11 March 2007

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “We Eat Horses, Don’t We?,” by Christa Weil (Op-Ed, March 5):

Ms. Weil’s paean to horsemeat should be taken with a grain of salt. The fact that horsemeat has at times been part of humanity’s diet is not in dispute. But yesterday’s hardship food is today’s gourmet treat.

Horses slaughtered in America today go not to feed the poor and the hungry but to satisfy the esoteric palates of wealthy diners in Europe and Japan. The issue is not whether slaughtering horses is un-American, but that it is inhumane and wholly unnecessary.

Yes, all food animals should meet a dignified end. But horses are not cows, pigs or chickens. Americans do have a special relationship with horses, and how we treat them reveals much about our own humanity and how far we have evolved.

Horse slaughter for meat export is just plain wrong. Congress passed an amendment to the House Agriculture Appropriations bill that defunded the Agriculture Department’s horse slaughter-related activities, but that did not solve the problem. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act is needed to ensure that a permanent ban on slaughter is enacted.

John Hettinger
Pawling, N.Y., March 5, 2007
The writer is an owner of Fasig-Tipton, North America’s oldest thoroughbred auction house.

To the Editor:

Why would publicizing the ill treatment of slaughter-bound horses detract from the “undue suffering of other food animals,” as Christa Weil suggests?

On the contrary, if Ms. Weil is truly concerned about the ill treatment of other slaughter-bound animals, the horse could well serve as a poster animal for the cause.

Moreover, her defense of horsemeat on the grounds that it is “a traditional hardship food” is specious.

Our American horses are not being shipped to the hungry in Africa; they are being served in the most pricey restaurants in France, Belgium and Japan.

Hope Ryden
New York, March 5, 2007
The writer is the author of a book about America’s last wild horses.

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