Monday, March 06, 2006

Old Stewball's Revenge

There's fresh controversy involving the scandal of horse slaughter in the United States. The Bush administration is in the process of a shameful end-run around Congress' move to cut funding for USDA inspections of the equine slaughterhouses by allowing the operations to absorb the inspection costs themselves in the form of fees. This allows them to continue to receive USDA certification for the horse meat they produce for the tables of Europe and other places, despite the intent of Congress. Our representatives need to quit pussyfooting around and pass an outright ban.

As we know from reports in industry publications, far too many racehorses come to the end of their days in these places. As a person who has been around a few shedrows, I can't help wondering whether anybody else has ever noticed the number of veterinary products at the race track that are clearly labeled "NOT TO BE ADMINISTERED TO ANIMALS INTENDED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION." If those labels mean anything at all, a Frenchman sitting down to a nice thick sirloin that was previously attached to a $2,500 claimer at Charles Town is in big trouble---his descendents too, if he is able to produce any.

The typical horse that has raced 3 or 4 seasons likely has been wormed 25-35 times with products carrying the warning, has been treated with steroids dozens of times, maybe many more, and has routinely received non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents throughout his career. Muscle relaxants, antibiotics, breathing aids: the list is endless. Then there are the ubiquitous race day medications, legal and otherwise. Ok, I know they don't do that at YOUR track, but just suppose they did. Do you think the meds they give are something you'd want in your hamburger? Applied many times over the career of a racehorse, even some of the popular topical remedies are a little scary. Anyone for some pot roast marinated in DMSO? I don't think so.

Now to get back to those highly sought-after USDA inspections, if this kind of horse meat is certifiable, what kind of beef do you suppose is being certified to Americans' tables? Conversely, if the USDA has a double standard, the conspiracy theorists better start looking into the secret and undeclared chemical war that Bush has launched against Europe. (Just KIDDING, I swear.)

As for we horse lovers, while we wait for our politicians to find the requisite cohones to end the slaughter, at least we can take a little consolation in telling our racehorse-eating cousins across the pond: "I hope you choke on it!"


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