I have to ask. I really want to know the different arguments on this one.
What do you think of euthanasia for a reasonably healthy animal?
I can’t help but notice all the listings to SAVE HORSES NOW, HORSES GOING TO SLAUGHTER TOMORROW are all followed by HORSE IS SAVED, NEEDS A HOME, HORSE IS SAVED, NEEDS TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS IN VET WORK, etc. And, as I’ve been looking for some help in re-homing the dog that was abandoned at my farm, I’ve seen numerous web sites that declare “Life is precious – save every life!” and basically decry euthanasia in all its forms.
In 2008 Fugly Horse of the Day published this piece on NorCal’s effort to set up a low-cost euthanasia clinic for owners who could not afford to put down horses with medical issues. A quick Google search only brought up NorCal as an option for low-cost euthanasia. Which means that throughout the country, people who don’t feel like they have $400 or so for euthanasia and disposal are sending their horses to auction instead. Or – they feel like they’re giving the horse a chance.
My question is, what if the horse doesn’t have medical issues? Is it wrong to put the horse down? Is it worse to put a horse down or “give it a chance” at auction when you’re absolutely out of options? We all know about the auction side of the argument.
Let’s say that you are a breeder who has lost their farm. A common enough scenario. You have thirty broodmares to rehome. 20 yearlings. 20 weanlings. A teasing stallion, maybe a few retirees. So now seventy-odd horses need to be distributed amongst the population of horse-owners.
Now let’s say ten breeders in the same ZIP code lose their farm. A common enough scenario, in 2010. Hundreds and hundreds of horses need to be distributed.
Meanwhile, you are seeing ads like this: “Rescued last year, adopted out, now owner can’t afford to keep, going to auction, needs to be saved.” OR “Surrendered back to rescue, has EPM/Strangles/Bowed Tendon [insert disease or lameness here], needs funds for vet.”
You have to ask, at some point, when we’ve reached our saturation point with unwanted horses. Unwanted is becoming the new word, but it may not be the most accurate word. We all want all these horses, we just can’t have them. I want every single TB that is in every single kill pen and I want them in my yard and I want to kiss them and hug them and give them cookies. But – there aren’t enough pastures out there for all the pasture pets, let alone fat wallets for all the chronic veterinary cases. Are there?
So – is it wrong to put down a pasture pet, who technically has no distressing health problems? Should there be euthanasia clinics for horses that are economically unfeasible to keep alive? The average age of horses has crept up from 22 towards 30, according to some pharma companies. And – this should be an interesting question – should the slots at crowded rescues be reserved for younger, sound horses who have a shot at a being riding horses? As horses, their ability to perform or reproduce is their currency to a happy, safe life. Without those two options, they’re dependent on charity – and charity is the first thing to go when people are forced to cut corners.