Article John Cox, MA, Cascade Mountains
Here is a story about the muck and mire and the dirty little secret, that is no secret what so ever. This thing in our civilized society that better left unmentioned, to go unnoticed while we eat our breakfast or dinner. Because it is so blatantly ugly and sickening to think about, especially while eating, that most would become ill and loose their appetite immediately. This is a story about the slaughter of animals, in particular horses.
But this story more than just about the slaughter of horses, it is about people. It is about the people that form an industry to take horse’s to slaughter. In contrast and perception, it is about those special people that want our society and civilization better. It is about change, truth, and living up to what we claim to be in America — A Civilized People.
America’s Backbone Society
I drove through the Norman Rockwell country landscape, which demanded notice, a special appeal of nature in the softness of the morning light. Life, as a rule of nature, is made up of contrast and perception, always. The contrast of images, Oregon hay-grass just cut in the fields, beautiful and picturesque, and smelled like a perfect country morning.
As usual in the Oregon valley landscapes, the fields and intermittent tree stands surrounded a small township. The homes comfortable in appearance and one could almost hear the sounds of breakfast snapping and crackling inside each house. Churches are located at almost every block of these small towns, giving the appearance of a spiritual need being met; this in direct contrast to the livestock auction outside of town and my destination, my assignment.
Perspectives of Civilization
I pulled up to a railroad crossing as the red lights flashed, bells sounded, and the gates dropped to my front. The railroad engine, black diesel smoke bellowing skyward, loud and massive, chugged down the tracks, then passed with a thunder and roar. The rest of the train clanged by, a long chain of flatcars with sideboards.
The railroad. The icon and reality of our industrialized society, and truth be known, is the reasoning for many of the small towns that exist in the Northwest. Yes, in our civilized society we have the positive and the negative, the yin and yang of life, a perspective that is acceptable most often. But there is a flip-side of this —
I noticed the art, spray painted onto the sideboards of the flat-cars. Some of it beautiful, in it’s unique stature and odd but ironic color mixtures. Oh, the outlaws of society — yet another perspective.
Also apparent was the fact, beyond all doubt, this is where this type of art belonged, its canvas so to speak; of course, industrialized spray paint colors (not of nature) blasted onto the side of an industrial-mechanized vehicle that propelled civilization forward, and actually advanced our civilized nature; so we suppose, since after all we do operate the machinery that does so, don’t we? Yet another somewhat pleasant contrast and perspective, the paintings giving a human touch to such sterile pieces of equipment.
This art, called graffiti, oddly a controversial and thoroughly discussed subject in our society. Once again our nature of being human, and perspective enters into the realm of our wayward contrast — the livestock auctions and the abusive environment that exists! Something, indeed, that should be discussed and resolved, but hardly ever, if at all, discussed!
So we have the innocence of debating graffiti, which undoubtedly a politician’s bread-n-butter, as they rant and rave on how to rid our society of such evil and wayward disobedience. As politician’s rant, stating hatefully, the gull of some people that would paint art on the side of our Wonderful and Iconic railroad machinery!
The reality — those “outlaws” and unscrupulous beings as they are called, paint a gorgeous humanized picture, that gives us feelings and emotion at times — and the truth is, this type of graffiti adds life to a cold and unlikable looking piece of steel.
Perspective? The contrast here is a psychopath beating a horse in the head with a hammer at a slaughter house (i.e. located in these same middle-class neighborhood, nearby), in order to kill it (references abound of this situation). A perspective acceptable and left undisclosed by politicians.
The fact is, yet left undisclosed, is that American’s do not want to eat horse meat — civilized American’s anyway — 90% of the American Public. But oddly, remains an acceptable fact of life left undisclosed, hidden — a dirty secret in the closet of industrialization?
One of the more sad facts of industrialization, and agriculture for that matter, is the fact of complacency. Under the guise of either of the above categories, we allow offensive, and often horrendous acts go unpunished. Again, we can assimilate this as either the psychopaths are now running our nation, or our perceptions of this type of criminal conduct are misleading. Either way, these crimes are not done by a civilized nation!
But oh yes, this ignored or complacent contrast and perception far worse, as it’s tentacles also erupts into our civilized society with hennas-crimes toward people and animals, abuse, tenured torture, maiming and killing; often we discover, the people doing so had worked or do work in America’s slaughter industry.
This type of attrition is unacceptable — and needs to be discussed, placed onto an open debate platform and resolution developed! If this discussion makes one too sick to eat the end product of this very industry — then common sense simply dictates it is wrong and of an uncivilized nature of our very soul! It must END!
The Livestock Auction
I pulled into the livestock auction yard parking lot, and looked over a vast array of run-down and gruesome looking wooden corrals. Again in perspective and contrast, a university just down the road a ways, and considered one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States, leaders in changing our children to responsible and civilized adults — and yet!
Since this was an auction of horses, there were several trucks with horse trailers, and trucks with livestock trailers in the parking lot. These people who drive them are called “Kill Buyers”. They bid for the healthy and robust horses, as they are paid by the slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico by the poundage. Make no doubt, that horse theft and stolen horses from Public Lands become part of their cargo on occasion as well!
A myth perpetuated by these same Kill Buyers and livestock auction yards and others wanting the horses-to-slaughter industry to startup again in the United States, is that only sick and ready to die horses go to slaughter. This is an outright lie, and as this journalist and many others take witness, only healthy and robust horses go to slaughter!
And yet, with so many churches scattered throughout these small towns, it becomes apparent on this Sunday afternoon, that many of the people in attendance, and the Kill Buyer’s, had sat through a morning spiritual gathering just a few hours earlier.
When does a perception become unfounded? When does a perception become of no use, and simply not a perception, but takes on a life of it’s own and within hate, spitefulness, hypocrisy, and vengeance?
The People The Auction
The first thing noticeable about the people at this livestock auction was the unforgivable fraud of this industry, horses-to-slaughter. Yes — the dirty little lie that everyone knows about, but no one speaks. The lie that is enhanced to the point of a derived animosity, because it is just not cattle now, but America’s Icons, the Horses.
And it is seen in every age crease and squinted eye of those attending this livestock auction, those who know! And those who ignore the facts, those complacent beings of an ideology that leads to this catastrophe of life of such a beautiful animal as the Horse. Unforgivable!
These people that dress the part of being cowboys, but conspire to kill for money, the very Icon of what made and perpetuated the cowboy. These people are not cowboys at all, they are what many consider as ignorant and unknowledgeable of life, the underbelly of our nations spirit and soul. Civilized is not within their perception!
These are people that rant and rave about right and wrong — everybody is wrong but them! These are the people that rant and rave about their “Rights”! But abuse and stomp awkwardly and with arrogance on everyone else’s “Rights”!
It is unforgivable, as the dust is stirred up by my cowboy boots as I walk toward the corralled horses on auction, in this land of Kill Buyers and those who sell these horses to them. They are all corrupt, and all take part in this crime. These people who walk the grounds impatiently awaiting the auction. After the auction these people want to load their trucks full of horses and as fast as possible.
Gone is any humanity what so ever at this point, swapped-out for money. These people, i.e. Kill Buyers use prods and bang sticks, and outright abuse the horses when loading. It is not rare for horses to not only kick one another and harm one another due to far too many horses in one trailer and containment, but if foal or colt in the trailers, they die, often trampled to death — considered attrition and often thrown from the trailer to the side of the road.
Heat another factor, and in many cases due to over amounts of horses in one trailer, many suffocate — often left, dead, on the floor of the trailers until reaching the country-border or temporary holding. Then coldly unloaded by the Kill Buyer to make room for another horse, healthy and ready to load, then shoved into the suffocating and harsh reality of horse slaughter.
Horse transportation an unsavory lot. It is not uncommon to see a horses skull partially caved-in, a horse’s eye gouged out, a horse’s leg or legs broken, and still alive in order to unload at the slaughter house. If healthy, yet crippled due to transport, they often pick the animal up by forklift or tractor with a scoop, if needed, to toss into a pile and await slaughter — while still alive (again references, photos, and testimony abound)!
Everyone at this livestock auction knows of the crimes against horses! They know of the activity in loading and unloading! They know how slaughter is done! They know the techniques used to kill them! They know the merciless and abusive techniques at the slaughter plants! The Kill Buyer’s eyes harsh, ask for relief but none given, as their perspective’s will not allow neither education or a blatant look at facts, so ignorance remains, prevails mostly.
The church pew where many of these people attended hours before, those who sat and listened to the morning sermon, all the while nodding their head in agreement, all forgotten now. The excuse? Industrialization? Agriculture? Neither one, this situation inexcusable! Disgusting!
False Perception So the Lies Continue
Contrast and Perspective does exist. Civilization can only advance when it becomes more civilized, not uncivilized. A civilization can only lie to itself for so long, then collapses — as perceptions lead to action, and if the action false, and the very basis of a false perception becomes the foundation of a nation’s belief system, then we are all in serious trouble. Until we as a society can talk about the nature of this type of conduct, rather than being afraid we will retch and even puke at the mention of it, then we have a way to go before we are truly — Civilized!
July 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm
It seems humans are becoming less civilized instead of more so and that violence is increasing.
August 18, 2013 at 12:49 am
Isn’t that the Truth!! It’s 2013 and people still think Slaughter is a great end to Horses???
August 18, 2013 at 5:39 pm
Yes, there is evidence of this across the globe. Many humanitarians have noticed not only the amount of the abuse has increased, but the severity has become almost sadistic in the nature of the abuse.
July 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm
it wouldn’t let me leave a reply but the reply i tried to leave was “vividmoving and informative. your best work i’ve seen” i’m sorry i am not in a postion to help….i cant afford any more risk exposure than i already have. debbie
>________________________________ > From: Photojournalist – Journalist >To: firstname.lastname@example.org >Sent: Monday, July 15, 2013 10:42 AM >Subject: [New post] Horse Slaughter Livestock Auction — Hey, we want to kill your horse > > WordPress.com >Photographer and Journalist posted: ” Here is a story about the muck and mire and the dirty little secret, that is no secret what so ever. This thing in our civilized society that better left unmentioned, to go unnoticed while we eat our breakfast or dinner. Because it is so blatantly u” >
July 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm
What I just wrote my congressman. Are we not a more civilized society than we were back in the 40’s and’50’s, when competition for cattle and finding the horse no longer “useful” instigated large scale roundups to packers? Looking back at how the horse has served man throughout history, can anyone not look within their soul and know this is wrong?
July 15, 2013 at 10:35 pm
Horse slaughter is nothing but a predatory, greed-driven, crime-infested industry which, if started in America, will cost the American taxpayers millions of dollars and, perhaps, their health.
There is no viable reason for continue the slaughter of our horses in Canada and Mexico. Slaughter only promotes further breeding by providing a “dump for money” option. Slaughter will never eliminate neglect, abuse and abandonment – only stricter laws and severe penalties will!
July 16, 2013 at 3:38 pm
Much of the world has become desensitized to violence. So many people give thoughtless and uncaring comments continuously on stories such as these and on the other various articles written about the atrocities of horse slaughter. Just consider what pro-slaughter advocates feel about their horses being “property” as if they are being compared to machinery. For some, money will always rule their thoughts and actions. For those of us who have evolved past that line of thinking and behaving, it has become increasingly more difficult to live in a world with those who are akin to the opposite. What are the answers to solving the atrocities in this world? Nostradamus predicted that unless humans can become more “civilized” or enlightened, we may very well cause our own demise through conflict and nuclear war. Seems a no brainer, really. But, humans have often repeated their mistakes throughout history and even today, that is still a common practice.
July 16, 2013 at 4:50 pm
This is written beautifully. The question remains, how do we get people incapable of feeling, to feel. There are so many. We must keep trying. We must keep talking, posting, protesting. This is pure evil and needs to be stopped. It makes me so sad to see where our world is heading. Seems to me, evil is winning and it’s exhausting.
July 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm
I understand what you are saying. I feel the same way.
July 16, 2013 at 10:27 pm
Very well written. So true. So, sadly true.
July 19, 2013 at 6:29 pm
It should NOT be Hell to be a Horse.
For those who don’t care about the HUMANE issue, there is the TOXIC issue to be considered. The most powerful tool we have is shared information. I recently found some on HORSEBACK MAGAZINE.
People have been pumping horses full of substances to get them to run faster as long as they’ve been sitting on top of horses and racing them against other horses for money. The difference between a win and a place can be literally a nose, so it makes sense that trainers would use everything at their disposal to give their horses an edge. Many—including myself—would argue that these enhancements, along with shitty breeding, have been the largest contributor to the decline of the thoroughbred horse and the 34-year Triple Crown drought. Just like “Mean people make little mean people,” as the saying goes, “Unsound horses breed little unsound horses.” Covering up lameness issues with drugs only contributes to that factor—but that’s not stopping anyone from juicing up horses like they’re the 1970s Oakland Raiders. Here are a few of the more common methods for enhancing horse performance.
The New York Times just reported that upwards of 30 racehorses were found to be dosed with dermorphin, which is an ultra-powerful painkiller found in the skin secretions of South America’s waxy monkey tree frog
In 2007, the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority suspended trainer Patrick Biancone for one year when a raid of his barn turned up several vials of crystalized cobra venom.
July 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm
Great post, Louie! And as we know, the second most numerous breed that goes to slaughter is the Thoroughbred. I wonder if Quarter Horse racing is just as drug filled as TB.
August 18, 2013 at 12:46 am
Excellent article and well said….Hats off to you John!!!
August 18, 2013 at 5:49 pm
This is all true, and movingly written. But remember, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, all feel mortal fear and want to live. Go vegan if you care about animal suffering. They all suffer as much as horses do. I am a horsewoman and a vegan. End the hypocrisy of so-called animal lovers who perpetuate animal suffering through their food choices. Go vegan.
September 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Just see this !! It is horrible beyond words.