Tag Archives: slaughter

This holiday season keep in mind: There’s no such thing as humanely raised meat

By Dan Paden

Just how humane is “humanely raised” meat?
 
If you’ve been to a natural foods store or upscale restaurant lately, you’ve likely seen signs proclaiming that at least some of the meat came from “humanely raised” animals.

But what exactly does that mean? As a new PETA investigation has found, “humane meat” labels are often worth less than the recycled paper they’re printed on.
 
This summer, a PETA eyewitness worked at a Pennsylvania farm that claims to produce “humanely raised pork” and is a supplier to Whole Foods.

The farm is certified as a “Step 2” pig farm by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a group spearheaded by Whole Foods with the goal of “improving animal welfare,” and is ranked higher and considered more animal-friendly than the majority of GAP-certified pig farms.
 
If you’re envisioning bucolic scenes with lush pastures, in which animals roam freely and breathe fresh air, think again.
 
Far from being free-roaming, the pigs on this farm spent almost all their time crammed into crowded sheds on concrete flooring. They never even touched the farm’s lush green grass, and the only time they were ever outside was when they were trucked from one shed to another, put on a scale to be weighed or sent to slaughter. Some pigs were kept in virtual darkness deep inside a barn.
 
Pigs had straw in the sheds, as required by GAP standards, but little other “enrichment.” Even though GAP requires that pigs’ “thermal comfort” be maintained at all times, on hot days, hundreds of pigs had access to a single water sprinkler.
 
On one day when the heat index exceeded 90°F, more than 20 pigs were tightly packed into a metal trailer more than 24 hours before they were hauled to slaughter—just because the manager didn’t want to wait another day to pull straw out of a pen. They had no choice but to stand or sit on top of each other for much of that time. On another day, several pigs were left on a trailer with no protection from heavy rain and approximately 60 mph winds.
 
Whole Foods’ standards require that sick or injured pigs be promptly euthanized if necessary, but PETA’s eyewitness saw obviously sick and injured pigs’ condition worsen for days or even weeks.

If a veterinarian did provide these animals with care, the observer never saw it, despite more than two months of working full-time at the farm. One pig ran an intermittent fever for about a month before finally being shot in the head and killed.

Another pig whose apparent neurological ailments caused her to go lame was left for eight days until she, too, was shot. Other pigs with grotesque rectal prolapses—as large as an orange and dripping with blood—were allowed to suffer in that condition without adequate care for up to 24 days.
 
The eyewitness documented the actions of a manager on the farm who grabbed and lifted pigs weighing over 70 pounds by their sensitive ears in order to vaccinate them. The manager also hit pigs being loaded for slaughter with a hard plastic board. Agitated, frustrated pigs bit each other’s tails, sometimes causing bloody wounds.
 
It’s understandable that consumers want to avoid supporting cruelty to animals when they shop, but it’s time for us to admit that “humane meat” is an oxymoron. Sparing animals some marginal cruelty in factory-farm practices is not the same thing as being “humane,” and it never will be. Even on farms that follow “humane”-certification standards to the letter, animals may still be castrated, branded and dehorned without painkillers; starve and become dehydrated because of lameness; be held in intensive confinement in unnatural conditions; and end up being scalded to death.
 
The only “humane meat” is vegan meat, which you can find in any well-stocked supermarket — including Whole Foods.

Are vegetarians more compassionate than meat-eaters?

By Paula Moore

According to a new study by an international team of researchers, your thoughts about marriage equality and racial justice could be linked to your affinity for steaks and sausages. In other words, if the idea of killing another living being for dinner doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, then you’re probably not too bothered by other social injustices, either.

The study, “Rationalizing Meat Consumption. The 4 Ns,” published in the journal Appetite, found that people who justify eating animals by claiming that it is “natural,” “normal,” “necessary” or “nice”—even though it is none of these things—are more tolerant of social inequality in general.

Historically, these same “Ns” have been trotted out to justify everything from slavery to homophobia. For instance, as the study notes, “In defense of male-only voting practices in the U.S. opponents of women’s suffrage often appealed to the necessity of denying women the vote … to the natural superiority of male intelligence, and to the historical normalness of male-only voting as ‘designed by our forefathers.’ … Today, most people find such arguments in support of male-only voting ludicrous at best.”

This confirms what PETA has long maintained: The mindset that condones the oppression of other humans—whether Jews, women, gays or people of color—is the same mindset that permits the exploitation of animals. Prejudices of any stripe arise when we start to believe that “I” am important and “you” are not, that my interests somehow trump those of other living beings.

It’s not surprising that meat-eaters find it necessary to defend their behavior, which is increasingly coming under public scrutiny. In this day and age, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that raising and killing animals for food is destroying the planet, jeopardizing our health and causing tremendous suffering to billions of sentient beings. In today’s meat and dairy industries, animals know little else but pain, fear, injury and disease. Piglets have their tails and testicles cut off without being given painkillers, chickens and turkeys have their throats cut while they’re still conscious and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth.

And the United Nations reports that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary if we want to combat the worst effects of climate change.

It’s simpler to make excuses—”I grew up eating meat; it’s normal,” or “A plate of spare ribs is so nice after a hard day”—than it is to change behavior. It’s easy to shake our heads in disbelief at what others before us have done but not so easy to examine honestly the biases and prejudices that we hold today.

But there’s hope. As more consumers begin to question the status quo and reject the inherent violence of eating animals, the world will become a kinder place for all of us.

A previous study found that vegans and vegetarians have more empathy than meat-eaters do—for both animals and their fellow humans. Researchers in Europe placed volunteers in an MRI machine and showed them a series of random pictures during scanning. The scans revealed that when observing animal or human suffering, the “empathy-related” areas of the brain are more active among vegetarians and vegans. The researchers also found that there are certain brain areas that only vegans and vegetarians seem to activate when witnessing suffering.

Compassion begets compassion. Change can happen when we begin to recognize that all oppression, prejudice and cruelty are wrong—and that all are connected. We can start with dinner.

Groundbreaking investigation reveals gruesome lobster slaughter in Maine!

By Dan Paden

If you’ve ever boiled lobsters alive in your kitchen, you’ve no doubt experienced that moment when, in the words of the late David Foster Wallace, “some uncomfortable things start to happen.” After the water heats up and you drop the lobster in the pot, the hapless animal may latch onto the rim for dear life. Once you finally get the lobster fully submerged, you’re confronted with the clanking of the lid as the lobster tries to push it off, followed by the deeply discomforting sound of the animal’s claws frantically scraping the sides of the pot. “The lobster, in other words, behaves very much as you or I would behave if we were plunged into boiling water …,” wrote Wallace.

No wonder many people opt for frozen instead. The “uncomfortable things” happen someplace else, and we don’t have to think about them as we drop the neat plastic packages of lobster meat into our shopping carts. But I urge you to think about them, at least for the next few minutes. You just might decide that the fleeting taste of a lobster’s flesh is not worth the violence that is routinely inflicted upon these animals.

Earlier this year, PETA captured video footage inside a Rockland, Maine, crustacean slaughterhouse that supplies retailers across the country. The footage shows live lobsters and crabs as they are being ripped apart and crabs being boiled alive. Workers tear off live lobsters’ claws before shoving the animals into a metal tool that punctures their shells. The lobsters’ heads are also ripped from their bodies, tossed onto a conveyor belt and dropped into bins-where their antennae continue to move long after their bodies have been mutilated.

Lobsters do not have a centralized nervous system but instead have ganglia, or masses of nervous tissue, spread throughout their bodies, so they do not die quickly even if their brains are destroyed. Studies have found that a lobster’s nervous system continues to function even after the animal is dismembered.

One worker said that the mutilated lobsters “don’t die right away. I mean, they’ll live for hours.”

PETA’s video also shows workers at this facility slam live crabs onto spikes to break off their top shells and shove the animals’ exposed organs and flesh against rapidly spinning brushes. The crabs-still alive-are then tossed onto a conveyor belt and dumped into boiling water.

These animals are not unfeeling automatons. Recent research has shown that crabs are capable of learning and remembering information, just like other animals. If left alone, lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. They use complicated signals to establish social relationships and can recognize individuals.

Experiments on crabs and prawns conducted by Dr. Robert W. Elwood, a professor of animal behavior at Queen’s University Belfast, have demonstrated that crustaceans can feel pain. Similarly, in 2005, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that crustaceans are capable of experiencing pain and distress and recommended that steps be taken to lessen their suffering when possible.

We live in a changing world, one in which animals are afforded considerations that they might have been denied in the past. If we’re honest, we must admit that it matters little to the animals whether they are cruelly killed behind the closed doors of a commercial slaughterhouse or if we kill them ourselves, right there in our own kitchens. Lobsters and crabs can feel pain and they do not want to die. And the only way to make sure that we’re not contributing to their suffering is to stop eating them.

Think about cutting back on your meat consumption! Please! For the animals!

By Deb Young

The cruelties at processing plants defy belief!

Animals in slaughterhouses can smell, hear, and often see the slaughter of those before them.

As the animals struggle, they’re often abused by frustrated workers, who are under constant pressure to keep the lines moving at rapid speeds.

Workers are often seen kicking cows, ramming them with the blades of a forklift, jabbing them in the eyes, applying painful electrical shocks and even torturing them with a hose and water in attempts to force sick or injured animals to walk to slaughter.

Federal law requires mammals be stunned prior to slaughter .Typically, electric current is used to induce a heart attack and/or seizure; or a captive bolt gun is used to deliver a blow to the skull or shoot a rod into the animal’s brain.

It’s not uncommon for an animal to suffer one or two failed stuns. In the case of a failed electrical stun, an animal may be paralyzed without losing sensibility.Unconscious animals whose necks are not cut soon enough may regain their senses after being hung on the bleed rail. Hogs, unlike cattle, are dunked in tanks of hot water after they are stunned to soften the hides for skinning. As a result, a botched slaughter condemns some hogs to being scalded and drowned. Hogs will squeal and kick as they are being lowered into the water.

Video evidence obtained by one investigator shows slaughter plant workers displaying complete disregard for the pain and misery they inflicted as they repeatedly attempted to force “downed” animals onto their feet and into the human food chain.

Sounds like a good argument to want to cut back on meat to me, how about doing it for your health also!

Processed meat is high in calories, fat and sodium. The more bologna, ham, and sausage that you stuff inside your sub roll or pita will add up to more calories, more fat and more sodium. Too much salt in your body leads to water retention and bloating. Many of these processed meats are casually referred to as “luncheon meats” for good reason. They are easy to slap in between two pieces of bread for a mid-day meal.

Consider the burden you place on your body when you eat hot dogs or processed-meat subs. High levels of sodium weaken blood vessels. This leads to heart disease.

It’s a good bet that reducing meat consumption—particularly processed meat—is likely to score you an advantage. You’ll lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. You’ll consume less calories and fat.

It can be challenging to serve healthy meals on a budget, but with planning you can eat better for less. Many people save money by adding meatless meals to their weekly menus. Meatless meals are built around vegetables, beans and grains — instead of meat, which tends to be more expensive.

The health factor: A plant-based diet, which emphasizes fruits and vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, and nuts, is rich in fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. And people who eat only plant-based foods — aka vegetarians — generally eat fewer calories and less fat, weigh less, and have a lower risk of heart disease than nonvegetarians do.

Just eating less meat has a protective effect. A National Cancer Institute study of 500,000 people found that those who ate 4 ounces (113 grams) of red meat or more daily were 30 percent more likely to have died of any cause during a 10-year period than were those who consumed less. Sausage, luncheon meats and other processed meats also increased the risk. Those who ate mostly poultry or fish had a lower risk of death.

How much protein do you need? The fact is that most Americans get enough protein in their diets. Adults generally need 10 to 35 percent of their total daily calories to come from protein. Based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, this amounts to about 50 to 175 grams a day. Of course, you can get protein from sources other than meat.

In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing a variety of protein foods, including eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds. The guidelines also suggest replacing protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories. The fats in meat, poultry and eggs are considered solid fats, while the fats in seafood, nuts and seeds are considered oils.

Just cutting back on meat will help yourself and the animals…Think about it!

“Let’s get M.A.D.D. about Guns” and other articles about the massacre of the first graders at Newtown

State police led children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., after a shooting was reported there. Go to related article »

From The New York Times. – R. T.:

Joe Nocera

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times – Joe Nocera

Let’s Get M.A.D.D. About Guns
By JOE NOCERA

Published: December 18, 2012

On May 3, 1980, a 13-year-old girl named Cari Lightner was killed by a drunken driver. A terrible alcoholic, the man had three prior drunken driving convictions. He had just come from a bar, on the back end of a three-day binge.

Within weeks, Cari’s mom, Candy Lightner, co-founded M.A.D.D., or Mothers Against Drunk Driving. All over the country, mothers fed up with the unwillingness of politicians to do anything about drunken driving flocked to the organization. Within a few years, M.A.D.D. had persuaded President Ronald Reagan to support a national drinking age of 21, and it had pushed through state laws toughening the penalties for driving while intoxicated. Perhaps most important, M.A.D.D. turned a dangerous behavior that had long been socially acceptable into a taboo.

I was out of town on Friday, when the Newtown, Conn., massacre took place and could only connect to my loved ones by phone. My fiancée wept uncontrollably: “I can’t imagine what it would be like to drop Mackie off at school, and never see him again,” she said, referring to our 2-year-old son. My grown daughter also cried.

Listening to them – and seeing how powerfully affected the country has been by this horrible slaughter of children and their teachers – I couldn’t help thinking about M.A.D.D. Its success came about because its founders tapped into a wellspring of anger that had been quietly building – just like the current anger over the recent spate of mass killings. But it also came about because mothers could give a human face to the consequences of political inaction: their own children. How do you trump that?

Sadly, thanks to the elementary school shootings on Friday, children are now inexorably linked with the kind of mass killing that has become far too common. On Sunday, at the vigil in Newtown, President Obama explicitly cast the country’s lax gun laws as a failure to protect children. I have no doubt his remarks were heartfelt, but they were also politically shrewd. Rarely has the National Rifle Association been so silent. …

to read more, click on the link below:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/article?a=1007693&f=28&sub=Columnist

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To read other stories about this PREVENTABLE  American tragedy, please click on the several links below. LET’S BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS – NATIONALLY. Let’s – on federal level – institute BACKGROUND CHECKS on EVERYONE who buys guns at gun shows/through private dealers. LET’S DO THIS TODAY! – R. Tirella :

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/nyregion/amid-the-whiz-of-bullets-seeking-comfort-in-song.xml?f=19

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/12/17/blogs/renewed-and-some-new-support-for-gun-control.xml?f=19

 

PHOTO:  Mourners gather for a candlelight vigil at Ram's Pasture to remember shooting victims, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn.

 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/art/1006817/28?sub=Columnist

 

http://mobile.boston.com/art/35/metrodesk/2012/12/17/mass-governor-says-renew-push-for-tougher-gun-regulation/qwrhw0d6ObDt18ibJhldJP/story


http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/newtown-sandy-hook-school-shooting/hc-timeline-newtown-shooting-1216-20121215,0,5058106.story

 

Food waste another reason to go vegan

By Ingrid E. Newkirk

When hundreds of millions of people go hungry every day, wasting food is obscene. No one needs to remind us of this. Or perhaps someone does. According to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans toss out nearly every other bite of food. We squander up to 40 percent of the nation’s food supply each year—throwing away, on average, 20 pounds per person per month—while making excuses for our wastefulness. The lettuce had started to wilt. We forgot about the yogurt in the back of the fridge. We simply bought more than we needed. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.

This is shameful enough. Now consider the nightmare that billions of animals—who feel anxiety, fear and pain every bit as profoundly as we do—endure on factory farms, in transit to slaughter and at the slaughterhouse itself. Nowadays, they are confined to cages and crates, their babies are taken away from them and they are kicked and prodded and deprived of everything that makes their lives worth living just so that we can take their milk or kill them for their flesh. And then we toss half of it all into the trash. This may be one of the most compelling reasons yet to go vegan.

PETA has conducted numerous undercover investigations into factory farms and slaughterhouses, and we’ve invariably found stomach-churning cruelty. A PETA investigator working at a New York dairy farm that supplies the maker of Cabot and McCadam cheeses saw cows being jabbed and struck, even in the udder, with poles and canes. Calves bellowed and thrashed in unrelieved pain as workers removed their horn buds—without providing any pain relief. Most cows on dairy farms are not naturally hornless. Farmers use searing-hot irons, caustic chemicals, knives, shears, sharp wires and even handsaws to cut and dig the horns out of calves’ skulls.

And after all this, we pour milk down the drain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans waste 30 percent of our milk supply—or a third of a glass of milk per person per day. The public radio program Marketplace recently did the math: That’s the milk from some 800,000 cows, whose beloved calves are torn away from them for veal year after year, tossed away without a thought.

PETA investigators have also witnessed workers at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse beat, throw and decapitate animals. They’ve witnessed abuse inside a Butterball turkey slaughterhouse, where birds were punched and kicked. They’ve seen farm workers beat pigs, spray paint into their nostrils, electro-shock pregnant sows and slam piglets to the ground. And on and on.

Whenever PETA or anyone else releases the findings from an investigation, meat industry spokespeople are quick to claim that it’s an “isolated incident.” Yet we keep finding the same abuses every time we look.

There is no good excuse for what animals endure on factory farms, during transport or on the slaughterhouse floor. But when need becomes greed and we mindlessly buy meat, milk and other animal products because they’re cheap, only to toss them into the trash when we decide that we didn’t really want them after all, it’s time to do some soul-searching. Habits can be hard to change, but in this case we may not have much choice in the matter. Another newly released report predicts that the spiraling human population and food shortages will force most of us to go vegetarian by 2050—but why wait?

Stop the dolphin slaughter — stay away from marine-mammal parks

By Paula Moore

Dolphins have rich social lives, brains that are as complex as our own and pod-specific cultural practices that are passed down from generation to generation. Some scientists argue that dolphins should be classified as “nonhuman persons” and that their rights should be protected. The resident dolphins of Toshima, Japan—about 100 miles south of Tokyo—are considered official citizens of the small island and are fully protected while in the island’s waters.

But elsewhere dolphins are in danger. Every year in Japan, thousands of these intelligent, self-aware animals are killed in violent hunts known as oikomi or “drive fisheries.” Others are ripped from their ocean homes to be put on display in aquariums and marine theme parks or used in “swim-with” programs. These industries are inextricably linked. If you don’t support the slaughter of dolphins, then don’t pay to see them perform in dolphin shows.

September 1 marked the official start of one of the most notorious dolphin hunts—the annual slaughter in Taiji, Japan, that was documented in the Oscar-winning film The Cove. Video footage of past hunts in this Japanese fishing village shows dolphins thrashing in their own blood for many agonizing minutes after being speared or having their throats cut. By the end of the slaughter, the entire cove is red with blood.

While most dolphins captured in Taiji end up as meat in Japanese supermarkets—despite the fact that dolphin flesh is so dangerously contaminated with mercury that some Taiji officials have likened it to “toxic waste”—every year, about two dozen live dolphins are sold to aquariums, performing-dolphin shows and swim-with programs across the globe. It’s these lucrative sales that keep the dolphin slaughter going.

A dead dolphin brings in only a few hundred dollars. But a single live dolphin can fetch $150,000 or more.

According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, dolphins captured during Japan’s drive fisheries have ended up in aquariums all over the world. Even countries that no longer allow the importation of dolphins caught during the gruesome slaughter may be displaying animals purchased before the ban or moved through other countries to disguise their origin.

Dolphins suffer immensely in captivity. Eight former trainers at Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, recently spoke out to the Toronto Star about the substandard conditions at that facility. Among other abuses, the trainers claim that five dolphins had their skin fall off in chunks after they spent months swimming in water so green that they could barely be seen in it. Photos of the dolphins show them with their eyes squeezed shut against the filthy water. According to the trainers, some animals have gone blind at Marineland.

In the open sea, dolphins live in large, intricate social groups, swim together in family pods and can travel up to 100 miles a day. In captivity, their world is measured in gallons instead of fathoms. Dolphins communicate with each other through whistles and body language. In tanks, their vocalizations become a garble of meaningless reverberations. Most aquariums keep antacids on hand to treat the animals’ stress-related ulcers.

No animal deserves to be torn from his or her rightful home, locked up in a tank or cage and forced to perform tricks just for our amusement. But the plight of a captive dolphin swimming in endless circles in a concrete tank is especially heartbreaking. Please stand up to this cruel industry. Before you buy a ticket, remember that patronizing marine-mammal parks and swim-with programs helps to support Japan’s bloody dolphin hunts—and condemns intelligent, social beings to a lifetime of misery.

They kill horses, don’t they?

By Gemma Vaughan

Horses haven’t been slaughtered in the United States for the last five years. But Congress recently restored funding for U.S. inspectors to oversee horse slaughter, paving the way for horses to be killed and butchered here in the U.S. once again. While killing horses anywhere is contemptible, the decision does provide an opportunity to reexamine this entire issue.

A ban on killing horses in the U.S. doesn’t help horses—it prolongs their suffering. And they will continue to suffer as long as the industries that breed horses for profit—horseracing, rodeo and the carriage trade—keep exploiting these animals for our “entertainment.”

When horse slaughter was banned in the U.S. in 2006, it didn’t stop horses from being killed. Mercenary ranchers who make their living from horse flesh simply jam horses into undersized trucks and haul them for hundreds—sometimes thousands—of miles to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

Horses who manage to survive this grueling journey often arrive at the slaughterhouse with gashed foreheads, broken bones, compound fractures, eye infections and other injuries. They meet their end with a bolt gun, an often slow and agonizing death caused by the carelessness of workers who fire poorly aimed bolt after bolt until the animal finally dies. They are then bled out and skinned, usually in full view of other terrified horses.

Anyone who cares about animals should condemn horse slaughter altogether and call for an absolute ban on both the export of live horses and slaughter in the U.S. One doesn’t work without the other.

Horses have been exploited for human purposes and profit since the beginning of time, and we need to take an honest look at the disconnect between society’s horror over eating horses and its tacit approval of exploiting them in so many other ways. Many of the horses who end up in slaughterhouses used to pull carriages, perform in rodeos or cross the finish line but are now too worn-out to continue.

Even though horses tend to be skittish and sensitive, they are still forced to provide carriage rides on busy city streets and, at this time of year, in shopping mall parking lots for seasonal promotions. Fighting crowds, dodging traffic and trying not to slip on icy streets while hauling oversized loads day after day takes a toll. Accidents have occurred in nearly every location where carriage rides are allowed and many horses have died. But as long as people pay to ride, horses will continue to be worked until they can’t take another step.

The horseracing and rodeo industries are equally culpable for sending horses to their deaths. Horses are bred over and over until “winners” are produced. But not every horse makes money, and continual breeding has led to a critical overpopulation of horses: too many horses, not enough good homes. And just like dogs and cats, unwanted horses are often abandoned, neglected, starved and left to die without veterinary care. Thousands are sold to meat buyers and go from grassy fields to blood-soaked killing floors.

If eating horse flesh appalls you, so should the industries that provide the bodies. People can make a real difference by staying away from the racetrack, shunning carriage rides and steering clear of the rodeo.

Gemma Vaughan is a cruelty caseworker with PETA.

Plan would spare thousands of horses from slaughter

By Kathy Guillermo

U.S. thoroughbred racing is an industry of numbers. Consider the projected statistics for 2011 alone:

The number of horses running in the Kentucky Derby: no more than 20.

The number of thoroughbred foals born: 24,900.

The number of thoroughbreds who will die on the track: 1,000.

The number of thoroughbreds cast off by the racing industry: 21,000.

The number of thoroughbreds sent to slaughter in Canada and Mexico: 10,000.

Crunch those numbers and the conclusion is obvious. There are too many thoroughbreds born, too few retirement options, and way too many violent deaths.

The racing industry should be ashamed of these numbers — and of course every number isn’t a number at all, but a living, breathing being. When horses who have given their all can no longer race because they’re injured or too old, or when they stop turning a profit, most owners and trainers rid themselves of these animals by sending them to a livestock auction. One out of every two thoroughbreds sold at auction ends up in a slaughterhouse.

The Jockey Club, through which all foals must be registered and which is the only horse racing authority in a position to impose a fee that applies to all thoroughbreds in all racing states, responded to this crisis with its Retirement Checkoff program, a voluntary donation that can be made when owners submit required registration papers.

In 2010 this program generated only $43,000 from 30,000 foal registrations—a paltry $1.44 per horse. Even with the Jockey Club’s supplemental donation toward retirement, this absurdly inadequate amount cannot begin to provide for the enormous annual costs of caring for tens of thousands of horses, multiplied by many years of retirement. Recent reports of thoroughbreds being denied adequate food and care in the stables that are supposed to be supported by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation tragically prove this point.

The racing industry needs to deal with this life and death issue. Thoroughbred retirement is a racing industry obligation, not a voluntary donation.

While the best bet for the horses would be an end to breeding, racing, and killing thoroughbreds altogether, at the very least the racing world must provide a decent retirement for the horses it no longer wants.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has come up with a plan — the Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle Retirement Fund — to jumpstart this effort. This proposal would require a mandatory $360 retirement fee with every foal registration, a $360 fee for every transfer of ownership, and a $360 fee for each stallion and broodmare registration.

This is affordable for thoroughbred owners and would generate more than $20 million toward retirement. It wouldn’t solve all the problems — clearly the fund would have to be used wisely. This would require proper planning and administration. But without a substantial sum, nothing will be done. Thoroughbreds will continue to be trucked across our borders to their deaths by the tens of thousands.

The Jockey Club should implement this plan before this Triple Crown season ends. Trainers and owners have turned their backs on the animals they claim to love for far too long.


Kathy Guillermo is vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.