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Local Viewpoints: New Mexico Needs Another Vision For Horses

Courtesy: Linda Kemmerer via NMFO

New Mexico Needs Another Vision for Horses
OP-Ed by Senator Mary Jane Garcia (D-Doña Ana-36)

Santa Fe, NM—Since serving in the New Mexico legislature starting in 1988, I’ve considered it my duty to stand up for our state’s many vulnerable populations, particularly children and animals. The common denominator in the challenges I’ve faced has been the predictable and tired refrain of those who can’t picture things being different. The pushback has always been fierce. This is especially true with the systematic cruelty being inflicted on horses today.

Thanks to heart wrenching but honest exposés that have recently uncovered one after another tragedy involving horses in our state, the public wants change. One thing is clear: even though some of us have heard these concerns in one form or another for decades, we are on the edge of a shift in thinking regarding horses. That’s why plenty of people are fighting back against that shift. 

Is it really that hard to understand that horse slaughter is not and cannot be humane? No matter where it’s done, saying horse slaughter is less cruel in one country compared to another is missing the point. Simply put, horses flee when they’re frightened, and those who defend U.S. horse slaughter should watch videos of it that are easily available online. The panic, fear and pain are unbearable to watch.

The phrase, “if we build it, they will come,” would have severe unintended consequences as a horse slaughter plant anywhere in New Mexico would encourage uncontrolled over breeding of horses. The obscene incentives to breed, ship and kill would be substantial. 

Eighty percent of Americans are opposed to slaughtering horses for food. Add to that the fact that American horses are routinely injected with drugs such as “bute,” (a horse medication known to be unfit for human consumption) makes me very apprehensive with horse meat being used as a food source. 

Furthermore, establishing New Mexico as a horse slaughter haven will do irreparable damage to the unique brand of our state. We all can agree that New Mexico’s brand is remarkably unique with all of the heritage and culture that make up our beautiful state. Yet, a horse slaughter plant is likely to be an unwanted distraction from what our state genuinely has to offer. Do we really want to be known as the epicenter of something so inhumane? One economic step forward might mean two steps back if our state becomes renowned for such appalling treatment of the noble American horse. 

Like other New Mexican leaders and so many of my constituents who have contacted me about the horse slaughterhouse proposal, I know we can use our God-given intelligence and imagination to create lasting and humane solutions for horses. A system already exists to help our communities’ dogs and cats. It is more than possible to do the same for horses. Model programs already exist that provide feed assistance, shelter, adoption and yes, humane euthanasia.

Horses are suffering; I see it when I travel around New Mexico. I know that we as New Mexicans can do better than this. Please join the strong chorus of individuals opposing cruel treatment of horses and let’s create solutions for horses that will make us all proud.