On Horseslaughter – Rep. Ed Butcher’s HB 418

by jhwygirl

This one has been flying a bit under radar. I have to admit I’ve been watching it, as I’ve received a few emails from friends. Friends who normally don’t pay attention to legislative stuff, and friends who are both opponents and proponents to the legislation.

I will also admit that at first, rather reluctantly, I had been convinced that this was a ‘good’ bill – but not enough to write about it. My lukewarm support was due to the respect I had for my friends that had contacted me, and my willingness to maintain an open mind to something that, on first instinct, I find abhorrent. Because of my open mind on the subject, I’ve read a tremendous amount about horse slaughter, and I’ve come to the conclusion – now – that HB418, which would allow and authorize investor owned livestock slaughter and processing plants, is a very very bad thing.

This bill has survived the House floor, and is now in the Senate. It is set for a March 12th hearing date in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation Committee. March 12th is this Thursday.

First off – and away from what many might describe as the emotional side of this issue – this bill contains some very offensive attacks on environmental laws and review, along with attempts at taking away citizen rights for judicial review. Let’s look at the title:

An act authorizing investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities; prohibiting a court from granting an injunction to stop or delay the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility based on legal challenges or appeals of a permit, license, or certificate, or other approval issued in conjunction with environmental laws, (and the) setting (of) bonding requirements.

With regards to bonding – this law would require that anyone who files a judicial challenge to a facility put up 20% of the cost of the facility as surety bond.

This is the same type of clause being added into some of the other bad environmental legislation that many – bloggers, news reporters, news columnists, letters to the editor, and op-ed columnists are writing about.

Justice only for those with money. I guess that is what the sponsors of the bill – BUTCHER, ANKNEY, BALES, DE. BARRETT, BELCOURT, BERRY, T. BROWN, CAMPBELL, GEBHARDT, HINER, HINKLE, HOVEN, JONES, KERNS, KLOCK, MCCHESNEY, MILLER, MORE, MURPHY, J. PETERSON, RANDALL, REGIER, RIPLEY, ROBERTS, SMITH, STAHL, STEINBEISSER, TUTVEDT, VANCE, VINCENT, WAGNER, WARBURTON, WELBORN, WINDY BOY, ZINKE, REICHNER, BEAN, KASTEN – think that is all that Montanans are entitled to…and along the way, hell be damned to our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

Arguments for the bill include the fact that the economy is suffering and many people can not afford to care for their horse so they are turning them loose and/or allowing them to starve. That this bill is a humane solution to the problem.

These kind of arguments anger me. First of all, owning an animal is a responsibility. That includes not only feeding and caring, but also dealing responsibly with the issue should we falter with those – meaning you find that animal a new home or, worse of worse, you humanely put that animal down. There are plenty of organizations out there – if not individuals – that will help feed horses. Not only that, you go to neighbors, you go to your church. There are horse rescue organizations, you can contact your veterinarian who might know people willing to help, 4-H clubs, equine therapeutic associations….a simple search of the internet unveils many options.

The humane solution is to make the effort and deal with the issue. The lazy solution is to send the animal to slaughter and wash your hands of the responsibility.

Starving cases are another. People who are doing this need help. In most cases, they’ve got mental health issues, just like the cat or dog hoarder. Having a horse slaughtering facility is not going to help those situations.

The fee for euthanasia of a horse is about $200. Then there is a county landfill charge. Sorry – I know this is rather graphic for some, and said rather matter-of-fact…but there it is. It’s a responsibility of ownership. Plain and simple. I had to do it for my pet. People do it every day for their pets. Horse owners, frankly, do not get a pass on this issue.

Why do we need a law that not only facilitates bad ownership behavior, but takes away the rights of the citizens of Montana along the way?

The truth is, horse slaughter is very inhumane. That this bill wants to facilitate it with “investor owned facilities” should be all the more alarming. Couple that with the fact that Montana’s regulatory capacity has shown serious problems – well, let’s just say that approval of this bill would not only certainly ensure and facilitate inhumane treatment, it would also bring with it complete disregard for our already weak regulatory environment and the understaffed departments that enforce them.

Paula Bacon, Former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas provided public comment to the House Agriculture Committee. You can view the content of her letter here.

This website, titled KaufmanZoning.net has more information than you’d ever want to know about horse slaughter.

OpEd News did a very thorough piece the other day detailing the truth and lies behind horse slaughter in the United States.

Think most horse are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter? Wrong. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Please take the time to contact all members of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee. I’ve taken the time to add the email address of each committee member, below.

Donald Steinbeisser (Chair) donstein@midrivers.com
Terry Murphy murphter5@yahoo.com
Gary Branae garybranae@gmail.com
Taylor Brown taylor@northernbroadcasting.com
Bradley Maxon Hamlett wranglergallery@hotmail.com
Ken Hansen hansen_kenneth@email.com
Verdell Jackson vjack@centurytel.net
Cliff Larsen cliff@larsenusa.com
Rick Ripley You’ll need to use the online message form to contact Sen. Ripley

Other options for contact include using the online message form or calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

  1. Lucky

    Good job jh. Wayne over at WillFishForWork blogged this one last week. I’ve stayed away from it. I have no problem with horse slaughter, we do it to pigs, cows, sheep, chickens… People in other countries eat horses and I hear horse is pretty yummy if you can get past the “My Little Pony” syndrome. But, as you rightly point out, this is really bad legislation. Reading about the issue, you will quickly see that the reason there are no horse slaughtering facilities in this country is that they have had an atrocious environmental record. The bill just dodges all that by making this facility immune from review or regulation.

    All I had to see was the sentence, “A court of this state may not issue an injunction stopping or delaying the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility licensed pursuant to 81-9-201 based on a challenge or appeal of a permit, license, certificate, or other approval issued in conjunction with a proposed equine slaughter or processing facility…” No challenge or appeal of the permit, no matter what! Ouch, red flags everywhere!

    Emotional issue or not, I can’t believe that so many sponsors took so little time to delve into this issue….Well, yeah, I guess I can with this legislature. There is no excuse for badly written laws and this is one of the baddest. Good luck stopping it.

  2. Pregnant Sue

    I wonder how this bill applies to non-investor owned livestock.

    There are huge herds of un-branded horses running loose on state and federal land in the bitterroot and gallatin. Rumor is that the herd in the root are horses bred from a small herd that were left here by a large landowner about 50 years ago. The state and feds probably don’t have the money and fte to round them up. Obviously, they shouldn’t be slaughtered, but in the mean time they’re tearing up grazing land, jumping into pastures and studding mares, and trashing alot of property.

    Not to derail the course of this comment thread, but I wonder how many of these wild herds exist and what level of interest exists in dealing with them.

  3. Pronghorn

    I’ll take it a step further–here are those e-mail addresses ready to copy & paste into your message. It doesn’t get easier than this. Please e-mail…

    donstein@midrivers.com; murphter5@yahoo.com; vjack@centurytel.net; taylor@northernbroadcasting.com; garybranae@gmail.com; wranglergallery@hotmail.com; hansen_kenneth@email.com; cliff@larsenusa.com

    …AND call, and go to Helena if you can. On Thursday. A steaming pile of shame should be heaped on the sponsors of this bill and those legislators who already voted to pass it. Horses deserve better than this, and so does Montana.

  4. Pronghorn

    Thought I’d visit 4&20 this a.m. and see a long string of angry comments on Montana’s next would-be claim to shame, horse slaughter (we’ve already got Yellowstone bison slaughter), but alas…

    This issue is assuredly NOT flying under the radar in animal advocacy circles, but even for those who aren’t interested in humane issues, the hackles of every grassroots activist amongst us should be bristling over the onerous restriction on challenging/appealing the permitting & construction process. Um, hello, democracy….?

    Interesting tidbits about horse slaughter that you might have missed by not clicking on the links provided by jhwygirl:

    –eyeballs dangling from sockets, limbs ripped from bodies of live horses during the brutal transport
    –captive bolt guns missing their mark necessitating multiple firings into the same horse’s head
    –blood flowing in ditches from facilities, water violations out the wazzoo and a thumbing of corporate noses at fines
    –a slaughter feedlot in Shelby, MT, owned by Bouvry Exports Calgary; read the report and view the pics here http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/InvestigationShelbyMontanMay2008exterareportt.pdf
    –Conrad Burns’ (the gift that keeps on giving) role in this heinous business (see the OpEd News source)

    There’s enough misery, injustice, corporate malfeasance, and environmental degradation to last a lifetime in this one. If the only way you can get fired up to speak out is by viewing the hideous evidence, much of it the result of FOIA requests, then go to http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/ and take a look. I, personally, wasn’t able to look, fearing I’d be haunted forever. If you are able to, please report back–I’d be interested in hearing your reaction.

  5. Gun Lover

    Sorry to be so oversimplisic… but whatever happen to a hug, a prayer, and a bullet?

    Seems like some of these folks want to dehumanize the horses through bizarre drawn-out processes that appear to do more damage to the soul than the body. Folks have been rearing livestock for quite awhile, and haven’t needed to go through all this.

  6. ladybug

    Horseslaughter coupled with Constitutionslaughter. This could top all previous legislative sessions for pure stupidity and greed. Did these representatives really take an oath?

  7. Pregnant Sue

    What good is the constitution for anyway, right? All it does is open the door for intrusive liberal government to over-manage our lives. Antiquated and useless right?

    Wait a second ladybug… don’t these GOP jerks take an oath that mentions something about a constitution?


  8. klemz

    Can somebody ‘splain to this city boy what’s wrong with the shoot, shovel and shut up approach?

    I mean, for the same reason that sb 417 et al are bad for the freedoms, the most obvious problem with this bill has little to do with animal cruelty (at least to my mind). But still, why pay for euthanasia? What’s wrong with a .45?

    • I’m fine with the shoot, shovel and shut-up – or, better said, “Hug, prayer and bullet” method. If you have care of an animal – whether it is a dog, a cat or a horse, you have an obligation. When the end of life comes, you either take care of it humanely on your own, or you euthanize.

      Horse slaughter is not humane.

      Government sanctioning “investor owned” facilities, which have a well-established record of shunting environmental laws and inhumane treatment – coupled with Montana’s inability to regulate already that which it has laws and obligations to do, is wrong. Plain wrong.

      Why add another regulatory factor to DEQ and the Dept. of Livestock (now there’s a department known for its humane treatment of bison, huh?) – when they can’t take care of what they’ve got on their plate already?

      THEN add in that part of the law regarding MEPA and judicial relief?


  9. Ruby

    Why don’t you ignorant anti slaughter people post your addresses, so when somebody loses their job, and home, they have a place to take the horse they can’t get a rescue to take because they are full. They have tried to give the horse away, but with the economy, people are out of work, and sure as he!! can’t pay to feed a horse. Put up or shut up!!! Post your address so all those who lost everything, can bring the horses to you.

    • You didn’t read this post? The comments?

      In any event, let’s make this easy on you: What is wrong with a hug, a prayer, and bullet?

      That is certainly more humane and less environmentally disastrous than what Butcher is proposing.

      Of course, you, being down in Texas, why would you give a shit what goes on here?

      Or is this – as you hint – about ensuring some vile industry makes money? The industry that you are in?

  10. Pronghorn

    At first I thought maybe Ruby had lost her job pulling the trigger on the captive bolt gun at a Texas slaughterhouse…but then I followed the link.

    Doesn’t look like Ruby at Sapphire Stables is hurting any–one is truly touched by her compassion for those who are down & out, which certainly doesn’t describe her clients. Go take a look at the prize winning horses boosting the “prestige” of her stables, then you know her stake in this game…all those excess loser throw-away horses have to be disposed of somewhere, right? Thanks, Ruby, for strengthening the case against horse slaughter. You rock!

    Reminder: Send your e-mails and make your calls TODAY!

    • You are right, Pronghorn – breeders are some of the biggest advocates of horse slaughter. Because of bad breeding practices, they need somewhere to throw-away all their “mistakes”.

      Horse slaughter only serves to facilitate this kind of bad behavior.

      • but, j-girl. right wing texans know what’s best for all of us. the last eight years of bush should have taught us that by now.

        • klemz

          I often lie awake at night worrying about what’s going to happen to all the rich dummies in the Flathead who have to chose between keeping their third car and feeding the horse that they just had to get to really feel Montanan.

          It’s at least comforting to know to delusional consumer behavior falls into the bin of discretionary spending.

  11. Pronghorn

    klemz said, “It’s at least comforting to know to delusional consumer behavior falls into the bin of discretionary spending.”

    Yeah, it’s the story of stuff all over again. Except in this case, the stuff is a living, feeling, intelligent being.

  1. 1 2009 Legislative Session: Week 10 (Part II) « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] for Thursday. First off, we’ve got Rep. Ed Butcher’s Horse Slaughter Bill. Read that previous post for a whole bunch of information, links, and contact info. Please – please […]

  2. 2 Butcher’s HB 418, the Horse Slaughter Legislation Hearing is Today « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] can read more about this vile piece of legislation here at 4&20 or here at Left in the West or here at Will Work For Fish. And in those posts are other informative […]

  3. 3 A Fond Farwell to Ed Butcher

    […] designs, who warned us about the threat of a COMMUNIST MUSLIM in the White House, and who boldly led the charge against our great natural enemy […]

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