Slaughtering Horses in Texas: Congress Set To Decide - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/6/06-Tyler

Slaughtering Horses in Texas: Congress Set To Decide

"We think the vote will go pretty well, and there's a lot of attention being drawn to the issue, and every poll over the years has shown that a majority of Americans want the issue to come to an end," says Mary Beth Petrakian, who says she could never send her boy to slaughter.

Sky is 13, and Petrakian says he'll never wind up as dinner halfway around the world.

"Horse owners do the right thing, they call the vet out to euthanize the horse. It's the one percent that doesn't take the responsibility to do the right thing, the humane thing," she says of what happens down the road in Kaufman.

The Dallas Crown plant continues in operation. Neighbors there have complained of the sounds and smells. Video from the plant is gruesome.   The horses are killed the way cattle are -- with a special gun that fires a bolt into the brain.

"It's barbaric and gruesome," says Petrakian.   She says this slaughter should be banned, because horses are companion animals -- animals we love.  And she says there are places where the estimated 70-to-90,000 slaughtered every year can go.

"That's the myth here is that these are old sick horses.  They're usable safe good-quality horses that could be ridden by children for many years to come."

But is the process cruel? Bob Miars doesn't think so.

"If that's the issue, then that's what we need to be addressing, not stopping the slaughter of horses," he says.   Miars spends his life with his horses at his farm in Henderson County.

He says without the ability to dispose of significant numbers of unwanted horses, many horse owners will simply turn their animals out and walk away, neglecting them.

The anti-slaughter bill is opposed by Miars, the Texas Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"Those of us on the other side are just trying to protect our rights, and as long as we treat it humanely, then it is our animal and we should be able to do with it what we choose to."

"They are smart animals and they do know what is happening," says Petrakian.

Dallas Crown is just one of three plants nationwide processing horse meat.  One is in Fort Worth, another in Illinois. The meat primarily goes to Europe and Asia and fetches high prices. Petrakian says if they want the meat, they can kill their own horses.

"We never have raised horses to be eaten and we never will."

Slated for a vote Thursday is House Resolution 503.  The office of Congressman Jeb Hensarling says the representative will likely vote against the measure.  Tyler Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert said Tuesday afternoon he is still considering both sides.

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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