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Free Horses | Horse Slaughter Remains Persistent Problem, Advocate Says

Posted By: JR

Amy Bower Doucette writes about the equestrian communities for Neighborhood Post. Send mail to 2751 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach, FL 33405. Call (561) 820-4763 or email neighborhood@pbpost.com

Five months ago, Renee Paxton of Stop Shipping Horses to Slaughter rescued a badly injured, malnourished Percheron. She named the big horse Hank and set out to nurse him back to health.

With help from her veterinarian, Dr. Ben Schachter, and donations to SSHS, Paxton washed and wrapped Hank’s wounds daily and began working to put weight on his bony frame. While Hank was not in immediate danger of being sent to slaughter, most of the horses Paxton helps to rescue are plucked from “kill pens” just in time.

Paxton, a Juno Beach resident, is thankful for the help she received for Hank, but she still hopes to raise public awareness about the persistent issue of horse slaughter in this country.

“People don’t realize,” she said, “that horse slaughter still exists here in the United States, with one difference: It’s not for human consumption, because the Department of Agriculture has to go in and inspect the meat in order for it to be sold for human consumption.

“There’s a potential for the slaughter houses in the United States to reopen for human consumption. Right now, plants are open for horses to be rendered for fertilizers. “

“Rendering” plants are all over the country. Rendering is the process of taking dead animals, left over from slaughterhouses, shelters and even road kill, and “cooking” their body parts into usable products. Material from rendering plants ends up in fertilizer, crayons, margarine, soap, cosmetics, inks, transmission and brake fluids, plastics, pharmaceutical products and pet food, according to Born Free USA, a nonprofit that advocates nationwide on behalf of animals.

Most of the animals that end up at rendering plants are already dead, but not all of them. Paxton said animals are brought to the plants by “kill buyers,” paid for, then slaughtered on site and processed. Even as she watched Hank flourish, she tried to rescue horses from a rendering plant in Florida. One horse’s time ran out before she could gather the money necessary to rescue him.

“We were given what we thought was 72 hours to get him out,” Paxton said. “It turned out to be 24 hours and he was processed right away because we didn’t have the money to get him out. He was a very good horse with no problems. It would have been $400 to save him.”

Paxton wants people to be aware that while rescue organizations like SSHS work hard to keep horses out of the slaughter pipeline, it is up to horse owners to be smart about how they sell their horses.

“If you place an ad to sell your horse, price it at $1,000 and check the buyer’s references,” she said. “The kill buyers pick up ‘free’ horses and they get paid by the plant depending on what the horse’s weight is. The slaughter houses make so much money on them, it’s disgusting.

“If someone cannot take care of their horse, they need to reach out to local rescue organizations, or the animal needs to be humanely euthanized, not shipped off to slaughter or to a rendering plant.”

For more information on Stop Shipping Horses to Slaughter, go online to stopslaughteringhorses.org .

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