Recently, I’ve received emails saying that I should have been clearer about the non-relationship between abattoir closures in the US in 2007 and the phenomenon of horse abandonment. (I don’t know about that. I thought my Primers on Horse Slaughter on this blog and published on The Stablewoman Gazette clearly showed that there was no relationship. But I tend to live in my head, so I may be wrong about how clear my writing was.)
So, according to the US government’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report: ”The total number of US horses sent to slaughter in 2006, the last full year of domestic slaughter [the last abattoir closed in late 2007, thus not giving a full year's numbers. my italics]…(gives) a total of 137,688 horses. Taken together, the 137,984 US horses that were sent to slaughter in Canada or Mexico in 2010 is approximately equal to the total number of horses slaughtered in 2006.” GAO Report
Again, look at the numbers: (2006) 137, 688 (2010) 137,984 A difference of 296 equines. For 2011, go to the EWA site; they always update their stats. Now the GAO is no friend to horses, which perhaps is as it should be. It is an agency which, in this case, was mandated by the US government to study the distaff side of the US horse industry, so it must be objective and neutral on the subject under its scrutiny. We can safely say, then, that its figures are accurate as far as numbers legally recorded by authoritative agencies can be–especially since, if you collate numbers gathered by non-governmental, industry-specific, and advocacy groups, the numbers are readily corroborated (at least on paper).
The report is flawed, however, in other respects, and I invite you to read the Position Paper co-authored by the EWA and the Animal Law Coalition (ALC) called: An Analysis of the GAO Report on Horse Welfare: Disturbing Omissions and Cover-up. (visit the EWA site)
See…a difference of 296 equines. As a horse advocate, I cry for one just as I do for ten, for tens of thousands. They are all precious to us. But in terms of keeping the record straight and arguing from a strong position, the numerical difference is clearly insignificant. Most importantly, it refutes the pro-slaughter argument that the closing of US abattoirs increased horse abandonment. It didn’t; there is no such relationship. People have always abandoned their pets (illegal, to begin with); people have always overbred horses; and those specific pathologies are social phenomena unrelated to food slaughter.