Newsday’s Filler Lacks Substance

Ed Pekarek

A member of Long Island’s Newsday editorial board, Lane Filler, authored an attempt at a troll droll column recently, which effectively endorsed the slaughter of American horses as food. The aptly-named columnist posits in absolutist and seemingly libertarian terms his Fillerosophy, chock full of crass cracks about the slaughter of sentient horses.  According to Filler, only those who oppose all consumption of animals as food may ever morally oppose the destruction of any animal. Anything short of that, at least according to Filler, is mere hypocrisy.

2horsesThe Fillerosophy is stated as follows: “when the subject of eating the animals we deem too charming to chew comes up – around the grill, among people who happily consume some animals but not others – the hypocrisy can be harder to stomach than a poodle-and-potato pie when the poodle hasn’t been marinated right.” Filler’s sophomoric hyperbole is telling; many horses are raised closely with humans, often perceived as part of a family and loved. He glibly notes he does not “want to eat dog. I’m pretty sure if I did, Rosie, my Boston terrier, would find out about it, and give me the look. I don’t want to eat cat, although they give me the look regardless, nor monkeys nor dolphins nor any fish species that’s ever had a featured role in an animated film.” However, he detours before taking a position whether it is inappropriate in this nation (or any other) to serve dogs and cats as entrees.

Sure, some horses in the U.S. are raised to perform work, whether to plow, or herd, race or jump, or even dance in dressage. However, the idea that highly-intelligent species so closely connected to humans may be slaughtered (and abundant evidence exists, including through the USDA, that the killing of horses is done in a manner often causing substantial suffering, with some reportedly remaining conscious in the abbatoir as they are strung up by one leg and their throat is slit) poses a grisly threat to the opposition of killing any sentient creature for human purposes.

Implicit in Filler’s argument is that humans eat animals because humans are superior and no nuance appears to exist anywhere within his binary perspective. It would seem the Fillerosophy implicitly endorses human consumption of American Bald Eagles, along with every endangered species, or at least it looks the other way because to do otherwise would be “hypocrisy.” Because its progenitor likes “triple cheeseburgers too much to soul-search the breeding, imprisoning and slaughtering of feeling creatures to provide me with meaty deliciousness,” he maintains no moral ground exists to oppose the slaughter of horses, or at least he can identify none.

Filler maintains his view may be rooted in some “amoral reality,” because he loves to consume various dead animals so much. He also takes no position about the growing body of evidence documenting incredibly depraved acts of animal abuse on farms throughout the U.S., nor does he address the new crop of laws protecting animal abusers from covert video recording, perhaps because it is connected to producing animal protein, and as one of its blissful customers, he apparently contends no coherent moral grounds exist to oppose inhumane practices like these, or at least he cannot find any.

The Fillerosophy suggests any human consumption of animals is somehow unassailable by anyone other than a vegetarian (for whatever reason, Filler fails to mention veganism, let alone make any distinction between the two dietary lifestyles). Filler readily admits he “can’t make a coherent moral argument against others doing it, and my boss has asked me to refrain from the incoherent moral arguments for a bit.” Fillerosophy seems to maintain that one who has ever eaten a scallop cannot conceivably oppose any animal abuse if it is conducted to produce some, as he says, “meathead’s” meal. His view lacks any granularity regarding American attitudes about animal abuse, and conspicuously ignores that 4 out of 5 Americans polled in February 2012 opposed horse slaughter.

One can only wonder what those poll results might have been if respondents first viewed Tim Sappington’s snuff video.  When he recorded the video, Sappington was an employee of one of the current USDA slaughterhouse applicants, Valley Meat Co., LLC, of Roswell, New Mexico, owned by Rick De Los Santos. Sappington is first seen petting a two-year-old horse in the two-minute video, and then he defiantly faces the camera and exclaims, “to all you animal activists, fuck you,” just before shooting the beautiful horse dead.

De Los Santos later fired Sappington, albeit not initially, and only in what appears to be damage control following the groundswell of negative publicity mounted against him and his controversial company when the video went viral. Sappington’s former employer appears to have more than its own share of legal problems due to a lengthy series of detailed allegations regarding questionable business practices which, if true, would seem to pose a public health threat. One can only wonder if Filler could identify any coherent moral objection to Sappington’s gratuitous sadism or the troubling allegations against De Los Santos, or perhaps the practices which have resulted in conclusive findings and the levying of regulatory sanctions against the latter?

While denizens of this blawg are far more likely to occupy the other end of the spectrum from Filler, and certainly Sappington, the Fillerosophy seems designed more to desensitize rather than reveal some truth. Embedded in Filler’s polemic is that anything humans do to animals for the sake of protein ostensibly evades any criticism by anyone who has ever consumed an animal product. According to the absurdly simplistic Fillerosophy, anyone who has ever eaten farm-raised eel as sushi cannot morally oppose the barbaric practice of capturing sharks, hacking off the dorsal fins and tossing the mortally wounded fish back to the sea to drown, catering to the insatiable appetite of those who covet shark fin soup, a culinary emblem of social status. How dare the State of California enact a law recently making it illegal to “possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute” any shark fin within the Golden State? Surely some of those legislators have eaten fish at least once, and therefore, at least according to Filler, they somehow lack any moral standing to promulgate the prohibition. Perhaps the California legislature possessed a coherent scientific and/or environmental basis to enact such a law?

Sharks preceded dinosaurs and many species now face imminent extinction because new technology allows for such rapid and efficient destruction of ocean ecosystems, a practice Mr. Filler ostensibly endorses, or at least cannot find any coherent moral basis on which to oppose it.  If you have ever consumed farm-raised tilapia, at least according to the Fillerosophy, you lack any moral ground to oppose the slaughter of more than 100 million sharks per year, primarily to satisfy growing Asian market demand. According to Filler, he does not claim “these animals deserve to be spared more than the ones I do happily nibble.  A cultural preference is not a moral imperative.” Setting aside his real or feigned attempt to avoid ethnocentricity, wholesale elimination of aquatic predators is bound to disrupt ecosystems in a manner much like fossil fuel use has disrupted the atmosphere, along with its many collateral consequences. It is unlikely that Fillerosophy takes likely scientific and environmental consequences into pragmatic consideration with such a simplistic and antagonistic paradigm.

It seems that perhaps among Filler’s aims is an attack on the group of litigants who have delayed establishment of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. by postponing USDA approval of new slaughterhouses, due to alleged failures to satisfy the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. § 4321, et seq.) as part of the permit process. According to the plaintiffs, the USDA has failed to conduct NEPA-required environmental reviews.

Anti-government types frequently and stridently reject any need for new laws and instead advocate blithely for enforcing the ones “already on the books.” While I have not yet examined the NEPA-based litigation against the USDA closely, the plaintiffs seek enforcement of a law enacted almost 44 years ago, before the USDA should even begin to consider the repulsive applications to slaughter horses in the U.S. Meanwhile, Mr. Sappington’s former employer, Rick De Los Santos, has sued a number of the litigants for alleged defamation and causing delays in the USDA permit process he says are costing him money. Perhaps coherent legal bases exist for litigants to seek enforcement of a federal environmental health and safety law promulgated almost a half-century ago?

Filler does note, correctly, that Congress will likely defund the USDA horse slaughter inspection process altogether (and the Appropriations Committees in both houses of Congress already voted to block funding last month), and President Obama’s FY 2014 budget eliminates all USDA funding for horse slaughterhouse inspection. What Filler fails to note, however, is that the litigation-based moratorium actually does taxpayers a financial favor by halting inhumane horse slaughter profiteers from wedging open a door the legislative and executive branches have already indicated will be closed soon. Instead, he makes awkward and inartful attempts at callous humor such as “I don’t want to eat any Steakatariats or Seabiscuits, but I can’t make a coherent moral argument against others doing it.” Rep. Jim Moran D-Va. said late last month that every “horse slaughter facility opened would cost taxpayers more than $400,000 per year in inspection and operation costs.”  Perhaps coherent fiscal bases exist to avoid wasting millions in taxpayer money to temporarily approve and implement a much-loathed practice already on the cusp of being defunded and perhaps soon outlawed?

Six domestic horse slaughter applications are believed to be pending with the USDA, for death chambers to be located in Iowa, Missouri and New Mexico. If those who seek to become horse-flesh merchants in the U.S. successfully obtain license to kill thousands of horses for profit, they necessarily will be processing the blood, organs and tissue of animals that may contain a variety of potentially dangerous substances, some which are known dangers, and others never tested on humans, fraught with unknown potential dangers. For example, use of the cancer-causing anti-inflammatory painkiller, Phenylbutazone, known more commonly as “Bute,” is prevalent in horse racing and poses several health risks. Many young thoroughbreds are doomed to destruction after injury compromises the speed of their stride. “Bute” has been found in horsemeat, even in what was passed off to the public as beef by Burger King. Perhaps a coherent health concern exists?

Previously of South Carolina and Pennsylvania, Filler has apparently been unable to persuade his former elected officials of Fillerosophy merit. Senator Lindsey Graham R-SC is among the bipartisan sponsors of the proposed Safeguard American Food Exports *(SAFE) Act, H.R. 1094 / S. 541, introduced this year by Mr. Graham and Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., as well as Representatives Patrick Meehan, R-Pa. and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. Now pending in both houses of Congress, the Bill aims to: (1) ban all horse slaughter in the U.S.; (2) eliminate export of American horses for foreign slaughter; and (3) protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat. Perhaps coherent public policy exists?

Even if domestic slaughterhouse applicants are denied, as expected based on reports regarding stated legislative and executive branch positions, the threat of brutal death marches for American horses to Mexico and Canada remains without passage of the bipartisan legislation. Long Island-based Baiting Hollow Farm Horse Rescue has made great progress over the last six years to educate the public about the senseless peril of horses discarded at young ages, having outlived their “usefulness,” at least as some define it, and opposes the export of American horses to foreign countries for slaughter. It urges compassionate people to express their outrage to elected officials and advocate for swift passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act to bring an end to this barbarism, at least in our nation.

In my opinion, this particular Filler isn’t worthy of a Taco Bell.

Post script:  I would be remiss to omit mention of an amendment to the House version of the Farm Bill, offered by Iowa Rep. Steve King (R). The misguided amendment gives absurd cover to shark finning and horse slaughter and is offered not by a king, but rather a jester.

41 Responses

  1. For what it’s worth, the equestrians and equine veterinarians I know all favor domestic horse slaughter.

  2. If you were to identify “the equestrians and equine veterinarians [you] know,” I would be willing to interview them and explore the views you claim they possess.

  3. I know many equine veterinarians and vet techs, and literally hundreds and hundreds of equestrians, including owners, riders, trainers and breeders, and NOT ONE of them is pro-slaughter, whether it’s performed in domestic or foreign plants. Slaughtering horses simply and profoundly goes against the grain of horse lovers in America, both morally and ethically.

  4. “Who’s this Ed Pekarek fellow?” was my first question as I read this morally sound, well worded, perfectly presented putdown of the ethically empty Filler.

    (Probably hyphens should be placed between all my adverbs and adjectives, but it seems like too many horizontal lines!)

    Thankfully, it wasn’t hard to find you:

    What a breath of fresh air you are, Ed. Animals everywhere could use your moral suasion and word power. So can the earth. And children. And so can all the other worthy causes you support. Including peace.

    I know this blog and the comments on it aren’t meant to be about you. But you’ve made your case against Fillerosophy (a.k.a. “sophomoric hyperbole”) so convincingly, I have nothing of any substance to add to it.

    P.S. When I undertook a project that aimed to identify all the veterinarians in one very large city (and outlaying rural areas) who were against horse slaughter, I found a few who were brave enough to take a public stand. But I discovered that:
    (1) many vets are afraid to alienate their customers;
    (2) many small-animal vets don’t know the first thing about horses and “food animals” and so are reluctant to form an opinion on such sensitive issues as horse slaughter;
    (3) many large-animal vets know how to diagnose and prevent diseases and patch up and preserve body parts but aren’t accustomed to thinking through the ethical implications of their farm-and-ranch-and-rodeo customers’ practices;
    (4) many vets have been so desensitized to animals’ feelings by their training at the land grant universities and veterinary colleges they attended, they end up compromising the animals’ well-being in order to serve their industry masters (who sign their paychecks).
    (5) many equine-only vets are AGAINST horse slaughter and willing to say so for the record, thank God! 🙂

  5. The equestrians I know say that closing the U.S. horse slaughter plants has actually led to untold misery for horses — though abandonment, starvation, etc.

    By the way, though Americans have a revulsion toward horse meat, there’s an ample overseas market for it.

  6. Please feel free to identify these equestrians or it just seems like you’re trolling. You can reach me privately if you prefer; as you can see, I am easy to find.

  7. Ed, I’m not trolling. If you’ve researched this issue at all, you should already be well aware, there is hardly unity of opinion on it within the equestrian community and veterinary profession.

    If you’re not well aware of pro-domestic slaughter arguments coming from some equestrians, government agents who manage wild horse herds and and veterinarians, then I would be forced to the conclusion you’ve been hanging out in an echo chamber.

    It’s not about who, or how many hold what opinion. I’m not going to get into a game of, “well, your people told me this, but my people told me that.”

    Suffice to say, I live in a Western community with a huge and deeply vested equestrian culture. Both professional and casual. Indeed, there are many people here — ranchers and outfitters to name a couple of groups — who still quite literally depend on horses to make a living.

    Suffice to also say, I have a sister who is educated in a equine speciality, and makes her living thusly. She’s about as plugged into the equestrian scene in the Western United States as anybody can be. And what she tells me is, domestic slaughterhouses have widespread support among equestrians, and that many regarded the closure of domestic slaughterhouses as a classic case of good intentions paving the road to Hell.

    And beyond that, what I’m hearing from people who own, work with and care deeply about horses, there is a concern and/or arguments and evidence, that the closing down of U.S. horse slaughter plants has led to an unprecedented wave of misery among horses. Mainly because it’s led to unprecedented numbers of horses being neglected, abandoned or subjected to long and miserable transport to slaughterhouses in other countries.

    Now, I’m sure there are counter-arguments to those points, and in turn, counter-arguments to those.. and so on and so forth.

    Perhaps the larger point being, this issue is more complex and nuanced than some try to make it out to be. A PETA activist might have one thing to say, a slaughterhouse owner itching for a profit will have quite another. Still, neither set of simple arguments one would expect from either of those points of view is going to tell the entire story.

    What I’m telling you is, the folks I’ve talked to (such as my sister and the veterinarian who keeps shop right across the street from my office) are probably going to have more clarity on the issue than any grand-standing special interest would.

    I will say, based upon what I’ve seen — the anti-slaughter arguments seemed to be based largely in emotion, and appeals to the American cultural revulsion to eating horse meat. (Something many other nations simply don’t share.)

    While the side arguing to re-open slaughter here seems to be based more in sober realism. Not a relishing of horses being slaughtered, but rather a reaction to the suffering the closures have resulted in.

    That’s not to say there aren’t holes in the pro-slaughter arguments. Every point of view has shortcomings.

  8. NOTE: I’m posting this for Kathleen Stachowski, who keeps getting a “spam” message when she tries. These words are hers (except for where she quotes HAL 9000 or the study mentioned below):

    “I will say, based upon what I’ve seen — the anti-slaughter arguments seemed to be based largely in emotion…”

    Ah, emotion–the animal exploiters’ go-to dismissal.

    HAL, as pointed out above and many other places, horses are not raised as food animals and are given many drugs, some of them carcinogenic. That is not “emotion.”

    Based on physiology and behavior, horses don’t “cooperate” in the kill chute and are hard to kill quickly and reliably: That is not “emotion.”

    As for the myth that closing U.S. slaughter plants increased neglect and abandonment, take a look at “THE HISTORY AND CAUSES OF EQUINE ABUSE AND NEGLECT: A Statistical Analysis”

    Click to access History_and_Causes_of_Equine_Abuse-Neglect.pdf

    “…the analysis found more slaughter consistently correlated with more abuse and neglect.

    “Correlation is not proof of causation…but it certainly contradicts the theory that slaughter decreases neglect by culling ‘unwanted horses.'”

    ~ quotes from the Animal Law Coalition

    If there are too many so-called unwanted horses, it’s because there are too many horse breeders out to make a buck and a name in their various “industries”–racing, rodeo, showing, eventing, dressage, on and on it goes.

    But it’s just easier to kill horses than it is to shut down the lucrative industries that exploit them.

  9. @HAL 9000, I am one of the equestrian professionals you like to espouse and I can tell you I am adamantly opposed to horse slaughter and so is my vet. The economy is what caused the current increase in horse neglect cases, not the slaughterhouse closures. If you need any further proof of that just look at the statistics that say that horse slaughter hasn’t even decreased, it’s just moved to Canada and Mexico. If the rate of slaughter hasn’t decreased but the number of neglect cases has risen, then obviously the closure of the slaughter plants in the US is NOT the cause.

    If any of that isn’t convincing enough, then look at the process itself. For cattle there is a squeeze with a head restraint; for horses there is no such thing because the size of horses varies so greatly. That in itself is a significant problem that results in the inadequate stunning of horses many times. Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Texas was one good example of this. At DC the kill box was actually located next to the perimeter fence and one could actually stand there and listen to how many bolts it took before the horse went down. Too many times there were multiple bolts before the horse succumbed and in no way was this the least bit humane. Unless that problem is solved, horse slaughter will remain even more inhumane than the slaughter of other animals, which is saying a lot.

    Amy in TX

  10. Amy in TX – You are SO right! I was born and raised in Dallas, which is only 30 miles away from Kaufman. For 15 years my horses and I lived with the ever present possibility of my horses being stolen. It was a nightmare. The theft situation was SO bad that the state of Texas stepped in and tried to implement programs to help horse owners protect their horses, but nothing helped.. Horse owners were in a state of near panic.

    We thought we were safe in a boarding stable in a busy park area of Dallas, traffic all the time and the Foreman and owner living right there on the grounds. The stable had been around since the 1960s and had never lost a horse.

    In 1991 they lost three – one in the stall next to my horse, one just across the barn aisle and another down a few stalls. They took them right our of their stalls! Only pure luck kept my beloved horse from suffering the same fate. We all were shocked and heartbroken.

    I couldn’t stand any more, so we moved to my husband’s native Indiana with horse and two dogs in tow. Those plants are closed now, but here these idiots want to reopen horse slaughter on US soil again. Already, reports of horse theft are increasing. People just can’t seem to understand how different the horse meat trade is from normal animal Ag.

    No one “farms” horses – no one anywhere raises horses for human consumption. Horses cost much more to raise than cattle, so it’s the “kill buyers” who procure the horses for this awful “business.”

    These men are thugs – many are petty criminals – and they don’t care how they obtain their quota of horses. Theft is indeed rampant anywhere within 100 miles of these Chambers of Horror. They watch for horses advertised for sale and lie to the sellers about their plans for their horses, because they know that horse owners wouldn’t sell to them if they knew. I’ve owned horses for over 35 years and I’ve yet to meet an owner who would ever knowingly sell to a kill buyer. They run scams misrepresenting themselves as rescues, re-homing experts – anything and everything. It’s unbelievable if you haven’t experienced it.

    Of course our horses are loaded with stuff that’s never supposed to enter the human food chain. They are NOT food animals and are not raised to be in compliance with food safety regulations.

    The FDA considers horses to be companion animals and so permits the makers of horse medications and universally used over-the-counter equine products such as fly spray to contain ingredients that are expressly banned for any use in any food animal EVER, There are no withdrawal periods for banned substances – ONE use and that animal – pig, cow, horse, whatever – can NEVER enter the human food chain. And, unlike the UK, EU and others, the US has absolutely NO traceability system whatsoever for horses. That is why the meat produced by these domestic plants cannot be sold to any Member State of the European Union – which has always comprised 80% of our horse meat trade. And, without the EU and their supply network, even more contacts are lost to us. With EU food safety regulations becoming much tighter at the end of this month, we may not be able to get away with live shipping to Canada and Mexico.

    The EU DOES know about our lack of traceability and each time they inspect their plants in Mexico and Canada – yes, the EU controls them all, just as they did our previous domestic plants – they have found residues of banned substances in our horses, with forged documentation claiming the horses are drug free. There is an excellent chance the EU certified horse slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada – which is ALL of the commercial ones – will no longer accept our horses. The regs change before August 5th.

  11. Kathleen, Amy, and Suzanne have made many excellent points.

    Another is that the horses snapped up by kill buyers are the ones with the most pounds of tender young flesh packed on them. They’re not the old, skinny, sick, useless horses that the pro-slaughter people paint them as being.

    Also, many of the horses sent to auction aren’t given the chance to be seen and bought by the general public who attend the auctions.

    Instead, the owners of the auction houses and their best customers (the kill buyers) will make deals in advance of the public sales, and the horses are sent out the back door straight to the kill buyers’ trailers without ever entering the ring.

    After all, the idea is to load the trailers to the max with “meat” and drive to the plants as quickly as possible — before returning to make still another haul and still more money off the hides of these “commodities.”

    Then there are the horses who DO make it out of the slaughter pipeline alive — purchased by rescues and individuals who attend the auctions before the kill buyers get their hands on them (sometimes they are even successful in taking horses off the hands of kill buyers by offering $50 more than the buyers paid 10 minutes earlier).

    Lots has been written about how those saved-in-the-nick-of-time horses go on to lead happy, long lives, loved by their “adoptive” parents. More than a few have blossomed in brand-new careers after coming off the track. Others who have been saved are content to be “pasture ornaments” — perhaps a companion to a single horse or a blind horse or a stay-at-home human with lots of time and love to give.

    All of which is to say that the horses unlucky enough to end up in the knock box aren’t really “unwanted.” They simply aren’t given a chance to be rehomed (for any of the above reasons and many more not even mentioned here, for lack of space).

    Oh, and one more salient point (made in passing by Kathleen): The only way to force big-time breeders (whose primarily aim appears to be to make money off horses) to severely curtail their promiscuous breeding is to ban, at the federal level, both horse slaughter in the U.S. and the transport of horses to slaughter in other countries. There will then be zero incentive to overproduce, to race too-young horses, and to recklessly dispose of the ones who aren’t “perfect.”

  12. Please do excuse my intrusion, but after reading this post and the following comments I would appreciate to hear some broader thoughts and insights.

    It seems that some of you argue that horse slaughter is more “inhumane” as compared to that of farmed animals raised for food. Suppose it was not true and the horse slaughtering practices and technologies had improved to match those in use for the “meat” animals. Would that make horse slaughter/consumption more morally, whatever it means, acceptable?

    On a broader issue, are horses more morally significant, meaning “deserve” better or special treatment, than cows e.g., and if it’s so then why?

    Without privy to Lane Filler’s more elaborate thoughts on the subject, that seems to be the central question he posited in his article, and I would love somebody to take and elaborate on it.

  13. In addition to Amy’s comment: the captive bolt used to stun cows was not designed or intended for use on horses. Horses differ greatly from cows in that they are flight animals, and will absolutely not stand still for that bolt to hit them between the eyes. If the shooter isn’t perfectly accurate the first time, the horse will violently thrash in the chute trying desperately to escape, causing the shooter to fire over and over. Not only is their head larger than a cow’s, but that part of their skull is thicker and denser, and their brain is further back in their head.

  14. Audrey, hopefully this will give you a different point of view. First off, BlessUsAll, your points were right on. Here’s one more point: There are lots of equine rescues and sanctuaries in every single state in the union, but I’ve never heard of a cow rescue. Why not? Because cows are raised as livestock, for milk or meat. Horses in the United States were never raised for food, they are raised as companions to humans. As a general rule, NO OTHER ANIMAL willingly does for humans what horses do for us (except maybe camels for basic transportation) on a daily basis, i.e. jump, dressage, race, obstacle courses, swim, herd and pen cattle, endurance, pony rides, therapy for veterans and children (able-bodied and disabled), vaulting, rodeo, go to war with us and for us, the list goes on. Here in America, dogs, cats, and horses are companion animals, and as such, warrant and deserve humane euthanasia at the end of their healthy lives, unless nature takes its course first. Humane euthanasia is not slaughter, it is a strong sedative followed by a painless injection performed by a licensed veterinarian.

  15. rcatheron, thank you for the compliment.

    I apologize, but I have to be honest and say that I can’t agree with your reasons for differentiating horses, dogs, and cats from other domesticated animals.

    Though it’s common assertion among “horse people” that horses are different than other “livestock” (so-called by industry) in all the ways you cite, there are a growing number of horse activists, I being one of them, who have also come to appreciate, value, and respect all animals, whether they be domesticated or living free.

    In fact, there are a growing number of rescues around the U.S. that save cows and pigs and chickens and turkeys and rabbits and ducks and geese and goats and sheep from being killed.

    Some of these places are sanctuaries that also serve as education centers; they offer tours to visitors, overnight stays, volunteer days, etc. The animals stay in these havens for the rest of their natural lives, receive wonderful care, forms close friendships with nonhumans and humans, and are given as much independence as is safe for them to have. Other rescues seek to rehome the animals they take in, so they adopt them out to loving, responsible families, just as with horses. And still others do a mix of both, depending upon the health (mental and physical) of the individual animal.

    There are too many such rescues to enumerate, and I’d rather not even name a few while leaving other worthy ones out. Just Google (or Goodsearch!) for farm animal sanctuaries (sometimes called farmed animal sanctuaries) and open the links to your heart’s content! 🙂

    I think we’re all on a learning curve. Some of us have reached a point on that curve where we see that not only certain species of animals “used” by human purposes deserve protection from harm, but that all members of all species deserve not to be bred to be killed for human food in the first place! That may seem like an unfathomable leap over a chasm to you and others who are working so hard to stop horse slaughter, but it is a leap taken by many of us — usually it’s a series of little leaps, actually, as more light of love dawns in each consciousness and as each heart expands to ultimately embrace in neighborly, Golden Rule goodwill, every precious fellow-being on earth.

    P.S. I guess I’m answering Andrey here too (or is it Audrey?). 🙂

  16. Thank you, rcatheron.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but as I understand it you say that it’s our special relationship with horses/dogs, including their companionship, entertainment and other utilitarian values, that raises their moral significance in our eyes above that of the farmed animals who are just what they are – domesticated and purposefully bred to live and fulfill their own anointed destinies.

    It seems to me you assign worth to a being based on his/her instrumental value to fill one or more of your physical or emotional needs. Although it’s perfectly natural to act out of preference based on emotional ties that favor those closest to us, it also makes it quite arbitrarily and probably plain indefensible, when the preferences justified in moral/ethical terms.

    How we act and how we justify our actions are two separate things. There are no compelling arguments that can reason against a narrow self-centric position no matter how alien it may seem, but a broad moral claim is much more susceptible to close scrutiny. And I believe that our justifications for preferential treatment, or for instrumental relationship to all the non-human animals, more often than not fall exactly in that second category.

    Thank you, BlessUsAll. I share your views; admire your eloquence. And Andrey it is.

  17. @Amy,

    I appreciate your comments. As I said — and my point being — it’s dubious to claim either the pro or anti-domestic slaughter side of the question will have all the marbles. Clearly, your arguments and opinions carry some marbles, and I appreciate that.

    I would only point out, I’m quite certain the equestrians and equine professionals I know and have spoken to, are no less vested in horses, experts in the field or aware of the issue than you and your vet are.

    Once again, I’ll be clear — I live in a place where the horse culture isn’t just a past-time or a leisure sport. It is, quite literally, a way of life for many here. And among those many here, there are many who do, in fact, support domestic horse slaughter for what they think are pragmatic and humane reasons.

    I’ve never said “all” horse people support domestic slaughter.

    What I’m suggesting is, anybody who is trying to claim there simply is not widespread support for domestic slaughter — from among dedicated horse people — probably needs to get out more. Because I certainly didn’t have to go far to find people for whom horses literally are a way of life, who also support domestic slaughter plants.

    That said, I’m sure both you and your vet have the upmost sincerity and what you think are solid arguments and points in your opposition to horse slaughter.

    I’m suggesting those views would most likely be minority opinions around here. And here is about as “horse country” as a person can find in the post-modern world. To say these people here love horses, would be a glaring understatement. It’s more like this county lives and breathes horses.

    Now, “minority opinion” does not mean “invalid opinion.” Argument from popularity is about as irrational as it gets. I don’t for a second question the sincerity or knowledge of your or your vet.

    But by that same standard, disagreeing with you and your vets does not make the opinions of those who I have spoken with invalid either.

    Who is right and who is wrong, I would rather leave up to those truly in the know. I myself am not a “horse person.”

    In sum — as somebody who is not part of the equestrian culture — but rather looking in from a near distance, I see this as a subject of lively debate — with extremely knowledgable and sincere people on both sides.

  18. To those who can’t see the difference between slaughtering horses and food animals – First, it is a FACT that slaughtering horses in the fast paced, assembly-line structure of the modern mass kill slaughter plants is just about as inhumane as it gets. Much more inhumane that for the animals these plants were designed to handle. This type of slaughter plant cannot be made humane for horses without slowing down SO much that no profit could possible be made. I mean going REALLY slow. Our food animals have been bred for many generations to be calm, docile and non-reactive as possible. Horses retain their ancient flight response and reflexive head shyness. Horses are much harder to kill that cattle. Their skulls are much harder and their brain is recessed and at a different angle. All these reasons mean horse slaughter cannot be made to comply with the Humane Slaughter Act. It’s virtually impossible to get a decent shot – much less “press the muzzle firmly against the forehead” of a horse in full panic mode, fighting for their lives. Many require several shots during which they are in excruciating pain. Even when they seem stunned, they regain consciousness while strung up to bleed out.

    The fact that horses are not food animals is more than just opinion. Because the FDA considers horses to be companion animals, they permit the makers of horse medications and universally used over-the-counter equine products like fly spray to contain ingredients that are expressly banned from any use in any food animal ever. There are no withdrawal times for banned substances – ONE use and that animal – pig, cow, horse, whatever – must NEVER enter the human food chain. I’ve owned horses for 35 years, and have used many of these products as has every other horse owner I’ve ever known. They really ARE universally used. They also make it illegal to sell these horses for human consumption. That is the law, and I didn’t write it.

    None of you seem to understand that the horse slaughter “business” is totally different from normal Animal Ag. Most food animals are raised and marketed by the same person. This is their product, and most take pride in their stock.

    Horses are owned by individuals, and are gathered up by “kill buyers” who are not Ag people at all. They are thugs and petty criminals and they don’t care where or how they acquire their quota of horses for the meat companies that employ them. I lived in Dallas, TX, between the two horse slaughter plants that were there – Beltex in Ft. Worth was about 45 miles away and Dallas Crown in Kaufman was about 30 miles away. It is pure hell for any horse owner to live in the vicinity of a horse slaughter plant because their horses are at high risk of being stolen and butchered. The theft situation was so bad that the state of Texas stepped in and tried to implement programs to help horse owners protect their horses, but nothing helped – branding was totally worthless – except shutting those chambers of horror down.

    Kaufman was almost destroyed by Dallas Crown, and the real estate values all around our whole area literally crashed. This was horse country, but horse owners were running for their horses’ lives – including me. No horse owners would even consider any of the beautiful horse properties around because they were afraid their horses would be stolen – and they would have been.

    Four of my own personal friends had their sweet and beloved horses stolen, and my own horse escaped the same fate by a hair’s breadth – that’s when I bailed. If you have never loved a horse, you cannot possible understand the utter devastation of knowing your dear friend, companion and partner sometimes for 20 years or more has been sent to the absolute worst death any horse could possibly suffer. These intelligent, gentle animals that have been taught all their lives to trust humans, and become very attached to their human partners are suddenly thrown into a world of cruelty they never knew existed. It was almost unbearable for ME and my own horse was safe. It’s just the way it is. I daresay that cattlemen and pork producers do NOT have to go through this and neither do their animals.

    Now, whether you are a Vegan or whatever, justify this please. Justify adding yet another animal to the food chain for absolutely NO reason except that a few people think they can make money.

    Justify sending meat adulterated with some really nasty residues overseas for people to eat. We have NO traceability system at all for horses in this country because they are NOT food animals.

    Horses WORK, whether they end up in the slaughter pipeline on not. By the logic that if we use certain animals one way, we have to use them ALL that way – I mean why stop with eating? Must we ride cattle, pigs and chickens? Do they have to crowd-control mounted by policemen? Do millions upon millions of them have to die in our wars until they are “even” with horses? Horses are in great demand as therapy animals – for people with physical disabilities whether congenital or rehab from an injury; for at risk children whose lives are immeasurable enriched by regular contact with horses; children who are in constant pain respond to horses and are able to forget about their pain while with them; perhaps horses shine the most when it comes to autistic children. They are like magical creatures to these children. I’ve heard of several children who had never spoken one word in their entire lives speak their first word to a horse. More and more mini-horses are being certified as service animals (yes, minis get stolen and slaughtered too). The newest role for equine therapists is helping our vets who are suffering from PTSD. This is fairly new, but seems to be really helpful.

    The fact is that no other animal has ever done the things horses have done with humans. Our relationship with them has always been unique. That’s just the way things are.

    Bottom line – especially for those of you who believe humans shouldn’t do anything with animals – where is the benefit to anyone or anything to add yet another species to the slaughter pipeline? There is utterly NO need for eating our horses – they are red meat, and aren’t we always being told we shouldn’t eat red meat anyway? Who or what will benefit from feeding humans the adulterated flesh of any animal that is not raised as a food animal by ANTONE. And for which a majority of products either contain substances known to be harmful to humans and many other substances that have never even been tested on humans. Where is the gain in slaughtering an animal for which commercial slaughter will NEVER be humane and is almost always obtained by kill buyers using less than honest tactics.

    Horse slaughter is a shady, predatory, corrupt trade who’s perpetrators don’t care any more about food safety than they do about where they got those horses they’re trucking out on poorly maintained, unsafe trailers.

    The ONLY ones that will benefit are the handful of money grubbing liars who believe they can make tons of money off the blood of other people’s horses.

  19. Suzanne M. said, “None of you seem to understand that the horse slaughter “business” is totally different from normal Animal Ag.”

    Having written a few pieces about horse slaughter, I *do* realize that there are significant differences between horse slaughter and “normal” animal ag. There are also significant similarities– in each one, sentient animals who value their lives are considered nothing more than production units and put to death.

    However, I do object to the idea that “Most food animals are raised and marketed by the same person. This is their product, and most take pride in their stock.” Corporate industrial farms raise and market by far the vast majority of “food animals” (ugh, hate that term!) and, given the well-documented suffering in these hell holes, you can rest assured that they don’t take pride in their sentient “stock.”

  20. Hi Suzanne – I realize too that there’s a difference between the procedures of killing horses and killing cows… But I don’t think either system can ever be perfected to eliminate suffering. Nor do I think that either is ethically right.

    I say that because even in USDA run cow and pig slaughter facilities there’s an 18% or so slaughters that don’t go according to “humane” regulations. When these problems arise they certainly don’t stop the line to re-stun the unfortunate cow or pig… They die (as the Washington Post article says) “Piece by Piece”:,%20They%20Die%20Piece%20by%20Piece%20(2001).pdf

    And the “humane” way you are hoping for in how your meat is made doesn’t even apply to billions of birds who aren’t even considered under the “Humane Slaughter Act”. I share my home with chickens… And how you view horses to be worthy of life and human generosity is how I see them. Imagining their mistreatment (and slaughter) is just as disturbing to me. I really don’t know how their pain/suffering is any less than a horse’s. (?)

    These are just some of the nuances one might consider if they’re rationalizing why killing “food animals” is better than killing horses. But as I’ll repeat… Since the consumption of meat, dairy and eggs is not critically essential to a healthy diet I don’t see how killing anyone for these things could ever be acceptable or “humane”.

    Just a mention about what “humane” really means:
    From Webster’s New World Dictionary
    Humane Hu·mane / hyoomáyn / adj. 1. having what are considered the best qualities of human beings; kind, tender, merciful, sympathetic, compassionate.

    Where doe the orchestrated, for-profit-killing of healthy, sentient beings fit into the “kind” or merciful act of slaughter that the meat industry would have you believe exists? Perhaps we have just been indoctrinated to believe that it’s okay to harm some animals but not others… And that why some think that horses don’t matter either.

    Truly when we look at the essential core of it all… All beings love their lives equally. Whether it’s stealing the life of a cow, lamb, horse or bird the injustice is inherently wrong in the act itself. It is needless violence in the name of greed and/or gluttony. It never reflects our best qualities. And it never extends fair consideration to others who have done us no harm.

    Finally you say “There is utterly NO need for eating our horses – they are red meat, and aren’t we always being told we shouldn’t eat red meat anyway?” I absolutely agree with you with this more inclusive view. We do not need to harm anyone to live happy and healthy lives… We can thrive on a satisfying, sustainable, ethical and kind plant based diet. And since this is possible – We owe it to the animals we have used and mis-used for so terribly long to finally make that effort towards doing so. It rally would make for a better world if we ended the blood shed.

  21. Your comments that suggest my viewpoint is in the minority are condescending and not even correct. There is no greater example of a horse culture than where I live, either. And we have people here. of course, that support horse slaughter based on false or outdated information. Growing up, I thought horse slaughter was just the way of things. As an adult, I learned that this was not so. I make my living off horses and I’m telling you your obviously favored viewpoint, based on what you see around you, is wrong. I don’t know where you live, but chances are you never had a horse slaughter plant there. I have been inside Beltex on a slaughter day. Can you say the same?

  22. …That was @Hal 9000….

  23. @ Andrey,
    Are you suggesting that because we can not stop all of it, we should not stop any of it?

  24. @Amy, I admire you for being able to make it out of Beltex with your sanity intact. I could never have brought myself to go within 30 miles of that horse hell hole — or Dallas Crown.

    Amy, I can’t speak for Andry, but since I, too, entered into the discussion of horses versus cows et al (appropriately on this animal rights blog), I would like to clarify that I am 100% in favor of abolishing horse slaughter NOW and FOREVER. I’m also 100% in favor of not demeaning any species and making them sound inferior to horses. They are not, any more than one human race is inferior to another. Speciesism is just as ugly and unjust as racism.

    Recently I came across this verse, which it seems appropriate to share here: “. . . be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5 King James Version).

  25. Sorry, meant to write “Andrey.” Am thinking of my nephew Andy, I guess! 🙂

  26. At least the cattle and pigs, etc. are not STOLEN or purchased under false pretenses by the kill buyers. I lived in Texas in the vicinity of both the horse slaughter plants that were there. Horse theft was SO bad even programs the state of Texas implemented to help horse owners protect their horses did not do one bit of good.

    Some people I know had a horse property near Kaufman – I was only 30 miles away myself – and they had to HIRE GUARDS for their horses every night. Other horse owners – including ME – just had to pick up and leave. Property values dropped through the bottom, Many excellent horse properties around the area went unsold because no horse owners would DARE put their horses at such risk.

    How about THAT for a difference? How about the FACT that our horse medications and even fly spray contain ingredients that are expressly BANNED from the human food chain everywhere in the world – yes, even Russia and China.

    If you REALLY care about what it’s like for everyone – including NON horse owners, check

    I would just let you people who are determined NOT to listen to those of us who have been there, done that to learn the hard way, but having those chambers of horror in this country again puts EVERY horse in harm’s way and thee is nothing to be gained for food animals or anyone else by that.

    Horses are different because they are VERY different temperamentally from bred-to-be-docile food animals. Because NO ONE farms horses so they have to obtain them in “other ways,” mostly by theft, scams and lies. Our kill buyers are the most cruel in the world. When Europeans see what our transport to slaughter is like, they start screaming for their governments to stop importing US horses. Swiss veterinarians demanded the Swiss stop importing US horses because they said it was their responsibility as veterinarians. Too bad our own vet orgs – NOT vets themselves – are so in bed with the cattlemen they don’t have the guts to do the same.

    If you would like to see some of the thousands of pictures that the USDA took of horses that were transported to the Texas plants, you can go to the above link. I do warn you though – they are VERY graphic and there really ARE thousands of them. The USDA documented the cruelty but did nothing about it. Cattle and pigs and every other food animal are NOT transported in this way.

    Violations from FOIA DeKalb plant:
    This is a PDF from a USDA Inspector who took some of the pictures from Dallas Crown:

    There is a TON more. Believe it or don’t. You say that 18% of cattle and pigs were documented by the USDA as improperly stunned. That’s horrible and should NOT be allowed to continue. BUT, how about 40% of horses not being properly stunned? And this is from a state-of-the-art, new, Temple Grandin designed horse slaughter plant in Quebec, Canada, and it’s MUCH better than what we had. 40% FAIL. Is that or is that not WORSE?

    I did NOT say or imply that violations did not happen to food animals, nor did I say or imply that it was okay. I said for horses it was WORSE. And it IS.

  27. Suzanne Moore, what you are, and have been, saying is the absolute truth, and I applaud you. You’ve done your research, and are speaking facts. Brava, and thank you for saying it so much more eloquently than I ever could. THANK YOU.

  28. @ Amy,

    My apologies for not explicitly stating my position on the subject of horse slaughter.

    Horses are beautiful animals. I do not want them to be slaughtered in the United States, and I do not want them to be slaughtered anywhere else either.

    I also hold the same view in regards to other animals.

  29. @ Suzane,

    Would you advocate against using horses for food if horses were not stolen and transported under horrendous conditions, if they were killed quickly and “humanely”, and were tested by FDA/USDA for toxic chemicals?

    Also, if I may, what is your opinion about slaughter and use of other “conventional” farmed animals for food?

    And I agree that there is “nothing to be gained for food animals or anyone else by” re-starting horse slaughter in the US.

  30. Thank you Andrey – That was the very next question I was going to propose to Suzanne. If horses were to be reared and bred in the same manner as cows, pigs, chickens, goats and rabbits are… In her mind would they then become suitable for slaughter and eating? Providing too that some kind of semblance of “humane” butchery was in place?

    And if the answer would be “yes” then I’d have to ask further what would stop her/us from proposing the same systems for cats and dogs? And if the answer was “no” – I’d be curious as to the reasons why not.

  31. @Amy,

    Please don’t read things into what I’m saying.

    I said that around here, where I am, your views on horse slaughter would probably be in the minority. I’m not speaking to where you live, as I don’t know the situation there.

    I made it clear, I don’t think “majority/minority” equals “right/wrong.” I also made it clear, I ultimately don’t know enough myself to judge “right/wrong” when it comes to domestic horse slaughter. I simply pointed out, it is evident to me, there are sincere and knowledgable people on both sides of the debate.

    Although, again, the anti-slaugther side seems to rely heavily on appeals to emotion and the American cultural revulsion to eating horse meat. That does not mean that side is wrong, or the other is right. It’s merely an observation of the argument techniques I’ve seen used so far.

    The point you keep missing is, there are people who are just as financially and emotionally invested in horses, who are just as aware of the issues and just as well-educated in all things equine and just as steeped in horse culture as you and your vet are — who simply do not agree with you on the issue of domestic slaughter plants. Simply dismissing those people as ignorant, misinformed or uncaring doesn’t reflect to me that you’ve look very deeply into this issue.

  32. rcatheron ~ Thanks for your comment. I have been intimately connected to this subject since I got my first horse and very quickly became educated on the dark underbelly of this criminally corrupt and predatory so called “business.”

    I was born and raised in Dallas, TX when Dallas Crown was in Kaufman – about 30 miles away and Beltex in Ft. Worth – about 45 miles away. That wasn’t NEARLY far enough away. I think I’d had my horse about a year when my first friend got his horse stolen. Sweet Quarter Horse only 6 years old. He went out of his mind.

    I was born and raised in Dallas. I loved my boarding stable and the friends who boarded there too. Dallas and Texas were home and I NEVER wanted to live anywhere else. But like a lot of horse owners in the area, I ended up moving out of the state because it was the only way I could protect my horse. Now, they want to start all this again? Horse theft has already taken an up-tick and horse owners living near these proposed plants are terrified and with good cause. It makes me sick to my stomach.

  33. Audrey & provoked ~ The questions you ask are as impossible to answer as what would I do if pigs started to fly. It’s not really possible to answer questions about things you KNOW are never going to happen.

    The only one that is even remotely possible is raising horses especially for slaughter, but that isn’t going to happen because it’s too expensive. That’s the very reason the Belgians and Dutch horse meat companies came to the US in the first place. They WERE raising horses for slaughter, but found it much more profitable to come here and take ours. Tell people at home that America has SO much land that horse owners just turn their horses loose to live a natural life when they weren’t using them. How anyone could believe that boggles the mind, but they did believe. They believed our horses were drug free and lived an idyllic life in unending pastures where they ate nothing but grass and drank nothing but water from clear running streams. I’ve seen the commercials that they ran on TV in Belgium and that’s exactly what the Belgians had been told the entire time.

    Only recently, thanks to Animals’ Angels, did they find out the truth via a video of what things are really like in North America. Belgian food stores had to remove American horse meat from their shelves and the biggest grocery chain had to promise they would never purchase North American horses again.

    I don’t know if they lived up to that pledge or not, the Belgian people – and other EU Member States as well – have been calling for a ban on horses from North America for years because of cruelty issues. It hasn’t happened, but a lot of people DO think they are eating safe, horses that are not given banned substances. That perception is dwindling though as they are learning the truth. The recent horse meat scandal that rocked the food industry from the UK to Asia really got the peoples’ attention.

    So, horses are not likely to be raised as food animals because it costs a LOT more than beef, but sells more cheaply.

    I also don’t think horse slaughter can be humane and profitable at the same time – and you KNOW that animal welfare NEVER trumps profit.

    I don’t think I would ever be happy with it though, and the same for dogs and cats. Plus, I don’t think dogs and cats that aren’t raised as food animals would be any safer to eat than horses.

    I believe China claims to raise dogs for food animals. They also skin them alive before they cook them. No, they don’t stun them first. REALLY awful!

    There are many reasons NOT to eat horses as things ARE right now today, However. I really don’t understand why cultural norms don’t mean anything to you people. People have ALWAYS had differences in different cultures. And, yes, including which animals they consider edible and those they don’t. Everyone else does. Always has, always will.Why is the US not allowed to have OUR culture?

  34. Hi Suzanne – Of course I have no problem with any culture or tradition as long as it does not support needless violence towards others. Honestly I don’t know how a society could call itself “evolved” or advanced if it insisted on continuing old ways that harmed others when there are abundant options not to do so. There were lots of things in U.S. culture that we have recognized as being primitive. And as a result we rejected them and moved on to create new cultural “norms”. That’s progress… Yes?

    You have provided some very good reasons to NOT consider horses, cats or dogs as a “healthy” food source. I’m assuming too that the ethical reasons are implied. Now… May I ask you for some equally good reasons why those same rules wouldn’t apply to cows, pigs and chickens? Why is it okay to condone billions of pigs/birds to be scalded (and plucked) alive – But not equally right to allow the same to be done to cats and dogs? It seems to me that this “line” is rather arbitrary and based only on superficial, unexamined habits and rituals. We wouldn’t justify other wrongs based in mob-rule or consensus… Why do so with the innocent animals? Surely killing anyone when there’s ways to avoid it is never kind even if it is “tradition”.

  35. HAL 9000 ~ What have you been reading that makes you say the anti-slaughter side mostly uses “emotional” reasons for not slaughtering horses? Did you READ my earlier post with all the links? Have you been to to SEE what happened to that community and the horse owners who lived around it? You should.

    You should read the food safety regulations from the EU about horses especially. –
    Horse Medicines – paragraph 28, page 14

    Phenylbutazone is a useful NSAID for the management of orthopaedic conditions.
    Conscious of the needs of the veterinary profession and the equine industry, the VMD has authorised products containing this active ingredient; but, mindful of food safety issues and the obligations imposed by the legislation, we have restricted the use of these products to non-food horses only. Horses which have been treated with phenylbutazone must not enter the food chain, and their passports must be signed at part II of section IX to indicate that the animal is not intended for human consumption. This is an irreversible decision.

    New EU regulations for 2013

    Click to access requirements_non_eu.pdf

    As you will see, the US is so far out of compliance it’s criminal to suggest we export our horses as if they were edible. In fact, because of our lack of traceability and failure to submit a traceability plan to be implemented by July 31, 2013, the US cannot sell horse meat to the EU even now. I don’t know where these new proposed horse slaughter plants think they are going to sell their “product” to,, but the EU accounts for 80% of our entire horse meat exports.

    The only way we have been getting away with it is to live ship horses to Mexico and Canada to have them slaughtered in those countries – in which case they become “products” of the country where they are slaughtered, NOT necessarily the country of ORIGIN. But, it’s very possible that the new regs will plug that loophole too.

    And, what is wrong with emotion when you are a horse owner who knows only too well the danger to your own horse the domestic plants represent. It’s bad enough with exporting them, because our kill buyers are experts in misrepresenting themselves to horse sellers who would never knowingly sell their horses to slaughter.

    We have had to put up with this threat to our horses since the mid-1970s. We have a right to say, “ENOUGH!”

  36. Suzanne,

    I appreciate your views, and agree there are some good anti-domestic slaughter arguments.

    That said, I know very knowledgable, sincere people who disagree. And why assume such people are stupid, cold or naive enough to be duped by deliberately dishonest and sinister “kill buyers?”

    In other words, I’m thinking, there’s more to the story.

  37. HAL 9000,

    I’m not the person you’re addressing, but may I please speak for myself in saying that I believe you are right in saying that “there’s more to the story.”

    To me, that more is $$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!

  38. @HAL 9000….I don’t dismiss them. I used to be one of them.

  39. @Ed: What a wonderful article. It’s uplifting to read accounts of people who, like Dr. Spong, amend their view and treatment of animals. Who, to quote Amy, “used to be one of them.”

    I’m reminded of the late Pat Derby, a Flipper-and-Lassie-trainer-turned-activist who founded The Performing Animal Welfare Society (, and of The Cove star Ric O’Barry, another trainer for the show Flipper who now runs The Dolphin Project (

    Maybe a book should be written on all the onetime animal exploiters who have “seen the light” and committed themselves to working on the animals’ behalf, either publicly or privately.

    Speaking of imprisoned orcas, have any Blawg readers seen Blackfish yet? (

  40. Andrey, I thought of you when I watched this tonight:

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