Monday, May 16, 2011

Horse Meat

The Canadian Food TV Network, on their show Top Chef Canada, chose to utilize horse meat.  This ignited an uproar across the media and in social media. Facebook has groups, there are posts and comments going around and around.  The station issued a statement which, on the surface, seems to indicate sensitivity to the issue but does not actually answer any questions.

I have a singular issue with this and it is this: there are two types of horses going for meat in North America.  One group of horses, like cattle, sheep, swine and poultry are purpose bred for meat.  The second group are no longer wanted companion horses sold at auction or driven to the plants by owners.

New regulations are supposed to ensure traceabilty for horse meat for the use of non-approved drugs prior to slaughter.  CFIA is supposed to ensure humane transport and killing.  Provincial authorities are supposed to ensure animal welfare standards are met for the animals. 

I don't believe for a minute that anyone outside of a small, vocal group cares that there are two types of horses going for meat.  Everyone one sees horses the same and sometimes that isn't a bad thing. 

So a horse, is a horse, except for when someone wants to eat it, of course!

When you see a horse being sold at auction you can safely bet it is going for meat.

You can tell when it has been a companion.  Would you choose to send a loyal animal friend to a surely frightening end and do it willingly?  Many do.  Many do it when their horses are sick, old, injured, unable to work and too much bother.  The take the out of sight and out of mind position.  Once the horse is gone they forget it entirely.

If we are going to accept horse meat as food TV fodder then Food TV needs to accept that their choice isn't supermarket simple.  It isn't a clear cut case of protein but often a case of a long, hard trip for an end that is not ensured to be humane at any stage.  Not to say that all horses face this end but too many do. 

I look at my horses, and I remember the one I couldn't save from slaughter and I won't forget him.  He was deserving better of me and I was not in a position to save him.  I know if he had to he would forgive me but animals always forgive.  Shouldn't we be doing better by them?  Yes! We should.

Tell the food shows, tell your friends with hobby horses and acreage companions that they have animals that deserve better.  We have to ensure that their lives and their deaths are humane, caring and full of love.  We cannot toss aside our animals and forget about our responsibilities to them.  In life, and in death.  We owe them that for unfailing loyalty and love with no boundaries or limits.

We cannot have a country that claims to care for animals when we toss them away like trash when we are done with them.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Make them Stay

I know it has been a while since there was a Chore Time post, I've been working on other writing and taking a break from the animal rescue community.  But today I have to write and I hope you can read, comment and share.

I was reading, once again, about all the animals (dogs, cats and others) who are going to be shot, heartsticked, gassed or lethally injected and the cries from those who would save adoptable animals from being just one more disposable item in an incinerator or landfill.  I was reading about volunteers in New York City who go and spend time with animals who are going to die.

It started me thinking about the times I was there while a pet crossed the Rainbow Bridge.  The tears, the heart ache and the awesome responsibility of being there for their last breath, their last heart beat.  If we care about them we are responsible for them.  In life and through to their death.

This isn't new, call it pet recycling if you have to put a tag on it.  We recycle and reduce, we reuse and re-purpose.  We are being more green, we are being more energy lean and yet we still throw away our animals (and too often our children and elderly but that's another post) like they are trash.

Shelter reform is needed, certainly, but we also need a reform of the heart!  We need people to care about the living creatures they call property and consider their rights as fellow citizens of the earth.

We need to remember they freely love us and so often they loyally trust us even in face of repeated abuse.  They were made to be our friends, our companions, our blessing.  They are not meant to be left behind, dumped off, abused and tortured.

My heart aches for each animal that is killed for not reason other than the unsound reasoning of a person who wouldn't search for other options.  Each animal that is dropped off at a kill shelter should have a requirement of the owner to attend their kill session.  That's right!  I said it.  If you dump your adoptable animal you should have to stay with them as they die.  You should be required to hold their bodies as they stop breathing, as they relax in death.  If they are 'lucky' enough to be injected.  If they are at a heartstick or gassing facility you should still have to watch.  Understand the choice you are making.

It is a choice.  It is a choice for life or a choice for death.  It is a choice of not planning or a choice of not caring.  It is a choice.  Are you choosing for welfare, for life or are you choosing for someone else to have to bring death?  If you had to stay, would it change your mind?

I hate to stay but when my dear old friend or a seriously injured pup needs the ultimate relief from their pain it is my responsibility to be there for them. To be there with them.  I keep their collars and one day I'll start a memorial tree for all the empty collars, and make it a foundation and a mission to make sure that no animal is forgotten in their last moments.

Could you do it? Would you do it?  If you cannot, do you have other plans in place to ensure that your animal doesn't face it alone?