AHA Board Motion
HUMANE TREATMENT OF EQUINE BREEDS & LIVESTOCK
Whereas, There is great concern regarding the humane treatment of all equine breeds and livestock, the Arabian Horse Association and the Arabian Horse Foundation actively supports equine rescue along with responsible livestock and horse ownership and breeding;
Therefore, Be It Moved, After extensive research as a Board of Directors we support the reopening of equine processing plants for horses in the U.S. We believe the reestablishment of the humane processing of horses is in the best interest of the horse and livestock community and, therefore direct our AHA President, Lance Walters, to support the reopening of U.S. equine processing facilities.
Motion Passed Unanimously. (Motion #16-5/16/09-BOD)
AHAMS: This agenda item was positioned as a time critical to prepare for the American Horse Council meeting. The Arabian Horse Association’s position to the American Horse Council should have simply been that as a breed association our position is neutral. The AHC’s own position is neutral because they recognize the differing positions held by their member organizations. If the issue presented to the board was a choice between the horrors of Mexican slaughter and the resumption of ‘humane slaughter’ in the US, then the discussion and resultant motion was beyond the scope of the organization’s Mission.
The following is a letter to the membership from Glenn T. Petty, Executive Vice President of the Arabian Horse Association
regarding the BoD’s decision to pass this motion:
PETTY: This motion was unanimously decided by the 37,000 member Arabian Horse Association’s 29-member board after much discussion and concern. As a new trustee with the American Horse Council, Lance Walters, AHA President, anticipated being questioned on AHA’s position on this subject at an upcoming AHC meeting –it was for this reason the board acted. After further discussion at the AHC meeting, the AHA will continue to gather information and discuss this passionate issue.
AHAMS: Whatever reason the American Horse Council might have had to require that Arabian Horse Association assume a position regarding US horse slaughter, Mr. Walters should have simply stated that as a breed association Arabian Horse Association’s position is neutral. The American Horse Council itself is “neutral on slaughter because it has organizations and individual members both supporting and opposing a federal legislative ban”.
PETTY: Compelling reasons for passage of the motion were conditions at Mexican slaughter facilities and at a growing numbers of farms in the U.S. It was felt humane slaughter and government regulation was a better alternative to the growing inhumane conditions that have occurred as unintended consequences caused by the passage of HB503. * (see below)
AHAMS: Conditions at Mexican slaughterhouses are often cited as a compelling reason to re-open slaughterhouses in the US. In apparent conflict with information the board was presented on this subject, it was reported in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine Mar 1, 2009 that the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) inspected two Mexican horse slaughter plants in November 2008. Tom Lenz DVM, spokesperson for the AAEP delegation that toured and inspected the Mexican slaughter facility states, “(the plant) was an extremely clean, well-run plant. … From a veterinary perspective, the animals were handled well.” Overall, the group’s assessment was that “both plants use captive bolt in a humane and efficient manner, and the horses were well-cared-for and properly handled.”
Lacking this opposing viewpoint, the issue was presented to the Board as a choice between the horrors of Mexican slaughter and the resumption of ‘humane slaughter’ in the US. Wherever the truth lies, the discussion and resultant motion was beyond the scope of the organization’s Mission.
PETTY: Reports of horses simply being allowed to starve are alarmingly on the rise. AHA shares and respects opponents concern for the welfare of horses. It is for this reason the Board has taken this position. Increasing reports that horse rescue groups that are full and cannot receive any more horses are also widely being heard. AHA realizes this is a very passionate issue for our members and other horse owners and lovers. AHA’s overriding concern for horses is the reason the board took this action.
AHAMS: The assertion that horses are increasingly left to neglect and starvation, or are abandoned due to the closure of US equine slaughterhouses is unsupportable. The low-end auction houses frequented by ‘kill-buyers’ when US slaughterhouses were operating are still in business and selling horses. Abuse, neglect, and starvation occur with the same regularity regardless of the availability of slaughter.
The overriding considerations for the Board of Directors concerning whether to take any stance on slaughter should be: Is this in line with our Mission statement to preserve and promote the Arabian horse? In what way does this action best serve the Arabian breed and the Association? Does this fairly and accurately represent the majority opinion of our membership?
PETTY: It is the sincere belief of the board that humane, closely regulated processing of horses is a better alternative to abandonment, malnourishment or starvation. There is always a segment of horses that there is no market for and the unfortunate result is often mistreatment. When faced with these options, humane slaughter was felt to be better for the horse than a life of misery.
AHAMS: The BoD’s contention that there are only two options: a ‘life of misery’ or ‘slaughter’ also shows a serious lack of informed insight. Their extensive research did not include contacting either the Rescue/Rehoming Subcommittee of ESRE or the Rescue/Rehoming Advisory Panel of the AHF for input. Taking an official position to support re-opening equine slaughterhouses in the US serves only to destroy the bridges between breed and rescue organizations that both groups have been trying to build.
PETTY: AHA encourages, supports, and promotes all the alternatives to slaughter such as rehoming, rescue work, and enforcement of cruelty laws. AHA is an advocate for new and improved national regulations to insure humane treatment of all animals and promotes responsible horse ownership and breeding. AHA respects opposing views and understands opponents are passionate. However, on this subject AHA believes humane slaughter conducted under US inspection and supervision to be the more humane choice.
AHAMS: That the AHA encourages and supports actions that serve to insure humane treatment of all horses, as well as promoting responsible horse ownership and breeding, are positive messages for which the AHA should be commended. The welfare and humane treatment of horses of all breeds is of concern to all compassionate horse owners. However, this motion and its subsequent approval by the Board of Directors shows a lack of respect for the association’s mission, its membership, and the Arabian horse it is supposed to represent.
Glenn T. Petty
Executive Vice President
Arabian Horse Association
*[the actual reason for the closure of the US slaughterhouses was the withdrawl of funding for USDA inspectors. Mr. Petty may have intended to refer to H.R. 503, The Conyers-Burton Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009. This bill has not been passed; it is currently in committee]