Nightmare neighbor: Thank you for your recent article on horse slaughter ["Horse Flesh," April 13, by Josh Harkinson]. As these things go, horse slaughter is a particularly simple issue.
Americans do not eat horses; 70 percent to 90 percent do not want horse slaughter in this country; and $5 million in American tax dollars is spent annually to support an "industry" with fewer than 200 employees.
As mayor of a city where one of the three horse-slaughter plants operates, permit me to tick off to you some of the details of what it is like to have this "industry" in your city:
A nightmare of a neighbor to nearby residents, the hospital and other businesses, complete with nauseating odors, sounds and vultures
The plant paying an outrageous pittance in taxes to the United States because it shelters its income so its profits surface only overseas
The plant's 25-year history of environmental violations, cramming our expensive sewer system with waste in extreme excess of permitted levels
The plant's treating the city like a doormat rather than responding effectively to problems
The city's being labeled with the stigma of horse slaughter, stifling economic development both here and in nearby areas
Who would willingly accept such a thing in their community? The mayor 20 years ago was quoted on the front page saying, "We don't want you here!"
A federal judge ruled that state law, which clearly prohibits horse slaughter, does not apply because the meat is for consumption overseas -- and states can't have a say in what goes on within their borders if it involves foreign trade...Let us hope the French don't develop an appetite for our state bird, or else the mockingbird will be de rigueur in Paris. Apparently the door is open for Fluffy and Fido, too.
It's simple. We need to get the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act passed. Now.
Paula Bacon, mayor
History lesson: I for one don't feel there is any excuse good enough to slaughter horses in the United States of America, where the horse is such a beautiful part of our history. Only 1 percent of the horse population is being slaughtered, so if horse slaughter ceased, it wouldn't mean that we'd have horses running everywhere and dying in fields, because we have a huge horse infrastructure in place to absorb them. Yes, some rescues are full, but many others are not. If the Belgians and French want to slaughter horses and eat them, they need to do it on their own soil. Here in America, the fight to end horse slaughter is heating up more than ever, and I feel a great public battle is about to emerge. I believe if Americans don't start fighting to end horse slaughter, it will be just a matter of time before we see dog and cat slaughterhouses here as well. It's the very same thing! No one can deny that fact. Companion animals should never be slaughter animals.
Fanning the flames: You missed the point of your trip into hell with Jerry Finch to the slaughterhouse, and at the Board of Adjustments Meeting in Kaufman.
To begin with, we are activists in that we have strong opinions regarding horse slaughter and are willing to go through legal methods to see that it is stopped. You intentionally used controversial language in your article to make it more dramatic. You are aware that in society today activists are looked upon as a little bit crazy.
One thing you failed to mention in the article was the numerous safety and health violations that Dallas Crown has been cited for during the past many years. This would have helped your readers understand better exactly what the issues were in closing down Dallas Crown.
Robert Eldridge and his neighbors were more concerned with this aspect of the issue than the fact that it was horses that were being slaughtered. I'm sure that bothered them too, but they would have taken this stand no matter what type of animal was being butchered.
You found the only person claiming to be a "horse rescue person" that is pro-slaughter and quoted her extensively. Her opinions are not the opinions of the horse rescuers in the United States, and she is but a very, very small minority.
You did not make this clear in your article and wrote it so as to fan the flames of controversy even further. I understand this is one of the functions of the paper you write for, but this is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with in an adult manner and not just for sensationalism.
By the way, I am an officer of the Habitat for Horses/Lone Star Equine Rescue, not a comrade of Finch's. Again, your words conjure commandos breaking the law and fighting this fight illegally.
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I think you owe the people who went out of their way to accommodate and educate you on this subject an apology for the way you portrayed this issue.
Why our horses? Thank you for the article on horse slaughter. Surely, enough horses exist in Belgium that they don't need our American horses. If not for our horses, how would this country have even been settled? The horse is an American icon. That our horses are cruelly slaughtered for the sake of a foreigner's palate and foreign profit is beyond explanation.
Patricia A. Cornell