A world wide controversy is now affecting the state of Oklahoma. First the issue became international in Europe, then became national in the United States, and now the issue of Horse Slaughtering for human consumption is hitting our area, and it has some residents furious.
"I can't put a price on fun. Horses are fun. They're loving, caring, they're my pets. They're like my kids." says Terry Way, owner of Way's Ranch in Quapaw.
Oklahoma House and Senate Leaders overwhelmingly passed bills recently designed to end the state's 50-year ban on horse slaughtering and allow a facility to open that would package horse meat for export.
"Oklahoma is the horse capital of the United States. And I would truly hate to see a slaughter house come to somewhere in our area." says Kris Housh, a volunteer at the ranch.
Consuming horse meat in the United States still remains illegal.
"Being a cattle producer, there's no lack of meat in the united states for human consumption. There's cattle, there's pork, there's sheep, there's chicken. There's no need for anybody to eat a horse." says Debbie Kropp, a volunteer at the ranch.
Ranch owner Carol Way says the facility is meant for rescue and adoption of horses for pets...not to produce food.
"Horses are pets. They're what you love on, to ride on, to enjoy watching." she says.
Melinda Mayfield is the ranch veterinarian and says while the legislation may bring economic impact to the state, it makes for an even bigger emotional problem.
"Horses aren't really considered like cattle, they're not so much of a commercial industry as they are emotional but a pet industry. And that's why the emotions get tied up. Is it going to make an economic impact? Yes. Definitely." she says.
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau announced their support for the idea of the horse slaughter market, releasing this statement:
Oklahoma Farm Bureau statement regarding Horse Harvesting:
"At the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, we take our right to perform our duties as agriculturists in today's society very seriously. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau membership that totals over one hundred thousand members has spoken and stands behind our way of life and the way we conduct our business. Horse harvesting is an integral part and practice of agriculture and we see it as a useful tool.
We at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau hold the horse as one of the most important creatures that we have been given command to care for. The horse has served us honorably for many years through work, war, harvest, recreation and we are glad to call him a friend. We hold this animal in such high regard that we find it necessary to find a dignified and useful end when their service is no longer required. We also believe that this is America and that each individual has the right to choose what they do with their animal when it has reached its end. There is no individual in this country that understands better the circle of life, than the person that lives and works on the farm or ranch each day, and cares for their animal. We at the Oklahoma Farm Bureau commend each and every individual for making the decisions they do and caring for their livestock the best way they know how."
While the ASPCA released their statement opposing the legislation:
"Overturning the longstanding ban on horse slaughter in Oklahoma is a move in the wrong direction for horses, for consumers and for citizens of Oklahoma. Horse slaughter is inherently cruel, as horses are biologically unsuited for commercial slaughter, making them difficult to stun prior to dismemberment. The passage of Senate Bill 375 and House Bill 1999 would enable foreign-owned slaughter plants to set up shop in Oklahoma causing severe environmental and economical damage to Oklahoma communities. Horses are not raised for food and their flesh is laden with toxic chemicals routinely included in treatments and medicines that are given daily to horses on the track, in the show ring, and on the ranch. Citizens must speak up now and let legislators and the Governor know that horse slaughter is bad for Oklahoma." - Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.
If you are interested in donating to the Way's Ranch Horse Rescue visit the link here