Monday, April 27, 2009

Animal Welfare - Part II, Equine Cruelty Act of 2009

Horses are livestock and should not be classified as “companion animals.”

Ranch horses are valuable tools for gathering and cutting, roping and sorting. Certainly, a good dog is beneficial when working cattle as well. However, I have never seen a cat push cows out of the brush, head a bull, or heal.

Draft horses and mules are valuable tools for farming. Working alone, in teams and hitches they are very effective for plowing, discing, drilling, cutting, baling, hauling hay and grain. When was the last time you saw a team of Dobermans pulling a plow, or a four up of Chihuahuas running a hay rake? Perhaps it was a team of Persians pulling the hay wagon to feed cows in two feet of snow in Eastern Oregon?

Horses are livestock and are raised to perform a job or service. Are they a valued part of the ranch or farm? Definitely. However, they are not, and should not be considered as “companion animals.”

Public policy, being forced upon private property and family farms and ranches is wrong. Without argument, Americans do not commonly consume horse meat as some do in Europe and other parts of the world. Yet, animal rights advocates feel it necessary to get legislation and initiatives passed to abolish all processing of horses and transportation of horses to processing facilities.

All horses are not created equal. Family farmers and ranchers that breed, train and utilize horses responsibly are being negatively impacted by flawed policy and mis-information. Horses that are unsafe or too old to perform should be humanely disposed of. If the Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 passes, these horses will likely injure themselves, other horses, humans or endure unnecessary pain and suffering. That is not humane.

Horses used to have a salvage value. Recently, due to a weak economy, high feed costs and legislation and initiatives, many small horse owners are abandoning their horses at shows, rodeos, and even in the high dessert, home of the wild mustangs. These actions have resulted in overcrowding at shelters, a reduction of the wild mustang’s natural forage and even starvation of the domesticated horses. These are the truly inhumane acts.

Work to ensure safe and humane transportation of horses, but allow horses to be processed again in the United States. Help save the family farmers and ranchers and join in defeating the Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 and supporting safe transportation and the construction of domestic horse processing facilities.

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About Me

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Jeff Fowle is a fourth generation family farmer and rancher from Etna, California. He and his wife Erin and son Kyle raise registered Angus cattle, Percheron draft horses, warmbloods, alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay. They also start and train horses for riding, jumping, and driving. Their family run ranch has incorporated many environmentally beneficial and water efficient technologies and management strategies. Jeff attended college at Colorado State University for two years and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for four and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Following college, he worked in Washington State for a year as a herdsman for BB Cattle Company and then returned to Etna, California in 1995 to own and operate KK Bar Ranch and Siskiyou Percherons. The latter was started by his grandfather, Clarence Dudley, who devoted much of his time to the Percheron Horse Association of America, specifically to developing their youth education program.