Tom Persechino, executive director of competition and breed integrity for the American Quarter Horse Association, released the following letter in support of Oklahoma Rep. Skye McNiel's bill to allow horse slaughter facilities in Oklahoma:
Representative Skye McNiel
Oklahoma State Legislature
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 433B Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Dear Representative McNiel,
The American Quarter Horse Association continues to increase its role in public policy and advocacy concerning the American Quarter Horse and all horses. In addition to increasing advocacy of the American Quarter Horse in public policy, AQHA continues to keep the horse as its foremost concern by providing programs to members promoting the health and wellbeing of their America Quarter Horses.
AQHA believes it is the owner’s responsibility and, ultimately, their choice regarding decisions concerning the welfare of their horse(s). The Association encourages responsible ownership practices and management that will reduce the number of unwanted horses and recognizes that federally regulated, humane processing of unwanted horses is a necessary aspect of the equine industry because it provides a humane euthanasia alternative for horses that might otherwise continue a life of discomfort and pain, or inadequate care or abandonment. This position was supported in a United States Government Accountability Office study that was released in June of 2011, entitled “Horse Welfare Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter.”
Obviously, the option of horse slaughter is one that is unthinkable by many horse owners, and AQHA respects these owners’ beliefs. However, AQHA’s Public Policy Committee and ultimately Board of Directors continues to advocate that for certain horses, federally regulated processing provides a humane alternative to additional suffering or possibly dangerous situations. Over the years, AQHA has actively supported legislation to ensure the safe and humane transportation of horses that are bound for processing facilities and backed guidelines for how horses must be treated at facilities. The Association also supports other choices for unwanted horses, including euthanasia by injection, life in an equine retirement facility, donation to a college or university, or other options.
The Association has been monitoring Oklahoma’s SB 375 and HB 1999. Should Oklahoma’s Legislature pass these bills and the Governor sign them into law, given AQHA’s previously stated position of support for the option of processing, the Association would not (nor are there any plans to) move either the American Quarter Horse Association World Championship Show or the American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Championship Show from Oklahoma.
Since 1976, the AQHA World Show has had a successful history in Oklahoma, and we are currently in negotiations with Oklahoma’s State Fair Park and Oklahoma Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to extend our relationship. The Youth World Show contract was recently extended in Oklahoma, and exhibitors continue to tell us how much the enjoy coming to the state to compete for a coveted world title.
I hope the above information is helpful to you and accurately characterizes AQHA’s position relative to humane, federally regulated horse processing, and the Association’s relationship with the state and city of Oklahoma City.
If at any time I can answer questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact this office.
Executive Director of Competition and Breed Integrity
KEEP HORSE SLAUGHTER, AND ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT, OUT OF OKLAHOMA
On Nov. 18, President Obama signed the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill into law. Absent was a rider that previously had prohibited U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection of horsemeat for human consumption.
That backdoor rider was placed in previous versions of the ag bill and ended domestic horse slaughter.
Since the issue of horse slaughter first arose in the United States, the American Quarter Horse Association has publicly fought to keep horse slaughter as an end-of-life option for owners who need it. To some, this position seems puzzling. After all, isn’t AQHA about protecting horses?
Every horse owner dreads the day when he faces the difficult end-of-life decision that is inevitable when it comes to owning an animal. Sometimes horses become dangerous, or their owners become unable or unwilling to care for them. Horses become unwanted or un-needed. Sending a horse to a processing facility is unthinkable to many, and AQHA respects that position. For others, it is the best option.
"AQHA recognizes that the processing of unwanted horses is currently a necessary aspect of the equine industry, because it provides a humane euthanasia alternative for horses that might otherwise continue a life of discomfort and pain, inadequate care or abandonment."
- Tom Persechino
AQHA does not favor processing as a way of dealing with unwanted horses, and strongly supports euthanasia by injection, equine retirement facilities, donation to a university or simply being turned out to pasture. AQHA encourages responsible ownership practices to reduce the number of unwanted horses.
AQHA also has supported legislation to ensure the safe and humane transportation of horses that are bound for slaughter and backed guidelines for how horses must be treated at the facilities. While that might appear to be pro-slaughter, it’s not that simple.
One of the major issues in the slaughter debate centers on personal property rights. AQHA believes that allowing animal-rights advocates to determine how we manage our horses opens the door to letting them put other limits on what we can or cannot do with our horses (i.e. transportation, trail riding, racing, showing and overall care). AQHA respects the right of horse owners to manage their personal property as they choose, so long as the welfare of the horse is paramount.
These issues were underscored in a report released by the Government Accountability Office last June. The GAO found that the unintended consequences included a sizeable negative economic impact on the horse industry and incidents of inhumane treatment of horses as a result of the cessation of domestic horse slaughter.
These arguments are not considered by animal rights groups, which continue to lobby Congress to pass legislation that would eliminate domestic horse processing or transportation to Canada or Mexico for horse processing.
It has always been AQHA’s fear that by ending U.S. horse processing, bottom-end, unemployable and unwanted animals would become neglected and place an undue burden on state and local governments. That is what the GAO report revealed - and what is unacceptable to AQHA.
"Nobody yet knows if a processing facility will open in the United States. The three horse processing plants that existed are now closed and state laws prohibit them from re-opening. However, unless and until a domestic horse processing facility opens, the welfare of the horse will be in jeopardy."
- Tom Persechino
Horses will travel longer distances to facilities outside the U.S., and once there, their care and handling is subject to some other country’s laws ... or lack thereof.
AQHA is about the horse and about educating owners on options they have. It is not about sensationalizing a very emotional issue.
Tom Persechino is the American Quarter Horse Association’s executive director of competition and breed integrity and oversees AQHA’s public policy efforts. He lives in Amarillo.
Tom Persechino Advocates for Horse Slaughter and Tax-Supported Equine Euthanasia Facilities Across the Country
Source: KFDA, News Channel 10
"Unwanted horses" are being left on roadsides across the country to fend for themselves.
Tom Persechino, marketing director for the American Quarter Horse Association says this is an issue we have been facing for two or three years as the rising price of fuel and corn has increased the cost of caring for a horse. But he says there is another, even bigger reason, the number of unwanted horses has increased.
Congress banned horse slaughter in 2006. Persechino says slaughter provided an economical and humane way to take care of horses that became unwanted. He also says the ban shut down an outlet for people who needed it.
People like Virginia Rogers, who two years ago, had to send her 25 year old mare to slaughter because the alternatives were too expensive. She says, "they are God's creatures but they need a humane way to be put down other than being thrown out like garbage."
But now, things have changed. Persechino says the horse market is tough, but usable horses have options. One option: friends with land. Friends of the owner who could provide land for a horse to be turned out to pasture. Another, second careers. Some racing horses could go on to compete as jumping horses or speed horses. Lastly, donating a gentle horse to riding programs for the mentally and physically handicapped.
Congress banned horse slaughter in 2006. Tom Persechino says slaughter provided an economical and humane way to take care of horses that became unwanted. He also says the ban shut down an outlet for people who needed it.
But these are realistic options only for a small number of horses. Dr. Don Topliff of WTAMU says, "there are options for some horses, but for the vast majority, there are no end of life options palatable for most people." For those unusable horses, the seemingly only option available is euthanasia.
Since euthanasia can cost several hundred dollars, Persechino recently went to Washington, D.C. to talk with Department of Agriculture officials about creating tax-supported euthanasia facilities across the country, much like those that euthanize smaller animals like dogs and cats.