Riding Roughshod Over Horses

By on October 30, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

More tragedy for horses this past week.

First, at a sloppy and soaked Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Saturday, European horse racing star George Washington broke down in the home stretch of the Breeder’s Cup. As workers rushed to the hobbling 4-year-old colt, who sustained fractured bones in his right front leg and was later euthanized, onlookers were reminded of Barbaro’s heartbreaking injury at last year’s Preakness.

This dreadful end to the Breeder’s Cup marked the second year in a row that an injured horse was euthanized at the race. While these injuries are disconcerting and coming too frequently, there’s at least no motive or clear intent to cause injury or harm. The same cannot be said for the horse slaughter industry, which is deliberately killing tens of thousands of American horses every year.

Belgian horse injured in Oct. 27 accident in Illinois
© Earlene Fredrick
Responders tend to a horse injured
in the Illinois accident.

Later the same day, a highway near Wadsworth, Ill. became the site of a grisly accident involving a double-decker truck designed for pigs but jam-packed with Belgian horses—a massive draft breed. Belgians can weigh more than a ton.

More than a dozen horses perished in the crash, and most of the surviving horses suffered a range of injuries. With the truck tipping over, and the horses severely injured and jumbled on top of one another, it was a ghastly scene. It is said some of the horses were in the mangled mess for hours while awaiting rescue.

It’s not perfectly clear where these horses were headed. But it does remind us all of the many hazards of confining large numbers of horses in long-distance transport. The principal purpose for these types of shipments is slaughter, and now the horses are going hundreds of miles into Canada and Mexico.

Let’s redouble our efforts to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S. 311 and H.R. 503.


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