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Letters

They eat horses, don't they?
I had outgrown my small pony, but was still too little to ride the big thoroughbreds we had, so Mom wanted to buy a large pony for me. We went to a sale in North Carolina very much like the one described in your article "A horse is a course" [October 1]. We quickly realized what kind of auction it was. In the parking lot, tied to a cattle trailer alongside two skinny horses, Mom spied an outwardly ugly pony, but she saw something in his eyes--an intelligence that few possess. Mom bought him on the spot--he never even went through the sale--and when she drove home to get the trailer, I stayed with him, an 11-year-old girl afraid her new pony would mistakenly go in the auction and end up senselessly killed.

We named him Surplus, because he was, technically, extra. Some animals are meant to partner up with a person, and somehow Plus found me. We were an unbeatable team. He took care of me, even when I'd screw him up. Any other pony would've dumped my ass in front of the jump, but Plus always made that extra special effort to get us over it in one piece.

The ironic thing is, at one show he was recognized by a well-known pony trainer. We discovered who he was, and learned his history. He had been one of the top ponies a few years before. Plus was considered too strong for most kids, and he had a tendency to jump out of any paddock he was put into. But, for some reason, we were perfect together.

It terrifies me to think of how many others like Plus are needlessly killed each week. Yes, there are a large number of broken-down horses that go to slaughter sales, but by no means are they the only ones. Tiny Shetland ponies--given by naive parents to children who quickly tire of them--go in droves to auctions. It's the equivalent of abandoning a cat or dog because they've become "inconvenient."

The bottom line is, horses are expensive (the monthly board for my horse is more than my rent), but I make sacrifices so he can have the care he deserves. If you cannot meet the requirements for horse ownership, do not buy one. Choose a different sport. There are no emergency vet bills, no extra supplements, no insurance payments attached to a soccer ball. Until people can accept the responsibility of being a horse owner, the needless slaughtering will continue.

Jeffie Barbour
Via e-mail

Thank you for publishing a factual article detailing the practice of slaughtering horses for meat. As a student of agriculture and a horse owner for 15 years, I think it is in the public's best interests to know that this industry exists. If anything is to be done to stop the slaughterhouses from operating in Texas, there must be a public push for it. Hopefully, your article will be the "call to arms" that is needed.

Christie Partee
Via e-mail

I am a horse owner-breeder of American Paint horses. For my own education on the issue of horse slaughter, I have interviewed "killer-buyers," investigated feedlots and auctions in California, often with slaughter supporters as my "guides." I strongly disagree with the erroneous idea that their slaughter is not cruel. Our horses are and have been pets, companions and recreational partners. There is absolutely no difference in killing and exporting them for foreign consumption, and killing and exporting our dogs and cats for foreign consumption.

The bottom line is, if you can afford to own, breed, show, race, etc., you can afford to humanely euthanize them!

Patricia Rockstad
Newport Beach, California

I was so appalled when I read this article. I wasn't even aware that this type of abuse occurred in the United States, much less in our own beloved Texas! Perhaps we need a little change in government policy here. The methods are inhumane, and the practice overall is sickening.

Why don't the money-hungry bastards that run these "houses of horror" have a bit of compassion for life instead of selling out for a quick buck? I would happily take these men when they are aged or lame and knock them in the head three or four times, skin them, and then sell them to another country as junk meat. What comes around goes around!

Melanie
Via e-mail

Thank you for raising awareness on the incredibly disturbing practice of horse slaughter for overseas human consumption. For more information about these atrocities, readers can check out http://www.equus.org. This site details, with video, these awful practices, and also has information on how you can help these animals.

Kristen Fisher
Via e-mail  

Thank you so much for your article on horse slaughter. It took some courage for you to print that with the horse slaughter plants right there. I commend you for your courage and thank you from me and all the horses.

Karen Pottala
Via e-mail

Great story on the horse slaughter. Our Web site (http://members.tripod.com/~SueE/HB1029.html) has photos of horses from Pennsylvania auctions that are shipped to slaughter. Some with broken legs. One was at the sale the day [animal welfare researcher] Carolyn Stull was there for her study. He arrived in Texas with a hole worn into his side.

As for the argument that slaughter prevents horses from starving to death, take a look at the photos.

As for the Humane Society of the United States and the American Horse Protection Association, they sold the horses down the river and fundraised off of it to boot. Some of the killer-buyers at Pennsylvania sales are convicted criminals--convicted in New York state of the illegal transport of horses, or convicted of horse theft, sending stolen horses to slaughter.

Our Web site documents the abuse of these horses and the violation of Food Safety Inspection Service Regulations. As for only killing the worthless horses, how about our spokeshorse, Catch-22--he was saved from slaughter. His owner recently refused $80,000 for him.

Our Web site is aimed at banning the double-deck trailers that leave New Holland each week for Canadian and Texas slaughterhouses.

Christine Berry
Via e-mail

The article "A horse is a course" by Thomas Korosec was as terrifying as it was informative. We humans have committed many despicable acts toward other living creatures. We eat them, sell them, use them for our egos, our sports, and then dispose of them. As regards the horse, we have even taken them into our wars and had them die in our battles. Thanks to the Observer for writing about a subject most readers want to turn away from. Becoming vegetarian is a good first start in respecting all living creatures with whom we share this world. Thanks again.

Allan Saxe
Via e-mail

First I want to say I really enjoy your Web site. Now about the horsies: I think it's ridiculous to think we should treat horses any different from cows, pigs, alligators, and any other animals we eat. Maybe we should stop eating meat altogether. Do vegetables have feelings? They're alive, right? They need food to grow. I think you get the idea.

Meko Wilson
Via e-mail

Glass houses, baby
It seems that Jim Schutze has at least one Dallas Observer reader calling him a hypocrite because of his article "Watching us, watching them, etc." published in the October 1 issue. This somewhat satirical and amusing story described Schutze's apparent outrage (to the point of physical distress) at being misquoted by The Dallas Morning News.

Gary Burns, who was interviewed by Schutze for his story "Cursed are the peacemakers" [June 11] says, "I read Jim's story this week and found myself getting more anxious the more I read. When I got to the end, I embarrassed myself by yelling, 'Glass houses, Jim!' in the middle of my office."

Schutze's interview of Burns was regarding a zoning issue in Oak Cliff involving Methodist Hospital's encroachment into a residential neighborhood. Burns and other neighborhood advocates had expressed their wariness of their newly elected council member Laura Miller's attempts at resolving the issue. "We had no idea where Laura Miller was coming from when she met with us," Burns says. "When I met with Schutze, I had told him some of the details of our meeting with Laura."

According to Burns, most of the time spent during the interview with Schutze pertained to the history of the rift between Methodist Hospital and the neighborhood. According to Burns, Schutze stated that he did not want to make this a Laura Miller story. "I agreed wholeheartedly," says Burns. "I knew that Laura had walked into a mess that had been brewing for more than a year."

Burns' contention is that Schutze had embellished a quote that he took from Burns when his story was published. "I remember exactly what I said," Burns says. "I told him that I would have probably done the same thing she [Laura Miller] did if I were new to the city council."

Burns was generally pissed when the story came out with the quote "I'm not sure I wouldn't have screwed up the same way if I had run for city council." Burns' main objection to the Schutze piece, he says, was the insertion between the quotation marks of the words "screwed up," which Burns says "casts me in a false light of being uncooperative with city officials, for which I had to take laxatives for three days."  

Burns claims that Schutze's inclination to sensationalize a boring zoning story with an exaggerated attack on a new city council member "is what you get when a seasoned reporter can't take time to research the real issue, due to the deadlines imposed on him by a weekly paper that would rather have a Laura Miller story."

If Schutze needs help in tackling these complicated zoning stories, Burns says, "I will be there for him."

Gary Burns
Via e-mail


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