All that stands between horses and their legal slaughter in Oklahoma is the signature of Governor Mary Fallin.

Tom Lea drawingA few weeks ago, I posted a short note about a bill making its way through the Oklahoma House that would legalize horse slaughter in the state, a practice made illegal fifty years ago in 1963. I took an offensive position toward the legislation, not thinking anyone would really be that interested. Little did I know this would become a statewide issue. Campaigns both for and against it have been launched. There was a rally.

I am still against the practice. I mean, come on, haven’t you ever seen Mr. Ed? However, I’m not really the type to lose sleep over a dead animal. Sorry, Fito. Okay, I think I cried at the end of All Dogs Go To Heaven, but give me some credit, I was only three years old when it came out. Pretty traumatic at that age.

The Sides

So you’ve got different schools of thought forming people’s opinions on this issue. The one side would say animals are property and can be treated in any manner the property owner sees fit, as if it were furniture. Then other would believe animals are not the property of humans. Some of those take it to the extreme, but we don’t exactly have a huge PETA presence in Oklahoma.

I have no problem with animals being killed for their meat. My reason for that is actually a religious one – The first chapter of the Bible records God giving man dominion over the animal kingdom. No so much into the whole dog and cat Eastern thing personally, but hey if that’s your fancy, just don’t eat my cat! At the same time, I believe it is wrong to needlessly kill an animal. Also biblical in nature

The opposing view holds that animals (a.k.a. livestock) are property, and since they are privately owned, the owner has say over what is done with them. I’m okay with this one, too. Want to eat your cow? Go right ahead, it’s your cow, not Gaia’s. Milk the family goat, eat the hen’s eggs for breakfast.

The Controversy

But most people I know don’t eat horseburger.

When I posted the first article, it was just a passing thought. I heard the bill was being heard, found out that horse owners kill their horses when they can’t afford them anymore, and thought it was a bit ridiculous. So I put up a link to the news article I learned about it from, and a paragraph of thoughts on the subject. Figured it might be interesting to Ron Paul & Libertarian communities, so I posted a link on the Daily Paul, and within a day or two, there were three pages of back and forth arguments in the comments.

As I write this follow-up, my link has a -1 standing, which given the interest and number of page views the received would tell me both sides are about equal there. In Oklahoma, polling shows people are against the idea about 2:1. This certainly isn’t a grassroots idea. Below is my synopsis of the controversy.

Arguments for:

  • Horse owners already ship their horses to Mexico to have them killed.
  • It’s cheaper to do it in-state.
  • It’s more humane than those Mexicans doing it.
  • It would create jobs for the state (yes, exactly the kind of jobs our economy desperately needs).

Arguments against:

  • Horses aren’t consumable because they are injected with medications harmful to humans, though I have no idea how common this practice is.
  • Horses have never been raised for human consumption in America. In fact, it is un-American to eat them, you communist pig.
  • The proponents of the law change are out-of-state groups and international companies with no genuine interest in Oklahoma. Except for our horses.
  • The bill doesn’t make it legal to sell the horses for consumption, so they aren’t being killed for their meat.
  • And my personal contention is that HB1999/SB375 just shows how in-touch the state legislature isn’t with the people of Oklahoma. Pretty sure there haven’t been that many calls to the capitol from people demanding the return of this practice. More than likely, it was just a few phone calls from people with big pocketbooks. And that, my friends, is politics.

My Ultimatum

Listen, it’s not going to ruin my week if this gets signed into law, but come on, people. We teach our children responsibility with pets. It is bad parenting to get a family dog, cat, rabbit, parakeet, whatever, then neglect the thing. Horses do just fine in the wild, and when we domesticate them, it is our responsibility to take care of them. Or eat them. No, seriously though, we should take care of our animals, and bringing the practice of slaughtering domesticated horses to Oklahoma is not going to encourage their good treatment. It will only make it cheaper to dispose of them. Then again, horseburger could become the next Hamburger Helper package.