The following was sent out as a letter to all Oklahoma Representatives and Senators.
If your office is like mine, you’re getting phone calls, emails and letters about horse meat. And if your assistant is listening carefully, he or she is noticing a trend: a huge percentage of those calls are from people who liveoutside Oklahoma. The people in my district aren’t calling to oppose SB 375 because, as someone said, “They know the score.”
So let’s talk about horse meat.
President Obama legalized horse slaughter for human consumption on November 18, 2011.
Please read this quote from a newspaper article (there are many articles to choose from): “Congress’ new spending bill ending an effective ban on domestic horse slaughter may sound like a custom-made PETA target—but actually, the group sees some good in the change, the Los Angeles Times reports. Activists say it’s better to allow the slaughter of horses inside the US than to export them for slaughter. ‘To reduce suffering, there should be a ban on the export of live horses, even if that means opening slaughterhouses in the US again,’ the group says in a statement.”
According to USDA, the United States in 2006 exported nearly 26,000 live horses to Canada and more than 19,000 to Mexico. In 2007 (the year all three U.S. slaughter plants closed), 47,000 U.S. horses went to Canada and 45,000 to Mexico. In 2008, Canada and Mexico imported approximately 77,000 and 69,000 U.S. horses, respectively. In 2010, nearly 138,000 were transported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
Oklahoma is not the only state considering this legislation. Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Georgia and Missouri are considering opening processing plants. Only FOUR STATES currently ban horse slaughter for commercial purposes: California, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas.
Oklahoma is sending to Mexico over 2,500 non-slaughter horses and almost 19,000 horses for processing annually. This means Oklahoma is currently exporting over 21,000 live horses to Mexico.
You’ve been told that Oklahoma is known as the horse show capital of the United States. You might also care to note that horse slaughter was not banned until 2007, and Oklahoma was a more prosperous equine state prior to that ban date.
Local County Sheriffs
Ask the county sheriffs in your district how many horses they must rescue every month. I was in a meeting with Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, a representative of the district attorney’s office, and Ms. Elizabeth Cooper for the purpose of discussing the care of horses picked up by the sheriff. Last year, Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart picked up 60 horses. You may not know that the sheriffs’ departments have to take care of the horses they pick up for 30 days before those horses can be sold. This cuts into the county budget and staffing. The taxpayers are currently paying for the care of these animals. It’s fair to recognize that Elizabeth Cooper is attempting to rescue some of those horses – she took in 7 horses last year; 3 of which have been adopted, and 1 of which had to be euthanized, leaving her with 3 to care for. Private individuals can sustain these rescue attempts only so long with personal finances; she is now searching for financial aid. Since the district attorney orders mistreated horses to be picked up, it was discussed in the meeting that it should be the district attorney’s responsibility to care for these horses.
Perhaps you’ve heard from those who contend that disposing of many additional horses each year could create environmental problems, such as soil and groundwater contamination. Here are the facts: hundreds of thousands of U.S. horses die naturally or are euthanized each year, and are now safely disposed of. Many are not buried but sent to rendering plants, where their remains are used in industrial products and animal feeds. Renderers already handle millions of cattle and hogs that die before slaughter; horses could easily be absorbed into the existing system.
Toxicology, Pharmacology and Veterinarians
Are you being told that horse meat will be un-sellable because of the drugs in their system? Let’s address the concerns about drug withdrawal periods from horse meat. Here is what widely recognized toxicologist, pharmacologist, veterinarian and author, Dr. Thomas Tobin (Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky) tells our office: It takes 24 hours for Lasix to become undetectable, 7 days for morphine, and 21 days for the last molecule of Bute.
Thomas Tobin: Fellowships, Awards, and Distinctions
- Ontario Government Faculty Training Grant 1966-1970
- Massey College Junior Fellow, Toronto, Ontario 1967-1970 [masseycollege .ca/]
- Bain Fallon Lectures, Australia 1989
- Toxicology Student Award, Graduate Center for Toxicology, 1993.
- Toxicology rated the only “extremely effective” graduate program in KY in 1992-93 by National Research Council, 1995.
- “Man of the Year,” National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, 1995.
- Hirsch Speaker Series Lecturer, University of Arizona, 1996.
- “Man of the Year,” Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, 1999.
- Dr. Thomas Tobin Purse, Emerald Downs, Seattle, 1999.
- Thomas Tobin Purse, Cordoba, Argentina, 2000.
- Honorary Faculty Member, Province of Cordoba, College of Veterinary Medicine, Argentina, 2001
- Dubai Millennium Medal, 2001
- The Professor Thomas Tobin Trophy, Cayamanas Racetrack , Jamaica , April 20th, 2002 .
- Bain-Fallon Lectures, Australia, 2002
- Thomas Tobin Purse, Jockey Club of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil , 2007
- National HBPA 2008 Industry Service Award, 2009
This story was updated.