Friday, September 22, 2006

This letter appeared in yesterday's Times Union and really annoyed me. So I wrote this response. Not sure if it will be published (the TU likes letters to be 250 words or less) but I felt better writing it.

Whenever something good happens for animals, it seems there are always people who are irritated. I remember this was true with the Buster Law, and now the same whining can be heard from opponents to the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

First John Dansereau writes in his September 21 letter "Saving horses shouldn't come before children" that the number of horses affected by the bill's passage was omitted from news articles. Apparently, he considers the U.S. Humane Society's estimate (about 100,000 annually) to be an insignificant number, and he believes failing to include the statistic is an effort by news organizations to promote H.R. 503. What he does not mention is that all sorts of information from the U.S. Humane Society about horse slaughter routinely was not published in newspaper articles, including that horses bound for slaughter are frequently not humanely transported, that many are young horses in good health, and that some are stolen horses that have been purchased by killer buyers at auction.

Next, Mr. Dansereau writes about the importance of turkeys in U.S. history, and their sad fate. As someone who is concerned not just about horses but about the welfare of all animals, I found this interesting, but I'm not sure why the fact that cruelty to turkeys exists means that we should abandon horses.

Finally, he closes with a favorite claim of those who demean the efforts of advocates for animals. He suggests that those who champion animal protection legislation are hurting children. At first I wondered whether he was suggesting that horsemeat be used to feed the hungry, which might be a logical argument, but is a strange one, considering there is no market in the U.S. Again according to the U.S. Humane Society, the largest markets are France, Belgium, Holland, Japan, and Italy, and all the horse slaughter plants in the United States are foreign-owned. But no, instead he is asserting that the time spent on passing horse protection legislation is coming at the expense of starving children, as if caring about children and horses are somehow mutually exclusive!

Mr. Dansereau believes he "neither hates horses nor loves turkeys" since he "gambles on the former and eats the latter." I hesitate to write this, considering the August obsession of most Capital District residents, but leaving aside the poor turkeys, there are a few of us who believe collecting umbrellas and wearing showy hats while betting on horses is not quite the same thing as loving animals.

I say, bravo to the 263 members of the House of Representatives who voted in favor or H.R. 503, and to John Sweeney for co-sponsoring the legislation. And by the way, I am not a resident of the 20th Congressional District.

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