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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Slaughterhouses: Hold your horses

    In as little as a month, horse slaughterhouses can re-open.

    According to the Associated Press, a ban was lifted by Congress on Nov. 18, when President Barack Obama signed a bill that will enable the U.S. Department of Agriculture to inspect horse slaughterhouses again.

    Although the slaughtering of horses was never explicitly prohibited, funding for horse meat inspections was cut in 2005. Before the ban was lifted, the horse meat industry was effectively dead, as the industry didn’t have the money to pay for its own horse meat inspections. But with the promise of government-funded inspections, the door has officially been opened for horse slaughter to resume in the United States.

    It seems that one could count hundreds of other issues that are much more pertinent than an old obstacle to the slaughtering of America’s favorite farm pet. Why exactly is horse slaughtering even on the government’s agenda?

    What kind of American would want to partake in eating a horse? It doesn’t sound appealing in the slightest. The vision of slaughtering Seabiscuit for dinner is just morbid.

    The thought of consuming horses is more than a dietary concern. Horses are an icon and a beloved pet.

    Horses are in pop culture, like the logos of Ralph Lauren and Polo, and we see them in countless historical paintings depicting some of our most famous American figures like George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. Heck, horses have even been portrayed as friends to children in classic movies.

    These creatures are iconic symbols of the old West, and people are emotionally attached to them.

    Furthermore, the practice of eating horse meat is pretty much nonexistent in the United States. When slaughterhouses re-open, the meat will likely be inspected for shipping to other nations. According to the AP, eight countries consider horse meat a major staple, including China and Mexico.

    Certainly, there is the possibility of exporting horse meat to countries where it is a delicacy, but again we’re not lining up to skin Garfield or Old Yeller, and then export their flesh to a country that will purchase it. Horses, just like cats and dogs, are companions — not meals.

    While popular in other countries, horse meat has a very small market in the United States. It is highly doubtful that this change in the law is suddenly going to make horse meat popular. Restaurants are not going to start making horse meat the house specialty, normal chain grocery stores will not sell it, nor are people going to take a second look at the horses on their property and decide to have them for their next meal.

    Ultimately, this bill serves to get the United States back in the horse meat export business. But it doesn’t belong in that business at all. Just because other countries might be willing to buy the meat doesn’t mean we have to sell it. There are some pretty obscure things that are considered a delicacy in other countries, just like some American delicacies probably seem strange to those other countries. That doesn’t mean the United States needs to succumb to supplying this product.

    Nobody in the United States wants to order a blackened Black Beauty steak, nor do the American people want to supply foreign countries with this.

    Horses are either family pets or working pets. They’re not meals in the United States and we shouldn’t turn our horses into meals for anyone.

    — Ashley Reid is a journalism sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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