- The Washington Times - Friday, July 28, 2006

Euthanasia for unwanted horses

As past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), I was recently asked to appear before Congress to explain why the AVMA does not support H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. There have been a lot of misperceptions around this bill that I would like to clarify (“Stop horsing around,” Editorial, Tuesday).

Horses have been my passion since childhood and had much to do with why I became a veterinarian. I strongly support the AVMA’s opposition to H.R. 503 because the bill does not adequately address certain issues that are critically important to ensuring the welfare of horses that would be affected by it.

The welfare of the horses that would be impacted by a ban on slaughter is the biggest concern of the AVMA. Currently, horse rescue and retirement facilities in the United States have a maximum capacity of about 6,000 horses. It would be a daunting and probably impossible task to create facilities that could house an additional 10 to 15 times that number of horses every year. Creating these facilities and properly caring for each horse in them costs money. As we have already experienced in the process of trying to manage wild mustangs in the western United States, cumulative costs incurred for the care of a large number of horses are high.

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act does not provide the financial support required to ensure that horses given up by their owners will be adequately cared for, and inadequate funding has a huge potential to create opportunities for inadequate care. Watching a horse slowly die from starvation or disease is not only distressing, it’s cruel. Furthermore, horse retirement facilities and sanctuaries are not regulated, so there is no way to ensure the horses living there will receive adequate care.

The transportation of horses to slaughter plants is regulated by the USDA. These regulations were developed and implemented with significant input from the AVMA, American Association of Equine Practitioners, Humane Society of the United States and several other animal-welfare groups.

Once at the plants, the care of the horses continues to be regulated by the USDA and includes quiet and appropriate handling by experienced individuals. The method of euthanasia is a penetrating captive bolt (not a “stun gun”), which causes instantaneous death and is one of two types of euthanasia for horses (the other being an overdose of barbiturate anesthetic) that the AVMA recommends for a humane death.

The AVMA is concerned that H.R. 503, although a well-intended effort, will have serious negative consequences for the welfare of unwanted horses. The people supporting this bill fail to take into account the ramifications of its passage. They are making this into an emotionally charged issue instead of offering solutions to the problem of unwanted horses and are potentially creating more welfare and environmental concerns in the process.


Past president

American Veterinary

Medical Association

College Station, Texas

Guest-worker flim-flam

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rep. Mike Pence’s Op-Ed is replete with omissions (“Comprehensive immigration,” Wednesday). After the requisite tip-of-the-hat to border security, they launch into a “guest worker” proposal that Immigration Control and Enforcement is incapable of carrying out.

They can’t even remove the illegal aliens here today who are in plain view. County and city governments, within a few miles of ICE Headquarters, are debating whether to use taxpayer funds to build work centers for the illegals.

The proposal envisions all the illegal aliens leaving the country of their own accord to apply for a guest-worker visa from their home countries. That in itself is a pipe dream. They say nothing about penalties for those illegals who do not leave under their unworkable proposal.

What they should have proposed for those refusing to leave is immediate deportation without any administrative hearings whatsoever. They omitted the fact that the guest workers can bring their families with them. They fail to address the fact that, as currently interpreted, the Constitution provides automatic citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil: “anchor babies.” The Hutchison-Pence proposal has private contractors running the so-called “Ellis Island Centers.” The contract would, no doubt, be a cost-plus, with the plus being additional payments for every “guest worker” and family member admitted.

What would be the incentive to go thorough screening of the guest worker? Knowing the Senate’s desire to have open borders, maybe the contractor would even get delayed payments for every anchor baby born.

Mrs. Hutchison and Mr. Pence, like so many other Republican lawmakers, refuse to recognize that the overwhelming majority of Americans want the border totally secured before any guest-worker program is even considered.

Current U.S. law requires all illegal aliens to leave the U.S. Why would ICE be anymore successful accomplishing this under a convoluted program than it is under current law? The Senate is scared to death of the House enforcement-only bill because it knows the American people will never support a stand-alone amnesty and open borders bill.



Helping Lebanon

I was intrigued by the headline, “Rice offers aid, little else to Lebanon” (Page 1, Tuesday)

I read it a couple of times trying to figure out why offering humanitarian aid to Lebanon is insufficient, and what, besides $30 million, we should have offered.

Maybe we should have also offered a learning-annex course or two? Something along the lines of “How to Get the Terrorist-Free Country You Really Want” or “Turning in Your Terrorist Neighbors for Fun and Profit.”

If there was something particular that Secretary Rice should have offered, then perhaps it could be outlined in a follow-up article.

May I also mention a second puzzlement? The first paragraph states that Miss Rice’s mission is to reach a ceasefire, but nine paragraphs later, White House press secretary Tony Snow is paraphrased as saying there was no reason to think that an immediate ceasefire would stop violence in the Mideast.

Is this really Miss Rice’s stated intention?


Vernon Hills, Ill.

The Andrea Yates verdict

In finding Andrea Yates not guilty by reason of insanity, it has been demonstrated that one can get away with the mass murder of five innocent, helpless young children (“Yates sent to mental hospital,” Nation, Thursday).

It would be reasonable to conclude that Yates’ “sentence” is in fact the means through which she is being placed on the fast track to freedom. She will be committed to a mental facility with regular evaluations of her condition. After memories have faded and emotion over the horror she perpetrated is not as raw as it is today, teams of psychiatrists will no doubt make the judgment that Yates no longer poses a danger to society and that she should be returned to the streets to enjoy the rest of her life in the civilized society.

In consideration of the lack of punishment dispensed to Yates, it is easy to believe that in America, the word “justice” is meaningless.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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