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USDA Petition

Humane Groups Petition USDA to Block Companion, Working and Show Horses from Being Slaughtered for Human Consumption

 

Meat From Horses Not Raised For Food Presents Public Health Hazard

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2012)-Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to prevent former companion, working, competition and wild horses from being used as human food. The petition alleges that the drugs given to these horses throughout their lives are banned for animals used for food under federal law and/or are potentially dangerous to humans. Using these horses for human consumption creates an unacceptable and illegal public health threat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The groups sent a similar petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month.

 

Current USDA rules do not require sufficient testing or documentation to ensure that former companion and other non-livestock horses slaughtered for human food do not contain or have not been administered prohibited substances. The “killer-buyers” who acquire these horses typically have no concern or knowledge about the horses’ prior history before shipping them off to inhumane deaths in slaughter facilities. Unlike cows, pigs, chickens and other animals raised for food, horses are swept up by a predatory industry from a variety of sources-former race horses, carriage horses, family ponies and others who are routinely given drugs and medications not fit for human consumption.

 

“The slaughter of American horses for meat is a tragic and cruel end for horses and it is a grave threat to food safety,” said Hilary Wood, president of FRER. “Horses in our country are not raised as food animals. They are routinely treated with dozens of drugs which USDA knows are unsafe for human consumption. These iconic animals should never have their lifetime of service ended on a slaughterhouse kill floor.”

 

The petition requests that USDA certify all horses and horse meat from American horses as “Condemned” and thus unfit for human consumption. This action is especially timely, because in November 2011, Congress chose not to renew a ban on funding federal inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the United States, even though a similar provision had been part of the agriculture department’s spending bill since 2006. Businesses looking to start up American horse slaughterhouses have been actively promoting horse meat, even though the animals were never intended to be food. These businesses and their misguided investors are proceeding despite their awareness that virtually every U.S. horse who ends up at slaughter has been exposed to a plethora of dangerous drugs, many of which are specifically outlawed for animals intended for food.

 

The USDA does not adequately regulate this flow of potentially toxic meat, despite the human health and animal welfare risks associated with it. The petition documents more than 110 examples of drugs and other substances which are or should be prohibited in food-producing horses, describes the horrible way in which horses die at slaughterhouses, and outlines the environmental devastation caused by horse slaughter plants in local communities.

 

Facts:

 

·         More than 100,000 American horses are exported for slaughter each year, mainly for consumption in Europe and Asia.

 

·         The slaughter pipeline is horribly cruel, with many of the horses suffering immensely during transport and the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them unconscious. USDA has documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at slaughterhouses in the U.S. before the last remaining plants closed in 2007.

 

·         Virtually all the horses used for meat spend most of their lives as work, competition or sport horses, companion animals or wild horses.

 

·         During their lives, horses who end up at slaughter are given a constant regimen of drugs and other substances which are either illegal for food animals, or are potentially dangerous to people who eat them.

 

·         Under the current rules and regulations, there is no safeguard in place that can protect against the consumption of unsafe toxins in horse meat.

 

·      Consumers do not know of the inherent dangers because there is no control over the drug residues.

 

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Media Contacts:    Hilary Wood/FRER, 719-481-1490 info@frontrangeequinerescue.org

Stephanie Twining/HSUS, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org

Front Range Equine Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit working to end the abuse and neglect of horses through rescue and education.  Since 1997, FRER has assisted thousands of horses through its rescue and educational programs.  Many of FRER’s rescued horses are obtained directly from livestock auctions and feed lots, which without FRER’s intervention would have shipped to slaughter.  Dedicated to the horses – On the web atwww.frontrangeequinerescue.org

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty – On the web at humanesociety.org.

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Special Alert

 

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PUPPY MILLS CAMPAIGN ALERT

(Note – A momentary escape from the equine world. This ALERT from the Texas Humane Legislative Network is extremely important. Those few in the puppy mill industry who see no value in the humane treatment their little money machines are doing everything they can to  stop this legislation from passing.)

ALERT from THLN

Your help needed today. 

Please Help Dogs & Cats in Texas Breeding Mills.

Thanks to your efforts and support, Texas succeeded in passing The Licensed Breeder Bill in 2011. This new law requires basic standards of care and humane living conditions for dogs and cats in large-scale breeding facilities. Operators of these facilities must obtain licenses and be inspected by Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).

We need your help today to ensure that TDLR passes strong rules to ensure the best regulations possible. Your comments can make a HUGE difference for those dogs and cats living their entire lives in small wire cages and used day after day as breeding machines in Texas commercial breeding facilities.

TAKE ACTION 

We urge you to respectfully submit your comments by February 17, 2012 on the issues below. Also, please urge your family and friends to write, because EVERY COMMENT COUNTS.

While personalized comments are preferable, if you only have time to send a form message, click here to send a letter to TDLR. 

Or send a personalized message by one of the following methods:

  • Send an email to:

erule.comments@license.state.tx.us

Melissa Rinard, Legal Assistant

General Counsel’s Office

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

P.O. Box 12157

Austin, TX 78711

Fax a letter to:  (512) 475-3032

Be sure to include your name, email address, fax number or physical address as applicable with your comments. Also, be sure to request a reply.

BACKGROUND 

Following the passage of H.B. 1451, The Licensed Breeder Bill, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has released their Proposed Rules and Standards as required by the statute. 

Several of these standards are very weak and provide little if any comfort or protection to the animals in large breeding facilities. 

To view the complete TDLR Proposed Rules click here. 

Wire Cages

Although there are many areas of concern, THLN has identified the following 4 priority issues that must be changed. 

1. WIRE FLOORING

TDLR’s proposed rules dealing with flooring in licensed breeder facilities {Section 91.102 (e)(A)} require that at least 50% of the floor be solid flooring with the remainder being allowed to be wire or wire mesh. However, these proposed rules do not apply to existing breeder facilities. These existing breeder facilities are allowed to have 100% wire or wire mesh flooring. This “grandfathering” of current breeding facilities is terribly flawed and will result in thousands of animals living their entire lives on wire flooring with no relief. We must get this “grandfathering” provision out of the proposed rules and require all breeders, both current and future, to have at least 50% solid flooring where the animal can stand, sit, lie down and turnabout freely on a solid surfce, to seek relief from the wire flooring. Talking points:

  • 100% wire flooring in primary enclosures is inherently cruel confinement. By licensing (grandfathering) this practice, the TDLR is “gutting” the intent and purpose of the statute which is to improve the health and wellbeing of the animals who spend their entire lives in these cages. Also, by licensing (endorsing) the practice the TDLR is making the state animal cruelty statute (cruel confinement) more difficult or impossible to enforce. This is a giant step backward, not forward.
  • Dogs forced to live on wire flooring for long periods of time suffer from foot and leg injuries, including chronic, painful sores, infections and cysts between the toes, toenails that curl into the paw pads from lack of pressure on the nail, and toenails being ripped out when they get caught on the wire.
  • Wire flooring increases drafts in extremely cold weather, making it difficult for dogs to maintain their body heat.
  • Wire flooring in most cases is less sanitary than solid flooring. Feces do not readily fall though wire mesh, so the dog(s) grind it though the wire with their feet which creates terribly unsanitary conditions. Both the dogs and the wire flooring become caked in feces and debris, making cleaning very difficult if not impossible.
  • One can provide 50% solid flooring easily and at little expense by providing a resting board, rubber mat, or bedding. This does NOT require restructure of the enclosure for breeders.

2. CAGE SIZES

TDLR’s proposed rules dealing with cage sizes {Section 91.104 (3)(A) and (B)} require that primary enclosures be twice the size currently required by the USDA regulations for USDA licensed breeders. Again, however, the TDLR proposed rules exempt current breeder facilities from these requirements and allow them to continue using the smaller cage sizes required by the USDA regulations. The reason given is that it would be cost prohibitive to require current breeder facilities to double their cage sizes. Although this has some merit, there must be a specific timeframe for current breeder facilities to come into compliance with the larger size caging requirements. We recommend that they be given three years to come into compliance – to wit: until September 1, 2015. Also, we recommend that any new cages built at these facilities must come into compliance with the larger cage size requirements at the time they are installed. Talking point: 

  • The Licensed Breeder bill was passed to protect the well being of animals forced to live their entire lives in small cages. To “grandfather” existing breeders from increased cage sizes equates to 1) ignoring the will of the legislature and 2) allowing licensed breeders to continue the “status quo” of tiny barren wire living quarters.

3. CAGE STACKING 

TDLR’s proposed rules {Section 91.104(E)} allow the stacking of dog cages up to three tiers. We recommend that there be no stacking or if any stacking is allowed that it must not exceed one cage on top of another.

Talking points:

  • Stacked cages encourage gross overcrowding of animals and are often so high or low – caretakers or inspectors can’t easily see the dogs to check on their wellbeing.
  • Stacked cages with wire flooring allow urine, feces and wastewater from higher cages to rain down on dogs below
  • Stacking makes it more difficult for adequate lighting and air flow to reach all parts of the enclosures – allowing many dogs and cats to live in total darkness and neglect.

4. SURGICAL PROCEDURES 

TDLR’s proposed rules {Section 91.112(b)} require that only a veterinarian be allowed to euthanize an animal or perform a surgical birth procedure on an animal. This section should cover additional procedures that only a veterinarian shall perform, such as tail docking, ear cropping, debarking, and claw removal. Currently, it is common for these procedures to be performed by breeders (non-veterinarians). Talking points: 

  • These procedures are veterinary procedures because they are surgical in nature, and should include prescription drugs and/or anesthesia for pain – neither of which can legally be obtained and used by a lay person.
  • A strong argument can be made for animal cruelty, should a breeder/lay person dock tails, cut ears, remove claws, or cut vocal cords without prescription pain drugs or antibiotics.

Thank you for your help! 

Please help us help these animals by forwarding this email to your friends and ask them to help too. Please share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.


 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Special Alert

 

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