In light of this morning’s report from Animal Angels on the massive money-making complex that is the US slaughter network (and my intense feelings on it), which you can see HERE, I’ve decided to make a list of some ideas for how each and every one of us can help put a stop to it. Because its going to take a MASSIVE concentrated effort with everyone doing their little part. I know it’s overwhelming, and you’re thinking “how can I possibly make a difference?” but know that you can! If everyone who loves horses and wants to see slaughter stopped does just one or two little things, I simply know, grassroots-style, that we can institute change. So consider this my rallying cry!
10 Things YOU can do to help!
1) STOP sharing killpen horses. Heartbreaking, yes, but in doing so you are providing free marketing to the killbuyers. YOU are their unpaid employee.
2) Share out horses for adoption at rescues. Just because a horse is “safe” in a rescue doesn’t mean they don’t need a home, or deserve to be forgotten about. When a horse is adopted from a rescue, you’re freeing up a spot for a new horse, in essence helping two. Rescues are full and forced to turn away horses daily, with those horses often ending up in auctions and killpens. While at the same time, donations have been drying up since all the money is going straight into the killbuyers’ pockets.
3) Share sale ads for horses at low (at-risk) prices and for small local and private farm auctions. These are the places killbuyers are sourcing from. Help their owners get them sold to homes before they get desperate and hand them off to a local dealer or send them to auction. This is where the whole process starts.
4) Donate toward legitimate, 501(c)3 registered non-profit rescues. (Not the ones that simply exist on FB and are constantly being busted for cruelty.) Take the time to investigate who you’re giving money to, and ideally stick with organizations that are local to you which you can visit. Yes, I know its far less exciting to donate toward a hay drive than to “saving a horse before the truck comes” but think about WHO that money is going to.
5) Just because you may not have money to donate doesn’t mean you don’t have valuable skills that a rescue needs. Can you help them groom their horses? Take pictures/video? Keep their website/social media updated? Build a nice website in the first place? Put some training into their horses so they’re more adoptable? Take on a foster? Man a table at a local fair? Print and post fliers in local businesses? Know anything about grant writing?
6) Help rescues with their marketing! A good photo/video will go a LONG way toward helping a horse get a home. Sadly, people pass judgement in the first 5 seconds they see something. If all a rescue has are pictures of muddy horses in a field, then they’re going to get overlooked. Take a horse at a rescue, groom her, stand her up, take some good pictures, and a video of what she knows how to do, and WHAM, instantly more interest. I’ve provided examples below. Horse on the top looks far more valuable than the one on the bottom, correct? It’s all about perception. If the horse is marketed as muddy in a field, then it looks like it has no value, and people won’t place as much value on it. Whereas, if a rescue’s horses look like a million bucks (or like those at high end farms) people will automatically place more value on them and be more interested. Business school 101.
7) Volunteer at, help organize/facilitate, and donate toward Low/No-cost euthanasia and gelding clinics. Less horses equals less supply for the killbuyers. Post fliers EVERYWHERE if a clinic like this is happening near you. Many people just don’t know they exist.
8) EDUCATE! Make sure you talk to people about slaughter and their options. Make sure they know what happens when horses are sold at low end auctions. Suggest anyone selling a horse do so with a contract (though it’s not a guarantee, it can be a deterrent to those with less than honorable intentions.) Discourage back yard breeding. Discourage people from supporting (ie: purchasing) for big breeders that breed and dump dozens of horses a year.
9) ADVOCATE! I’m not just talking about at the Federal level, but within industry and breed organizations. It’s a well known fact that the AQHA is a big supporter of slaughter. That’s because they encourage their breeders to over-breed, thus getting more registration fees, and then dump their “culls”. The AQHA registered almost 76,000 new horses in 2016 alone, and that doesn’t even count all the unregistered ones. Does anyone really believe the horse market can support numbers like that? Papered QH’s in killpens are a dime a dozen. Who gives a damn if the horse had a famous sire eight generations back if not a single one since has done a thing and the latest looks like it will be crippled by age 3? If there’s a breed you simply love, then let your feelings be known to the breed organizations! Ask them what their policies are. Ask them if they’ll consider supporting good causes. Hell, I’m a huge fan of required inspections for approval to breed, like they do with European Warmbloods. Don’t see many of those in the killpens, do you? Because there simply aren’t as many around and thus they hold their value better! Supply and demand. Business 101 again.
10) Take care of your own. If you own horses, you may have every intention of keeping them until death-do-you-part (as I do mine) but none of us know what the future brings and we can never be sure a situation won’t arise where our beloved animals will need to find a new home. Make sure you have a will/living-will, IN WRITING, that states what is supposed to happen to your animals should the unthinkable happen to you. Mine are to go to a trusted friend. Just because you love your horses like children doesn’t mean your family members feel the same. If you’re selling a horse, require a contract and screen the people buying, don’t just send your horse off with the first person who hands you cash. Killbuyers/dealers will answer ads and visit with their kids in tow. And for the love of all things holy, put training into you animals! A horse that doesn’t know anything is killpen fodder, no matter how special you think they are. Not to mention, think long and hard before you breed any horse you may own.
Feel free to share this far and wide. Lets start a revolution!