward our fellow creatures. Thank God there’s no active slaughter industry for dogs and cats, since we’d all have to watch our pets around these people all the more.

So when you hear high-minded arguments from the horse slaughter crowd, remind them of Rhapsody Rhose and thousands of perfectly healthy horses who deserved so much more than greedy, opportunistic, unethical, ruthless people.

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